In recent years, the ongoing boardroom drama at Glasgow Rangers has made the job of being the club’s manager a fairly easy task for Ally McCoist. As tensions between the fans and the board intensified, McCoist simply plugged away knowing as long as his side kept progressing up the leagues both sides would be happy. But now, stuck one division off of the holy grail with a squad struggling to win convincingly, the focus now firmly shifted towards the bewildered coach who knows his days would be numbered if it weren’t for the fact that the club cannot afford to axe him financially.
McCoist’s plight has been a long time in the making. The rookie manager who took over as boss from the highly experienced Walter Smith has gone through more drama and off field chaos in his three years in charge than most managers go through in their lifetime and to his credit has coped incredibly well. However his lack of managerial experience (this is his first job as manager) is starting to show especially on his tactical decisions, some of which highlight this. McCoist has relied heavily on his coaching staff to ease him through in preparing the squad for combat but in a job decided by results, he has fallen once too often. Last weeks shock semi final defeat to Alloa followed by this weekends poor win against Cowdenbeath has turned the once loyal Ibrox crowd against him with many calling for a change. The manner of the defeat to Alloa is their main grievance with McCoist rather than Saturdays win against the team rooted to the bottom of the Championship. Leading by 2-0 with 18 minutes to go, Rangers should have been cruising towards the final against Livingstone but instead Rangers capitulated under pressure applied by the part timers, eventually losing by 3-2. McCoist blamed his players for the shock turn around but in fact he should have shouldered the blame. At that stage in the game Rangers should be closing out the match, with tactical changes and alterations made by the manager. But instead they were allowed to continue to woefully retreat which in the end cost them the match. Even at 2-1, McCoist still had time to act but did nothing.
The fate of the coach is surprisingly in the hands of Mike Ashley which may be his saving grace. Newcastle owner Ashley who is gradually increasing his stranglehold on the Glasgow club is the only person with the finances to pay off McCoist and his back room team. A rumoured severance package of £1.5million is proving too hard to swallow for the board but for Ashley, keen to protect his current investment, it may be a small price to pay. However given his loyalty to Alan Pardew as Newcastle lingered in the lower trenches of the EPL, Ashley may decide that the best course of action is no course at all. Pardew and Newcastle have spectacularly turned things around in recent weeks and now command a formidable position in the table. McCoist may be given the same treatment assuming Ashley believes that the former striker had the ability to do so. The difference however is that Pardew has considerable experience and has used his tactical know how to his advantage, transforming his under performing squad into over achievers. McCoist has had a crash course in management by acting as assistant to Smith during his tenure as Scotland boss then as Rangers manager for a second time. However being an assistant is a lot different from being the boss, having to own decisions part and parcel of the job something McCoist is learning the hard way.
Critics will point to his ineffectiveness in the transfer market and paying exuberant wages for players well past their prime. It’s a fair point but few would have joined Rangers two years ago without hefty compensation as they faced up to life in Scotland’s lowest division after falling into administration. That was then and this is now. Rangers are one jump away from the Scottish Premiership but at current it looks like too deep a canyon to successfully get there. Trailing Hearts in the league by nine points, out of the Petrofac Training Cup and facing arch rivals Celtic in the semi final of the League Cup, the pressure is on the inexperienced McCoist to deliver. He has the support of his team and of some factions of the fan base but time is against the former Scotland striker. He needs to deliver and deliver fast or his spell as Rangers boss will come to an absolute end.