Smith targets Rangers treble
Walter Smith has set his sights on the first treble of his second spell as Rangers manager after leading them to their fifth successive Hampden final.
Smith masterminded a 2-0 League Cup semi-final victory over St Johnstone which booked the Ibrox club a date with St Mirren at the national stadium next month. Rangers have so far reached every domestic final since Smith returned to the club three years ago, losing only last season's Old Firm League Cup showpiece.
With Celtic already out of this season's competition and trailing their arch-rivals by a massive 10 points in the Premier League, Smith's men are heavy favourites to complete two legs of a treble. The Rangers boss believes his injury-hit squad cannot afford to lose any more players to sustain a challenge on three fronts but reckons a clean sweep is not out of the question.
"It's never impossible until you can't do it," he said. "If you're at the Old Firm, you've got to set out at the start of every season and have a target of trying to win the domestic trophies. Trebles are never easy to win - I know that myself through past experience.
"So we'll carry on as we're doing and try to win the games as they come along and hope that that's good enough for us. This spell that we're having and the problems we have, if we do take injuries, it could ruin the season for us. But that's in the background just now. We're enjoying the fact that we've got to the first cup final of the season and we'll look forward to that."
Smith felt the first goal - scored by the outstanding Steven Davis - was crucial. After Lee McCulloch added a second, St Johnstone enjoyed a brief spell of dominance before Rangers substitute Steven Naismith missed a penalty. Smith said: "We're a little disappointed that in the latter stages of the game we didn't add to our score. But we're obviously delighted to be in another final."
The Rangers boss hailed the performance of man-of-the-match Davis, who scored for the third successive game. "He's been playing extremely well for," Smith said. "I don't know what he's done but he's been adding goals to his performances at the present moment, which obviously we're delighted with."
Despite their injury woes, Rangers have managed a superb run of results of late. "We have a good spirit and determination about us - there's no doubt about that," said Smith, who was confident Kyle Lafferty (thigh) and Nacho Novo (ankle) would both be fit for Saturday's Scottish Cup tie at St Mirren. "For us to have reached - so far - every domestic cup final that we could for a third season now, you need a little bit of luck."
Opposite number Derek McInnes felt his side let themselves down badly tonight as they froze in the Hampden snow. "Ultimately, it's just a feeling of disappointment," he said. "There's no real satisfaction in terms of how we played and our approach.
"Maybe I expect too much from us at times and I expect us to be better and defend better. Rangers are through because they took a couple of opportunities and they defended better throughout the game. I thought we had some really good performances but I do think certain the goals were very, very poor and ultimately that's cost us."
Murray Davidson missed a good chance to put Saints ahead when he headed wide. "Nine times out of 10, you would expect him to hit the target and possibly get a goal from there," McInnes said. "We're just desperate to get back here and have another go at it."