RINO Gattuso and Steve Clarke have been identified by Rangers as potential successors to Ally McCoist as the Ibrox club attempt to resolve the future of their current manager this week.
While McCoist awaits a meeting with members of the Rangers board of directors on Wednesday, where their response to his dramatic resignation offer of last week will be outlined, Clarke and Gattuso have emerged as two of the leading candidates to replace him.
Former Scotland defender Clarke, who has been out of football since being sacked as West Bromwich Albion manager 12 months ago, is regarded as one of the brightest coaches in British football in light of his work at Newcastle United, Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool.
The 51-year-old, who was strongly linked with the Celtic vacancy last summer before Ronny Deila was appointed by the Scottish champions, is keen for another shot at frontline management.
The Scotsman understands that Clarke’s name is among those which have been under discussion by Rangers directors in anticipation of McCoist’s departure.
Italian World Cup winner Gattuso, who spent a season at Rangers at the start of his playing career back in 1997-98, is also believed to under consideration.
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The 36-year-old is currently in charge of Greek top flight outfit OFI Crete, ironically despite tendering his resignation, which was refused, two months ago. Gattuso was previously dismissed from stints in charge of Swiss club Sion and Palermo in his homeland.
Married to a Scot, Gattuso retains strong links with Glasgow and has previously stated his ambition to return to Rangers in some capacity one day.
While a trio of other ex-Rangers players – Terry Butcher, Stuart McCall and Billy Davies – head the betting market to replace McCoist, the Ibrox board must settle the current manager’s position first of all.
McCoist tendered his offer to resign last Thursday, the news becoming public the following day before Rangers lost 2-0 at Queen of the South to remain nine points behind Hearts in the SPFL Championship title race.
After the game, the waters were muddied when McCoist insisted he still hoped to remain Rangers manager for the rest of the season and beyond. A 12-month rolling contract means the club face a bill of more than £1 million to pay off McCoist and his assistants Kenny McDowall and Ian Durrant.
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, who is now in control of Rangers’ financial destiny through his lieutenant on the plc board, Derek Llambias, must decide whether McCoist’s departure can be funded.
Despite the £3m credit facility they received from Ashley earlier this season, Rangers are still in serious trouble as attendances slump at Ibrox amid increasing discontent among supporters over the current boardroom regime.
Ahead of the club’s agm next Monday, where approval will be sought for a fresh £8m share issue, it has emerged Llambias has acknowledged the serious problems faced in trying to get the fans back onside.
“We need to re-establish credibility with the fans which is going to be very difficult,” Llambias is reported to have told the most recent meeting of the club’s recently formed Fans Board.
“What is obvious is that we need cash to stay in the club and not go elsewhere. We are cutting back as much as we can and put it on to the park
“We’ve cut as much as we can. Our strategy is that we’re not affecting the playing area. We’ll be looking to review pricing of matchday and season tickets to ensure we’re as competitive as we can be. Pricing and value are two key areas that we’re focusing on.”
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