Conundrum for Coisty as Rangers manager starts summer juggling act over team rejig

ALLY McCoist has fulfilled a wide variety of roles since succeeding Walter Smith as Rangers manager three long years ago.

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Rangers manager Ally McCoist has already begun the process of reshaping his squad for next season
Rangers manager Ally McCoist has already begun the process of reshaping his squad for next season

He has, among many other things, been a diplomat, a figurehead, a go-between, a negotiator and a salesman during his turbulent spell in charge.

Heck, at times he has even coached a football team.

But this week McCoist has taken on another guise - that of wheeler dealer.

In the coming weeks he has to build a squad that is capable of challenging full-time clubs like Falkirk, Hamilton, Hearts and Raith Rovers for the SPFL Championship title. Yet he will have a budget for players that will be "roughly the same" as the one he has had in League One.

Many current players, then, will have to be deemed surplus to requirements and offloaded in order to free up cash for wages - a painful process that got underway yesterday.

Potential recruits whose services can be secured for nothing will have to be identified and lured to a club that continues to be dogged by financial and off-field issues.

"I have been told (by chief executive Graham Wallace) that the budget will be roughly the same as this year," said McCoist.

"We will have to do a bit of ducking and diving if we want to get a few in.

"There may have to be a few departures as well in the coming weeks."

McCoist's detractors - and there are a fair few of those within and outwith the Rangers support - will argue he already has the second largest wage bill in Scotland at his disposal.

And he has conceded that, with the calibre of players he already has, the Light Blues should be able to pull off a promotion hat-trick.

Internationalists like Cammy Bell, Ian Black, Lee McCulloch, Arnold Peralta, Dean Shiels and Lee Wallace will have no difficulty coping in the second tier.

And the likes of Jon Daly, Richard Foster, Nicky Law, Bilel Mohsni, Stevie Smith all have extensive experience at a far higher level in England as well as Scotland.

BUT, McCoist would dearly like to freshen up his squad during the close season to boost the chances of Rangers completing "The Journey" back into the top flight.

Anyone who has seen his side in the second half of the 2013/14 campaign - when, despite results going their way, performances have left a lot to be desired - could not dispute the need for fresh faces.

So who is set to depart in the weeks ahead? And who will be brought in to help with the push to the Premiership?

Cribari would like to see the deal former chief executive Charles Green struck with him in 2012, worth a whopping £7000 a week, extended. No kidding!

Having only made three first team starts this term, though, no offer is likely to be forthcoming for the Brazilian centre-half.

The excessive money paid to the defender - and others who put pen to paper after Rangers dropped down to the Third Division - has had dire consequences for the club and will not be repeated.

Second-choice keeper Steve Simonsen, who has also only started in three games, is also likely to be on his way.

Scott Gallacher proved a more than capable debut during his run in the first team at the start of the season.

Elsewhere, it was confirmed yesterday that Chris Hegarty, Andy Little and Ross Perry - a trio who have all progressed from the Murray Park youth ranks - will be playing in new places next season.

All three have struggled with injuries and if they depart it will be harsh on them. Yet, with club staff being made redundant in a bid to reduce substantial monthly losses, that is the reality of the situation at the moment.

Some, or all, of that quintet leaving will allow McCoist to bring in new faces. And the manager has his eye on several possible signings.

Kris Boyd, whose deal with Kilmarnock expires at the end of the month, and Kenny Miller, who has negotiated his release from Vancouver Whitecaps, have been linked with returns to Rangers.

Shaun Hutchinson, outstanding for Motherwell for several seasons, is set to move on after the Fir Park club play their final game on Sunday. The 23-year-old centre-half is believed to be a target for McCoist and would - like former team-mate Nicky Law last summer - jump at the chance to move to a bigger club.

Scott Allan, the 22-year-old former Dundee United midfielder, has been unable to force his way into the first team at West Brom since moving to the Hawthorns in 2012.

And the Glasgow lad, who has had loan spells at Portsmouth, Milton Keynes Dons and Birmingham City, is believed to be keen on a return to his home city.

It will take quite a juggling act for McCoist to pull it all off but, as he has shown in the past, he is adaptable and resourceful when he needs to be.

Football

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