When Ally McCoist was at the height of his success as a Rangers player, he was surrounded by high calibre players such as Brian Laudrup and Jorg Albertz, the difference in resources at Ibrox now he is manager is quite staggering.
After leaving Rangers in 1998, after fifteen years in which he was part of the famous “Nine In A Row” team and became Rangers record league goalscorer, McCoist returned in 2006 as Assistant Manager to the also returning Walter Smith, who was his manager for much of his playing days. He would continue in his role as assistant for five years, before Walter Smith announced his intention to retire.
At this point, Rangers were enduring financial turmoil, with owner Sir David Murray looking for a potential buyer for the club, with no concrete interest. To add to this the club had HMRC alleging Rangers had evaded tax, so it could be argued McCoist was putting his hero status in jeopardy by agreeing to become manager when Walter Smith retired in May 2011.
Before McCoist’s first season had started, Rangers had been taken over by Motherwell based businessman Craig Whyte, so things appeared to be on the up, but it soon became apparent that wasn’t the case. Whyte’s investment didn’t appear to be as wealthy as first thought, as Rangers were repeatedly missing out on transfer targets.
Rangers were outbid by Blackburn Rovers to sign main striking target David Goodwillie and the much coveted Crystal Palace midfielder Neil Danns chose to remain in England’s second tier rather than move to Ibrox. A move to bring Carlos Cuellar back from Aston Villa, where he left Rangers to join two years previously, failed on grounds of finance also.
If you consider the difference in calibre between the above targets Rangers couldn’t tempt to sign and the players McCoist played alongside at the fifty four times Scottish Champions, the gulf is evident for all to see. Andy Goram, Richard Gough, Paul Gascoigne, Brian Laudrup, Jorg Albertz, Terry Butcher and Gary Stevens in their day were all top class players, some of whom could have held their own in any top European side. It’s a stark contrast to being pipped to sign a player who has warmed a poor Blackburn Rovers side’s bench and a player slipping into mid table mediocrity in England’s second tier. In light of this, it is evident McCoist’s achievements as a player will not be echoed as a manager, thus putting his legendary status in jeopardy.
Despite an encouraging start to his career as Rangers manager, where McCoist’s team at one point led Celtic fifteen points, they now trail their arch rivals by four points. In my opinion, despite blowing a gigantic lead, Rangers can consider themselves lucky to even be close to Celtic, given the difference in resources and circumstances. To add to this, their squad seems to be getting thinner, with talisman Nikica Jelavic, a rare gem in Rangers’ most mediocre team in modern history, being sold to Everton and not being replaced.
Taking all of this into consideration, it seems almost impossible that McCoist’s achievements as Rangers manager will echo those of his playing days. Even the most fickle of Rangers fans who witnessed his goalscoring exploits between the years of 1983 and 1998 will always look back with fond memories of those times, but their view of the sixty times capped Scotland international will be blighted as his attempts to lead the club through a period of uncertainty seem to be on a downward spiral. You only have to look across the city of Glasgow to see this. Tony Mowbray was held in high regard by the Celtic fans for his time at Celtic Park in as a defender in the nineties. But after a disastrous spell as manager, not even being the founder of the iconic “huddle” which Celtic have become known for can save him from the newly formed opinion of him by many Celtic supporters.