THE only long-term contract signed in front of Ally McCoist lately has been his own.
The Rangers manager has been on his honeymoon in New York this week having recently married for a second time. If the photos of McCoist and his new wife strolling through Manhattan are anything to go by, the prospect of gearing up for the new campaign is not currently at the forefront of his mind. Every football manager deserves the right to switch off for a bit in the close season and, given the incessant off-field turmoil at Ibrox, McCoist perhaps needed some R&R more than most.
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The demands of the job, however, will come rushing back to him soon enough. There has been little movement at Ibrox so far since the end of the season, either on or off the field. A section of the club's support remain entrenched in their view that they will not renew their season tickets - a petition with 7000 signatures was handed in to the club yesterday demanding security over Ibrox and Murray Park - while McCoist's wish to upgrade his squad for the challenges of the SPFL Championship has yet to begin in earnest.
The promise from Graham Wallace, Rangers' chief executive, that the manager's budget would remain largely intact this summer will precipitate a period of wheeling and dealing. A handful of fringe players have moved on but more will likely need to join them, and preferably a few on a higher wage, if McCoist is to offer contracts to potential signing targets. He has a few in mind - Dundee United's Gavin Gunning and Shaun Hutchinson of Motherwell are both thought to be on the shortlist - and McCoist will be aware that he will need to move quickly if he is to beat division rivals, such as Hearts and Hibernian, to their signatures.
Andy Goram has his own thoughts on where McCoist should look to strengthen. Jon Daly scored 25 goals in League 1 last season but the former Rangers goalkeeper believes the club should be looking to reunite Kenny Miller and Kris Boyd in attack. Both are unattached, Miller having ended his time with Vancouver Whitecaps and Boyd yet to sign an extended deal with Kilmarnock. It would be a third spell at the club for Miller and second time around for Boyd but Goram has little time for those who cling to the adage that players should never go back to a former club.
"Ally has told everyone who he wants rid of but he'll need to offload them to free their wages for the likes of Kenny Miller coming in, and maybe Kris Boyd," Goram told Herald Sport. "I'd like to see them together again. People say you shouldn't go back to your old club but that's a lot of rubbish. It's a great idea if they can do you a turn. Boyd and Miller up front for Rangers would be the most potent strikeforce in the league."
Goalkeeper, though, is one position Goram believes Rangers don't need to worry about. Cammy Bell was the undisputed first-choice last season and his predecessor sees no reason to change that. Even if Craig Gordon, who has been training with Rangers over the past year, were to end up agreeing a deal at Ibrox, Goram still wouldn't shift the man in possession.
"Cammy will be there for a long time," he added. "I don't see him getting shifted, not even by Craig Gordon were he to sign. I like Cammy Bell and the way he goes about things. He doesn't make mistakes - he's got everything you want. You can't pick a flaw on him."
Hibs' relegation from the Premiership would seem to offer a new threat to Rangers' superiority next season. The assumption is that it will be between those two and Hearts for the title and the play-off places, although it would be foolish to discount the likes of Falkirk, Queen of the South and Dumbarton, teams that posed a persistent threat last season only to fall short. Goram, though, believes Rangers will focus more on themselves, and less on the opposition.
"I don't think Rangers will be worried about anybody else in there," he said. "Ally and his staff will respect the other teams but they don't look at them that way and worry about them."
Goram will be part of an Old Firm legends team playing a charity match against the Royal Regiment of Scotland next weekend to raise money for Erskine, a veterans' care charity. He admits it will be an unusual experience playing alongside Celtic players rather than against them.
"We've only ever played against each other - the likes of Macca [Frank McAvennie], [Frank] McGarvey and the guys - so this will be good. It will be the same kind of dressing room, just with different colours."
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