Daly: Bring Rangers players to book on great expectations

THEY are the standards set and maintained through history that define Rangers, their fans and those who pull on the famous blue jersey.

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Rangers striker Jon Daly doesn't know how he will react if he scores a winner against his ex-club
Rangers striker Jon Daly doesn't know how he will react if he scores a winner against his ex-club

But, for this particular group of players and manager Ally McCoist, the levels of excellence set throughout the club's illustrious history are proving hard to live up to.

Like all of the players who arrived at Ibrox in the summer, Jon Daly was warned just what playing for Rangers meant; the expectations and demands that would be placed on him by a fanbase used to top-tier titles and European nights yet being fed on a diet of lower league football and poor performances against part-time teams.

Defeat in the Ramsdens Cup final last weekend to Raith Rovers, a team from a division higher than Rangers have been playing this term, has proven to be the final straw for some.

There have been calls for manager McCoist to pay the ultimate price for his side's capitulation in the capital, with the embarrassing result too hard to stomach for a disgruntled fanbase.

"I don't think expectation levels should come down," striker Daly said ahead of tomorrow's Scottish Cup semi-final with Dundee United.

"It is a fantastic club with great history and it is up to the players to go out there and make sure that expectation level is matched.

"We have to do everything we can to win games and we have done that most of the season. We lost the cup final at the weekend, but we can't dwell on it with a game like this coming up now.

"We need to put it into the past and move on and this is a great game to focus on."

Less than seven days ater their worst result of the season, Rangers have a chance to restore some pride and go some way to saying sorry to the fans who booed and heckled them off at Easter Road.

The League One champions will certainly not be favourites this time as Jackie McNamara's side head to Ibrox aiming to book a final berth against Aberdeen or St Johnstone.

But the opportunity of redemption will spur the Gers on this afternoon.

Daly said: "Obviously we're massively disappointed to lose a cup final but that's football.

"We need to get over it as quickly as we can and this is obviously a good game to try to get back into it.

"We feel we're more than capable of winning. Obviously if we don't perform and Dundee United do, they've got a chance, too. Whoever takes their chances will win."

Daly had to suffer the jeers from the Light Blue legions in the capital but it will be those who used to chant his name on Tayside who are likely to give him abuse this afternoon.

The Irishman was a mainstay at Tannadice before his summer switch to join McCoist's side in League One.

And he insists any stick from the large tangerine contingent inside Ibrox will only act as added inspiration.

He said: "It is part and parcel of it. I have said many a time that I had six-and-a-half great years there and it was just the right time to move on.

"I have really enjoyed this year and I am ready for anything that comes my way.

"I am sure there will be one or two supporters with something to say, but that's football and that is part of the banter that fans bring to the game.

"I just hope I can feed off whatever abuse I get, respond to it in the right way and put Rangers through to the final."

If Gers are to upset the odds and overcome a United side flying high in the Premiership, they will require a big display from Daly against his former club.

The striker has enjoyed a productive campaign in the final third so far this season.

And he knows a goal - what would be his 26th this term -against United would be greeted with a degree of intrigue from some who will watch any celebrations carefully.

"I wouldn't want to try to rub anyone up the wrong way, but, obviously, I am going out and trying to get myself and my team-mates through to a Scottish Cup final," he said.

"Who is to say that the emotions won't take over if I score a 92nd-minute winner? It is a difficult one. I honestly don't know if I will or I won't.

"People I have met have asked as well as family and friends. People are just curious about what you are going to do if you score, but I have got to score first. I won't be going out to wind people up because I still have a lot of respect for the club and the boys still there.

"But I'll be going out to do everything I can to help the team-mates I have now, the manager and everyone at the club get a day for ourselves at a Scottish Cup final."

Football

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