A WAVE of optimism has been washing over Rangers these past few days of the kind that Ally McCoist claims not to have experienced in his previous two and a half years in charge.
“I haven’t had that feeling and I haven’t felt this feeling from other people since I took over,” he says. “I absolutely can feel the excitement between the Rangers support, the workforce in here, between the players. There is a real excitement which is fantastic. So we have to channel it and make sure it is channelled in the right direction.”
On the surface, the first gleeful weekend for the club since liquidation brought the demise of the old Rangers in the summer of 2012 might seem to be accounted for by the Scottish Cup win over Dunfermline that has earned the third-tier Ibrox side a home quarter-final against fourth-tier Albion Rovers. There is more to it than that, however, for a club still in need of external funding to prosper long-term. Short-term, though, with Celtic’s ousting by Aberdeen, Rangers have now gone further in a cup competition than Neil Lennon’s side for the first time since McCoist, pictured, took over from Walter Smith in the summer of 2011. It might seem curious, though, for the Rangers manager to describe the current situation as providing more good vibes than his early months in charge.
His first ten SPL games as a manager brought nine wins, a draw and runaway leadership of the Scottish top flight – this position strengthened by an impressive 4-2 derby victory. “That is true. I think it was probably just after that when you could sense things weren’t quite right and the players and the staff could sense it. Hopefully you will agree with me, the club’s demise started well before February 14 two years ago. I don’t think there is any doubt about that. You could sense it. I take your point though.
“That game we won 4-2…. It was a Rangers-Celtic game and there was an excitement, everything that Old Firm game brings. I just feel this is different in the respect the club has been away down there [gestures to the floor] and everybody is rallying round and all of a sudden a great cup result on Friday and then a good cup draw and, whoof, it’s gone up [gestures higher].”
McCoist is entitled to feel good, too, about the fact his team is likely to confirm League One title success in the next six weeks, have a Ramsdens Cup final against Raith in April and is as populous and strong as when the season started. Retaining his entire squad in the transfer window meant relief for Nicky Law, who it later emerged was the subject of a £50,000 bid from Blackpool on the last day of January.
“From a manager’s point of view, I didn’t want to lose anybody,” said McCoist. “I was delighted to keep the players. It wasn’t a Silence of the Lambs dungeon I was keeping them in, but there was bread and water.”
Rangers may now be in a position when they are not expected to survive on gruel.