ALLY McCOIST’S time as Rangers manager is in danger of being consumed by rancour and ridicule, but he will never be other than a figure of respect for Jon Daly.
The above-and-beyond human decency shown by McCoist in travelling all the way to Dublin for a family bereavement of a player he had worked with only a matter of weeks means the public flailing he is now receiving “hurts” Daly all the more.
The 31-year-old claims McCoist doesn’t deserve to be under the pressure he is feeling. Few would back up Daly on that contention. Rangers’ latest cup debacle – the toe-curling 3-2 Petrofac Training Cup semi-final defeat by a part-time Alloa side they led 2-0 after 73 minutes – feels like a watershed. The flow of embarrassing cup failures has hardly been a trickle in McCoist’s three-and-a-half years in charge. And for all the reduced circumstances of this current Rangers that is entirely unforgivable when the Ibrox side continue to operate with the second-highest player budget in Scotland.
Yet, Daly maintains that McCoist delivers not just in the personal context but also in the professional environment. “I think he is a good manager and he has good coaching staff behind him,” he said. “Every manager you work with has different qualities, but I would say he is up there with the best managers I have dealt with. I think he does have good qualities and the coaching staff he has with him as well. It is the club you are at, and obviously the scrutiny and the pressure you are under, that when you get a couple of bad results all the focus goes on the manager when, realistically, it should go on the players.”
Recent weeks have represented a grim period for the Ibrox club, yet Daly is sure McCoist can come through such darkness into the light again. He seizes on the example of what happened with Alan Pardew at Newcastle United, the other club backed by Rangers shareholder Mike Ashley.
“It has happened a couple of times this year in the English Premiership. Sam Allardyce [at West Ham United] and Alan Pardew as well. In this day and age it seems to be that if a manager has a couple of bad results the first thought is quick change the manager. But if you give the manager time things will change and you can be sat there at the end of the season having won the league. Looking back at this [Alloa] game it has been a massive disappointment, but they have obviously made the decision to keep him which I think it is the right one. It is something that we need to try and focus on the football that is ahead of us and try not to let a result cloud our judgment going forward.”
Yet Daly admits he will never be able to stop looking back in agonising fashion on Wednesday night in Alloa. It seems cruel but the Irishman only appeared as a substitute in the 68th minute, around five minutes before one of the most dumbfounding cup comebacks in Scottish football history began.
“It does hurt for a while. The Raith final [in the Challenge Cup] last year still hurts. The play-off match I lost in 2007 still hurts. They are games that you obviously get over with time, but when you think back, they still hurt. The Alloa one is never going to go away, it is going to haunt us for a long time, but it is not something we can afford to dwell on. The games are coming thick and fast. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves and mope about. We have to pick ourselves up and go again. We need to start focusing on closing that gap. We need to move on.”