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Angry talk from Walter Smith fired us to Falkirk win, reveals Bougherra

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MADJID BOUGHERRA has revealed that a dressing-room dressing down from manager Walter Smith on Friday was the trigger for the vital weekend win at Falkirk that got Rangers' SPL campaign off to a flier.

The Ibrox new boy made an impressive debut at the Westfield Stadium on Saturday, forming a partnership with Kirk Broadfoot that was solid enough to keep a clean sheet as Rangers eked out a 1-0 win.

The Algerian international defender was delighted with the win at the end of a disastrous week for his new club that killed his dream of playing European football this season.

Bougherra sat in his hotel room last Tuesday watching the Kaunas horror show unfold and although the defeat depressed him before he'd even kicked a ball for Rangers, the former Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton stopper insisted he has no regrets about moving north of the border.

But he admitted that his new teammates needed an injection of fire and determination in the wake of that shambles in Lithuania and Smith provided it at Murray Park on Friday.

The Ibrox gaffer had met disgruntled fans' chiefs at the plush training HQ earlier that day and had been left in no doubt that the rank and file were raging with the embarrassing European exit.

Smith later gathered his players round and told them in no uncertain terms they had to get the finger out.

If they did, the punters would forgive them.

If they didn't, Smith warned them it was going to be a very long season.

Bougherra said: "We had a meeting yesterday with the gaffer and he told us the fans would roar us on if we did well and if not we would have a very bad season.

"The gaffer spoke and we listened.

"We know this is a big club and we have to give 200 per cent every game for the fans because there are 50,000 at every game at Ibrox.

"That meeting inspired us. We did not play our best football at Falkirk but when they had pressure, we kept them out and then we scored. We won and that is a big help."

The £2.5million signing admitted he was distraught as he sat in his hotel room watching Rangers crash out of the Champions League in Kaunas, but he insisted he never for a moment regretted his decision to snub West Brom at the last minute and head for the SPL.

He said: "I saw the game but I had no doubts about having signed. When you come here you know that Rangers will play every season in Europe and it's a dream for the players.

"I was very disappointed sitting in my room - we lost, it was raining and Ididn't feel good.

"Afterwards it was brighter and I thought, 'That's life - my contract is four years and we will win the championship and there will be no worries'. We have no excuses for this season now.

"Of course, European football was a big reason for me coming here. I saw the final last year and I knew that there would be the chance of Champions League football every year so it was a dream.

"Now I want to play in the Champions League next year.

"I can wait for Europe, it's no problem. I am 25 so I have time to play in Europe.

"No, I never thought that I had made a mistake.

"I know I am at a big club and when I signed, everybody from Algeria - my friends and family - were phoning me saying it's fantastic. I signed because I wanted to play in Europe but now we have had the first game it's OK. I enjoyed it and now we play at Ibrox next game.

"It was frustrating watching Rangers go out but now I have played a game, we've won it and I can honestly say I have forgotten about it now.

"It's behind us and we're concentrating on the league and we want to win trophies now."

Bougherra admitted the quality Falkirk displayed at Westfield surprised him but all he cared about was getting off to a winning a start.

He added: "I was surprised because Falkirk have a very good team, they play good football.

"You enjoy when you win so three points was most important for us and the fans.

"Before the game you're afraid of what will happen because it's a new regime with Rangers and I've only trained two days with Kirk. I was surprised how comfortable I was with him and every player and I had a good sensation on the pitch. When Allan McGregor saved the penalty, he changed the attitude of every player and inspired the team to a good score.

"We haven't played our best football today but even though they had pressure we kept them out and won three points."

Hearts are next up at Ibrox and Bougherra will almost certainly have another defensive partner with Carlos Cuellar due back from injury. David Weir will also be back from suspension, adding to Smith's alternatives.

Bougherra knows that the one silver lining on a very dark cloud is that no Europe means more time for domestic matters.

"Now that we don't have Europe, we'll have more rest," he said.

"Winning the first match is good because we know we will have some free weeks coming up while Celtic have the Champions League ahead."

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