Ally McCoist's kids can go back to the future to help club hit heights

THE Rangers legends who all returned to Ibrox in celebration of the club's 140th anniversary were cheered long and loud.

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Coisty said that he was happy with the play from his side in patches
Coisty said that he was happy with the play from his side in patches

Greats of every era since the 1940s, from Bobby Brown right through to Andy Goram, were all rapturously received. Their deeds on the hallowed Ibrox turf, and at grounds elsewhere in Scotland and Europe, will never be forgotten.

And, as was obvious on a day awash with emotion and nostalgia, they will always be welcomed back with outstretched arms. But will, you wonder, any members of today's Gers side in years to come?

Lee McCulloch, the current captain, has unquestionably written his name in the club's history books in recent months. The leadership and loyalty he has shown at one of the most trying periods in Rangers' existence have, as well as his play on the park, ensured that.

But will, say, Dean Shiels be invited back to Govan to help mark the bicentenary of the world-famous institution in 2072?

Will Chris Hegarty, Barrie McKay or Lewis Macleod, each be afforded a hero's welcome when Rangers come to mark that proud milestone?

These are, extraordinary, if not downright surreal, times in Scottish football. That a mind-boggling crowd of 49,913 turned out to watch an Irn-Bru Third Division match against bottom-placed Stirling Albion on Saturday once again underlined that fact.

Still, Ally McCoist's current crop of young stars and older heads, for all their potential and talent, have some way to go to attain the status of their predecessors.

The flat display in a 2-0 wn against part-time rivals who dealt them that embarrassing 1-0 defeat at Forthbank earlier this season showed that.

Despite dominating the first half, Kevin Kyle, McKay, Shiels and David Templeton all squandered chances. Would Jim Forrest, Colin Stein, Andy Gray, Gordon Durie or Michael Mols have been so remiss? Not a chance.

After going in front in the second half through Templeton, following some fine work by McKay, Rangers allowed the visitors to creep into the game.

Josh Flood was allowed time and space to compose himself and unleash a shot on the edge of the area that beat Neil Alexander and rebounded off the post.

Would Ronnie McKinnon, Tam Forsyth, Dave MacPherson, Richard Gough or Lorenzo Amoruso have allowed that to happen? It is highly doubtful.

From the first whistle until the last, just after substitute Andy Little had netted to sew up an unconvincing win, the Light Blues were kicked, tripped and pulled by their opponents.

Would John Greig have stood idly by and watched without responding in kind? The likelihood is he would not have. It is, of course, completely unfair to compare these Rangers players to their illustrious forebears. For the time being at least.

Most have been plucked from the youth ranks and thrust straight into the first team due to the sudden mass exodus of senior players in the summer.

Tom Walsh, who made his Rangers debut late with two minutes of regulation time remaining on Saturday, is just a kid of 16.

Nevertheless, players at Rangers, no matter how old they are, must aspire to certain standards to gain a level of excellence.

And, despite maintaining their lead at the top of the league table, there remains huge room for improvement.

McCoist, the greatest goalscorer in the history of Rangers, accepts his team's play up front has been unacceptable and must improve.

"I was a little bit concerned with the way things were shaping up on Saturday," he said. "I thought the result wouldn't go our way. I was relieved and pleased at seeing the game out.

"When we gave the ball away at 1-0 and they struck the post I thought to myself 'Surely not'. But, thankfully, the unthink-able never happened.

"I actually thought we did extremely well in patches of the game at the weekend considering the youthful players we had on the park.

"The big disappointment, if there was one, was the level of our finishing. It could and should have been a lot better."

The return of Templeton –who made his first start since recovering from ankle ligament damage – may help in that area.

The 24-year-old scored the first goal and was involved in most of his team's best play going forward.

"David lulls opposition defenders into situations where they are going to have to tackle him," said McCoist.

"Yes, he takes a few hefty slaps as a result of that. But he still wants to take the ball and commit defenders. It is good to have him available."

It was good, too, for Rangers fans to see so many of their idols return. With their backing, who knows what Hegarty, Macleod, McKay et al will go on to achieve in the future.

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