Rangers must show more than Stirling effort if Ally McCoist is to remain

Ally McCoist stressed that his feelings were of disappointment and not of embarrassment.

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Pressure is mounting on Rangers manager Ally McCoist
Pressure is mounting on Rangers manager Ally McCoist

But there is little doubt that a red face could be the least of McCoist's troubles if, heading into mid-October, the picture for Rangers does not begin to brighten.

Beaten by an early Brian Allison goal against a part-time Stirling Albion side who have been unable to buy a win in the Irn-Bru Third Division for their past five outings, this could well be the weekend that the Ibrox side hit rock bottom.

It could be the depths they need to sink to before taking a reality check and waking up to the cold, stark fact that life in the Irn-Bru Third Division is not the cakewalk predicted.

The Rangers manager rebuffed suggestions that the result turns the screw on his tenure as Ibrox boss. But for all that he has a stock of goodwill in the bank due to the manner in which he steered the Rangers ship through such uncharted waters last season, there are only so many shocking results that supporters will stomach.

Long before the final whistle sounded at Forthbank, the grumbles from the visiting support were growing louder, their disaffection with the fare on offer translating into anger and agitation.

Certain results, such as the Ramsdens Cup exit at home to Queen of the South, will be tolerated as a blip in a season in which Rangers get themselves back on track. But a succession of eye-watering results such as the ones that have plagued them on the road this term simply will not be.

At the minute, a look at the table suggests there is no real need for panic. Despite their stuttering start, the Ibrox side lie only a point off the top of the table.

Stringing together a run of form will surely annihilate the rest of the pack and pretty quickly, too.

But, seven games into their league campaign and it has not been anywhere near as straightforward as it was all predicted.

The excuses of tight pitches, other teams being psyched up for them and the fact that they are kicked black and blue should not detract from the fact that Rangers recruited players on SPL wages who should be above all that. Their quality ought to lift them from the rest of the part-timers in the bottom tier.

That it isn't suggests not a lack of ability – the comfort-able, fluent victory over Motherwell in the Scottish Communities League Cup proved that – but rather a question of attitude and application.

The Rangers manager is an affable character. Post-playing days, he forged a TV career based on his joviality, his charisma and his ability to lighten the mood. He swapped a profitable media role to get his boots back on and get to work on the training ground. However, if this run of results continues, fingers will be pointed and questions asked.

Does he have the required temperament, the steeliness to make big decisions? To come down hard on players when needs be? Is he a better coach than he is manager? These are questions that, with a winning team, would never be asked, but as they stumble from one crisis to another, anger is mounting.

"Nobody needs to remind me of what's required from any football manager and that's results," said McCoist ruefully after the weekend defeat.

Many supporters overlooked the manner in which Rangers frittered away a mammoth lead in the SPL last season because events on the pitch were grossly overshadowed by what was going off it.

But, if the shocking away form continues for much longer, then fans will start to turn. McCoist is one of them, but when it comes to management, then ultimately only results will do the talking.

Against Stirling, too often Rangers were over-elaborate, getting bogged down in the middle of the park rather than using the width that would have stretched their opponents. The game was crying out for just a little bit of composure and quality.

"We will bounce back," insisted McCoist. "Time will tell if we are good enough to get out of the division.

"I would stand here and tell you we are and we will be. That's my belief and nothing has changed. But saying it is one thing, we will have to prove we can do it.

"I just feel frustrated. That's my over-riding feeling – frustration at not getting away victories in the division.

"At the same time, there is a determination to get it right and put it right and we will."

It has to be sooner rather than later.

Sport

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