HE MAY not quite regard himself as lord of the manor but Scotland coach Stuart McCall has revealed he has spent his spare time since resigning as manager of Motherwell on 2 November by attending to his livestock.
More prosaically, he has kept himself busy by shovelling horse excrement and, as someone who knows his manure from his Man U, he was quick to downplay suggestions on fans’ forums that he could be in line to replace his former Rangers team-mate Ally McCoist as manager at Ibrox.
Quite apart from anything else, he does not expect the vacancy to arise and, while dismissing the speculation about his job prospects on social media, he stressed that he was not adopting that stance in order to protect his old friend.
“For me it’s a lot of nonsense,” he said. “My brothers-in-law are big Rangers fans and they’ve said to me, ‘All his nine-in-a-row mates will come out and back him’. But nobody connected with Rangers, players, staff, fans, would’ve thought there’d be a nine-point gap at this moment in time.
“It’s easy to say it’s not insurmountable but for Hearts to have won 12 out of 14 is fantastic and full credit to them.
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“Rangers obviously need to get back winning the way they were before the draw against Alloa and for Hearts to lose a few games. Rangers have the players to go on a run.”
McCall was working as a pundit when Hearts beat Rangers 2-0 at Tynecastle last weekend and he believes the abuse McCoist endures was misdirected.
“Listen, the buck stops with you because you sign the players and pick the team and tactics,” he said. “But, at the end of the day, when the players step on to the pitch you can’t make decisions for them. If Stevie Smith didn’t decide to fly into that tackle there’s a good chance Rangers would be sitting three points behind Hearts rather than nine. Having been at the game, I saw Rangers were in control until the sending-off. So a really poor decision by a player on the park – which Ally can’t influence – suddenly meant they were on the back foot.
“I’m not making excuses for him just because he’s a pal. It’s a fact and these are the kind of imponderables that managers have to deal with.
“It’s still early, though, and I’d be saying the same thing if Paul le Guen was in charge. It can certainly be turned around. It’s not as if there are ten games to go, there are 22 matches left. Now Hearts will be expected to win at home and, if teams go and sit in and defend, they’ll have to cope with that.
“Managers will hold their hands up for team selections but once they go out, we can’t make decisions for them. When I met with the lads at Motherwell, almost to a man, they accepted they could have done better individually.”
He claims not to regret calling time on his tenure at Fir Park but is already growing restless.
“The international games straight after were great for me,” he said. “Since then I’ve taken a couple of games in, in fact I went to watch Motherwell v Dundee’s under 20s last Monday because my lad [Craig] plays for them.
“Other than that, in the morning I’ve been helping my daughter muck out stables when I’d much rather have been mucking in at the training ground.
“When I left Bradford City I was out of the game for about ten-and-a-half months and I think it took me about two or three months to really miss it.”
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