04 July 2013

Traynor/McCoist: A nagging doubt

by Garry Carmody | Contributor

From a period of deafening silence over the past few weeks, Rangers finally pulled the curtains back and allowed the fans to have a look inside. Yesterday, our Director of Communications, James Traynor, sat down with manager, Ally McCoist, in as close to a "no holds barred interview" as we are likely to find.

A whole range of subjects related to McCoist's tenure were discussed. From centre backs to dealing with constant slander and venom being aimed at the club, most fans appeared satisfied as to what was asked, and what was revealed. I would include myself in this in the most part, it was something the fans had been crying out for, and Rangers answered the requests well.

The one part I was particularly looking forward to was the discussion of McCoist's football philosophy and his hopes and aspirations for his future as Rangers manager. The question was needed, but did the response really answer the question?

In response to Traynor’s question, McCoist initially answered that he wanted to give fans the "Rangers they have known for 140 years". He followed that up by saying he wanted the Rangers "that were winning things... reaching the Champions League and UEFA Cup Finals". He then went on to discuss how the five year plan includes getting Rangers back to the pinnacle of Scottish football, and that the backing of the fans was needed for that.

Now, without wanting to be too cynical or too critical, but was any football philosophy or ideas really revealed? Yes, Rangers want to get back to winning leagues... yes, Rangers want to be back in Europe – the eventual goals write themselves. However, where is the plan for the transitional period? The very simple fact is that Rangers don't suddenly go from a club in the third tier of Scottish football, to one that is topping the premier tier without a great deal of thought. Of course, the Rangers situation is extremely unique, and it is a club that has a great deal more financial clout than those around us, which makes the process easier, but are we, the fans, supposed to believe that this is simply a given right?

In reality, the fans that have invested £5 million of hard cash into the club are crying out to see what the plan is. On top of that, there are around 30,000 fans that have recently renewed their season tickets that want fresher football-ing ideas. Title wins and European football is fine rhetoric, but the reality is at the present moment, we couldn’t be much further away from that level. The end of the five year plan sounds excellent, but how is it Rangers are going to get there? Does McCoist want to help implement a more effective and wide-spreading scouting programme? What about the youth system? How key an issue will it be in the return to the top?

The big question I did take from the interview is that does Ally McCoist believe that the answer lies in numbers? At the present moment, the squad number lies at around 30 players – possibly even more. Last season the gaffer brought in a number of players to help build the second highest wage bill in Scotland – this summer McCoist has simply added to those numbers. Is it really necessary? With hand on heart, could Ally truly say that the players that he has signed are necessary? Or is it simply a case of a kid being left with a free run in a sweet shop? Is topping up the wage bill really part of the solution, or is it more part of the problem? Echoes of bygone days surround some of the transfer business, and the club have to question if there is room for it.

In many parts of his interview with Traynor, McCoist did well to defend both his job, and the job of his team. From the point of view of the fans, we can tend to be far too fickle, and at times, far too quick to demand things go "our" way, even though we barely have a qualification between us. However, when McCoist can be sat down for an "all areas access" interview, and can leave it with giving the fans a very vague, patchy description of how he plans to lead this club back to the top whilst protecting the long term interests, it most certainly means that questions remain.

I await McCoist and his coaching teams being able to prove me wrong, but at the moment, it remains quite a large nagging doubt.