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Football: MY BERT'S NO BUNGLER; He was a star everywhere I played him says Jimmy.

Byline: DAVID McCARTHY

BERT KONTERMAN was handed a midfield role on Wednesday night and in Dick Advocaat's opinion was the best player on the park against Aberdeen.

The Dutchman might sometimes look more like Bambi than Barmby in the middle of the park but his performance did give the doubting Rangers public a glimpse of his versatility.

At lunchtime today, Konterman may well be given another chance to play further forward than usual. Dunfermline boss Jimmy Calderwood wouldn't be surprised and nor would his jaw hit the floor if Konterman goes on to give another assured display in that position.

The Pars manager, you see, has worked with Bert three times in his previous managerial career in Holland and can vouch for his adaptability - and ability - which he believes Scottish fans have yet to recognise.

In fact, Calderwood was so confident in Konterman's ability to play well anywhere on the park he used to shuttle him all over the place.

He said: "I first had Bert when I was assistant manager at FC Zwolle and when I moved to Cambuur I signed him. I moved on to Willem II and took him with me again, which tells you everything you need to know about highly I regard him.

"I played him most often in the middle of the park, so I wasn't surprised to hear Dick was praising him for his performance there against Aberdeen.

"But honestly, he can play anywhere. I used him at right-back, centre-half, sweeper, wide-right in midfield and even sometimes as an attacking midfielder behind the centre forward.

"His attitude was so good that no matter where you played him, you knew you'd get 100 per cent from him.

"I know he's had a bit of stick since coming to Scotland but, believe me, he is a very good player.

"He is a far better passer of the ball than he is given credit for and he is a strong, athletic type. When he settles properly into the Scottish game, you will see just how good he is."

Calderwood revealed he has been a sounding board for Konterman as the Dutchman has struggled to cope with the change in football styles he has encountered since his pounds 4million summer move from Feyenoord.

He said: "I don't think people realise just how different the football is in Britain compared to Holland.

"I had Jaap Stam for six years and even when a player of that class moved to Britain he struggled initially and people wondered if Manchester United had made a mistake.

"They didn't and neither has Dick Advocaat with Bert. He knows he can do better and he has spoken to me about it.

"We've been out for meals and there have been times when he has been hurting because he knows he has not played as well as he can.

"I think he was surprised at just how massive Rangers are. He was at a big club with Feyenoord but Rangers are on a different level altogether.

"Another player who has struggled a bit in his first season there is Fernando Ricksen and in some ways it has been even harder for him than Bert because Fernando came from AZ Alkmaar, who are a really small club.

"But both are very good players and will come good at Ibrox. I just hope they really come good after this weekend!"

Dunfermline head for Ibrox having surprised most pundits by climbing into sixth place in a season when most believed they would be battling against the drop. Calderwood isn't about to make any outrageous predictions about what they are going to do in the pay-per-view clash but he wants a better performance from his team than he got in the 4-1 defeat at Ibrox earlier in the season.

He added: "I know it's a cliche but anything you get from Rangers or Celtic is a bonus, especially away from home.

"But what disappointed me about our last trip to Ibrox was that we froze and got turned over.

"Despite that, we have played well over the course of the season and are in the fight for fifth and sixth place, although I think the top four has been settled already.

"If we make sixth it will be an achievement in our first season up because even I thought that our main fight would be against relegation and we have done better than that."

In stark contrast to Rangers, the Pars travel to Glasgow with only David Moss missing. But they are facing a team who know anything less than a win will be catastrophic in terms of the championship.

Rangers keeper Stefan Klos said: "We need the three points but it will be difficult because Dunfermline are playing very well.

"We have to get them and hopefully that might put a little bit of pressure on Celtic the next day.

"We know we have injury and suspension problems but we have to keep winning because Celtic aren't dropping many points.

"We can't afford to think about them - all we can do is win our games and see what happens to them."

The Old Firm meet twice in four days next week but the German stopper insists nobody at Ibrox is thinking that far ahead.

He said: "We can't afford to do that. We must concentrate on beating Dunfermline. At this club, the next game is always the most crucial - only when it is over will we think about Celtic."

Stats

THE number of scoring chances that Ronald De Boer has created for his Rangers team-mates this season - and only three have been taken.

FORMER Gers player Barry Nicholson has been Dunfermline's most creative player.

NO player in the SPL has missed the target with more shots from inside the six-yard box than Lorenzo Amoruso.

THE total number of chances Dunfermline have missed the goal with from just

six-yards out.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 3, 2001
Words:982
Previous Article:Football: Ibrox wait to enter the main lobby.
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