Humbled Rangers suffer Mendes & Bougherra blow
Rangers confirmed Pedro Mendes and Madjid Bougherra will miss at least the next two games - amid fears Mendes may be sidelined for two months.
Portuguese playmaker Mendes was forced off at half-time in the Gers shock Champions League thrashing at the hands of Unirea Urziceni, in which his deflected shot had given the home side an early lead. The 30-year-old was seen by a specialist and will have scans on Thursday to determine the extent of what is reportedly knee ligament damage.
Defender Bougherra, who missed the game, will also have his knee scanned after fluid settled down, allowing a more accurate assessment to be made. Still reeling from Tuesday night's incredible defeat, manager Walter Smith will be praying Bougherra is fit for the return with Unirea in two weeks' time.
Nacho Novo admits the low point of his Rangers career arrived with the 4-1 defeat by the Romanian champions, which has left the club's Champions League hopes hanging by a thread. Rangers fans have witnessed European drubbings at home over the years, from sides like Ajax and Juventus, as well as last month's humbling at the hands of Sevilla.
However, never have a Light Blues team capitulated so spectacularly to such an ordinary outfit as Unirea, whose players left Glasgow as surprised as anyone after what was their first win in Europe. Novo, who joined Rangers from Dundee in 2004, was brought on for the hopelessly effective Jerome Rothen immediately after the fourth goal was slammed in by Pablo Brandan, just as the Ibrox stands began to empty.
The Spanish forward empathised with the fans who stayed to boo in frustration at full-time as the shell-shocked Rangers players sloped off the pitch in embarrassment. "It was as disappointing a night as I've had as a Rangers player, definitely,'' Novo said. "It is one of the worst results in Europe. Obviously, it is disappointing for the fans and they have always been 100% for us.
"We haven't been performing for them so we need to see what is the problem then battle in the next game. We started well, scored the early goal but it was disappointing after that and we have to look at ourselves. We need to keep going and everybody has to work harder.''
The problems appeared easier to see for the Rangers support, who watched their side continue their poor form of this season. Despite being top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, fans have been critical of the standard of football they have had to endure and those frustrations boiled over at full-time.
However, in addition to the ineptness on display against Unirea, there was an element of farce when Steven Davis missed a penalty and Kyle Lafferty and Lee McCulloch put through their own net - even if Lafferty was unlucky when a Bruno Fernandes flick came off his leg on its way past Allan McGregor. Sevilla look to be skating their way through Group G after taking maximum points from three games.
Rangers, with one point garnered in Germany against Stuttgart on matchday one, face the return game against Unirea early next month knowing victory is essential if they are to have any chance of qualifying for the knockout stages. Novo appeared to be stating the obvious when asked how Rangers must react in Romania. "We have to be positive,'' he said.