Rangers' East Fife flop is exhibit A in McCoist's armoury argument

ALLY McCOIST'S claim that he needs to strengthen his squad for Rangers to challenge for the SPFL Championship was greeted with derision.

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Ally McCoist, main, offers encouragement to his struggling side as Lee McCulloch, inset, bangs in a late penalty for winner
Ally McCoist, main, offers encouragement to his struggling side as Lee McCulloch, inset, bangs in a late penalty for winner

Why does the Ibrox manager, people asked, want even more money to spend when his club already has the second highest wage bill in Scotland?
Surely, they questioned, Gers will romp to the second-tier title next season with the players they currently have on their books?
Those are valid points. The Light Blues have the sort of quality and strength in depth which most clubs in this country can only dream about.
If they have to enter the 2014/15 campaign with their existing squad the chances are they will still contend strongly for promotion to the top flight.
Cammy Bell, Jon Daly, Nicky Law, Lewis Macleod, Dean Shiels, David Templeton and Lee Wallace would walk into most Premiership teams.
Even Andy Little, the versatile Northern Ireland international, believes the current Rangers squad is capable of winning a third consecutive promotion next year.
He said: “I think we are good enough. We have come a long way since last season. We have won every game bar two in the league this season. I think we can go and win the league next year.”
However, the League One game against East Fife at New Bayview on Saturday highlighted exactly why
McCoist desires new players and more players. Rangers found it difficult to overcome their part-time opponents at the weekend. They were highly fortunate to return to Glasgow with all three points to show for their efforts.
They looked decidedly weary playing their third game in the space of eight days and their second away game
in five days. They were utterly devoid of inspiration in the final third of the park.
They only prevailed due to a moment of absolute madness from East Fife substitute Pat Clarke in the second minute of injury-time at the end of an appalling match.
He brought down Templeton – one of just a few outfield players in the visiting side to earn pass marks – inside his penalty box to needlessly concede a spot kick. Rangers captain Lee McCulloch gratefully accepted the gift.
“We lacked spark,” admitted McCoist afterwards. “We huffed and puffed without creating an awful lot. We had no real penetration, out with  Templeton.
“Any team that wins a title, no matter who they are, will go through spells where they feel they can do better. We want to pass the ball better and play better. It would be nice to win the title in style.”
McCoist threw on Little and then Robbie Crawford in the second half in Methil in an attempt to breathe some much-needed life into his side’s flat display.
He had few other options. After such a poor showing, a manager would ideally like to drop individuals, and there were a few of them at the weekend, who failed to acquit themselves to the desired standard. But it is difficult to see how he can as things stand.
Even if – and it remains a massive if – peace breaks out at Rangers there are no guarantees he will be able to add to his pool of players.
If anything, cutbacks are to be expected. The demands at Rangers are great. The first team has to not just win games but win them playing good football. Failure to do so leads to rumblings of discontent among their followers.
McCoist’s ability to manage the team he played for with such distinction is constantly called into question as it is – despite the fact they have lost just one match this season.
So you can understand his hope that the volatile situation at Ibrox – where fans are threatening to withhold season ticket money – will stabilise.
With Dunfermline losing to Stranraer at Stair Park later on Saturday, the narrow win over East Fife meant that Rangers stretched their lead at the top of the table to 24 points.
And they can clinch the title against Airdrie at Ibrox on Wednesday week if their nearest rivals draw or lose to Stenhousemuir at home on Saturday.
Failing that, they can secure the League One trophy at long last with either a draw or a win against Dunfermline at Ibrox on Saturday week.
Whenever his side does finally cross the finishing line, McCoist will not allow the achievement, satisfying though it will be, to deflect his attention from his long-term objective.
That is to return Rangers to their place in the top flight and then challenge Celtic. He is undoubtedly already thinking about what will be a considerable challenge.
He would not be doing his job properly if he was not looking long-term.
He should not be chastised for wanting the very best.

Football

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