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6:53:14 PM
McCulloch blast for Gers display

Rangers midfielder Lee McCulloch
McCulloch was disappointed by the Rangers performance

Midfielder Lee McCulloch blamed a poor attitude and work-rate for Rangers' early exit from Europe.

"I don't think we would have lost that game last season - we were a harder team to beat," he told BBC Sport after the shock defeat to Kaunas.

"Maybe it's as a group thinking because you've played in a Uefa Cup final you don't need to do the nasty bits of the game anymore.

"I'm not picking out any individual, it's as a team collectively."

Rangers lost 2-1 in Lithuania following a 0-0 draw at Ibrox in the Champions League second qualifying round.

"We should have won the home leg," added the Scotland international. "It's just not good enough.

"You need to earn the right to win games and that starts with hard work.

"We didn't work anywhere near as hard as we did last year and we've not been pulling our weight in pre-season either.

"We need to get back to basics and start pulling in the one direction again."

Rangers played an incredible 68 games last term, winning the League Cup and Scottish Cup, while losing out to Zenit St Petersburg in the Uefa Cup final and to Celtic on the final day of the Scottish Premier League campaign.

"We had a tremendous run last season and it wasn't because we were individually brilliant and had lots of flair," said McCulloch. "It was all down to hard work and a wee bit of luck along the way.

"The bulk of the team were here last year, so there's no excuses. The players are to blame, not the coaching staff or anybody else.

"It's the players who have come back with that mindset and it's the players who have gone out and lost the tie.

"Now everyone needs to focus on the league. Come the weekend, it's going to need men to take the ball and go out and play.

"We need to regroup and have a right good shot at it on Saturday."

Scottish Football Association chief executive Gordon Smith, a former Rangers player, said the club's shock exit could ultimately affect other Scottish club's chances of achieving more success in Europe.

"It does have an effect on the whole Scottish game because of the co-efficient," Smith remarked.

"It's a bit of a blow but over time you're hoping other teams, like Celtic, Queen of the South and Motherwell have a good run."

Smith added that it would be wrong to be too critical of the Ibrox club considering their efforts in reaching a European final last season.

"You have to give Rangers a lot of credit for the fact that they helped the co-efficient last year by their performances in getting to a Uefa Cup final.

"It would be a bit harsh to suddenly turn on one club.

"But we don't want to see our clubs go out of Europe this early."

And the SFA chief acknowledged that the club would be hurting at losing a tie that most observers expected them to win.

"The players themselves will be sick about it and the management will be angry about it," he continued.

"Kaunas was a team who were beatable, and even on the evidence of last night Rangers could have and should have gone through in the game."

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