Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Promotion just a beginning to Rangers' long road

Rangers' manager Ally McCoist watches as his team play Stirling Albion during the Irn- Bru Scottish Third Division match at Ibrox, Glasgow

Rangers, as anticipated, were crowned Scottish Football League Division three winners last Saturday.

It wasn't exactly a glorious triumph though as Rangers only laboured to a 0-0 draw away to Montrose and had to rely on nearest challengers Queens Park losing at home to Elgin City.

I don't think the Gers envisage a lot of plaudits coming their way. Nor should there be as the resources and facilities at their disposal are light years ahead of the likes of East Stirling and Peterhead.

But for manager Ally McCoist it's mission accomplished and a small step in the right direction for the Glasgow giants. McCoist has been fighting fires both on and off the park for the last 18 months and I'm guessing relief is a feeling he'll be experiencing at this moment.

Looking back at the season it is simply a case of job done for Rangers with little praise for their style of play in particular.

They have looked disjointed and been heavily reliant on individuals winning matches for them rather than good team play. In a lot of their games they have done just enough to win but, with the significant gulf in class, the Rangers fans surely deserved a bit more flair and entertainment.

Players who had previously impressive seasons in the SPL have failed to reproduce their form and their body language was that of players going through the motions.

Ian Black was pivotal in Hearts' Scottish Cup win last season, Francisco Sandaza scored 18 goals for St Johnstone last season and David Templeton cost a reported £800,000 from Hearts yet they would admit they haven't played anywhere near their capabilities on a regular basis.

I'm guessing privately McCoist will feel let down by some performances of his players over the season but like any good manager publicly he will always back them.

It's going to be an interesting summer ahead with the uncertainty surrounding which league Rangers will be in, but also player recruitment will be the key for McCoist.

I imagine some of his underperforming players will be shipped out and possibly as many as 15 players on their way in.

It will certainly be challenging because McCoist has to attempt to sign players who can have an impact long term at Ibrox but also players who short term can win them promotion from whichever league they find themselves in.

Finding the balance and the right type of player will be a test for everyone at Ibrox but with so many players out of contract throughout England and Scotland there will be plenty of choice. Pace and guile are what Rangers have lacked so those will be the key ingredients McCoist will look to add.

One piece of advice I'd give Ally is to hand out incentive-based contracts to keep players hungry and on their toes. I'm sure he's learned many lessons this season and he will know what he requires, but determined players will be a necessity if they are to reach the SPL in the least amount of time.

Another potential headache for McCoist is going to be the interference of chief executive Charles Green.

I understand he helped save the club and he has a duty to steer it in the right direction but if he continues to employ McCoist as Rangers manager he has to let him get on with the job. You just get the feeling all is not well between the pair of them after events of the last few weeks but egos and self-preservation must be put to one side with the football club the most important issue.

For now they will enjoy their title win but there's still a long road ahead.

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