19 September 2012

Super Ally Struggles On

by Robbie Devine | CRO guest contributor |

The last twelve months have undoubtedly been the most traumatic in the history of Rangers FC.

Off field issues which led to the collapse of the club have overshadowed what has been going on the park but following the teams latest flop at home against Queen of the South serious questions are now being raised about the managerial abilities of Ally McCoist.

Super Ally the player was a hero in the eyes of the Gers supporters, 355 goals in 418 appearances enough to earn him the status as the clubs best ever goalscorer but Super Ally the manager? Well right now he is struggling and the jury is out.

Inheriting a title winning team from his mentor Walter Smith McCoist was unfortunate that his plans of strengthening the squad were seriously hampered thanks to the lack of support from the disgraced Craig Whyte.

Failure to land his favoured targets Carlos Cuellar, Roland Juhasz, Craig Conway, Tomer Hemed and David Goodwillie began to infuriate McCoist though he was able to sign the likes of US captain Carlos Bocanegra and Lee Wallace.

The first concerns about whether McCoist would be a successful Rangers manager began surfacing after he failed to lead the club into the Champions League after being knocked out by Malmo. That was followed by demotion to the Europa League and a disastrous two legged encounter with Slovenia’s Maribor.

Further embarrassment was heaped following a 2-1 League Cup defeat at Falkirk though the form of his new look team in the SPL was top notch, a fifteen game unbeaten run which included a 4-2 stuffing of Celtic.

But then came administration - on the heels of the loss of ‘Plan A’: the right boot of Steven Naismith. With a ten point deduction effectively handing the title to Celtic, the players appeared to lose focus and drive fearing for their futures and consecutive home losses against Kilmarnock and Hearts saw McCoist’s team struggle to hold onto second place.

Hopes of landing any silverware in his debut season as Gers gaffer were dashed as Dundee United knocked them out of the Scottish Cup with the season ending in fears the club may not even exist the following season.

However despite liquidation Charles Green’s consortium have been able to restructure the clubs finances and there was to be football played at Ibrox this year, albeit in the Third Division.

But for the 54 champions of Scotland it has been a real struggle adapting to life in the lower reaches of Scottish football, three draws and poor performances at Peterhead, Berwick and Annan have eradicated much of the sense of fun felt by the travelling Gers support at follow following their team in the third division.

And when we thought it could get no worse, Queen of the South came to Ibrox on a Tuesday night and dismissed us from the Ramsdens Cup. Described by many as featuring the worst first half of football they had ever seen, the team sheet featured the one constant of the McCoist era: players used out of position.

Rangers will still surely win the championship and could still challenge in the other two cups, but it must be said that they are making heavy weather of it when they should be swatting these part-time sides aside with ease.

Whilst McCoist has again indicated that he could have done with a little bit more backing in recruiting fresh blood he does have at his disposal enough players, including several internationalists, to be able to perform at a much higher standard.

Even in their two home league games Rangers have had to overcome the shock of losing an early goal before romping to 5-1 slaughterings over East Stirlingshire and Elgin. And, of course, there was last night.

The Rangers manager has publicly questioned the attitude of his players but despite this there has been no sign of improvement in their away showings and the fans are getting tired of hearing him and the likes of Ian Black continue to admit they are underperforming and must learn to match the physical attributes displayed by their opponents.

Tactically McCoist has yet to show he can come up with a game plan that can overcome a packed defence, and when the going gets tough he struggles to alter his system, if any attempt is made at all.

And his continued use of Neil Murray and John Brown as scouts has to be scrutinised when you consider some of the poor acquisitions that have arrived during his tenure such as Ortiz, Mackay and Celik.

Certainly Ally McCoist has been the Rangers manager during a period of transition, but for the clubs supporters this will not hide the fact that on the park under his stewardship it has not been good viewing.

Its nonsense to even consider his job is under threat but the report card on his first year in charge must read - ‘Can do better’.