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McCulloch insists Rangers can win title next year

Surrounded by his jubilant teammates, Rangers captain Lee McCulloch lifts the Scottish League One trophy at Ibrox. Picture: Reuters

Surrounded by his jubilant teammates, Rangers captain Lee McCulloch lifts the Scottish League One trophy at Ibrox. Picture: Reuters

  • by RONNIE ESPLIN at IBROX
 

Ally McCoist will meet chief executive Graham Wallace today to discuss the playing budget at Rangers for next season but skipper Lee McCulloch believes there is already enough talent in the dressing room to win the Championship.

Rangers 3-0 Stranraer

Scorers: Rangers - Aird (37), Peralta (60), Shiels (66)

McCulloch got his hands on the Scottish League 1 trophy after the 3-0 win over Stranraer at Ibrox on Saturday. The title was dedicated by Rangers players and management to Sandy Jardine, the former Gers and Scotland full-back who lost his battle with cancer on Thursday night at the age of 65, latterly having worked behind the scenes at the club.

Wallace has indicated to McCoist that he will have roughly the same money at his disposal as this season, which will allow him to “make one or two changes here and there” but McCulloch would be confident enough taking the next step on the way back to the top flight with the same squad.

He said: “This season we have taken over 100 points and scored over 100 goals but we know next season will see us playing in a more competitive league.

“With the new players coming in as well as the young boys who have progressed, that’s a massive plus. We will be a better team again next season and I believe we can win the title with the players we have, yes. I’m talking for the dressing room and we would be confident of winning the title and going back to the Scottish Premiership where we belong.”

Goals from Fraser Aird, Arnold Peralta and Dean Shiels kept McCoist’s side unbeaten in the league with one game remaining against second-placed Dunfermline next week, but McCoist is already looking forward to next season.

“The Championship will be really competitive,” he said. “We have played three teams from that division, Queen of the South we beat in the Ramsdens Cup, Falkirk we had a good result against in the Scottish Cup, then we obviously lost in the Ramsdens Cup final to Raith Rovers.

“I’ve actually seen a good bit of it. There will be an increase in the quality, and a lot of the teams are full-time as well which suggests it will be difficult, a really tough campaign, but we are really looking forward to it.”

Amid the seemingly endless boardroom battle at Ibrox and a precarious financial position – Wallace’s business review revealed Rangers had spent around £67million in less than two years, with the club having less than £3.5m in the bank – many fans are caught between renewing season tickets next season and withholding their money in order to affect boardroom change.

However, McCoist is confident that the supporters will back the team in big numbers again. The former Rangers striker said: “They have been unbelievable. They have shown in the last couple of years just what the club means to them, individually and collectively.

“People outwith the country just think it is crazy, unbelievable, that we are getting 36,000 season tickets in the lower leagues. And that is nice to hear – because sometimes we are in our own wee bubble up here. I am very confident they will be back next season.”

McCoist, a former team-mate of Jardine, added: “Sandy unfurled the [bottom tier championship] flag [at the beginning of the season] and on Thursday night when the news came in, it was tough for everyone. So without doubt we dedicated that championship to one of Rangers’ greatest sons.

“He was an amazing man, a wonderful friend to me in the last couple of years, although I have known him a long, long time obviously. But more than that, I looked at the reaction of the staff he worked with and helped over many years on Friday and at the stadium today and they were in tears, and obviously the stadium today was wonderfully respectful to a great human being.”

 

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