Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Stephen Craigan: Loyal to Rangers cause, but Ally’s caught in a storm

Rangers manager Ally McCoist
Rangers manager Ally McCoist

The fact that there were more fans at Ibrox to see The Rangers play Montrose in a Scottish Third Division game on Sunday than there were at Anfield for Liverpool against Manchester United in the English Premier League, tells you all you need to know about how important the Scottish giants are to so many people.

Ally McCoist is one who doesn’t need reminding of that, as he’s supported, played for and now manages the club he’s always loved.

It’s hardly been all plain sailing since McCoist took control, far from it, but his determination, resilience and love of what he calls his club has been an inspiration to all Rangers fans around the world.

His dream job quickly became a nightmare after replacing Walter Smith when the club plunged into administration and then the unthinkable happened when it was liquidated and they had to start the current campaign in Scotland’s fourth tier.

It would have been easy for McCoist, the club's legendary record goalscorer, to walk away and few would have blamed him but he chose to be loyal to the club he served so well and take on the challenge of leading them back to their former glories.

Seven games into their new campaign and you wonder has McCoist let his heart rule his head.

Many of his top players have left, Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis, Steven Naismith and Alan McGregor to name a few and the ones that have replaced them have failed to win at Peterhead, Berwick Rangers and Annan Athletic!

The pressures of winning at Rangers is nothing new but surely with the quality of player at McCoist’s disposal and his substantially higher budget compared to the rest of the teams in the Third Division he has every right to expect a lot more from his players.

McCoist knew more than everyone that this season was going to be one of the most important he has ever faced as a professional since he joined St Johnstone as a player back in 1979.

He knew the eyes of the world where going to be on him and his club with every dropped league point magnified and dissected like never before.

Rangers are on a hiding to nothing because if they win everyone expects it from them but if they don’t then it’s a field day for the critics so that is a pressure in itself and the players are going to have to deal with it.

McCoist continues to conduct himself with great dignity even in adversity and it really is hard to dislike the man but football is all about results and Ally knows that irrespective of his past, he will be judged on his achievements and his success as a manager and if the early part of the season is to go by he has a lot of work to do.

His team have looked lethargic, pedestrian and short of ideas at times and certainly haven’t had it all their own way.

I agree there’s been a lot of personnel change over the summer and it’s a relatively new side McCoist has put together but it’s time for the players to deliver for him and the fans, starting tonight against my former side Motherwell in the Scottish League Cup.

Motherwell are currently top of the SPL and in an attacking sense carry a real threat and have lots of pace so it will be a big test for Rangers.

It could possibly be the first time ever a team sitting second in the Scottish Third Division are favourites against the team sitting 33 places above them in the league ladder — if the bookies are to be believed!

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