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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 9, 2008

Smith shares the pain of Rangers' Euro flop

Rangers manager Walter Smith has assured fans he is hurting as much as they are as the club contemplates a season without European football.

Tuesday night's Champions League qualifying defeat to Lithuanian side FBK Kaunas saw Rangers crash out of Europe without even the safety net of the UEFA Cup.

The shock result came just a couple of months after progressing all the way to the UEFA Cup final and has been branded as the club's worst ever continental defeat.

But, as much as he shares in the disappointment and frustration, Smith believes the events in Kaunas should be put in perspective.

'My mother died and that was 20 years ago, that's what matters to you,' he said.

'She was alive one day and dead the next. That's the worst thing that's ever happened to me, this is not really up there with that.'

Smith added: 'You are in this game to win. When the players and fans suffer disappointment you suffer along with them.

'I still feel it as much as it did when it happened 15 or 20 years ago, that never goes away from you. If you are competitive then that's what happens to you.

'Managers always take the responsibility for it. That's a manager's job and what he does.

'We will just get up and get on with it, to make sure we don't let it cause us a problem, starting tomorrow at Falkirk.

'That's something we have to bear in mind more than anything else. People can criticise managers, players or whoever - but now we have to make sure it doesn't create a more upsetting circumstance.'

The defeat to Kaunas sparked speculation of a clear-out of the squad.

But Smith pointed out that those who contributed to last season's epic campaign, which saw the club competing for an historic quadruple, have not suddenly become bad players after one set-back.

He said: 'None of the players playing for Rangers right now have let anyone down.

'Yes, losing the European games was a big disappointment to everybody. But if you take into consideration our overall achievements coming from where we were 18 months ago to where we are now, then I don't think anybody can say they've let anybody down.

'The players haven't let anyone down. Everybody felt let down the other night, the players, the staff, ourselves - and we all take responsibility for that.

'But overall the vast majority of players in the group have handled playing for the club extremely well.

'I think the players that we have got coped quite well last season. There is no reason to suppose that the players are now going to struggle simply because of one or two bad results.

'They showed last season they can handle that. But like every other player and every other manager we now need to go out and do it again.

'Expectation is there all the time - it's not something that comes purely from losing in the qualifying round of the Champions League.'

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