Don't worry, be happy: Mendes tells Rangers doom-mongers they are way off the mark in bad-mouthing Scottish game

The world may have talked itself into global recession, yet Pedro Mendes believes there is still time for Scottish football to avoid tumbling into a deep trough of despair.

The Portuguese midfielder, an outstanding capture for Rangers to date, remains bewildered by the self-flagellation which has followed some wretched results on the continental stage for Scottish clubs.

Twelve games have passed in European competition without a Scottish team winning a single one. Six months since Rangers contested a UEFA Cup Final, the prophets of doom are winning the argument comfortably.

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Pedro Mendes

Running man: Portuguese international midfielder Pedro Mendes leads from the front as Rangers train at Murray Park

Like Motherwell manager Mark McGhee, Mendes is bemused by the welter of negativity. A former Premier League star with Spurs and Portsmouth, Mendes believes the national game is in danger of being paralysed by Gerald Ratner syndrome. Tell the world your product is awful and sooner or later they believe you.

Arriving at Ibrox too late to avoid a Kaunas disaster, Mendes draws from the example of his own country when he insisted: 'As a Portuguese player, I always put my league and our players up on a good level. And in Scotland you should do the same.

'In Europe it's the same for our teams, at home it's one thing and away from home another. And in the past Rangers and Celtic in home games in Europe did well. So you have to get it right in your head and make yourself better.

'Things here are not so bad. It's difficult to play away from home - and even at home here. Look at Dundee United, they came here and gave it a real go and scored three goals. So it would be better for everyone if the people in Scotland tried to improve things together.'

That Mendes believes the media to be the ultimate harbingers of doom in the nation at large will surprise no one. Catching a balance between the truth and vindictive negativity has never been the greatest strength of a national media a good deal more competitive than the SPL.

Yet in Portugal the onus is on the newspapers and broadcasters to spread good news wherever they can. Mendes added: 'Journalists should want the country to be better. In Portugal, the press put the players up on a high level and here you have to talk more positively about your game.

'Not long ago we had a Celtic-Porto UEFA Cup Final. Whatever UEFA competition you are in, there will always be the main contenders and the outsiders.

'At Porto, we won it when we were definitely outsiders.

'And, in Scotland, Rangers and Celtic in the Champions League will always be outsiders compared to Chelsea, Man Utd, Real Madrid and Barca. They will always be the big favourites to win, so all you can do is try to improve and then everyone will win.'


Something to smile about: Rangers stars Burke, Darcheville, Smith and Naismith look on the bright side during training

Few doubt that, had Rangers had the midfield resources currently at their disposal, then they might still have been competing in the Champions League group stages.

The prospect of Mendes and the fit-again Barry Ferguson side by side is a tantalising one, yet one which provokes the kind of debate which once plagued the Neil Lennon and Paul Lambert partnership at Celtic.

Responding to suggestions that he and Ferguson might be too similar, the 29-year-old insisted: 'Barry is back now, so the team is better with another quality player fit and well.

'I don't think it's a problem for us playing together. Of course, there must be an understanding between all the players and a balance in the team.

'The balance has to exist. If, for instance, I play with Barry, then of course it must be there. If one attacks, the other drops and, if one drops, the other attacks and so on.

'That's not an issue for me. I can't see any problem, but of course time will tell. The understanding will come and the balance will be there and hopefully we will keep winning games. There is a lot of competition in midfield, so everyone must be at their tops.'

Pedro Mendes

Midfield general: Mendes has has a fine start at Ibrox

Mendes swatted away any suggestion of pairing up once again with his former manager Harry Redknapp at Spurs, insisting that Rangers is everything he imagined it might be.

'The club is everything I expected. Of the games themselves, I expected difficult games away from home.

'Everybody is very competitive, trying to defend well against us. For home games we have a fantastic crowd.'

That will be the case as St Mirren travel the short hop up the M8 to Ibrox aware of the danger of retribution following their recent shock win over Walter Smith's side.

'The St Mirren game was an interesting one because we were playing a different type of football and, from that game, we realised that on some pitches we would need to start playing a different way,' added Mendes.

'Just as we did against Motherwell, with more direct football. We created loads of chances to win that game and, if we keep playing the same sort of football, we will win games.

'There is a long way to go, 20 almost 30 games to go. The gap of four points on Celtic is always there when you look at the table.

'But you have to get on with your work and we will see. We have plenty of games to play against each other yet.'

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