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Walter is the daddy

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Walter is the daddy


Published: Today


NACHO NOVO is so short he looks up to most people at Rangers.

But no one at Ibrox gets the Spaniard's attention quite like Walter Smith.

The pint-sized striker has marvelled at Smith's managerial abilities since he swept back through the Ibrox doors in January 2007.

Four trophies in two-and-a- half years prove the veteran boss is still the man to beat in Scottish football.

To Novo, though, Smith sometimes seems more like a father than a boss.

He said: "The manager could have been under pressure, but he's proved exactly what he's capable of.

"He's a brilliant guy to have at the club. I know for a fact he's made me a better player, but there's something special about him.

"He's always been honest with players, never afraid to tell people what they think.

"I've always found I can talk to him as well. He lets you be open with him.

"He's always been there for me through ups and downs, so as far as I'm concerned he's great for this club.

"He proved how good he was when he was at this club a few years ago.

"It's difficult to win nine in a row but he did that.

"It stands him in good stead for this season because we're well prepared.

"He's a great manager. Look at all his experience with Rangers, Scotland, Everton and Manchester United.

"The gaffer knows everything about football and it's great to have him here.

"He's definitely made me a much better player so I can't thank him enough for what he's done."

It was a leg-weary Novo who stumbled up the Murray Park stairs to hold court.

He joined the rest of the Gers squad in punishing laps of the pitch in the morning before a gruelling second session in the afternoon.

He admitted: "Pre-season is hard but that's always the case. You don't really enjoy that as a player.

"It's the first time I've come back and there's been no new faces here.

"Nothing's been happening, so it's quite strange, but I'm happy to be back working with the boys again.

"It was a good break and nice to get some time with the family, but now I'm back fresh and looking forward to the new season. I think we're just all glad we don't have to play any qualifiers in the Champions League.

"These games are always hard and last year we found out what a disappointment they can be.

"That was hard for us to take and it definitely takes time to recover from.

"These things always happen in football but you have to forget about your troubles and concentrate on what's in front of you."


One man not going through his paces at Murray Park was Barry Ferguson, whose move to Birmingham was finalised yesterday.

Novo admits he will miss Fergie more than most after sharing a dressing room with him for four-and-a-half years.

But he believes his former skipper will one day RETURN to Ibrox.

He admitted: "I'll be really disappointed if Barry goes.

"We're great friends and he's an absolute legend at this club. He's been here for a long time, but it looks like it's time for him to move on to a new team.

"Maybe one day he'll come back as a coach or something. Why not?

"He was captain for many years and played here since he was a child. I don't see why he couldn't do it."

For the first time in four years, Rangers are enjoying a summer basking in the glory of a title.

Novo - who was helping the club promote the glamour pre-season friendly against big-spending Manchester City on Wednesday, August 5 - said: "Everyone has been happy since we came back.

"When you win a championship the atmosphere is always better.

"You go on holiday on a total high and come back to a great atmosphere.

"We've got a bit of a breather after winning the league. That's another great thing about lifting the trophy.

"Being champions is in itself a great achievement, but we know it will be difficult to keep our title. There's lots of teams capable of taking points off us, but that makes for a good league.

"First of all we've got a hard few weeks, including the game against City.

"That's going to be great for the lads because some of the world's best players will be on show.

"You want to test yourself against these guys because it's a good indication of the level you can play at."


TICKETS for Rangers v Manchester Ciity are on sale now priced £21 for adult, £15 concession and £7 for juveniles. Fans can snap them up at rangers.co.uk by calling 08717021972 or by visiting the Rangers Ticket Centre.

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