ALLY McCoist, the Rangers manager, paid tribute to the supporters who packed Ibrox yesterday, just a week after his team had been knocked out of the League Cup by Forfar Athletic.
There had been suggestions that many would vote with their feet after the team’s humiliation at Station Park, but more than 44,000 watched their 4-1 win against Brechin City on the opening day of the League One season.
The only notable absentee was Charles Green. McCoist refused to comment on the chants and banners which protested against the former chief executive, back at the club as a consultant. “It’s not my department,” said McCoist. “My department is the football. What I will say is that the fans turned up again in incredible numbers and they gave the team terrific backing – it’s what I’ve come to expect. I can’t speak highly enough of them. They’ve been great to me and all that does is make me more determined to do my best for them.”
Two goals in each half did the damage for Rangers. Although there was an anxious period for them after the interval, when Brechin reduced the deficit to one, McCoist was delighted with his team’s performance.
“For 75 minutes our boys were absolutely terrific. As a manager you need to be critical at times and my only criticism is that we should have been home and dry. When you don’t kill a team off you always run the risk of losing a goal at the other end. To be fair, it was a heck of a goal they scored, but no-one could have grudged us the three points. We could and should have scored more.”
Despite the club’s transfer embargo, Rangers were able to play two of their new signings as trialists. While Jon Daly had a frustrating afternoon – missing a series of chances – Nicky Law was their man of the match, scoring one and dictating the play from his central-midfield position.
“Jon will be fine. I have no doubts about his pedigree and, on another day, the big man would have been heading home with the match ball. I thought Nicky Law was terrific. They are two big players for us. They work hard, they are a great example to everyone and they are the kind of people we want at the club. They fitted in superbly.”
McCoist, pictured, was also pleased for Dean Shiels, who made his first appearance since March. The striker, who has been out with a knee injury, headed straight for the club’s physiotherapist after coming on as a late substitute to score Rangers’ fourth. “It was a great wee moment between the two of them because it’s been hard for Dean watching his team-mates train and he’s headed for the gym.”
McCoist also had a word for Sandy Jardine, who unfurled the Third Division championship flag before kick-off. “Sandy got a wonderful reception, which was great. I can’t tell you how good it was to see him back. He told me it was a terrific honour for him to unfurl the flag. I think it was more an honour for us.”
Ray McKinnon, the Brechin City manager, was frustrated about the penalty that led to Rangers’ third goal, just when they were starting to look vulnerable. “I haven’t seen it but the players thought it was very, very soft. And the sending off… he is going away from goal, so I am definitely not sure about that. It was a game-changer. At that moment, there was a bit of nerves in the Rangers team.”