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Russell Latapy struggled to get near the Rangers first-team squad towards the end of his stormy relationship with Alex McLeish. After witnessing the 38-year-old's midfield master class at the weekend, Alex Totten believes the Trinidadian would be a certain starter for Paul Le Guen's side.


Latapy sauntered off with the man-of-the-match champagne after helping Falkirk to their first win against Rangers since Richard Cadette ran riot in the Coca-Cola Cup third-round tie in 1994. He left a clutch of supposed superiors trailing in his wake and collected his bubbly from Stuart Lovell – a former Hibernian team-mate who, while two years younger, has retired – without even a trickle of sweat.

That the victory was achieved minus the country's leading goalscorer, Anthony Stokes, not only underlined Latapy's influence but restored heavy pressure on Le Guen and his malfunctioning side.

Totten, celebrating a 15-year association with Falkirk, admitted that Latapy offers far more value for money than the highly-paid pretenders at his former club.

"He was different class. He is a genius," purred Totten, now relishing the role of him upstairs at the Falkirk Stadium. "I would pay money to watch Russell Latapy. Who would you pay to watch in the Rangers team? I remember managing Falkirk when we played against Hibernian with Alex McLeish in charge. We were 1-0 up and Russell was on the bench. I remember saying to Alex 'keep him there'. Sure enough, he came on, bang, bang, we lose two goals and he scores them both. He is such a special talent.

"All credit has to go to John for bringing him here. They are friends from their Hibs days and the coaching role helps Russell because that's what he wants to get into when he finishes. He is just a great professional and he has left Newton Mearns to live in Falkirk now, too. After the game, he stood for ages signing autographs and standing for photos, he's just so popular and realises the responsibilities."

Totten spent three years at Ibrox as assistant to Jock Wallace during his second term of office. The former Kilmarnock and St Johnstone manager even had a period in temporary charge at Ibrox to bridge the gap between Wallace's departure and Lawrence Marlbrough's audacious appointment of Graeme Souness as player-manager from Sampdoria.

There have been course similarities drawn between Le Guen's struggling side and the modest collection inherited by Souness before the arrival of the English Connection. Totten was quick to clear up the misconception. "When I was at Rangers, there was Davie Cooper, Ally McCoist and Ian Durrant. Even more recently, the fans have been entertained by Brian Laudrup and Paul Gascoigne. It must be a severe disappointment to the fans because they are such a big club and to be 16 points behind Celtic will hurt.

"What I would say about the Rangers team I was involved in is that Jock made sure he instilled character in his players, because that's the type of manager he was. Rangers are struggling at the moment. [Viewing the situation] From the outside, there could be a culture-shock element but I don't know what goes on behind the scenes and, anyway, it's up to Rangers to worry about that."

Totten is more concerned with the fortunes of Falkirk. This is the man who feared his club could go the way of Third Lanark after becoming the forerunners of the modern financial meltdown when they slipped into provisional liquidation in 1998 before being rescued.

Now, with a new stadium, one of the country's most enlightened managers and a well-schooled squad, life could not be better for the commercial manager.

While Stokes, signed on loan from Arsenal, has monopolised the plaudits since his arrival, Totten believes the secret to Falkirk's revival under Hughes is his quiet efficiency and insistence on attractive football. "He was a rugged type as a player but loves his team to play football properly," said Totten. "I actually tried to sign him when I was at Kilmarnock. I met Tommy Burns in Newton Mearns to discuss it but he told me Hibernian had also come in and he was a big Hibee.

"The football he has us playing is an absolute joy to watch and I haven't missed a game. It is a reward to the fans for their loyalty, especially when they helped save the club in 1998. Changed days."

The greatest challenge may be in fending off the vultures during the January transfer window. The club are hopeful of retaining Stokes' services and determined to keep Alan Gow, Patrick Cregg and Liam Craig despite inevitable interest. While Hibernian are bracing themselves for the departures of Scott Brown, Kevin Thomson and possibly also Steven Whittaker, Totten is grateful Falkirk do not have such a profile.

"Hibernian are a big-city team and maybe get more attention but we certainly don't want to lose anyone. I spoke to Liam Brady [Arsenal's head of youth development] when he was up for our game against Celtic and he was happy Anthony was playing regularly at a high level and getting a chance to show what he can do. He seemed quite happy with the arrangement and I hope everyone else is."