That our players deserve criticism for their efforts is not in doubt. However, there were a number of decisions which McCoist made the other night which hampered the team. The word legend is scarcely a sufficient word to describe AllyMcCoist. The affection our support has for him and the esteem in which he is held will never be in doubt. However, he is now being judged as our manager and all the golden boots, MBEs and iconic goals can't save him from criticism should his tenure not be a successful one.
Reliance on the tried and tested
This already seems to be an alarming habit which Ally has inherited from Uncle Walter. It has been obvious for some time now that Edu and McCulloch is far too industrial a combination to play as our central two. It leaves far too much creative responsibility on Steven Davis a situation only exacerbated the other night by having Clubfoot rather than Whittaker at full back and Naismith departing at half time.
Ness may be young but he has enough big game experience to cope with opposition of Maribor's class. Playing Ness would not be without risk but surely it was preferable to an out of form Edu and a half fit McCulloch?
A reliance on experience seems the only explanation for the inclusion of Ortiz and the introduction of Lafferty at half time rather than using Fleck or Wylde. Hopefully the arrival of McKay and Bedoya will improve our creative options because the knuckleheaded duo of McCulloch and Edu cannot persist.
I personally take issue with players being substituted in case they pick up a second yellow card. There was no real aggression to the game the other night and no suggestion in anything the Maribor players did to suggest they would attempt to get Naismith sent off. I would therefore question why a professional footballer in that situation cannot be trusted to get through 45 minutes without being booked. Either McCoist or Naismith is therefore at fault.
What we can be sure of is this changed the game. Prior to the match we were told Lafferty would travel but had no chance of playing so why bring him on? Fleck and Wylde could have come on with less disruption to our formation and the pattern of the game. Both are young but have played in Europe before.
What was even more concerning was the reluctance to make any changes in the last 20 minutes when a number of players, notably McCulloch in the middle of the park, were visibly tired. Again it was an all too familiar issue and something that seems to have been inherited from the pervious boss.
To date Rangers have brought in 7 players. The "war chest" trumpeted by the tabloids has not materialised but instead we have a number of logical if unspectacular signings:
Carlos Bocanegra (US Captain £400k) - Potentially a bargain if he replaces Weir as the main stay of our defence
Alejandro Bedoya (US International £400k) - We are obviously buying potential here but as Peter Lawell observed in relation to Celtic it is no longer possible to buy Champions League standard players we must seek to create them
Lee Wallace (Scotland international £1.5m) - A member of the Scotland team who reached the final of the Under 19 European Championship he has the potential to be a mainstay for years to come
Dorin Goian (Romanian International Undisclosed) - Looks composed and a first pick
Matt McKay (Australian International £320k) - Impressive in the Asian Nations Cup the only question is why it has taken until the age of 28 to move to Europe? Given the price though he scarcely represents much of a risk
Kyle Bartley (Loan) - Impressed at centre half last year and more than held his own in Europe. It is just a shame we couldn't get him on a permanent deal
Juan Manuel Ortiz (Undisclosed fee) - On what I have seen so far I am at a loss as to why he has been brought in
Overall I can't really fault the signings. It would be good to bring in a decent striker or someone like McFadden who remains a bit of a name but given our resources I can't complain. We have bought players who represent value for money, players from countries that we have had success with in the past and players in markets we can tour and look to make some money from. All of this indicates to me that we have put in some thought to the markets we will look to buy players from and the potential benefits that can be drawn. Clearly long term this is a plus but it does make me question if it is McCoist or the board who deserve the credit for the transfers?
Overall I think the new buys will come good. The question is whether McCoist can get them to deliver quickly enough.
There is no avoiding the cliche, the next few weeks will throw up a series of must win games for McCoist:
Motherwell (Away) - Currently top of the league a win here would keep the doubts at bay for now
Maribor (Home) - I suspect Rangers will sadly once again be Scottish football's last man standing but this already looks like a match which could see the tabs whip out the "Rangers in Crisis" headlines
Aberdeen (Home) - This should be a given but we all know the effect a game against Rangers has on Aberdeen
Dundee Utd (Away)
Celtic (Home) - If McCoist can negotiate the games listed above successfully we should be going into this game full of confidence against a Celtic team we bettered last season and who haven't made any signings which look to have improved them. Right now though that scenario seems a long way off
No manager can be judged a month into the season but there are a number of concerns regarding the results and decisions being made by our management team. It is hard to imagine any other individual who could engender such goodwill from our support as Ally McCoist. That alone does not guarantee universal support in the face of poor results and questionable decisions and tactics. Our rivals across the city have gone down that road. They ended last season as runners up for the third year in a row and are staring down the barrel of a third straight first round European exit. Rangers fans are unlikely to be quite so sentimental so please Ally go out and re-earn the title Super.
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