It wasn’t just the springs of a potential United revival I noticed on Saturday afternoon with their 3-0 victory over Rangers, it was also how far the Ibrox side had fallen.
I’m not going to bother discussing the boycott or the harmless songs sung by the United faithful because it’s been analysed enough elsewhere. Instead I want to take a moment to ask an important question for Rangers fans and fans of all of Scottish Football to ponder.
Is Ally McCoist one of the worst managers in Scottish Football history?
I know that’ll immediately get a chuckle or be scoffed at by Rangers fans but I think it’s a valid question to ask.
That Rangers team was absolutely rotten on Saturday, filled with half-fit, half-interested “experienced” pros and a handful of kids who probably aren’t good enough to play regular full-time football in Scotland under any other circumstance.
But surely that’s to be expected, considering they only managed a draw against Montrose the week before?
Well, yes and no. Yes, I predicted a win, but no, I didn’t think it would be that easy, especially when you consider that Rangers are paying out considerably more in wages than Dundee United or any other Scottish club except Celtic.
And from an outsiders point of view, that’s where the problem lies. They’ve paid for a team that should have been capable of challenging for the cups, but instead has been knocked out of all three with naught but a whimper.
Of course, the party line from some Rangers fans now is that their only ever realistic aim this season was to win the Third Division and that’s pretty much in the bag.
But if that was the aim, McCoist has gone about it the wrong way. Instead of paying thousands of pounds per week on wages for overrated mercenaries like Sandaza, Black, Templeton and Emilson ‘The Worst Brazilian Ever To Play Football’ Cribari, they could have easily won both Divisions Two and Three by picking up some of the best players from Division One and others released from SPL sides at a fraction of the price. These guys would have jumped at the chance of playing for such a big club and would have put their heart and soul into it.
No, signing guys like Alex Keddie, Darren Dods or Derek Young might not have seemed particularly “glamorous”, but they’d have been good enough to romp both Divisions Three and Two alongside the likes of Lee McCulloch, Lee Wallace and Neil Alexander. No, they wouldn’t win the SPL, but it’s horses for courses, and they’d have been stockpiling cash for their inevitable return to the big time rather than running at a loss.
What McCoist has done – if you compare Rangers to the Alloa team that easily won Division Three last season or the Queen of the South team who knocked them out of the Challenge Cup and are romping Division Two – is the equivalent of buying a penny chew with a £100 note and not asking for his change.
He’s shown a basic lack of scouting or planning that even the most inept manager should have been capable of, and from listening to Rangers fans, his incompetence extends to bizarre team selections and questionable tactics.
But he’s got away with it up to now because he’s a club legend. Had any other manager performed as badly as McCoist he’d have been punted many moons ago.
There have been plenty of disastrous managerial runs in Scottish football, whether it was Franck Sauzee at Hibs, Gordon Chisholm at Dundee United, Mark McGhee at Aberdeen or even Paul le Guen at Rangers, but I can’t think of any worse than McCoist’s current situation at Ibrox.