ON the football front, Rangers are 20 points clear at the summit of the Irn-Bru Third Division – and certainties to win the title.

On the business side of things, meanwhile, the Ibrox club has £21million in the bank and hopes of posting an annual profit in the near future.

But what was Charles Green asked about when interviewed about the interim results this week?

Yes, inevitably, it was the future of Ally McCoist.

Despite his makeshift team safely negotiating the bottom tier – albeit with a few wobbles along the way – the jury remains out on McCoist as manager.

Many Gers fans are still unsure if he has the ability to excel in the dugout to the same degree that he did on the pitch in his playing days.

However, Ian McCall, who has seen much of his former club in action this season in his role as a Radio Clyde pundit, believes his influence on his young side is already glaring.

And the ex-Falkirk, Dundee United and Partick Thistle manager feels his former team-mate can only be judged when he has money to strengthen his squad.

"It has been an incredibly strange season for Rangers," reflected McCall. "I have felt for the management team at times.

"They have been criticised whatever they have done. If they win 7-0 they get negative comments because they are expected to win. If they draw 1-1 they get slaughtered.

"But I was at their game at the weekend and the coaching the players have received was obvious to me. Anybody could see they are working on things on the training ground.

"The balance in the Rangers team isn't right at the moment. To be honest, it hasn't been from day one. But they aren't able to bring in any players."

Rangers have been criticised in the 2012/13 campaign for their defensive displays – including, at times, by McCoist himself – against part-time opposition.

But McCall could see the rearguard putting into action drills they have clearly practised on the training ground against East Stirlingshire.

He explained: "A few really interesting things struck me at the weekend, and I've watched them a number of times this season, about how they play.

"Firstly, at goal-kicks and deep free-kicks against, Kyle Hutton drops back from central midfield. He is almost at centre-back in the backline and he is the one who goes and attacks the ball.

"He will drop in between the left side centre-back and the left-back or the right side centre-back and the right-back. I have honestly never seen that before.

"Young Chris Hegarty is by all accounts a real winner. But the fact remains that he isn't dominant in the air. Hutton, on the other hand, is very good in the air. It makes good sense."

McCall continued: "Also, when they are defending set-pieces, five or six of their players, defenders and midfielders, look as if they are almost holding hands.

"Willie Ormond used to tie his back four together with a piece of rope so they were all connected. What Rangers are doing is very similar. It ensures they know where each other are.

"Nobody can tell me Kenny McDowall or Ally McCoist don't understand the game. I think you could see that much against East Stirling on Saturday.

"The first half was awful. But at half-time they moved David Templeton from wide on the left into the hole just off Lee McCulloch. That was the key to the game. After that they romped it."

The performances of the youngsters McCoist has been forced to field this term, due to circumstances outwith his control, have been the highlights for supporters.

Fraser Aird, Robbie Crawford, Hegarty, Lewis Macleod, Barrie McKay and Kal Naismith have all been tipped to enjoy glittering careers with the Glasgow giants.

McCall, though, is not entirely convinced about the starlets. In fact, Macleod is the only one of the Murray Park graduates he is sure will remain at Rangers in the long-term.

He feels that his contemporaries still have to prove they are good enough to play for the Govan club in the top flight and in Europe.

"In the 30 years that I have played in Scotland every youngster who has broken through at Rangers has been tipped for great things," he said.

"When I was at Rangers it was Andy Kennedy. I was 22 or 23 when I got into the first team, but I was, I suppose, much the same.

"In my opinion, Lewis Macleod looks as if he is going to develop into a real footballer. But, for me, the jury is out on the others. I am not sure they will play for Rangers when they get to a good level."

Nor is McCall convinced many of the senior players McCoist has had to work with during this transitional season will survive as they rise up the divisions.

"I think what Ally is trying to do is build a team that can get Rangers into the SPL and keep them there," he said.

"They don't want to get to the SPL and then build a completely new team.

"From this season, I think only Lee Wallace would be guaranteed a place in that team.


Templeton would have a chance. Dean Shiels possibly. I would imagine Lee McCulloch will be too old.

"To be considered a real Rangers team I think they will have to win the SPL. Right now, they only have one player who will help them do that, Lee Wallace."