Team have been poor while background motives are unclear

icon rangers15 December ~ Rangers’ losing performance at Queen of the South, live on BT Sport on Friday, was typical of Ally McCoist’s managerial reign. But in pre- and post-match interviews he wore the demeanour of someone calling a more important bluff. Only this morning have Rangers confirmed he’d handed in his notice hours before kick-off in Dumfries. McCoist, in the post since June 2011, bizarrely stated and restated “I am the Rangers manager”. His default chirpy setting was more sad than inappropriate but epitomised the club since 2012’s liquidation: a hollow impersonation of power.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has been bankrolling Rangers since October. He forced the resignation of chief executive Graham Wallace, with whom McCoist had forged a good relationship. Ashley’s former managing director at St James’ Park, Derek Llambias, has been brought in to cut costs. A string of recent redundancies among administrative staff included McCoist’s secretary, an Ibrox institution in herself.  

It’s unimaginable McCoist will stay beyond this week’s meeting with Llambias, far less work his full year’s notice. A book deal and return to punditry would easily cover any lost wages from his 12-month rolling contract, today returned to £725,000 per annum after his personal wage cut of 2013. Neither would he needlessly put Rangers fans through more uncertainty. His famous “we don’t do walking away” statement, made as the administrators arrived in 2012, sustained the club more convincingly than the litany of shysters who’ve run it since. But it’s holding him hostage now as Rangers fans insist there must be some moral imperative behind even his resignation.

Friday’s actions were almost certainly in defiance of more proposed cuts, to either his backroom team or the wider coaching infrastructure. Young midfielder Lewis Macleod, this season’s only bright spark, will probably be sold in January. A regime which must inject millions just to get Rangers to the end of the season has been dared to make the redundancy which will hit it hardest in the pocket. However, such off-field tactics are the limit of McCoist’s inspiration.

While winning the two bottom-tier titles, his side have enjoyed the second-biggest wages in Scotland. Despite some larger scalps in the cups, the football is frequently dire and players diminish when they arrive at Ibrox. The recent defeat in the Challenge Cup semi-final, as Rangers fell nine points behind Hearts at the top of the Championship, confirmed McCoist the manager is inferior to McCoist the legendary Rangers striker and ambassador.

The subsequent narrow win against part-time Cowdenbeath was one of the most depressing days I’ve ever spent at Ibrox. A planned protest against the manager fizzled out into a rammy between a few punters which echoed round an Ibrox increasingly resembling a haunted house. McCoist knows there’ll be no “please stay” rally.

Terry Butcher and Stuart McCall are lesser Rangers legends but possibly more competent managers. However, they are joined on the bookies lists of possible replacements by Dennis Wise, who worked with Ashley at St James’ Park. This embodies fans’ fears that Rangers could lose yet more of their identity with McCoist’s departure. Once regarded as the establishment team, the protracted nature of that departure has only enhanced their current identity as Britain’s most unstable club. Alex Anderson

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