Thursday, August 04, 2011

Rangers: McCoist Still Deserves His Shot At Glory

Rangers crash out of the Champion's League and the chants of "Super Ally" begin to stick in the throats of the faithful.

Ridiculous in the extreme that a new manager should be judged on the basis of four games of competitive football - only one of which ended in defeat.

But life in the Old Firm is a life full of extremes and a life that's often ridiculous. Thus it seems that to question Ally McCoist's suitability as Rangers boss is fair enough and to answer that question with "he's no up to it" is perfectly acceptable.

It's a harsh verdict. But dropped points at home and a Champions League exit so early in the season are cause for concern at Ibrox.

McCoist finds himself under pressure. It's not how he would have imagined it working out, this shot at his dream job after a very modern footballing career trajectory.

The storied playing days, the television stardom and the tabloid tittle tattle. And the apprenticeship served with Walter Smith. All leading, perhaps not always obviously, to the Ibrox hot seat. A first managerial appointment at the age of 48.

Following Smith, emerging from Wattie's shadow, was never going to be easy especially when the wily old fox signed off with what seemed at times an improbable title triumph.

It's been made harder by the financial uncertainty at Ibrox and the enigmatic presence of the new owner, Craig Whyte.

A succession of apparently failed transfer bids increases the sense of uneasiness. The public pursuit of players seems to confirm McCoist's unhappiness with his squad, the failure to capture as many targets as he would have liked leads to the idea that he's struggling with what he's got.

Gordon Smith's director of football role should act as a buffer between McCoist and these transfer dramas. So far that's not happening. I seem to remember someone calling Smith two faced when he was with the SFA. It seems the masks he's chosen for his role at Rangers are anonymity and ineffectualness.

As the pressure builds it's McCoist who becomes the lightning rod for the "we're doomed" brigade among the support and the media.

Time, as we're always told, is the one thing Old Firm managers do not have.

But, along with an injection of new players, it's what McCoist and Rangers need.

My own view would be that he's - quite rightly - safe for now.

He's still searching for his managerial mojo. But Gordon Smith still appears to be searching for a definition of his new role. And Craig Whyte still seems to be searching for a strategy that will guide his stewardship of the club.

McCoist's Rangers have dropped two points in the SPL and narrowly - only narrowly despite the numerical disparity caused by Steven Whittaker's stupidity - gone out of the Champions League.

They've not "lost" the league and the Europa League remains in place as a European safety net.

It's not world beating. But nor should it be seen as a manifesto for continued failure in the role.

He might also be entitled to expect more support from within the club. The saga that was the failed attempt to sign David Goodwillie stank of incompetence. Seven failed bids and then a cackhanded attempt to brief against the Dundee United board didn't cover Rangers in glory or inspire confidence.

Blackburn signed Goodwillie and Rangers were left with only a very public distraction in the build up to the Malmo game, a squad no stronger than when they started and questions continuing to swirl about their commitment to pulling off big transfers.

It's difficult to pin too much of the blame on McCoist for any of that. He could consider it the mother of injustices if the club were to panic over his position when others in crucial roles are also experiencing issues in adjusting to their new surroundings.

For Craig Whyte a sudden managerial vacancy would also present a further dilemma, a further need to prove his recruitment credentials. Why would he relish that at this stage of his ownership?

A pressured existence, impatient demands from all sides and unforgiving judges desperate for their chance to don the black cap and deliver their appocalyptic sentences. That's McCoist's life now and he'll accept that.

But he at least deserves more time to prove he can handle them.