Ally McCoist now faces a fight to get Rangers squad up to size before ban
MANAGER Ally McCoist deemed Rangers’ first competitive fixture as a Third Division club to have been a success yesterday as he huddled beneath a marquee, onto which the rain thudded down.
It was another surreal moment on a day full of them, but McCoist said his side had achieved what they had come to Brechin City’s Glebe Park to do – reach the second round of the Ramsdens Cup.
Off the pitch, the battles will continue.
In light of the 12-month transfer embargo which comes into effect at the end of next month, the Rangers manager said that he “needs to build a squad for the next 18 months to two years, and we have to do that in the next four weeks.”
He was unable even to find enough bodies to fill his substitutes’ bench yesterday, with only four replacements named rather than the permitted five. McCoist is braced for the loss of another member of his first-team squad after American internationalist Alejandro Bedoya indicated his desire to move on, most probably to the Swedish club Helsingborgs.
“I tried to talk him out of it. It looks like I might have been unsuccessful,” said McCoist.
Maurice Edu, meanwhile, did not travel to Brechin yesterday after sustaining a groin injury in training. Fellow internationalists Dorin Goian and Carlos Bocanegra, who skippered the side, did play, but one wonders how long they will be prepared to endure such physical tests as yesterday’s contest with the Second Division side.
“You will have to ask them,” said McCoist. “I am hopeful but I am realistic enough to know that while I want to bring a few in, there is an opportunity for a few to dive out the window. I am not daft.”
Included among those he is seeking to bring into the squad are former Kilmarnock and Hibs striker Dean Shiels and Greek midfielder Pantelis Kafes. According to McCoist, both players want a deal to be done, but “we are not over the line yet”. The manager is being supported in his efforts by chief executive Charles Green and chairman Malcolm Murray.
Asked why the club is bringing in SPL-standard players, Murray said: “We are giving fans what they deserve. If they turn up then they can be paid for quite easily.” green added: “Because of the transfer ban, we need to move forward. So do we need Ian Black for today’s game? Perhaps the answer is no. But what the manager is trying to do is look ahead, look at where we might be next year.
“God willing we can win this league then we are in a higher league.
“The players we are going to try and pull together are going to be at the club for a long time,” he said. “The aim is to get a quality team on the field not just so that we can win the Third Division easily, but so we can entertain. And we would also like to be competitive in cup games.”
Rangers certainly managed to be competitive yesterday in the unlikely surroundings of Glebe Park.
After Andrew Little had given Rangers an early lead Andy Jackson equalised for the home side just before half-time. Brechin then had other chances to win the tie.
However, the Ibrox team clinched a second-round berth after Lee McCulloch’s winner in the 13th minute of extra-time.
“That’s our first competitive game and considering that 48 hours before it we did not even know if we were going to play then you have to be really pleased,” said McCoist.
“This is all we wanted. Just an opportunity to get back playing football, even though we were a bit late in the day in finding out.
“They have trained and only had a couple of bounce games, so the last thing they needed was extra-time. That’s why I am delighted.
“Ian Black, in his first game, was terrific. There is two or three of them who looked dead on their feet and then they got a second wind. I can’t tell you how important it is. Normally we play six pre-season friendlies. This is a good result for us.”
McCulloch paid tribute to the Rangers fans, who offered noisy backing throughout. “I didn’t expect that to be honest,” he said. “They were loud and they backed us all the way, even at 1-1 after they scored.”
Asked why he and others have stayed on to play in the Third Division, he said: “It’s just the size of the club. It’s a chance to play with as big a club as Rangers. They have been kind enough to me. That is why I have chosen to stay.
“The amount of people that have stayed and who have said they want to come and play for Rangers even in the Third Division just shows the size of the club and how well they are followed.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 4 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North east