Sturrock: Bilel needs to improve his discipline

BILEL Mohsni will continue to star for Rangers when they return to the top flight - but only if he can improve his discipline.

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Mentor...Paul Sturrock is a big fan of Mohsni from their time together at Southend United
Mentor...Paul Sturrock is a big fan of Mohsni from their time together at Southend United

That was the prediction from Mohsni's former manager Paul Sturrock today as the player prepared to make his first-team comeback.

The French-Tunisian defender has done superbly for the Ibrox club since arriving on a free transfer during the summer.

The 26-year-old has formed a rock-solid partnership with club captain Lee McCulloch at the heart of the rearguard.

The centre-half pairing has helped the Light Blues to keep 19 clean sheets in all domestic competitions.

On top of that, Mohsni has been a regular goalscorer and has netted seven times in the 2013/14 campaign.

And the notoriously hard-to-please Rangers fans have certainly taken the larger-than-life personality to their hearts.

Sturrock managed Mohsni for three seasons at Southend in England and is not at all surprised by the success he has enjoyed in Scotland.

He was, after all, the subject of unsuccessful cash bids from Championship club Ipswich and Premier League club West Ham during that time.

The Dundee United great believes his protege has the ability and desire he needs to stay in the Rangers side when they return to the top division.

"Bilel will keep his place in the Rangers team when they get back into the Premiership in Scotland," said Sturrock.

"He scored a lot of goals and made a lot of goals when he was with me at Southend. His aeriel prowess is just immense.

"But I still find it amazing that he has scored so many goals for Rangers because he has been playing at centre-half.

"I used him on the left-wing and also played him as a centre-forward. He scored a lot of goals. One season he got 13. He is absolutely magnificent in the air.

"That is one of his greatest strengths. But he has got a lot in his locker. He is a talented boy.

"He reminds me very much of another of my former players who went to Rangers and did very well, Madjid Bougherra.

"I had Madjid when I was manager at Sheffield Wednesday. Both he and Bilel are decent defenders who are very good going forward.

"Madjid enjoyed success at a high level with Rangers, including in Europe, and I have no doubts that Bilel will go on to emulate him."

However, Sturrock also knows only too well about another aspect of Mohsni's make-up - his lack of discipline. The fiery defender was ordered off after becoming involved in a bust-up with rival players at the end of last week's game against Airdrie.

Referee Greg Aitken gave him a second yellow card in his room after the final whistle for adopting an aggressive attitude as he left the field.

It was not the first time the Paris-born player has got himself needlessly embroiled in off-the-ball incidents in recent weeks either.

McCoist has admitted that Mohsni, who was suspended for the League One game with Stenhousemuir at Ochilview on Sunday, is an "emotional" character.

And he has promised to have a word with his signing ahead of the league game with East Fife at Ibrox this weekend.

Sturrock feels that the Rangers coaching team will have to work hard on the training ground at Murray Park to alleviate his problem.

He said: "Bilel is the nicest boy you will ever meet off the park. But he does seem to get caught up in things needlessly on it.

"He has this issue with his discipline. But he can't allow things to affect him during games because footballers are not daft.

"Once players see that somebody has that sort of suspect temperament then they will go all out to wind him up to provoke a reaction.

"I thought Bilel had learned his lesson at Rangers. At 26, he is no longer a boy. I thought he had matured.

"But by getting himself sent off at the end of the game against Airdrie it doesn't look like it.

"Something obviously triggered his reaction at the end of the game. No doubt about it, he is a hothead."

Sturrock added: "A great manager once said to me: 'Leopards never change their spots'. Sir Alex Ferguson told me that 15 years ago now.

"I have been trying to prove him wrong for 15 years. But you know what? He is not wrong.

"But I am sure that Ally McCoist, Kenny McDowall and Ian Durrant will sort Bilel out. They have to calm his temper down and I'm sure they will.

"Ally and his colleagues have been in the game long enough to recognise this is a problem and I am sure they will be able to do something about it."

Football

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