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Lee McCulloch: Ally McCoist can be Manager of Year

Ally McCoist: Treble chance. Picture: SNS

Ally McCoist: Treble chance. Picture: SNS

  • by STEPHEN HALLIDAY
 

RANGERS captain Lee McCulloch believes that Ally McCoist would be a prime contender for Scotland’s Manager of the Year award if he leads the Ibrox club to success in three competitions over the next three months.

The League 1 title could be wrapped up as soon as the middle of March by Rangers, who are currently unbeaten and 23 points clear at the top of the third tier table.

They face Raith Rovers at Easter Road in the Ramsdens Cup final on 6 April and also seem favourably placed to reach the Scottish Cup Final, with a home quarter-final against Albion Rovers between them and a last four tie which will also be played at Ibrox.

McCoist has been subjected to criticism this season for the level of some of his team’s performances but McCulloch insists he will merit recognition as the country’s top-performing manager if Rangers complete their campaign by lifting the Scottish Cup at Celtic Park on 17 May.

“If we did win three trophies, the gaffer could definitely be manager of the year,” said McCulloch. “Of course he could, although I can hear his voice in my head now, shouting at me that there’s still an awful long way to go.

“But if that was to happen, as players it would be brilliant to give the manager something back. I’m not daft enough to be making statements like that just now. There’s still a lot of games to be played, trophies to be won and a long way to go. Raith Rovers had a great result at the weekend to beat Hibs in the Scottish Cup and it was at Easter Road too, where we’ll play them in the Ramsdens final. It’s another game which some people have already written off as a Rangers win but it’s not how we see it – far from it. Raith have some good players and a good manager, so it will be a tough game.

“Everyone is talking about the Scottish Cup now, but we still have a league to put to bed, as well as the Ramsdens final, so we’re not getting carried away. We’ll see where we are at the end of the season.”

McCulloch already has two Scottish Cup winners’ medals to his name, having played in Rangers’ winning teams at Hampden in the 2008 and 2009 finals.

But the veteran former Scotland international, who will celebrate his 36th birthday three days before this year’s final, admits collecting the famous old trophy in the Ibrox club’s current circumstances would carry extra significance for him.

“It would mean the world to me if we were lucky enough to win the Scottish Cup this season,” added McCulloch.

“We are two games away from the final – two home ties. I’ve won it a couple of times before but to do it as captain would be a fantastic feeling. It would make it more special given that we are in the third tier at the moment. It would be amazing.

“We have a good chance. We are two home games away from a final but two hard home games I’d imagine.

“I don’t think we’re favourites to win it. Aberdeen are already in a cup final, as we are, and I think their league form would make them favourites.

“But it’s amazing how things have changed over the past weekend. Since the first day of the season, we’ve just been working away and doing our stuff. We’ve been letting everybody else do the talking.

“Now, all of a sudden, after one weekend, things have turned around and people are looking at the club differently. That’s the way I see it, but nothing changes for us. We just need to keep doing what we are doing.

“If we can string a cup run together, great. If not, our main priority at the start of the season was winning the league and it will remain that way.”

 

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