Ally McCoist remains confident he can handle pressure in wake of dismal result

ALLY McCOIST admits he is at a loss to explain Rangers’ appalling recent run of European results but is adamant he can cope with the strain Thursday night’s elimination by Maribor has placed on his fledgling managerial career at the club.

Failure to secure group stage football in either the Champions League or Europa League is a severe financial blow to the Scottish champions and a significant setback for McCoist who has now won just three of his first eight games in charge since succeeding Walter Smith in the summer.

No stranger to criticism from the Rangers supporters, having been the subject of their disaffection during his early days as a player at the club, McCoist remains bullish about his prospects of emerging successfully from a bad start as manager.

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“I will handle that side of it no problem at all, make no mistake about that,” said McCoist. “I have had good times with Rangers and bad times. Right at this moment, I am grateful for the bad times because they give me strength for what is ahead.

“We have to pick ourselves up. Rangers have had really good times in Europe and some really low and miserable ones. Maribor is one of the latter. The way this club has always reacted in the past to those low points is to roll up the sleeves, get over the disappointment and work hard to win games of football.

“We have to do that now in the SPL. Just as you can’t enjoy victories for long at Rangers, you can’t wallow in the defeats for long either. I just have to hope that this blow will toughen us up. It’s as sore a European defeat as I’ve experienced at the club, but as manager you feel it more. You are disappointed for everyone connected with the club, not just yourself. That is the hardest part of management.”

Rangers have won just one of their last 25 European games, by far the worst run in their history, and McCoist concedes that even some of their more creditable performances during that sequence offer no mitigation.

“We can look at reasons, analyse why this or that happened, but the facts are there in black and white,” he said. “Our record in Europe is nowhere near good enough. Right now, I can’t put my finger on it and say why it has been like that for Rangers, but I agree that it’s not good enough.

“We can isolate one or two results, like the goalless draw at Manchester United. There have been some good things and good nights, but overall it is way short of being good enough.”

McCoist accepts there is now an onus on both himself and his Celtic counterpart Neil Lennon to deliver a positive season at the top end of the Scottish domestic game after Thursday night’s collective Europa League implosion.

“The burden falls on us now,” he added. “Our immediate target is to go out and win games so that people can leave the stadium with a smile on their face.

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“We want them to say they’ve enjoyed it, it’s been good and that they’ve been entertained.

“We want the fans to see some emerging talent and we want them to see the team doing well. If our fans come back to Ibrox on Sunday and see us putting in a good performance against Aberdeen it will go some way to easing the pain.

“I’ve got to see hope. If I can’t see hope, I shouldn’t be sitting here. Ross Perry is my hope, Gregg Wylde is my hope. That’s the hope for us. I am so disappointed to be out of Europe but I have a lot of pride in me for what these two young guys have achieved in the last few games. That’s the hope and we’ve got to hang on to that, to the belief that we can get back winning things and challenging again in Europe.”

McCoist is confident his squad will remain intact beyond the close of the transfer window on Wednesday, despite speculation that the loss of European income could prompt Rangers owner Craig Whyte to sell one or more of their more valuable players. But he is aware the club are now more vulnerable to any offers.

“I’ve certainly not been told we have to sell people,” said McCoist. “But outwith four or five clubs in the world, there is no manager who can be given that as an absolute guarantee. Indirectly, that’s one of the reasons why we’re not in Europe. When Stoke City can pay a player £60,000 a week in wages, that indicates why we are where we are.”