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By ESPN Staff

Smith: Now's the right time to call it a day

Rangers manager Walter Smith will walk away with a sense of regret but insists his decision to quit is the right one as the club enters a new era.

Smith signed off from his second spell at the Ibrox helm with a third successive Scoottish Premier League title - his tenth in all - after an emphatic 5-1 win at Kilmarnock on Sunday.

The former Scotland boss has won 21 trophies in total with Rangers and revealed how he wrestled with his decision to step down from the helm at the end of this season.

"I'll always have a regret," Smith said. "I had a regret when I was actually arguing with myself about whether to do it or not. Yes, there will be a regret but I still think it's the right thing. It's the right thing for myself and it's the right thing for Rangers now that they've got a new owner and a new manager. It's the right thing to do.

"The lads who have been working with me - Ally McCoist, Kenny McDowell and Ian Durrant - have been patiently waiting for an opportunity to take over. I think they thought they would possibly get it a bit earlier but they haven't and they have been fantastic for me. That was part of my decision and it was the right one.''

Asked where this achievement ranks with all his others at Rangers, Smith added "I don't think you can pick and choose. If you have won a few you are fortunate to be able to try to answer that question. Each one of them are special for you.''

Rangers knew victory at Rugby Park would secure the silverware regardless of events at Celtic Park today and the match was all but over as a contest after just seven minutes.

Kyle Lafferty grabbed the opener after just 47 seconds, before Steven Naismith netted and Lafferty found the back of the net again in a blistering opening spell.

Nikica Jelavic claimed a goal himself soon after the restart and Lafferty completed his hat-trick, before James Dayton netted a consolation goal for Kilmarnock.

Smith said: "We had a fantastic start and the standard of finishing for the first three goals was exceptional. It was a terrific way to start and eased the nerves a bit. If you look at the games we have played since the defeat to Dundee United, we have been playing some good football.

"We have started the last half dozen or so games well and we did that today. To be 3-0 up after seven minutes is something we never expected. It was a pleasing factor - it just leaves you more than 80 minutes of the game to handle.''

A single point was all that separated Rangers and Celtic in the end and Smith enjoyed the tussle with their rivals this term.

"If you look at the seasons, a lot of them have been like that in recent years," he said. "When that's the situation you are in, it's always interesting. Somebody said to me the other day that Celtic lost the league at Inverness but they didn't because they lost other games as well and so did we.

"Whatever happens, it's not just one particular game that causes you to lose the championship. For us, it's been a really good one. I don't think we were the favoured team this season and the boys have fought extremely hard.''


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