Mystery continued to surround Ally McCoist’s future last night but something was very clear: Hearts today have the opportunity to extend their Championship lead to 12 points over the ailing Ibrox side, who limply fell to a 2-0 defeat against Queen of the South last night amid on-going speculation about the manager’s position.
Afterwards McCoist refused to confirm whether or not he had tendered his resignation, as had been reported earlier in the day.
His stated wish to still be at Rangers for the “foreseeable future” suggested he had not done what had been reported and intimated to the board his desire to leave the club.
Did he speak to the players about the issue before last night’s fixture, which Queens won with goals from Kevin Holt and Gavin Reilly?
“Depends how you look at it,” he said. “I told them I was the Rangers manager and I will continue to be the Rangers manager.”
Asked whether he expected to be at Ibrox next season, he replied: “Absolutely. I am the Rangers manager and that will be the case hopefully for the foreseeable future.”
It was a puzzling end to another remarkable day for the Ibrox club. McCoist arrived in the team bus at 6.15pm last night. Even this was a surprise given the nature of some reports earlier in the day.
But any hope his players might rise to the occasion and produce a performance that stood as a statement of support for their troubled manager evaporated in the opening minutes of a game where the scoreline flattered Rangers.
The Ibrox side could have lost by three or four goals against a team who have now moved to within four points of second place. McCoist was clearer about his own team rather than his future. They had let the fans down.
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“You can only guard your players so much,” he said. “Once you cross the line you have a responsibility to yourself and your team-mates and to your club to perform. We didn’t do that tonight, it’s as simple as that.
“I am an extremely disappointed Rangers manager. I am extremely disappointed with my team’s performance. First of all, I would like to congratulate Queens on a thoroughly deserved victory. Of that there can be absolutely no doubt.
“But from my point of view and the team’s point of view we were miles short, absolutely miles short, tonight. We got what we deserved. With the greatest of respect, it is not about giving them any stick because they are out there representing me and representing the club. Tonight wasn’t good enough.
“Listen, there is absolutely no doubt that Hearts will be outright favourites to win the league and get automatic promotion. Of that I don’t think anybody is in any doubt.”
But on the question of whether he had been in talks with Ibrox board members earlier in the day, he would not be persuaded to say anything more. “I have got absolutely no comment, particularly on rumours,” he said. “I can’t comment at all. I specifically won’t comment on rumours. I have got no comment to make on speculation.
“I can’t have any bearing on speculation. I deal in cold, hard facts. I will sit here and give you an honest opinion. I think you know me well enough. But I cannot comment on speculation.”
Voice wavering at times, he appeared disappointed at the way the day had unfolded, with the question of McCoist’s future having led sports reports for hours before kick-off. “Well stating the obvious it is not ideal for your preparation, that goes without saying,” he said. “In the grand scheme of things it has been an eventful three-and-a-half, four years, so nothing really shocks you. I would not say [I was] angered. I was completely focused on tonight’s game.
“It is my job to manage the team and prepare the team. You get hiccups along the way. That’s fine. It is my job to react to them. But I have to say to the Rangers supporters that that performance was absolutely not good enough. There are no excuses. You cannot make excuses about the speculation. The performance was not good enough. We will look at it again tomorrow morning and move on.”
McCoist would not confirm whether or not the players’ Christmas party in Leeds had been cancelled this weekend. But they will be required to report to Murray Park today. “I would not say they are confined to barracks,” he said. “But they will be in tomorrow morning.”
As for his own future, he added: “I am the Rangers manager and I will be making sure I can do everything in the upcoming weeks to make sure we are ready to continue the fight for automatic promotion.”
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