Stuart McCall has been officially unveiled as Rangers manager until the end of the season, he replaces caretaker manager Kenny McDowall who left the Ibrox side on Wednesday.
McCall left Motherwell in November after four years at Fir Park and will be in charge of a side that will give him the biggest test of his career to date.
He knows what it is to be a winner with Rangers, knows how to battle both on and off the park in the various positions he has filled north and south of the border – but the current Rangers is a totally different club to the Rangers that McCall knew as a player.
The fans may not have changed, the demands to win every game has not changed, but the club is a shell of its former self and it will take more than McCall leading Rangers to the Premiership to sort the club out.
Is McCall the man for Rangers long-term? Only time will tell but the results will play a huge part in his short-term deal turning into a permanent one.
There is no denying that McCall is a talented manager, in his four years at Motherwell he guided the Fir Park side to two consecutive second place finishes and into the Champions League at the expense of Rangers.
But this season, Motherwell’s form dropped dramatically under McCall with a number of first team players departing and by November with a result of just two wins in 12 league games he quit.
Just days after he quit Fir Park, McCall commented: “I struggled to sleep after Friday’s game with St Johnstone then woke up again during the night Saturday into Sunday, thinking about the Dundee United game and I just couldn’t come up with any answers. I felt that with the International break coming up, now would be a good time to step aside.
“I have a hope that with a fresh voice and maybe some new ideas, it will give the players that little boost they need. I felt that if I didn’t have the same hunger or desire, then the players would sense that and that’s not what they need at this point.
“I remember saying at Bradford prior to leaving that I take defeats really badly and carry it with me for a long time. This season has been difficult and when you become apprehensive about the next game, that’s your body’s way of telling you that maybe things have come to an end.”
If McCall couldn’t sleep because of Motherwell’s results, I certainly hope he has the doctor on speed dial for a prescription of sleeping tablets now that he is at Rangers. Their performances this season especially, under McCoist and subsequently McDowall, have at times been abysmal and they run the real risk of missing out on a playoff spot if they are not careful.
McCall’s appointment should inspire a playing squad that has just been going through the motions of late and this is down to not only the hierarchy of the club and the negative headlines, but also the lack of motivation from the likes of McCoist and McDowall who were fed up and disillusioned – that has spread like a contagion to the playing squad and to the stands on match day.
The players need to hit the ground running immediately and with the visit of Livingston – the Championships bottom side – it should give McCall and the playing squad the ideal opposition to do just that and also give them some breathing space… BUT football as they say is a funny old game and Hibs failed to break down a resolute Livi side on Wednesday night and it took a last-minute goal to secure victory.
His appointment may have been predictable but it was needed, the team needed a boost as well as a kick up the backside. Having played for the club during their hey-day he should inspire the current playing squad – this will say more about his man management style compared to that of former team-mate Ally McCoist.
Off the field problems will still be on the menu for the foreseeable future, meaning that McCall needs to take everything he has learned as a player and as a manager at Bradford and Motherwell into this new and highly demanding role.
Everyone at Ibrox needs to take it on a game by game basis, but given past results – the odds are against them of even being the Championship side that will face the 11th placed Premiership side in the playoffs.
McCall has a huge task on his hands. Sleep may just be a rare commodity for the former Scotland midfielder.