Belfast Telegraph

Give Alex McLeish Rangers job, urges Ibrox legend Nacho Novo

By Graham Luney

Rangers legend Nacho Novo believes his former boss Alex McLeish is the man to steer the troubled Glasgow club out of stormy waters.

The 37-year-old Spaniard, who spent six glorious years at Ibrox over a decade ago, insists 'Big Eck' has the knowledge and expertise to make Rangers a Scottish football force again.

The departure of Mark Warburton has left a club that has survived financial embarrassment in recent years, once again in disarray. But Glentoran star signing Novo is in no doubt that McLeish can steady the ship, saying: "Big Eck was like a dad to me when he brought me to Rangers in 2004. He can be the man to take the club forward.

"Eck was a big success as a manager - he knows how the club works. He's been there and done it and he would be a big favourite with the fans. I know he has the ability and passion to make the club great again."

St Johnstone boss and former Northern Ireland goalkeeper Tommy Wright has been linked with the Gers post but he said: "It is all speculation. Pure speculation."

Novo admits that morale will be low following the 'pantomime' acted out last weekend when the club announced Warburton and his backroom team had resigned and he, in turn, insisted he hadn't.

It is understood that Nottingham Forest had declared an interest in Warburton. When that interest waned, he signalled he was prepared to stay but the club elected to let him go.

“It’s a very difficult situation for the club,” added Novo, who is on the books, but currently out of favour, at Glentoran.

“There was so much went on in such a short space of time with the club accepting the resignation of the manager and his backroom team, who then insisted they wanted to remain.

“But the club must remain professional the way they handle things. The priority is finding a replacement. I’ve no doubt the club has made the right decision.”

Novo still has many close friends at the Glasgow club, adding: “I travel over on occasions. I have some great memories from my time at Rangers and the fans still greet me very well.

“It’s sad when you see the huge gulf that now exists between the Old Firm rivals.

“We were more than a match for Celtic in my days. Rangers have suffered financially over the past five years or so.

“It all came down to poor boardroom management. It has been an on-going situation. To be fair, the players have played their part in getting the club back to the Premier League.

“Celtic are a lot stronger financially. The have benefited from European money and they are now in a very strong position.

“European football now has to be a priority for Rangers.

“Celtic again have the league wrapped up, even at this early stage, but Rangers still have the Scottish Cup and the incentive of finishing in second place in the table. They have to keep fighting because you just never know what’s around the next corner. The club needs to stabilise.

“One thing is certain, the Rangers support is always there — through good times and bad times. Rangers are an institution with a fantastic fan base, even here in Northern Ireland.”

Former Northern Ireland stopper Wright, meanwhile, has distanced himself from the post.

“It is always sad to see a manager go,” said Wright.

“Mark had done a good job and obviously something has happened there. But it is all speculation. Pure speculation.

“From my point of view, for people to link me to a club that size and a club with that much history and success, and to be linked in amongst people like (Alex) McLeish and other good managers, shows that I am doing a good job and the press are recognising that and linking me to Rangers.

“In my four years as manager, we have consistently got top six so it is nice that people recognise that by linking you with the job.”

Belfast Telegraph


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