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Kenny McDowall out to win title as tribute to Ally McCoist

By Andy Newport

Departing Rangers boss Ally McCoist made an emotional farewell speech to his players and told them to make him proud by pipping Hearts to the Championship title.

The club's record scorer has been put on gardening leave from the remainder of 12-month notice period after handing in his resignation 11 days ago.

McCoist's former number two Kenny McDowall has now been placed in temporary charge until the end of the season.

The manager met his squad for the final time at Murray Park on Monday morning, just as the club's directors were being booed and heckled at a stormy Ibrox AGM.

But the 52-year-old used his final words to fire up the Light Blues for the title run-in as they try reign in Hearts' nine-point lead.

McDowall, speaking to the media for the first time since he was put in charge on Sunday, said: "We need to give the fans something back. That's what they boys are desperate to do. We set out to win this title and that is still the aim. Nothing would make Ally McCoist more happy than the boys doing that. It would be a great tribute to Ally if the boys could pull that off."

McCoist's turbulent three-and-a-half year reign was finally brought to an end late on Sunday night.

The former Scotland striker had been determined to see out his year-long notice period but just 14 hours before the club's directors were set to face off against seething shareholders, a brief three-line statement confirmed McCoist was gone.

McDowall will be assisted by Gordon Durie and Lee McCulloch, now doubling up as skipper and player/coach.

But the 51-year-old former Celtic youth coach, who quit Parkhead to join Walter Smith's Rangers coaching staff in 2007, looked uncomfortable as he explained how new chief executive Derek Llambias and football board chairman Sandy Easdale turned to him just moments after dispensing with McCoist.

The former Partick and St Mirren striker said: "The board intimated to myself that Ally had been put on garden leave and they told me they were going to make some changes to the structure of the coaching team.

"Gordon was to come up from the (under) 20s to assist me and they wanted to make Lee a player/coach and I was to start immediately.

"Was my opinion sought? No, they asked me if I could make those changes immediately. But the decision was made by them."

McDowall's first match in charge will come against Hibernian this Saturday but he knows defeat will all but kill-off their automatic promotion hopes.

However, he warned fans not to expect sweeping changes when he names his line-up for the Easter Road clash.

He said: "There's not a whole load that I can change because everything Ally was doing was with my backing.

"The players appreciate that they have got to do a bit better in terms of consistency. But the guys here are good players," he added.

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