Do Rangers stick or twist with McCoist after latest turn in the road?

IF he goes there will be trouble.

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The Rangers manager was left with nowhere to hide after latest defeat
The Rangers manager was left with nowhere to hide after latest defeat

But the fans fear if he stays there will be double.

Ally McCoist is everything Rangers supporters want in a manager, but an increasing number are moving towards the conclusion that he is not the man they want in that role.

McCoist's status as a legend, earned through a glittering and record-breaking playing career, is forever enshrined at Ibrox, but he is in danger of doing irreparable damage to his legacy from the dugout.

He epitomises what fans look for in a Ranger and, as an ambassador for the club and a figurehead to look up to and rally round, there are few who come close to matching him.

Yet those qualities, that loyalty from those who chant his name from the stands can only be banked on for so long and will only buy him so much time in the face of adversity.

The boos that reverberated around Easter Road, the jubilant band of Raith Rovers fans apart, in the aftermath of Sunday's Ramsdens Cup final told their own story and left the manager and his players in no uncertain terms that their performance was unacceptable.

This was a game Rangers were expected to win, had to win, but didn't win. McCoist has to shoulder his proportion of the blame, with his team selection flawed from the start and approach too one-dimensional as his side lacked creativity and nous in the final third and shot themselves in the foot with a defensive calamity late on.

Yet, not for the first time, he was let down by the men he entrusted with a blue jersey. For too long Rangers have been going through the motions, the players doing just enough to keep the condemnation muted. It caught up with them against Raith.

Few can argue about the relentless manner in which Rangers have gathered results in SPFL League One this term but it is the level of performance and style of play that has brought criticism.

It would be wrong to expect the Light Blues to sweep teams aside by four or five goals every week; that was never going to happen. But, considering the players McCoist has at his disposal, fans have been left weary at the football on show.

Rangers are not easy on the eye, they are more workmanlike than swashbuckling, with results often ground out through endeavour than won and earned with flair.

That can be tolerated when they are winning, but it is a stick to beat the manager with when things do not go to plan - like against Forfar, Stranraer, Stenhousemuir and, most crucially, on Sunday.

Defeat to Grant Murray's side is the latest in an increasingly long line of cup horror shows on McCoist's watch and the evidence is now stacking up for those looking for him to step down or be sacked.

From a Champions League qualifier defeat to Malmo just weeks after he replaced Walter Smith as boss to John Baird's extra-time winner in the capital, the sailing has been far from smooth for McCoist.

Cup exits at the hands of Queen of the South, Dundee United and Inverness Caley were bad enough last season but being dumped from the League Cup by Forfar in August and held by Albion Rovers brought the tally to nine and used up McCoist's last life in the eyes of some.

Missing out on the Ramsdens Cup was, therefore, the final straw for the growing number who have become disillusioned with McCoist the manager.

Calls for the boss and his backroom staff, assistant Kenny McDowall and coach Ian Durrant, to be sacked were made in the heat of the moment and the dust will settle ahead of Saturday's Scottish Cup semi-final with Dundee United. McCoist has been at the club long enough to know the score, he knows the standards that have been set and those that are not being met.

The cost could, and should, be severe for the players not up to scratch, but it is unlikely McCoist will have to pay the ultimate price. Rangers are now one title win away from a return to Scotland's top tier but there are no guarantees they will make it three-in-a-row at the first attempt.

As chief executive Graham Wallace finalises the details of his 120-day review into the club, he will have to plan not just for the Championship but the Premiership, with McCoist's vision for the future set to be at the heart of the blueprint.

He has a squad that needs investment but at a time when costs are likely to be cut and he still finds himself working under an unprecedented set of circumstances not experienced by any of his predecessors.

From the financially crippling Craig Whyte era to the shambolic reign of Charles Green, McCoist has had little support from above and Rangers little long-term vision as off-field distractions have continued to dominate matters.

It is hard not to have sympathy for the situation the 51-year-old finds himself in but there will come a point for fans where those feelings will run out and McCoist the manager will have to be looked at in the cold light of day.

The chances of him not taking his place in the dugout next season are remote and he deserves, for everything he has done for Rangers, the chance to return the club to the top flight.

It is then Rangers have to know whether he should stay or he should go.

Football

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