ALLY McCoist fully appreciates that a straw poll of Rangers supporters would be unlikely to deliver a healthy approval rating of his performance as football manager of the Ibrox club.
Notwithstanding the relentlessly shambolic boardroom stewardship of Rangers which he has resiliently worked under for the past three years, McCoist has now overseen too many painfully poor performances on the pitch as far as many of the team’s fans are concerned.
It is now simply a question of when, rather than if, McCoist will indeed vacate the manager’s office following his decision to tender his resignation, triggering a 12-month notice period which Rangers presently cannot afford to terminate any earlier.
There was a time when it would have been difficult to conceive of Rangers supporters eternally holding McCoist in anything other than the highest possible regard, both for his record-breaking exploits as a striker and his commitment to the club throughout their financial collapse.
But the protracted nature of his departure, aligned with the catalogue of bad results accumulated by his team, could threaten to diminish McCoist’s status in the eyes of some of the club’s followers. For the 52-year-old, who yesterday revealed his intention to return to Ibrox as a supporter with his sons when his time as manager is up, that legacy is of huge personal significance.
“How people remember me means more to me than anything,” insisted McCoist. “Everyone will have a different opinion, but the only thing that matters to me is that Rangers supporters felt I did everything I did for them and for the club.
“People will have different opinions on my management skills and techniques but I would hope that even the people who are justified in criticising me would appreciate that the mistakes I have made have been honest ones. I’ve been trying to do my best for the club and I hope people realise that.
“The most important thing for me in how I handle this situation now is that I can look myself in the mirror. I think of the great people that used to be at Rangers – like John Greig, Sandy Jardine, Jock Wallace and Walter Smith. I’ve got a job to do, not to let them down.
“As a player, assistant manager and then manager I’ve always had a fantastic relationship with the supporters. That’s something I value as much as anything. There will be ones who thought I was hopeless as a centre forward or as a manager but the most important thing is that they know that all I’ve tried to do is do my best for them and for the club.”
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In what was viewed by many as a move designed to cast McCoist in a negative light, Rangers revealed in a stock exchange statement this week that his annual salary would return to a pre-cut level of £750,000 for his notice period.
“When I became the first manager in Rangers history to have his salary published in the annual accounts, that made me realise that probably nothing should shock me,” added McCoist.
“So it didn’t disappoint me that it was made public again this week, because it didn’t surprise me. Was it unnecessary? That would be the opinion of many, yes. But I’m not upset about it. I have nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of. It is what it is. During the administration period at the club, I worked for nothing for months so there are other factors which should be taken into account as well. I then decided to take a 45 per cent wage cut, then a 40 per cent cut. I’m not saying it should be a big pat on the back for Ally because of that, but there’s a bit more to it than meets the eye.”
Although successive promotions from the fourth and third tiers of Scottish football have seen McCoist fulfil his primary objectives as manager post-administration, a litany of cup defeats, most recently in humiliating style against Alloa, blot his copybook. But he retains complete faith in his own capabilities for the job, revealing his intention to continue in management, albeit outwith Scotland. He believes his credentials are worthy of note.
“At the top of my CV I’d probably put ‘can handle management under stressful situations’,” he smiled. “That would be top of the list. That would be in bold print. That would be all I could say really. As I’ve said before, I think it has been very difficult at Rangers.
“Everybody will have their own opinions, which everyone is entitled to, but it is not just as clear cut as that because there has been a lot of differing and varying factors that have affected my management and would affect anybody else’s management.
“I saw what Gordon Strachan said about me earlier this week, that people only talk about the football at Rangers when we lose. He was spot on. But listen, it’s not a complaint, that goes with the territory. I couldn’t see myself at another club in Scotland but I won’t turn my back on football. Would it have to be in England or elsewhere? I don’t know, I’d hate to say something and then it comes back to haunt me.
“But I’m not finished with football, not all. I love the game. Whether it is coaching or managing somewhere else, or in some other capacity, I couldn’t see myself not being involved in football.”
For the time being, that involvement remains in the Ibrox technical area where anything less than victory against Livingston today is unthinkable for McCoist after last week’s abject display in losing 2-0 at Queen of the South.
“I can understand people thinking standards might drop among players when they know a manager is leaving,” he said. “But I can assure the supporters we won’t allow that to happen. The standards did drop for the first time last Friday night. So we need to reassure people that standards at our club will be as high as possible.
“Training has been absolutely first class this week. We’ve really worked the boys hard and they’ve been great. That’s been the focus. I haven’t been thinking about anything other than we need to get three points on Saturday. That’s an absolute necessity.”
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