RANGERS caretaker manager Kenny McDowall has described his appointment to the role as “tainted” and revealed the club’s board left it to him to inform Ian Durrant he was being demoted from the first-team backroom staff.
In the wake of Ally McCoist’s departure as manager on Sunday night, his assistant McDowall was summoned to a meeting with chief executive Derek Llambias and football club board chairman Sandy Easdale.
The 51-year-old former St Mirren and Partick Thistle striker has been placed in charge for the rest of this season. Yesterday, a further shake-up of the managerial set-up was announced with Gordon Durie promoted from his role as coach of Rangers under-20s side to become McDowall’s assistant.
Durrant, previously first-team coach alongside McCoist and McDowall, will now assume Durie’s duties with the under-20 squad. Lee McCulloch, the Rangers captain, will assist McDowall and Durie as a player-coach.
McDowall was unable to shed any light on the Rangers’ board’s decision to demote Durrant, a hugely popular and highly-decorated former midfielder at the club who is one of McCoist’s closest friends. The manner of his removal from the senior coaching staff, however, reflects poorly once more on the crisis-torn Ibrox club.
For McDowall, a boyhood Rangers fan who was poached from his successful tenure as Celtic reserve team coach to join Walter Smith’s staff on his return to Ibrox as manager in 2007, the events have provoked conflicting emotions.
“It’s tainted, isn’t it?,” said McDowall, of the circumstances surrounding his being named caretaker manager. “What can you do? I have got to try to make the best of a bad situation that has happened. Ally would wish for nothing more than the team to get on a winning run again and try to win that title. The biggest tribute we can do is to try to pull that off. It would be for Ally McCoist.
“On Sunday evening, I got a call from Derek Llambias asking me to come in to Ibrox. He asked me if I could come over immediately, which I duly did. I made that drive in. When I got there he informed me that Ally had been put on gardening leave and he asked me to take charge of the team.
“In doing so, he told me the board had made changes to the coaching team – those changes being Gordon coming up to work with me and Lee being appointed player-coach. He asked me to tell Durranty to drop down and take the second team.
“It wasn’t a matter for discussion. As soon as they asked me to carry out my duties to take the first team, they asked me if I would inform the boys of the changes.
“People will possibly say that was for the board to do. That’s open for debate with whoever wants to debate it. But they asked me if I would do it, which I duly did. It wasn’t easy, but the boys fully understand because, at the moment, there is a lot going on. There are a lot of positions changing and mine was one of them. I had to explain to the lads it was a board decision and the boys respected that and just got on with it. I’ve no idea [what the thinking was on the board’s part]. You would have to ask the board that.
“They asked me to carry out a duty, which I felt I had to do. I have just got to be professional in my job and try to get the boys up for Saturday’s game against Hibs.”
Asked if he had considered following McCoist in tendering his resignation, McDowall added: “I think it’s my duty to take the team and try to get them back to winning ways.”
At Monday’s stormy annual general meeting of Rangers shareholders, Llambias suggested McDowall may even remain as manager beyond this season. “Derek says he will look at things as they go on,” said McDowall. “He has told me to get on with my duties, take the team and try to take the whole thing forward. That’s all I can do and Saturday’s game is as far ahead as I am looking right now.”
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