Walter Smith was appointed Rangers manager 32 years ago this week and the rest, as they say, is history.

Taking over from the disillusioned Graeme Souness, who was in constant battles with the footballing authorities, Smith couldn’t have asked for a more pressurised start.

David Murray announces Walter Smith as the new Rangers manager on 19th April 1991 to replace Graeme Souness who left to join Liverpool

With David Murray refusing to bow to Souness’s demands to see out the season before leaving for Liverpool, a decision had to be made.

Top managerial names from around Europe were linked, however, for Richard Gough and the chairman, there was only one choice.

The final day of the season league decider against Aberdeen at Ibrox summed up Walter’s management.

Players ran through brick walls for him, or limped through them as the case was in that sliding door finale.

What was Walter Smith’s Rangers philosophy?

I don’t think it’s too harsh to say that Walter Smith didn’t have a particular style but what he did have was a philosophy.

Kevin Thomson’s story about being told that second is never acceptable when he signed for Rangers sums up the great man.

Just win.

Smith’s managerial career is littered with iconic games that his teams had no right to win.

Emerging victorious in a cup final with nine men, being a goal away from a Champions League final with a team full of domestic talent and countless, dramatic Old Firm victories.

Managers and men like Smith don’t come around very often, few are so widely respected both north and south of the border and by both sides of the Old Firm divide.

What Michael Beale can learn

Michael Beale, as the current incumbent, could do a lot worse than reflect on what made Smith’s teams so successful.

Yes, they had good players, and they were set up to score goals, but they also had heart, commitment and a desire to win – and to win everything.

The pressure on Beale’s shoulders is now every bit as great as it once was on Smith’s having played three Old Firm derbies with no victories and a crucial semi-final showdown around the corner.

As a new era dawned 32 years ago, so too could one be about to begin, with success at Hampden every bit as important as two points were against Aberdeen at Ibrox all those years ago.

Related Topics