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Imagine for a moment you are Ally McCoist.
Many of us of a certain generation have and did. It wasn’t just the jerseys with McCoist on the back, or even the intervals, lunchtimes and after-school games of football where we battled to be Super Ally or took the huff and played on our own; kicking the ball off walls or across the width and length of our bedrooms breaking lamps and allsorts as we imagined we were the Rangers striker, scoring yet another improbable and wonderful goal. As we got older we’d have settled for Ally’s charm, his good looks and his way with the ladies. A list of McCoist’s conquests would include (Editor saves the decency of a number of young maidens, married ladies and senior media professionals) and for all his questionable moments he’s never lost the ability to be thoroughly likeable. That there’s a lot more to McCoist than the cheeky chappy public face is assuming the mark of cliché almost as surely as the previous position suggesting he was nothing more than a joker was doing him a disservice. McCoist is a winner, pure and simple. Check out his career for details. But he’s also about to face the biggest test of his professional life, and before he has the chance to start he has already been treated appallingly by his paymasters. Let’s leave aside the incidents at Ibrox where two of our players were subjected to “extreme verbal abuse.” And forget, just for a minute or two, that Super Ally twice had a go at Celtic’s special manager last week, only to be held back: once by Walter, and once by a group including the Polis. In amongst the coded and sometimes guarded attempts to convince us all that everything was fine and dandy between the clubs it was interesting that Ally was initially quiet and then didn’t go as far as other club officials to pretend we’re all best pals. A lesson learned, we can only hope. So you wonder how McCoist was feeling this week, as our Club representative and CEO – so feted last Thursday for his excellent statement – sat next to Peter Lawwell and said not a word while Celtic’s chief Spin-doctor informed the gathered masses that: "Neil reacted to a particular situation, didn't instigate, reacted to a particular situation in a way that he regrets.” Translated that comes out roughly as: “Ally McCoist and El Hadji Diouf are to blame, Lenny is a victim. Oh, and up yours, Martin.” Meanwhile Bain allowed himself to get drawn into the fantasy death threat fiasco and offered opinion on the situation. So, just to recap, he was struck dumb while all the pally-pally stuff was over and Lawwell reiterated his contention that Lennon was innocent and then compounded the error by allowing our name to be dragged into the hoax and letters saga. Maybe we need an HR manager instead? Yesterday we heard the not-so-surprising news that Ally will face a two-match ban for his conduct, and as Neil Lennon has previous his ban will automatically be doubled. But it’s the idea of Bougherra and especially El Hadji Diouf facing the prospect of further punishment which should be treated with some resistance. The SFA’s press release spoke of the players being “reported to the Disciplinary Committee for misconduct of a significantly serious nature.” “Significantly serious”: It all sounds as if they let the work-experience boy frame the statement. What’s not so funny is the idea that the end result of this is the man responsible for most of the mayhem in recent times has been let off the hook by Rangers. McCoist’s ban is the same as the Lurgan ecumenicalist’s; his greater punishment is due to the cumulative effect of offences. So Ally is considered to be equally to blame. And now it seems our players are to suffer. Something tells me Martin Bain’s dossier would have been better used as a doorstop. Clearly all this was too much for Super Ally and today we note his displeasure with recent comments from the East (and by implication the lack of response from within our own Club): "We as a coaching staff and indeed some of the officials - not just on Wednesday, but on previous occasions - had heard some of our players being subjected to verbal abuse and we felt it was wrong, to be honest with you. "I make absolutely no apology at all for the fact that, whether it's Kyle Lafferty or (El-Hadji] Diouf or (Steven] Naismith or any of the boys I would defend those players in a case like that. "For that, I make no apology.” Further, there is talk this afternoon of a possible appeal against his SFA ban, although this is of course as yet unconfirmed by Rangers. That Rangers didn’t make public this ‘abuse’ when first it happened is a problem and speaks ill of the Club position of ‘minimum offence’ not to mention making a mockery of the officials in the games where said abuse occurred. McCoist is unlikely to escape censure due to the failure of said officials to note and recommend action in these events but it is a strong hand the Club ought to have considered playing before now in this high-stakes, bitter contest. The last managerial appointment at Rangers was as much an emotional necessity as a means of securing some safe-hands: someone in Walter Smith who would command respect and who was capable and dependable enough to perform what was demanded of him by reduced circumstances and the wishes of the absentee majority-shareholder. Following it up with the single most-popular and one of the most successful of all living Rangers is a masterstroke in one obvious sense - it remains to be seen whether Ally can work his magic with ingredients that may not inspire. One obvious positive is his hand which can be seen in the contract extensions delivered to youngsters such as Hutton and Ness. They will all have to play significant roles in McCoist’s first Rangers squad. His recent attitude and comments are clearly sufficient for many to believe that at least one senior member of the Rangers family may have had enough of being silent while violence erupts and abuse dominates. We’d all love to have his career; we’d all swap almost anything up to (and sometimes including) the wife for the chance to be the next manager of The Rangers. One can only hope that the fire so evident within McCoist isn’t put out by a combination of lukewarm support, financial restrictions and feeble leadership. The omens aren’t encouraging.
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