WALTER SMITH reckons Rangers winning the Scottish Cup on Saturday will be a real statement of intent ahead of their tilt at the Scottish Premiership next season.
The legendary Ibrox boss has been greatly impressed with the work done by current gaffer Mark Warburton and assistant David Weir since their arrival at the club last summer, and he believes qualifying for Europe as a result of winning the Cup would be a massive boost for everyone involved at Rangers.
Speaking to the Official Rangers Podcast, Smith explained: “I am really looking forward to the game. It’s always really interesting to come back and see how the club have been doing.
“When I left, the staff that I had took over and everyone knows the circumstances the team have been in.
“So Mark has been charged with the responsibility of taking the team out of a period of time where the club didn’t have their best spell for a massive number of reasons.
“That gets put aside now, and Mark has taken on the responsibility, as have those others who are now in charge of the club.
“We have had a great season getting out of the Championship and into the Premiership again, but the Cup Final throws up something different.
“Given the period we have been through, you could never have imagined coming out of this season with a chance of getting into Europe. It would be a tremendous achievement by everyone at the club.
“Everyone still thinks we have a fair bit to go, and Mark Warburton himself will know that, but it would be a great achievement by everyone to get ourselves back into a European environment if we can win the Cup.
“Strangely enough, Hibs will feel that as well. It’s the first time in history two Championship teams have got to the final, and it’s congratulations to both clubs for getting there, but from my own point of view, I am desperate for Rangers to get that win.
“It will let everyone see that the club is not only going back into the Premiership and not only going back into Europe, but hopefully will, if Mark gets a bit of help from everyone, back to challenging Celtic again for their Championship.”
Smith was mightily impressed with the semi-final win over old-foes Celtic last month, and he feels that victory dispelled any lingering ill-feeling around the club after four years of tough times.
He added: “Celtic games are always vital games, and there is a lot more optimism about the club this year, so we were going into the Celtic game in an optimistic light.
“I watched the game in a Manchester hotel, and there were a group of other people there who I watched the game with that I was at a function with on the Saturday night.
“They were all Rangers supporters, and it was just great. It was a terrific performance, although maybe a little nerve-wracking going into the penalties.
“For the first time in a number of years after the doom and gloom that had been surrounding the club, we felt like Rangers Football Club again.
“Hopefully , we can go a step further, and it will be a step in the right direction for Rangers again.”