Stuart McCall will take charge of his first game as manager of Rangers on Saturdayafternoon with the visit of Livingston to Ibrox Stadium.
These have been troubled times for the Light Blues who have lost ground in the Championship race with drawn games against Cowdenbeath and Queen of the South even with the boost of regime change at the club.
McCall and his assistant Kenny Black have a massive job facing them to lift the team – options are limited at least in the short term against a Livingston side that came agonisingly close to securing a draw against Hibernian at Easter Road last Wednesday.
McCall of course succeeds Kenny McDowall in the Ibrox hot-seat. McDowall had made it all too obvious that he had no desire to remain in charge – and following Tuesday evening’s 1-1 draw his negativity had alarmed many as he spoke of the possibility of missing out on even the end-of-season Play-Offs.
Such pessimistic talk from the caretaker manager surely played a part in the move for McCall – many were astonished that the attraction of being manager of Rangers was one that McDowall did not find appealing.
The acting manager’s record of just three wins in the ten games he was in charge - a run that included elimination from two cup competitions – was simply not acceptable.
One persistent complaint surrounding both Ally McCoist and Kenny McDowall is that there was no obvious improvement in ability of any of the players under their charge. One player that McCall knows well of course is midfielder Nicky Law, the target of considerable criticism from the Light Blue legions.
“I know there is more to come from Nicky. I know he is the top scorer - but he can certainly do more and he knows that. He looks inhibited and in his own shadow but he showed in training on Thursday two or three flashes of what he is capable of and that is what we want him to do. I don’t want him getting the ball and playing safe but it takes courage, especially when you have fans unhappy with recent results.
”Stuart was familiar with the likes of Lee Wallace, Lee McCulloch and Kenny Miller amongst others – but emphasised that he has been getting to know everyone under his charge.
“You have to get to know the whole squad and the boy Haris Vuckic was outstanding today in training and he seems a nice lad with a good character. There are also some young lads in there and it is our job to get the best out of what we’ve got because they are certainly lacking in confidence. Results and performances have shown that but we’ll hopefully get a grip of that.”
There was a rallying call from the new Boss ahead of the visit of ‘Livvie’.
“The first thing I said to the players was that it was their task to win me a long-term deal...! Hopefully come Saturday we can come together. We have to win the trust of the fans again. The players might look at excuses – Ally leaving, Kenny then being in charge and then tendering his resignation – but they are all excuses and it is down to them to show what they can do. There is no magic formula - they just have to go out there and show a bit of character. Confidence can come back as quickly as you can lose it.”
There was of course no training complex at Auchenhowie when McCall was playing for Rangers – and he could not hide his enthusiasm for the facilities.
“It’s brilliant to be back at the club - just walking in was great but getting out onto the training ground was fantastic. It’s really exciting to be here at Murray Park - to have these facilities as a manager and a coach, At a lot of other clubs you have to travel around by minibus - like I did when I was a Rangers player when we had to travel to Jordanhill.”
There were no clues from the new Manager as regards to team selection as he explained.
“I’m sure that I could have fifty different Rangers supporters sitting in this room with me and they would all pick a different side because there hasn’t been enough consistency. I’m sure the players are all big enough and honest enough to admit that nobody has played to the potential they have or at a consistent level for a number of games.
“I will take the responsibility of picking team tactics and selection. The buck stops with me and my staff. I just want to try to remind the players what good players they can be, they have been and they will be again.