MAKE A VIRTUE OUT OF WEISS; Super Kid Vlad Could Fire Up Gers' Euro Bid

Article excerpt

Byline: KEITH JACKSON

ON the face of it, Vladimir Weiss seems like an affront to everything Walter Smith stands for.

There may even have been moments against Manchester's United when Weiss felt like sneaking out of Old Trafford through a side door and slipping back to Eastlands under the cover of night.

His new manager was so committed to the dark arts of all-out defence last Tuesday that the little Slovak's bag of tricks might have vanished into thin air and made it all the way home before Smith even noticed he had gone.

The Rangers boss has very firm ideas about what has to be done to keep his side competing against the best of European football and just a few weeks into his season-long loan deal Weiss may already be wondering if there will be a place for him at any stage in this Champions League campaign.

So on Saturday, against a very different United, this featherweight Slovak set about the almighty task of proving why Smith simply can't to do without him.

He will take some convincing. Of that there is no doubt.

But the sparkling manner in which Weiss inspired this latest SPL win over a typically well-drilled and stuffy Tannadice outfit was a good start nonetheless.

This was not a bad performance from Peter Houston's side. In fact, there was a spell at the start of the second half, with United only trailing by a single goal - and an own goal at that - when the outcome appeared to be hanging in the balance.

There was certainly nothing to suggest that the final score would end up so heavily imbalanced.

And yet, even though United's eventual collapse came late on in the second half, Weiss had sprinkled his magic dust all over this contest from pretty much the first whistle until he left to a standing ovation nine minutes from the end.

The end product was not always there.

The truth is the majority of his deliveries missed their intended targets and there were times when he used four stepovers when three would have done.

But even so, his talent provided what might have been an otherwise dull Rangers performance with a satisfyingly glossy finish. And better still, at least as far as Smith will be concerned, Weiss even displayed a willingness to help in defence.

There was one example late in the game when Weiss sprinted back 70 yards to rob a United player of the ball with an immaculately-timed sliding tackle before setting off upfield on another attack.

If he wanted to win over the top man then he couldn't have picked a better way to Smith's heart.

Before the Govan gaffer is prepared to bite the bullet and let this free spirit loose against UEFA's elite then first he will have to be convinced that Weiss has bought into his own gritty pragmatism lock, stock and barrel.

Weiss might just be clever enough to learn quickly. He's certainly gifted enough to add something to this Rangers side as Dundee United's players can now testify.

Two of them, Scott Robertson and Jon Daly, were booked inside the opening 22 minutes for sending the winger sprawling with a couple of crude challenges.

They'd had enough of him already, which was understandable given the way in which he was tormenting the visitors.

Robertson aimed a petulant boot at Weiss after the Rangers man riverdanced over the ball in a tight corner of the pitch. On another day the United midfielder might have been punished more severely.

Mercifully, ref Dougie McDonald did not overreact and dished out only a booking but Robertson was stupid to take such a risk so early in the game. …