Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst has dismissed claims that his side are arrogant and says they will be working hard to dump Crvena Zvezda out of the Europa League.
The sides meet in the first leg of their last 16 tie at Ibrox on Thursday with Rangers hoping to extend a run in the competition that saw them progress from the group stage before shocking Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund in the play-off round.
The 6-4 aggregate win over the German side caught the eye of many onlookers but, speaking ahead of the last 16 match, Crvena Zvezda academy director Dragan Mladenovic says it will have made the Scottish champions “arrogant”.
Mladenovic, who moved from the Belgrade club to Rangers in 2004 but had an unhappy and short-lived spell at Ibrox, was quoted as saying that “the Scots are now a little arrogant. They are thinking in the sense that: ‘When we can beat Borussia, the second best club in Germany, we will also beat Red Star’.”
Van Bronckhorst dismissed that idea and said that his team were treating their opponents with complete respect.
“Why are we arrogant? I don’t see any of my players being arrogant,” he said.
“I think we are being very humble at this moment. We enjoy being in Europe but we respect every opponent we are facing. I don’t see anything arrogant in my team, in myself or the club.
“We’re happy to be in this round. We’ll do everything to win this tie and arrogant is not the word that comes to me when I see my players preparing for this game.”
Crvena Zvezda manager Dejan Stankovic believes Rangers are favourites for the tie and again Van Bronckhorst refused to put much stock in the comments from the Serbian side.
“It’s his opinion, of course,” he said. “For me it’s not important.
“We have to do our business on the pitch, that’s the most important thing.
“So that’s what we’re going to do, what we’re trying to do.”
The Ibrox boss is looking forward to pitting his wits against Stankovic, who starred for Lazio and Inter as well as picking up more than 100 caps for Serbia.
“I think we played a Legends game a few years ago before a Champions League final,” Van Bronckhorst said. “Of course I know his history as a player, he was a fantastic player, a great midfield player and passer.
“I think his character and the way that he played, you see that influence on the team. I have a lot of respect for him as a player and also as a coach because he’s created quite a strong team.
“We can’t wait to match our teams against each other. I’m really looking forward to the two games.”
Van Bronckhorst also revealed that Aaron Ramsey will not start the match on Thursday.
The Welsh international has struggled for fitness since making his high-profile move on loan from Juventus at the end of the January window.
“Aaron will be in the squad, he will not be starting,” said boss Van Bronckhorst, who revealed midfielder Steven Davis, who has not featured since February 12, would miss out again.
“With Aaron, it is the same as every player in my squad, you want every player to be available and be able to play, but you have to also monitor the conditions of the players.
“We are doing that for Aaron, for Steven, for Ianis (Hagi) the same, they cannot play, that will always happen in the season.”