STUART McCall has admitted he’s taken a gamble with his career by agreeing to become Rangers manager on an initial short-term contract.
The 50-year-old’s appointment as only the 14th man to hold the position in Rangers’ 143-year history was confirmed late yesterday afternoon after caretaker manager Kenny McDowall left the club.
McCall has been given the job until the end of the season in a bid to re-ignite Rangers spluttering promotion challenge and secure a return to the Premiership.
The former Bradford City and Motherwell manager has been offered no guarantees of a longer-term deal in charge of the club where was a hugely popular and highly decorated midfield player in the 1990s.
McCall revealed he has turned down four other offers to return to club management since he quit as Motherwell manager last November but insists he was not holding out for the Rangers job.
He accepts there is an element of risk attached to it should he be unable to turn around Rangers’ season and earn them promotion via the play-offs. But he simply felt unable to resist an offer he never believed would come his way.
“I know what the expectation levels are at this club,” said McCall. “It’s a gamble, it’s a massive challenge but it’s an opportunity I never thought I’d get and I had to take it.
“It’s an honour and a privilege to be asked to come and help out at this club until the end of the season. I had a sleepless night last night wondering what we’d do for training. People have been texting me good luck and asking me if I know what I’m doing. But it’s a wonderful opportunity for me.”
It means McCall will have to relinquish his part-time role as Scotland coach, which he has filled since Gordon Strachan recruited him two years ago, for the forthcoming matches against Northern Ireland and Gibraltar. He admits that will be a wrench and was the reason he has not returned to club management sooner.
“I have knocked back three or four other opportunities,” he added. “Was I waiting for Rangers? No, not for a second. The other opportunities just weren’t right for me.
“In my mind, I was thinking of getting to the summer before I started to seriously look around. There’s such a fine line between being out of the game too long and jumping in too quickly to something that isn’t right for you.
“In the majority of offers I received, I would have had to cut my ties with Scotland and for that to happen it had to be something that made me go ‘Wow!’.
“There has been speculation about different managers and Felix Magath has been around but I took the call right out of the blue to come and meet Rangers and the offer was there. There was no time to think about it, but I didn’t make any decision until I spoke to Gordon Strachan.
“There’s nothing concrete in terms of me getting the job beyond the end of the season. My question to the board was: ‘What do you see as success?’ I don’t want to do as well as I can, turn it around, and then see someone else coming in.
“Progress will obviously be an upturn in results and everyone will say success is gaining promotion to the Premiership. But you could get to the second leg of the play-off final, see your goalkeeper sent off and lose on penalty kicks. It can be a thin line between whether you go up or not. We’ve just got to improve our performances and it’s about self belief and regaining confidence. There are no guarantees either way if we go up or have to stay down.”
McDowall departs after a miserable record of just three wins from his ten games in charge since stepping in for Ally McCoist in December. It leaves Rangers five points behind second-placed Hibs in the Championship table, albeit with two games in hand.
“It was an honour and privilege to work for Rangers Football Club and I will leave with so many positive memories,” said McDowall.
“I have worked with so many talented people since I joined and I will forever be in Walter Smith’s debt for bringing me to Rangers.
“Working with Walter, Ally McCoist, Ian Durrant, Jim Stewart and all the backroom staff plus the staff at Ibrox and Murray Park was a pleasure and I wish the Club well for the future.
“I was delighted to play a part in the club’s history and I wish the supporters and new management team all the very best.”
McCall is joined at Rangers by his erstwhile Motherwell assistant Kenny Black, also a former Rangers player. Gordon Durie, Ian Durrant and Jim Stewart remain on the coaching staff.
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