Ally McCoist’s first task as manager

Posted on by C Adey
Ally Mccoist’s first task as Rangers manager could be to rebuild the defence that has served Walter Smith so well over the last few seasons. Smith’s preferred back four during the majority of his tenure has been Steven Whittaker at right back, Sasa Papac at left back, with Madjid Bougherra sitting at the right hand side of centre half partnership, alongside Davie Weir. There have been deviations from these four, with Danny Wilson, Kirk Broadfoot, Andy Webster and, more recently, Ricky Foster filling in when a change was required, although the above four could arguably be described as first choice for the last three years. Rangers winning the last two SPL titles is testament to the quality of this foursome, although this summer will undoubtedly bring changes and see McCoist having to make his first dealings in the transfer market.

Davie Weir, who at the ripe old age of forty, is surely a candidate for retirement in the summer. When he was signed by Smith in January 2007, some, including myself, believed that he was only there as a short term signing, perhaps only to see out the season. Obviously he lasted longer than that, with Weir performing at his best, at least in my opinion, in the 2009-10 SPL season, where he played every single minute of Rangers 2009-10 SPL campaign, a stat that a player half his age would be proud off. To cap his impressive season, Weir was awarded with the Scottish Football Writers Player of the Year award.

Although he had an outstanding season last year, age may be catching up with him this season as his lack of pace has become apparent. Lee McCulloch would normally sit in front of the defence and provide some protection from attackers running at the defence, but since he has been out injured, it has left Weir exposed. I don’t want to be too harsh on Weir as he still has the ability to stroll through a game, but he can be exposed when coming up against a pacy striker. I believe that he has another season in him, but that would only be possible if Rangers continued to sacrifice a player by parking them in front of Weir to protect him. I don’t think Rangers can continue to protect him, so unfortunately I feel its time for Weir to hang up his boots.

Madjid Bougherra is another player who looks likely to leave Ibrox in the summer. Bougherra’s current contract runs out in the summer of 2012, but he has recently stated that he has rejected a two year contract extension because he is looking for a new challenge. I have to give credit to Bougherra as he is always honest about his future and despite stating he wants a new challenge, he remains committed to his current club, which was underpinned by his statement that he is happy to see out his contract if Rangers don’t want to cash in on him this summer. Although Bougherra seems happy to stay, I do feel that he will be sold, with Turkey being one possible destination after Kayserispor boss (and ex Rangers player), Shota Arveladze, stated: “Madjid Bougherra is a player I have admired for a long time and I would like to see him join Kayserispor. Transfers are always difficult but I am very confident that we can sign him.”

Sasa Papac is currently in the last year of his contract and has recently stated that he has rejected Rangers latest contract offer. Papac is an anomaly amongst todays pampered stars, as he chooses not to have an agent and does all the negotiations himself, which I admire. I suspect that the lack of an agent is slowing down the contract negotiations and I do expect him to sign an extension, but there is a chance that it doesnt happen and he leaves.

Assuming that the only defensive departures are Weir, Bougherra and Papac, McCoist will be left with four defenders – Whittaker, Broadfoot, Darren Cole and Ross Perry. I could see Broadfoot being utilised on the right and Whittaker on the left of defence, although that leaves the centre of defence light. Cole is naturally a right back, so he can be discounted for that role and Perry, although he is a centre half, is perhaps too inexperienced to be considered a regular at centre half.

Being tasked with building a centre half pairing from scratch is always going to be a difficult task for any manager, never mind a manager who has no experience in the transfer market, so it will be interesting how McCoist fares next season.

C Adey

Owner of Scottish Football Forums. A fan of all forms of football, whether its being at the game, watching on TV, playing 7 a side, playing FIFA, playing Football Manager, or simply talking about it

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