How Ally McCoist Has Proven Me Wrong

In any walk of life it is never easy stepping into a legend’s shoes.

In May 2011, Ally McCoist was left with the unenviable task of taking over from Walter Smith as manager of Rangers Football Club.

Smith is undoubtedly one of the greatest managers to ever be in charge at Ibrox, arguably second only to the legendary Bill Struth.

Whilst McCoist many have been a record goalscorer with 355 strikes during 15 years at the club, I had significant doubts whether he was ready to take on the responsibility of becoming the boss.

He could hardly have served his managerial apprenticeship under anyone better than Walter Smith, which he had done for a total of seven years with both Scotland and then Rangers.

And with Rangers, he had been given the task of leading the club in cup matches, which he did with a degree of success as Rangers regularly picked up domestic trophies.

But as many assistants, including Walter himself, can testify to, stepping up from being a number two to being the top dog is a different job entirely.

Some take to it like a fish to water, others find it’s not for them.

As someone who grew up idolising McCoist the player and then enjoying his media roles on Question of Sport and other outlets, I worried about his ability to transform from the joker in the pack to the man all the players must listen to and respect in the dressing room.

Whilst Walter could certainly let his hair down with the best of him, you knew when he was angry and to stop joking around.

McCoist was the guy the Rangers players could go to if they needed someone to have a light-hearted moment with if the going was getting too tough.

Under Walter, Rangers were continually successful with three league titles delivered in succession as well as a heroic run to the Uefa Cup Final in 2008.

Whilst European runs might come round once in a blue moon, the Rangers fans always expect the league title to come to Ibrox. Coming second in the SPL is like coming last.

But after last season it’s nigh on impossible to judge McCoist’s performance as a manager based solely on results.

He has to shoulder some of the blame for disappointing early European exits, to Malmo and Maribor respectively, as well as a League Cup defeat to Falkirk but the vast majority of the league form can be excused.

Watching a 15 point lead slip away from November onwards was disappointing but nothing could have prepared me for the ten point deduction which occurred when administration came.

The league title was gone by February, which is just unthinkable.

It was at this point that my love and admiration for McCoist started growing and it hasn’t stopped in the five months since.

With Craig Whyte shamefully jumping ship after plunging the club into crisis, McCoist was left to pick up the pieces.

Not only did he have to motivate the players to continue to try and win games for Rangers, he also had to basically run the club single-handedly after Whyte had ruthlessly binned board member after board member during the season.

This is a man who was used to sharing jokes with Sue Barker and Matt Dawson on A Question of Sport.

A man that regularly played pranks on his own team mates.

Ally McCoist may be a lot of things, but financial acumen is hardly a quality he possesses-with the greatest of respect.

But great men rise to great challenges and McCoist did magnificently.

There was never any doubting his passion for the club but he has taken it to unrivalled levels.

The way the club has been savaged by the SFA and SPL since entering administration has been nothing sort of disgraceful.

Whilst a level of punishment was always going to be accepted by McCoist and everyone associated with the club, the governing bodies have done their level best to try and kill Rangers.

And when Rangers needed leadership from within, McCoist has emerged as the man who will defend our club with every bone in his body.

I’m not suggesting Walter Smith or Jock Wallace wouldn’t have done the same, but they were experienced men.

All of this occurred in McCoist’s first season in his dream job. A dream that fast turned into a nightmare.

He might be looking drained from it all, but who wouldn’t be?

A tired man he might be, but he continues to come out with brilliant statements of intent almost every week at the moment.

On a personal level, I have found myself praising his words on Twitter, only to tweet more gushing praise a few days later.

People such as Neil Doncaster and Stewart Regan might have thought they could take advantage of the novice McCoist, but he’s well and truly let them know that won’t be the case.

Doubts still remain with many supporters including myself about Charles Green, but the main thing in his favour is that ‘Super Ally’ is still there.

This is the time for the real Rangers men to stand up and be counted as the club embarks on this new journey.

I wouldn’t have said it 12 months ago, but now I can think of no one better to lead Rangers back to the top than Ally McCoist.

Ewan is a Rangers season ticket holder and has followed them since he was a youngster. He regularly writes about the club for various sites. Currently studying journalism, you can catch him on twitter @ewanfootball

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