NO-one likes us, but we do care.

That was the theme Rangers' first-team players wished to re-emphasise last night as they reacted to two hugely disappointing defeats in the space of a week. Coming six days after the first of those to Raith Rovers in the Ramsdens Cup final, yesterday's showing against Dundee United made a stronger statement than any of the accusations and assertions the came in the lead-up to the match at Ibrox.

In any case, midfielder Nicky Law and defender Steven Smith took it upon themselves to set the record straight. Smith, whose fine goal ultimately went unrewarded, said the players had shown they can compete at Premiership level. "We have known that all along - but at the end of the day we have still lost the cup tie," he said. "I don't pay attention to what is being said, but I think the one thing you couldn't criticise was effort. I don't even think last week there was a lack of effort - if we score the first goal we win the game - but both games are gone now."

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Law, who struck the post late on against Raith Rovers before the Kirkcaldy side scored the winner, was another who felt chastened by the response to the cup final defeat. "As a footballer the worst thing that people can throw at you is you don't care and you didn't give everything," said Law. "I think we could go in after the game [the Ramsdens Cup final] and look everyone in the eye and say you gave everything you had and it just wasn't enough on the day. If you'd been here this week and after the game you'd have seen how gutted everyone was."

Aside from Tuesday's meeting with Forfar, the focus now returns to events off the field, with the verbal jousting between Dave King and Graham Wallace sure to continue as the days tick down to the unveiling of the chief executive's 120-day review.

One area which has been neglected in recent times is youth development and McCoist revealed that discussions were under way to increase spending in that area. "We had a meeting on Thursday regarding youth development and things like that and hopefully we can start moving forward again on that aspect," McCoist said. "There has been a commitment, nothing is set in stone yet, but Graham is obviously very keen to start building up the youth development again, because budgets have gone down on previous years."