RANGERS skipper Lee McCulloch has backed Ally McCoist to return to management after watching the former Ibrox boss bid an emotional farewell.
McCoist’s three-and-a-half year reign as Rangers manager was brought to an end on Sunday as the club put him on garden leave.
The record-breaking striker’s former assistant Kenny McDowall has been put in charge for the remainder of the season.
But what lies in store for McCoist remains unclear. He has already stated he would find it difficult to work for another Scottish club.
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However, McCulloch - who will now combine his captaincy duties with a new coaching role after he and Under-20s boss Gordon Durie were asked to join McDowall’s backroom team - reckons McCoist will be back in the dug out sometime soon.
Asked if he could see his former boss returning to management, McCulloch said: “I don’t see why not. He has got great knowledge of the game and has gained great respect from the dressing room. But that is a question for Ally.”
McCoist’s resignation was confirmed last week but the 52-year-old soon said he was determined to remain in post for the duration of his 12-month notice period.
But with Monday’s stormy AGM looming, the club decided enough was enough and relieved him from his position - although keeping him on the payroll - late on Sunday night.
While PLC chairman David Somers, his football board counterpart Sandy Easdale, chief executive Derek Llambias and director James Easdale were facing down seething shareholders at Ibrox, McCoist was saying his goodbyes at Murray Park.
“It was emotional,” said McCulloch. “He spoke brilliantly and thanked everybody. He thanked the staff at Murray Park and also the players. And the players thanked him back.
“So yeah it was emotional. Monday was a pretty tough day to be honest.
“Ally did loads for me and my career. He was obviously my hero before I came here, watching him play as a Rangers fan.
“Then coming in as a player, I found it a little bit tough at the start of my stint here. But he stuck by me, which gave me confidence.
“And then he appointed me captain as well, so there are a number of things he has done for me.”
McCulloch will now join McDowall and Durie as they draw up an action plan to rein in runaway Scottish Championship leaders Hearts.
The Jambos now have a 12-point lead in the race for automatic promotion but McCulloch reckons he will be more useful on match-day than on the training pitch.
Speaking ahead of McDowall’s first match in charge against Hibernian at Easter Road on Saturday, the skipper said: “My job won’t change too much, I’m still the captain and I’m a player first and foremost. If there is anything else I can help the rest of the boys with I would love to do that.
“My title has changed but my role as captain hasn’t altered too much.
“The situation is what it is. The gaffer is away and he will be missed. But it is up to everybody at the club, everybody in the dressing room, the management team - everybody - to get back to doing what we do best and that is winning games.
“If the results are there and the performances are there, then I think everything else takes care of itself.
“There is an obvious gap to Hearts that we don’t want to get any bigger, so Saturday’s match is going to be really tough but one we are confident we can take something from.
“There will be a full house at Easter Road. Every time Hibs have played us this season they have been on top of their game. We will need to be guarded against that.
“You gauge yourself against the top teams in your division and so far we have come up short. But Saturday is a chance to put that right.”
Rangers lost 3-1 at home the last time they faced Alan Stubbs’ men and the caretaker boss expects another stiff challenge.
McDowall said: “Every game we play is difficult. Hibs are a good side and Alan Stubbs has done a good job, so we are expecting what is coming our way - a tough, tough match.
“But regardless of what is going on at the moment, it would be a rough game in any circumstance. However, the players are ready for it and aim to make it a tough game for Hibs as well.”
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