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When Rangers dropped a diabolical two points at home to fourth-bottom Alloa, the majority of fans reacted with bedlam and horror. The overriding sense was that manager Ally McCoist had put out a team with absolutely no spark or passion, and that the display was a pathetic, meagre, and unacceptable performance worthy of scathing criticism.


I felt like I was about the only fan willing to cut McCoist a little slack, which was in itself bizarre given my general stance of willingly providing a torrent of negatives about his credentials. My case was essentially that one draw in ten matches was itself not the end of the world; that two goals conceded in 600 minutes and a run of victories including one over St Johnstone had been rather prematurely and unfairly dismissed because of this one bad result and display.

Fast-forward to Saturday and once again, another bad result had fans overwhelmingly asking for Ally’s head. This time I had to agree.

It was the head-to-head title decider v Hearts, the top-of-the-table clash which had been described as ‘must-win’ given the Ibrox men’s 6 point deficit in the race for first place.

The hype about this match had been tempered somewhat with the usual off-field shenanigans which surround the Club these days, but once match day arrived it was all (temporarily) forgotten and fans waited with baited breath for McCoist’s team selection.

The reaction to its release was abject misery. Mohsni, the flamboyant, eccentric and slightly temperamental defender had been brought in from the cold to replace a ‘not-quite match fit’ Richard Foster, with McGregor shifted out to his less favoured RB position to accommodate the Tunisian. Once again, absolutely no sign of Lithuanian stopper Marius Zaliukas, and Foster was curiously enough on the bench.

The other decision which had fans scratching their heads was the inclusion of Ireland’s Jon Daly at the expense of Boyd. Yes, he had had major impact as a sub in recent matches, and Boyd’s form was not sparkling, but it was a curious change to make for such a big match. ‘Freshening things up’ was how Ally put it, and it was certainly a gamble.

And, in total truth, on the pitch Rangers showed a side of their game rarely seen this season – passion. It was a high-octane dominant display, with the defence rarely tested as the likes of Nicky Law (his best display since September last year) pressed high and constantly caused trouble at Neil Alexander’s goal. Indeed, even beyond Steven Smith’s unfortunate red card (I have definitely seen worse tackles than that) 10-man Rangers still held their own, and even continued to threaten to take the lead.

The problem was no goal came, and Daly was the one player having a really bad day, committing foul after foul and failing to get anything on target. Then the opening goal came, but unfortunately it was for the hosts, and fine goal though it was, it was not scored on merit.


But these things happen – and this moment was where McCoist was truly tested. And just like his failure in 2011 to compensate for losing Steven Naismith and the subsequent loss of a 15-point lead in the SPL, he was unable to make the right changes here to fix what remained a promising situation. Yes, Hearts had scored, but they were not the best team, and a few tweaks to 10-man Rangers and the visitors could at least have accrued a point out of this fixture.

The first change was completely understandable – Miller, having been booked, was vulnerable to a second yellow, so got hauled. Problem was it was Foster who replaced him.


This left Daly as Rangers’ only striker in a match where a goal was desperately needed. Yes, there was quite a ‘stramash’ as the visitors came agonisingly close to getting the equaliser, but the fact is luck was not there and neither were the tactics.

Why Miller did not get replaced with Clark (like for like) is beyond me – McCoist was completely unwilling to take the risk of going two strikers when down to ten men, despite the fact that a risk was essential to try to glean something from this match.

Instead McCoist appeared to be going damage limitation, then committed his second ludicrous sin. He brought on a striker – for Rangers’ best player, Lewis Macleod. Yes, it is fair to say young Macleod was not having one of his better matches, but you quite simply do not take off your finest asset when you desperately need a spark of inspiration. It seemed to suggest that Ally does not trust Macleod when the chips are down, and even stranger was his choice of bringing in out-of-form Boyd to replace him.


So now we had Daly and Boyd – one having a wretched match, one with no form at all.

Then on 80 minutes Clark finally made his entrance, at the expense of Daly.


It was just too late for the former QotS man to make a difference. In fact, thanks to a clumsy challenge from Ian Black in the box after all the subs had been made, a conceded penalty (albeit a slightly harsh one) compounded matters worse and made the match completely irretrievable.


The fact is no one blames Ally for Smith’s red card – it was a bad call from referee Thomson, especially as he only booked Miller for a near-identical tackle. What McCoist does hold responsibility for is not making the right changes at the right time.

The biggest ‘joke’ was fans’ reaction to his constant arm-folding. If arm-folding was the only thing needed to be a manager, McCoist might just be the finest around. His unfortunate expressions of cluelessness and procrastination in times of need seems to sum his management up.


This match was there for the taking, but negative substitutions at the wrong time was not the way to clutch it.

A poll after the match found 72% of Rangers fans would like McCoist to end his tenure as boss. It has been likened to the dark days of John Grieg’s time at the helm, when 5 years elapsed before the Greatest Ranger knew the game was up and admirably stepped down.

9 points adrift of Hearts and the league title now out of Rangers’ hands would force the conclusion that McCoist is not the man to close the gap.

Posted by Ibrox Noise at 10:33

Edited by charltonman
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Meanwhile ...


Rangers manager Ally McCoist has stated that he has yet to consider leaving the club, despite falling further behind Hearts in the Championship promotion race.


The Ibrox manager has come under increased scrutiny since allowing a nine point gap to open between his team and the Edinburgh side, yet that hasn't allowed McCoist to lose track of his end game.


"Just to get the club back to the top flight," said the Rangers manager.


"It's the most important thing that drives us all on. Not just me but the staff, the players, everybody. We've got to remain focused."


Travelling fans of the Ibrox side were very vocal throughout the 2-0 defeat to Hearts on Saturday, making their opinion on the manager very clear.


Yet McCoist said he hasn't let it get in the way of him doing his job.


"There's flak flying about, there's been flak flying about before, and there'll be flak flying around in the future," he said.


"That won't change, it's all part and parcel of football. But the most important thing from our point of view is that we don't lose our focus. Which we won't."


When asked directly if he'd ever considered leaving the Glasgow club, McCoist stated: "To leave here? No."


Comparisons to their Championship title rivals Hearts have continued to undermine the Rangers manager, with the Edinburgh club opting to pick youth over more established players.


McCoist doesn't believe such an approach would have been possible at the Ibrox club.


"We have had a job to do to get out of the bottom division," he explained. "No other team has done that having come down from the top flight.


"We lost the vast majority our players - all our international players."


"But if we had fielded a team completely made up of youngsters, we would not have won that league [the Third Division] and it would not have done them any good."


He added: "So it's all about getting the balance. Hearts have got a good balance and are doing well."


"We have got some youngsters of our own who have come through and are doing well - (Lewis) Macleod, (Fraser) Aird and the other youngsters who are doing fine.


"But it's a completely different scenario."

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