Rangers manager Ally McCoist has already begun making approaches to potential summer signings as he attempts to assemble a squad capable of taking the club into the Premiership at the first attempt.
He is compiling a list of targets in spite of the fact the scouting staff he has been promised have yet to be appointed. Assistant-manager Kenny McDowall and coach Ian Durrant have also provided input for his list but McCoist admits that his plans could be scuppered if chief executive Graham Wallace tells him he cannot spend on recruiting once his 120-day financial review is completed in mid-April.
“That might well be the case but if we’re doing our job properly then we have to prepare the team for next season,” he said.
As a result of that indecision, McCoist, who has several members of his current group coming out of contract at the end of the current campaign, does not yet know which (if any) of them he can afford to keep.
There may also be players he would consider releasing but whose presence would be required if he is prevented from bringing in new faces as a result of any cost-cutting.
“I haven’t yet spoken to our players who are coming out of contract but that will have to be done pretty soon,” he said. “I would need to speak to Graham about whether that will happen after his review because that will be a financial decision. But in the interest of the players, it would only be fair to give them a decision as soon as possible.”
McCoist has identified a group of players he would like to bring to Ibrox for the Championship challenge.
“I’ve started looking ahead. I’ve spoken to Kenny and Ian and we have an idea of what we need and what we would hope for next season,” he said. “Everything will be determined by the outcome of Graham’s 120-day review. In terms of us continuing to move forward, though, I have a fair picture of what’s required. We have to win the league next season. We need to be promoted again next year and, in an ideal world, you would be planning now to get back into the top flight.
“It’s impossible to talk in those terms at the moment, though, because we don’t know what’s in the review – that will have the major bearing on what we’re allowed to do next year. I’m not sure exactly when that ends. The first time it was mentioned was at the agm [on 19 December] so it could be sometime in April.
“I don’t know what’s happening regarding my budget. I’ll need to have a chat with him because I don’t know what his views will be or how he’s seen the whole review. He hasn’t said to me that I’ll have a budget at the end of it. But I imagine the way ahead, and what we’re allowed to do, will be a lot clearer. We’ll know then what we’re able to do financially on the football side – scouting, medical and sports science stuff as well. That will all be in the review.”
McCoist has not yet gone into detail with Wallace about what he believes is required if Rangers are to continue rising through the lower leagues.
“Not at great length,” he said. “We’ve had one or two discussions but nothing about the players we require or anything like that. As you would hope and expect, Graham is aware of the fact that, for the team to move on we need some new faces.
“Will I be restricted to Bosmans? That I don’t know, although I could hazard a guess that that might be the case. Ideally, we would like to go and buy some players as well but we’ll see. It’s not ideal that we have to start doing this before we have a scouting staff in place but we’re doing all we can.
“We know the names of every player in Europe and the rest of the world who is out of contract at the end of this season. So far I’ve spoken to one player [about joining the club] and I would be hopeful of speaking to more. It’s difficult.”
Rangers face Stranraer at Stair Park tonight, with French defender Bilel Mohsni set to return following suspension. The 26-year-old has collected eight yellow and two red cards since arriving from Southend United, where his disciplinary record also left a lot to be desired.
Mohsni admits he was annoyed with himself following his most recent dismissal against Brechin City.
“This red card was a silly one,” he said. “I was upset and it was a stupid reaction from myself. I did not help the team. Maybe they would have done better with me [in the 3-3 home draw with Stenhousemuir] on Saturday. There is no excuse. I wasn’t very clever.”
“I need to be more clever and more relaxed in the game. I want to win every game. I am a very passionate player and I take everything very seriously. I try to be fair on the pitch. I don’t try to injure the striker. I try every time to take the ball. The other players do it the other way around. I expect from the referee to protect us more because we know in this league that whenever anyone plays us it is a big game. Sometimes when they give everything it means more bad kicks. I got into trouble at school because I reacted, but I try every year to work with it – better, better, better – but you can change from black to white just like this…I wish, but no.”