ALLY McCoist has hit back strongly at Charles Green’s claim that this is the worst Rangers team in history, questioning his employer’s credentials for making that judgment, which was first stated last month and repeated in a Sunday newspaper yesterday.
But the Rangers manager also insisted that he and the club’s owner were on the same wavelength about how progress should be made.
Speaking following his team’s comfortable 4-1 victory against Queen’s Park, the manager of the Third Division champions said he was looking forward to receiving the £10 million investment that Green has promised. But, after offering his thoughts on the Hampden match itself, he began by taking issue with that claim of Green’s that no team since Rangers first took the field more than 140 years ago was as poor as the present one.
“This is also the best Rangers team Charles has ever seen, as he’s relatively new to Rangers,” a frustrated McCoist said. “In my opinion it’s not the worst Rangers team. I’m not sure how many titles Charles has won in his career, but I’ve been very fortunate enough to win 14, including as assistant manager. But this one was the hardest.
“That title that we were all involved in there is probably the hardest out of the 14 I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in. I know what it takes to win a title. It doesn’t matter what division you’re in, it takes a special group of people and talent and hard work to win titles. I would have thought everyone could maybe take a wee step back and offer some congratulations to those boys, because I’m certainly doing that right now.”
While Rangers did not come close to reaching the final of either of the main cup competitions, they have won the Third Division in some comfort, albeit while often underperforming. In that respect, McCoist feels they have done all that has been asked of them.
“They can’t do any more. They were asked to win a league and they’ve won.
“We lost 30-odd players [last summer], we didn’t have a squad, six players turned up for pre-season training – and four of them left.
“We assembled a squad of players who weren’t allowed to play a pre-season game. We assembled a group of players to win a division that we didn’t know, because we hadn’t been in it before. So have they done the job? You better believe they’ve done the job.
“Charles has gone on record as saying there is £10m to spend when it’s available – and there will be money to spend. That’s fantastic.
“I’m obviously looking forward to hopefully getting the opportunity to spend that. We can’t do it in respect of buying players right now, because the embargo is with us until next January.
“We can sign free transfers in September. But I would hope, and the Rangers supporters absolutely deserve, some quality and new faces to come to the club. I’m sure we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to providing that.”
Having worked under former owner Craig Whyte, whose involvement with Green was the subject of sustained speculation last week, McCoist has been made promises before which were not delivered. But, asked why he thought the promises made by Green would be kept, he appeared sure that the current owner was sincere in his stated plans for returning Rangers to what both men see as their rightful place at the top of Scottish football.
“The vast majority of the promises have been made in public,” he continued. “We would certainly hope them to be kept – and I’m certainly not expecting anyone not to stick to their word. I don’t believe that will be the case, far from it.
“I just look forward to pressing ahead. I am genuinely delighted for the players and supporters. You saw those supporters turning out again today. They’ve been through hell with their club in the last 18 months and they deserve this, because they’ve been with us all the way.
“Listen, I know the team, I know the supporters, I know what is expected. And at times our performance has dipped a little bit.
“But I think even the supporters will look back and say: ‘You know, the boys have done a good job and managed to win another title for Rangers’.”
Asked why those fans should believe Green’s promises, McCoist added: “I think Charles is more than capable of answering those questions himself, to be honest with you. He’s never shirked a question and I don’t see him doing it now.”
The forthright way in which McCoist took issue with Green will inevitably cause some tension between the two, but the manager appears to believe that such robust exchanges of views would not have a damaging effect on their relationship. He has been reassured, among other things, by a meeting he had with the owner to discuss some of those claims about Green’s dealings with Whyte which surfaced last week.
“I’ve had a meeting with Charles,” he said. “It lasted well over an hour, and it was absolutely fine, absolutely constructive. We’re obviously in the same boat: we both want the club to move forward.
“That is the priority for me and it has not changed. The club must move forward, and we’re both of the opinion that that is going to be the case.”