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Davie on our tactics and preparing for Zenit


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DAVIE WEIR believes Lionel Messi was right to criticise Rangers for playing "anti-football" but reckons others who jumped on the bandwagon to have a pop were bang out of order.

Messi was appalled at the defensive tactics his Barcelona side came up against in October's 0-0 Champions League draw at Ibrox.

And the talented Argentinian striker was the first of many to slam Gers in public.

Players and bosses from Werder Bremen, Sporting Lisbon and Fiorentina also voiced their disgust - and Weir was particularly disappointed with the Italian team's moaning after their UEFA Cup semi-final defeat.

The veteran stopper could understand Messi's frustration because he is one of the world's top talents.

But Davie insists the rest were just bitter and should have blamed themselves for failing to break Rangers down.

Weir knows the best way to shut them up is to beat Zenit St Petersburg on Wednesday and lift the UEFA trophy - even it means another defensive display.

He said: "People are living in a fantasy world if they think Rangers can attack, play three up front and be successful in Europe. That's just not going to happen.

"As a manager you do what you can to get to the next round. You don't play to please the opposition.

"What really annoys me is people have criticised us for being good defensively. If a team can't score against you then they don't deserve to win. I can understand Messi's complaints to a degree as he's one of the world's best players and he was shackled.

"I have sympathy for a player like him saying that because he wants to play beautiful passes, beat six men and score goals.

"But when the criticism comes from other sources it is harder to swallow.

"I'm a defender and biased but there is a skill in defending.

"It's an important part of the game and the Italians were masters of it for years. Some of the greatest teams in the world have needed top defenders.

"Thankfully, we've had some praise and it has been good for Carlos Cuellar to win Player of the Year awards."

Weir will partner Cuellar at the heart of Walter Smith's defence in midweek.

But he doesn't have the greatest record at the City of Manchester Stadium having lost three games out of four there in his time at Everton.

Thousands of Gers fans will flock south for the final and Weir's phone has been ringing non-stop with pleas for tickets.

The 38-year-old hasn't been as popular since the 1998 World Cup opener with Brazil in Paris.

He said: "It is similar to the build-up for that game. It's important to get all that stuff out the road to prepare properly rather than worrying about tickets.

"We must be in the best frame of mind to try to win the cup."

Victory in Manchester would spark a massive party but Weir reckons there would be not be much time for celebration with a vital SPL match at Motherwell looming on Saturday lunchtime.

He said: "When you win a game with Rangers you can enjoy it for half an hour then you have to focus on the next one.

"I wouldn't have it any other way because youwant to be playing in matches that are meaningful all the time. I've been lucky enough to have been at a huge club like Everton but the demands at Rangers are bigger.

"I don't think that is appreciated down south. They're probably not interested."

Awin in Manchester would help change that and Weir hopes Gers don't leave England with any regrets.

He said: "The priority is to make sure we play to our strengths.

"It's an away game technically but people would argue that doesn't make any difference because we play at home as if we were the sisiting side.

"We will set out along the same lines as before and hope it can bring us success.

"Ally McCoist will go through Zenit's team and make surewe are well prepared. But we can't overplay howgood they are."

Rangers wanted yesterday's SPL game against Dundee United cancelled but Weir reckons it may work in Gers' favour to play so close to the final.

Zenit have had more than 10 days to get ready and Davie said: "They might have too much time to think about this one. Time can drag then you end up playing the match before you're there."


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