Ally McCoist takes a long pause before answering.

"It's the easiest thing in the world for me to sit here and tell you I would have done it differently. And Durranty would have done it differently," he says, before taking another, longer pause.

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The Rangers manager had been asked if he would have taken the opportunity to leave the club for free last summer, when the consortium led by Charles Green bought the business and assets of the club from Rangers Football Club plc in administration. "But we would have done it differently."

The latter remark is delivered with a firm edge. During a long discussion about those players who chose to leave Rangers behind last summer and join other clubs on lucrative new contracts without a transfer fee being paid, McCoist is always careful to not lapse into direct criticism. But then it is clear enough what he feels. "Oh, no . . . No. . . Oh, no . . . No . . . That could never have happened," he said when asked if he could ever have left Rangers on bad terms and not been welcome back at Ibrox.

During the past week, Steven Naismith and Kyle Lafferty have told of their regret that they do not believe they can return to the stadium after leaving last summer. Both players were among several to reject their contracts being transferred — having received the legal advice that they were entitled to do this — and so left the club for nothing.

Others, such as Maurice Edu, allowed their contracts to transfer across, but then exercised their right to leave on a reduced fee, which had been agreed when the players took a wage cut at the outset of administration.

Lafferty, who admitted last weekend in an interview that it was already in his mind to leave Rangers in the summer, and Naismith are Rangers supporters, but other fans of the Ibrox club remain irked at the decisions the players made to leave.

"The boys made a decision," McCoist said. "There's no use moaning about it now. They had plenty of time to make the decision and the fans have made their decisions. It's not as if the fans are doing anything wrong or it's the fans' fault. If I wasn't welcome at Rangers, it would be heartbreaking. I can understand their disappointment. But that disappointment has been created by their choice, which I don't have a problem with. I'm aware that there's resentment out there among the fans, but if you think I'm going to sit here and say to the fans that they're wrong, I'm sorry, I won't.

"People make up their own minds and decisions and have to live with them. I'm not criticising [the players], I just have to deal with the aftermath and that's fine, move on. I can understand [the players'] hurt, of course I can. But for 140 years our fans have made up their own minds on things and that'll continue to be the case.

"They probably look at somebody like Maurice Edu, for example, who didn't claim to be a Rangers fan or wanted to come and watch Rangers play until he was 110 but what he did do was TUPE over and Rangers got money for him. That's how the vast majority of the Rangers support are looking at it. Our fans never forget their heroes, the players that did them a turn, and that will always be the case."

McCoist will take advice from his medical and physio staff before finalising his side for today's trip to Montrose. Links Park has an artificial pitch and David Templeton badly injured an ankle on a different type of artificial surface at Annan's Galabank stadium earlier in the season. The conditions will influence the make-up of his team, but the occasion will be challenging for whatever side McCoist puts out.

He watched Celtic face an awkward task in their Scottish Cup replay at Arbroath's Gayfield stadium on Wednesday night, and could empathise with the struggles of Neil Lennon's side in a 1-0 victory.

"It was maybe a wee reminder to everybody within Scottish football that they are extremely difficult places to go," McCoist added. "In that particular game, Neil Lennon would admit that his team were involved in a very difficult cup tie.

"I was talking to a Sky commentator and that was one of the things he said. Maybe now people will have a realisation that these places are difficult places to go to."