• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Keeping it together . . .

ONE injudicious step on the field is all it takes to bring forth an overwhelming torrent of wrath within the unforgiving world of a modern-day Rangers player.

Steve Simonsen is aware Rangers face a more formmidable test to win the title this season. Picture: SNS
Steve Simonsen is aware Rangers face a more formmidable test to win the title this season. Picture: SNS

If Steve Simonsen was unaware of that fact before he signed up at Ibrox then he learned an extremely harsh lesson when scuffing the passback from Richard Foster which invited Nadir Ciftci to complete a 3-1 Scottish Cup semi-final victory for Dundee United in April.

Within 24 hours, the Rangers goalkeeper had announced he was closing down his Twitter account as a result of his 11-year-old son, Michael, who had made his first trip to Ibrox to see his dad play, being targeted with "mindless abuse". Simonsen, for all his experience in England with the likes of Everton and Stoke City, confesses that the unfortunate episode, a cautionary tale for any footballer dabbling in cyberspace, showed precisely how intense the glare of the spotlight can become in Glasgow.

He has no wish to step away from it, though, as highlighted by his decision to accept another one-year contract in the summer. As the goalkeeper continues to stand in for Cammy Bell - who is out for at least another couple of weeks with a shoulder problem - he realises that an acceptance of what is expected will be paramount as Rangers endeavour to win the SPFL Championship and reach the Premiership.

Like it or lump it, Rangers must win the title. They must see off the challenges of Hearts and Hibernian. The budget, history and fanbase at Ibrox mean no other outcome can be countenanced.

Simonsen describes himself as a "strong character" and that attribute will be needed as his side attempts to handle increased competition on the field in addition to the usual, destabilising events around the boardroom.

"I think it's fair enough for the fans to expect us to win the league," said the 35-year-old. "As players, we know we must go out and win this league. We didn't take our foot off the pedal when we won the league early last season, but it's fair to say it's going to be a closer campaign than the previous two seasons.

"Hearts and Hibs being in the league means it will, arguably, be more exciting than the Premier. We are here, though, to get the club back into the top flight."

Simonsen was distracted when talking about the upset caused to young Michael by angry supporters on the internet earlier this year. That was, in part, to do with the fact his manager, Ally McCoist, was being doused in freezing water outside the window - nominating Walter Smith, Graeme Souness and also Sir Alex Ferguson for the same fate - as part of the now-infamous 'Ice Bucket Challenge'.

The episode which impacted on his son is something which Simonsen clearly does not want to dwell on too deeply, but you can be sure it showed him the dark underside of football in these parts. "It was disappointing, but, as time goes on, you learn to take the rough with the smooth," he said.

"It was maybe a slight eye-opener in terms of the scrutiny that is placed on every single player who walks across the white line here, but it is part and parcel of being a footballer at this club. You've got to be able to deal with those situations.

"I've moved on from that and I hope it won't happen again. [The goal against Dundee United] was a cruel moment for me and, obviously, for the fans, but I don't think it is beneficial to anyone to worry about that. It is par for the course as a goalkeeper. You live and die by your mistakes."

McCoist has moved to bring Lee Robinson, who left in 2009, back to the club as additional cover for the goalkeeping position. The Rangers manager confirmed, though, that the news on Bell's condition is not as bad as originally feared.

"His scan was encouraging," said McCoist. "The specialist who looked at the scans said to Cammy that he's got to go away and build the shoulder up for the next couple of weeks or so. Fingers crossed, he should be all right [after that]."

Kenny Miller missed the 8-1 midweek win over Clyde in the Petrofac Training Cup with a hamstring injury and may miss out again today when Dumbarton come calling in the league. "We'll take a medical decision on it," said McCoist.

McCoist has also answered criticism from fans over Lewis Macleod being fielded in a wider position than expected in midfield. "Longer term, he will be a fantastic central midfield player, but it's not doing him any harm getting an education by playing in other positions," said McCoist. "He links up well with Lee Wallace on the left and he's done fine on the right."

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

256593