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Whittaker : Top Priority Is To Keep Manager And Coaching Staff


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Steven Whittaker today hailed Walter Smith as the driving force behind two-in-a-row – and pleaded with the club to sort out the manager’s future now.

Smith refused to be drawn on what lies ahead in the aftermath of the SPL title being clinched with a 1-0 win over Hibs at Easter Road yesterday, saying that decision was for “another day.”

Along with his assistants, Ally McCoist and Kenny McDowall, he has operated without a contract since the end of January.

Whittaker feels Smith, who has been unable to buy a new player for more than 18 months due to strict financial constraints, deserves enormous praise for the championship and League Cup success this season. He has now guided Rangers to six trophies and a Uefa Cup Final in three years.

Whittaker said: “I can’t speak highly enough of the gaffer. He has been fantastic. The coaching staff have all been great, too.

“The management team are right behind the players every step of the way. The players have responded to that massively. There is a great set-up in place. We don’t know what is going to happen, but obviously all the players would like them to stay.

“It would be great if the manager and his assistants all committed themselves for the foreseeable future.”

Rangers are no closer to being bought over, and Smith is likely to await the outcome of a crunch meeting with the club’s bankers to see what the business plan will be for next season.

But Whittaker added: “The top priority will be trying to keep the manager and the coaching staff. That decision, of course, has nothing to do with the players.”

Meantime, chief executive Martin Bain revealed that ‘certain factors’ would hold the key to what happens next with the manager and the season ahead.

Bain said on Smith’s future: “I think that depends on a number of factors. It depends not just for Walter, but for many others at the football club. We’ve had our critics. We know that we’ve got great spirit and determination.

“We know we can go on to further success but there’s a number of factors that have to be discussed and, until we get answers to some of those factors, then we won’t know what’s happening.

“Walter, his assistants and the whole team have performed tremendously well. A second championship in a row, six trophies and a European final in three years.

“I don’t think you can get any better and I don’t think there’s a club in the world that wouldn’t take that if offered them, so all testament to Walter and his team. It’s just been fantastic.”


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