THE latest installment of Ally McCoist’s long goodbye proved just another day to make you wonder how he can be bothered stringing the saga out.
Scorers: Rangers - Aird 10; Mensing 74 og
Against the bottom side in the Championship, Rangers may have ground out a win for only the third time in seven games, but the atrophy apparent in all areas was tangible throughout the afternoon, and in every thinly-filled corner of the stadium.
McCoist no longer attempts to paint on a smile and pretend it is merely business as usual in his press conferences. He could hardly do that when he has handed in his notice and is only seeing out his 12-month notice period because the club do not have the financial wherewithal to come up with a pay-off.
Yet it hardly seems as if he is seeing the current scenario for what it truly is. Asked if the situation in any way felt unreal because yesterday could have been his last game, he treated the question as a bolt from the blue. “That is the first time that has been put to me today,” he offered quizzically. “No, it doesn’t feel unreal. I haven’t heard that from anybody.”
The prospects of McCoist agreeing a severance package any time soon appear to have receded. The fact that his salary returned to the £750,000 level it was on before he took a near-50 per cent wage reduction a year ago may be a key factor in that.
No doubt his remuneration will be one of the myriad issues given an airing at tomorrow’s annual general meeting. Last night, the Rangers manager remained enigmatic over whether he would attend. “I will definitely speak to the board in the next 24 hours. I don’t know what the legalities of it are. If anyone wants me there, I will be there. That goes without saying.”
McCoist said it was “not the case” that he would only go the agm if he was told to by his paymasters. “I will have a chat about it. I don’t think this is a massive issue at all. I think Walter Smith used to go to some of them. I know I went to one last year, but I don’t think it is a massive issue. If it is a requirement, I will definitely be there. If need be and people want me there, I will be there.”
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At his Friday press briefing, McCoist intimated that his legacy meant everything to him. And that whatever anyone felt about any mistakes he had made, he hoped even critics would appreciate he had always done his best and that any errors were honest ones.
No one would ever doubt his commitment or desire to do his level best. But the protracted manner of his departure, and the sums he has drawn for managing a lower league Rangers, may scar his legacy. By simply stepping away without any recompense when he decided to resign a week past on Thursday, he could have set himself apart from those whose stewardship of the club has prioritised pounds and pence above all other considerations. And if, way back when Charles Green’s Rangers set out in Scotland’s fourth tier two-and-a-half years ago, he had set his face against the enrichment culture that now imperils a club needing £8m to stay solvent in the coming months, he would have shown up the Yorkshireman and his fellow board members for the money-grabbers they were/are. A wealthy McCoist could have been the martyr if he had made it much plainer that money never mattered to him.
Now, despite his iconic playing career, he doesn’t matter to the Rangers fans enough for them to give him any shows of support. The attendance given for yesterday’s encounter was 28,053, making it the lowest for a league game at the ground in 28 years. In reality, as with many other clubs, this total represents paid-for seats, with chairman David Somers conceding at the last such encounter that the actual attendees were in the region of 19,000.
Those who actually were inside Ibrox were treated to an all-too-typical endurance test of a 90 minutes. After Rangers had struck early on through Fraser Aird, who steered in a low-angled drive from 14 yards after a corner had found its way to him via the head of Darren McGregor, the home side allowed Livingston to give as good as they got. Under the stewardship of Mark Burchill, following the sacking of John McGlynn earlier in the week, the West Lothian team created a couple of scares for the harrumphing home fans before Simon Mensing diverted an Aird cross past his own keeper with 16 minutes remaining.
Burchill said afterwards that the difference between the two teams wasn’t “quality but luck”. McCoist, who said that over the past three years he had felt “unbelievably sorry” for fans that had now deserted the club, claimed he was “really pleased” with the response after “poor performance” in the 2-0 reverse against Queen of the South a week past on Friday. He might be easy pleased. Those who have had enough of the malfeasance in the Ibrox boardroom and the mundane fare witnessed on the Ibrox pitch rightly refuse to be.
Rangers: Simonsen; Foster, McGregor, McCulloch, Wallace; Aird, Law, Black (Shiels 81), Smith (Templeton 73); Clark, Miller (Boyd 73). Subs not used: Robinson, Mohsni, Daly, Faure.
Livingston: Jamieson; Fordyce, Mensing, Gallagher, Rutherford; O’Brien, Keegan Jacobs, Mullen (Praprotnik 83), Kyle Jacobs (McKenna 83), Glen (Hippolyte 73); White. Subs not used: Grant, Sives, Ogleby, Beaumont.
Referee: W Collum. Attendance: 28.053.
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