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Lee Wallace Daily Mail Interview.


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When Rangers fans rose as one to applaud us... I knew we were on the way back, says full back Lee Wallace

Lee Wallace says fans are appreciating Rangers' new attacking approach

Supporters clapped spontaneously 10 minutes from time against Peterhead

The full back says under Mark Warburton, the club are heading to the top.

As Lee Wallace felt the decibel levels rise, along with the goosebumps on his arm, it served both as a reminder of the glorious past and a glimpse of a brighter future.

Ibrox had just risen to its feet spontaneously 10 minutes from time against Peterhead last Sunday – just after Rangers had squandered a chance to make it 4-0 – as the long-suffering rank-and-file made a point of conveying their appreciation of the attacking football on display under new manager Mark Warburton.

It was the kind of noise that Wallace had not witnessed at the ground since the pre-liquidation days, when European football and intoxicating Old Firm derbies were the norm.

In the club’s often-ponderous journey up the leagues under Ally McCoist, in-fighting and poor football saw that intimidating wall of sound at Ibrox torn down brick by brick, replaced by an atmosphere of frustration, anger and dismay.

But ahead of Warburton’s first league match at Ibrox, against St Mirren tonight, Wallace feels Rangers are now ready to entertain in a way he openly admits they failed starkly to do last season.

Fuelled by that unexpected Ibrox vote of confidence from the fans last weekend, the Scotland international defender says:

The players are committed more than ever to honouring the vow on the plaque Warburton has installed above the dressing room that reads simply: ‘Send them home happy.’

He said: ‘At 80 minutes into last weekend’s game we were creating chance after chance. There was a sustained period of pressure, and the fans made the loudest roar I have ever heard.

‘The supporters were really appreciating what they were watching, which is great. It is the return they deserve because they have been starved of any real proper football. We didn’t really get any consistency last year. So it is about us rewarding them. The manager is huge on that.

‘When it happened I got goosebumps. It was great. I had experienced it the first time around here. I got a small taste of it in the SPL and in a couple of Champions League qualifiers, too. It would be great to get that back on a regular basis because the support give us an extra 10 per cent.

‘There have been bad times over the past three years, of course, but I have always stood by my decision to stay here. I have kept a positive mind-set that we will see this club back (at the top) and that has been reinforced with the way we have gone about our business in pre-season.

‘I feel ever so strongly that this will be our time as long as we keep working hard, imposing ourselves, bringing our strengths to the table and sending the fans away happy. I feel really confident this year - without being arrogant.’

If Wallace’s admission that the fans ‘have been starved of any real proper football’ does not exactly reflect well on McCoist, it did not come across as a dig at his former manager.

But the left-back hopes the new confident ‘We are Rangers’ mindset instilled by Warburton and his assistant David Weir will render the club less vulnerable to shocks at grounds like Alloa’s Indodrill Stadium, which proved a baffling bogey ground last season.

‘I will try to stay away from the disappointments of last season as much as I can and be positive,’ said Wallace.

‘We are well aware of the tests ahead. We sampled those places last year but it’ s about reinforcing this mindset that we are Rangers now. With the greatest of respect to these teams we know it will be difficult, but it’s about imposing our strengths, imposing our tempo and showing we are Rangers and that we will play at a Rangers intensity.

‘That’s the mindset being drilled into us and I’m happy with that approach. We’ ll show the opposition respect, but we want to send the message out that we are a whole new team this year.

‘As soon as the news broke about the manager and Davie Weir coming in, the excitement started. We were all itching to get back into the real stuff and we are at that stage now. We can’t wait for the league to start.

‘The manager is huge on value on and off the park and the guys he has brought in have provided value. They have quality on the pitch and in the way they conduct themselves off the pitch, too. It has been a good transition, smoother than a lot of folk might have guessed. We are doing fine but there’s a lot of hard work and quality to come from us.’

Rangers have not officially confirmed their captain for the coming season but the long-serving Wallace seems the obvious choice. He has been handed the armband on a temporary basis and insists he’d be happy even if Warburton has only given it to him on a trial basis.

‘I’ve not been told I’m captain but I’ve been honoured enough that I have worn the armband in these early games. I’ve also had it in seasons gone by when Lee McCulloch was suspended or injured and couldn’t captain the team.

‘But those discussions can wait until the manager or Davie Weir see fit. There are a number of candidates, experienced, big characters in that dressing room who could do the job, too, so we’ll just need to wait and see. It might be the case that I’m on trial and, if so, it will be an honour to try and hold on to the armband.

‘The manager is big on values and professionalism and I’ll certainly be giving it my all, as I would do if I didn’t have the armband.

‘We all need to show professionalism and drive and positivity and hunger about where we should be playing our football. We need to take our message on to the pitch and send the fans home happy.

‘We couldn’t quite find the momentum last season but we will be giving our 100 per cent best to make sure we do it this season. I’ve maybe said it 101 times now but I don’t think we’ll be too far away this year.’

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Speaks very well.

‘I feel ever so strongly that this will be our time as long as we keep working hard, imposing ourselves, bringing our strengths to the table and sending the fans away happy. I feel really confident this year - without being arrogant.’

^^ this sums up how most of us are probably feeling.

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