Ally McCoist praises ’Well and their manager – but pressure grows

ALLY McCOIST can ill afford for the season of goodwill to extend to the first footers at Ibrox today going home with anything tangible to show for their visit.

But while the Rangers manager is determined to secure a desperately needed victory over Motherwell for his ailing SPL title holders, he is still able to wish the Lanarkshire outfit well under his close friend, Stuart McCall.

McCoist has revealed something of a soft spot for Motherwell, a club where his gloriously successful playing career might have started had circumstances been different back in 1978.

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“Motherwell is a great club,” said McCoist. “They have obviously had one or two problems in recent years, but generally speaking it is a well-run club. It’s been a pillar of that community for many years.

“I was there as a boy. I played for Fir Park Boys Club with Gary McAllister for several years. It’s a club I always look out for, I had some great times there.

“Big Roger Hynd was the manager of Motherwell at the time and he offered me ‘S’ forms. I should probably have been a bit scared to knock them back from big Roger. He was massive, a great man.

“I didn’t sign because I didn’t like the schoolboy forms as they were at that time. I ended up going straight to professional forms with St Johnstone when I was 16. My dad and I just felt that the ‘S’ form at that time tied you down to a particular club. We just felt that was a bit unfair or unjust for a schoolboy.

“Who knows what would have happened had I signed for Motherwell? Maybe that’s where it all went wrong.”

Motherwell are enjoying another admirable season under McCall’s guidance, and McCoist could not be more pleased for the man with whom he shared so many great moments on the pitch with both Rangers and Scotland.

“Stuart has done great and it’s not a surprise to me,” added McCoist. “He’s just a hard-working football man and a great guy. I’m absolutely delighted for him in the job he is doing at Motherwell. He is an infectious character. Generally speaking, you get what you deserve. He certainly deserves great success.

“It probably didn’t go as well for him as Bradford City manager as he would have hoped, so it just shows you the mark of the man. It was a wee bit of a fairytale for him, going back to Bradford as boss, but it just wasn’t to be. He has certainly more than handled that disappointment well and really bounced back.

“There was no doubt about the affinity Stuart had with the club at Bradford. With him being the prodigal son there, a lot was expected of him.

“There has certainly been a lot less focus on him at Motherwell than there was at Bradford. It’s certainly been a great move for both him and Motherwell.

“He is a good mate of mine. It goes without saying that the vast majority of that group of players at Rangers were very, very tight. We remain so. Stuart and I are still very friendly to this day.

“I did always see him going into management. There were one or two you could see going down that road. Derek McInnes was another one. Sometimes you get the right people for the right job and it looks as if Motherwell have found another one in Stuart.”

Back-to-back defeats against St Mirren and Celtic have seen McCoist’s credentials as the right man for the right job at Rangers questioned by some of the club’s support, and he needs to embark on a winning run this afternoon.

Like all managers, McCoist seeks positives from times of disappointment and he believes he found one in the performances of Lee Wallace in those two losses as the former Hearts player emerges as a key figure for Rangers.

“I watched Lee closely last Wednesday night,” said McCoist. “It’s a big thing playing your first Old Firm game at Celtic Park. He handled it absolutely fine. We’ve been really happy with Lee. He’s solid and reliable. I’ve found him a breath of fresh air since he came in.

“He enjoys his work. We are still learning about each other, he is still learning about the club. But myself, Kenny McDowall and Ian Durrant have been really impressed with his attitude. Whether it’s at left-back or further forward, he’s one of the boys in your team you can rely on.

“There are some who will give you a nine or a ten out of ten one week, then a five out of ten the next. Lee is a steady eight out of ten every game.”

McCoist added: “It’s quite important you have players in your squad who can play one or two positions. Lee got a good goal against St Mirren and then got forward well again against Celtic.

“He was obviously very unlucky not to have another goal in that game. Hopefully, he is going to be a big player for us in the second half of the season.”