Rangers caretaker manager Kenny McDowall has admitted at Friday’s press conference ahead of their Scottish Cup tie against Raith Rovers, that he has been told that he must start all five Newcastle United players on loan at Rangers when they are fit.
McDowall, who looked dejected and drained throughout the presser, said that he had been told to select all five players ahead of five current players by chief executive Derek Llambias and chairman of the football board Sandy Easdale.
The former Celtic and Scotland coach admitted that he had no say in bringing the players into the club and only knew of their signing on Sunday night. Gael Bigirimana, Shane Ferguson, Kevin Mbabu, Remie Streete and Haris Vuckic all arrived on deadline day of the January transfer window.
But while McDowall has been forced to select all five, only three are currently fit with Bigirimana, Streete and Vuckic available to play in Sunday’s Scottish Cup game against Raith Rovers.
Ferguson and Mbabu are injured and after receiving treatment in Newcastle, will join the Ibrox side in two to three weeks time.
When asked if he has to play all five loan signings each game, McDowall admitted ‘yes’.
When asked if he had to play every one of them every week, he again admitted: “Yes. They are obviously good players – they play for Newcastle – but I will carry on and do what I am told to do.”
He continued: “I was told at the offset that players would be coming in that wouldn’t be my responsibility. So I’ll carry on regardless. I’d like to think I can make a substitute and make a change, but that’s where we’re at.”
When questioned over how comfortable he was with the decision, McDowall said: “Well I’ve handed in my notice and I’m working my 12-month notice period and I’ve told the guys I’m happy to take the team. So I’m not going to complain, I’ll carry out the instructions that they give me and I’ll do my best.”
“Rangers are a big club, the boys are here and come up to play and they’ll play. That’s just how it is. They’re in the squad and they’ll just have to keep doing their best and hope that they get a chance to get on the field.”
After Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to city rivals Celtic, this interference from the Rangers board is certainly not going to sit well with the Ibrox natives.