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Getting back to something like normal

THIS is more like it for Ally McCoist.

The prospect of silverware has Ally McCoist excited. Picture: SNS
The prospect of silverware has Ally McCoist excited. Picture: SNS

In the three years since he replaced Walter Smith in the Ibrox manager's office, he has endured a tenure and set of circumstances like no other as financial traumas have severely hindered Rangers and presented him with a challenge none of his predecessors could have imagined.

This season, however, McCoist is poised to deal in the currency that matters most - silverware - as his side close in on three possible trophies. The climb through the Scottish league ladder is a far cry from the job McCoist hoped he would be undertaking at Rangers.

The SPFL League 1 title will be added to the club's honours list eventually and while the Ramsdens Cup final remains on the horizon, it is the William Hill Scottish Cup that can provide Rangers with a sense of normality and achievement once again. "It would give everyone a real boost and a real lift," McCoist said ahead of the quarter-final tie against Albion Rovers on Sunday.

"The club, before administration, was always going to cup finals. Nothing was guaranteed but supporters always had a day out at Hampden at worst every second year. That's something that's certainly been alien in the last two or three years.

"It's a fantastic incentive for the players but it would be a fantastic boost for the supporters and everyone connected to the club to get back playing in a cup semi-final at a major stadium. But we are not underestimating the task. In the Scottish Cup the Albion Rovers players are doing something right."

No matter what Rangers achieve during their time in Scotland's lower leagues, neither McCoist nor his players are likely to receive recognition for their efforts due to the expectation levels placed on them and financial muscle they have compared to their newly-acquired rivals.

Reaching the last four of the Scottish Cup, and possibly winning the competition, is a feat that could not fall into the same category, however. "I don't want to say that [the players have not been given enough credit] because it doesn't matter really," McCoist said. "I could say they are not getting enough credit and others could say they are getting too much credit because they should be wiping the floor with everybody.

"The players are getting enough credit from, I believe, people who understand what they are doing. And that's not me saying people outside the club or division don't have a clue about what's going on, I don't mean that at all. I just mean people within the game that know our football club pretty well are appreciative of the job the players are doing."

Rangers' success in SFL Division Three last season and this year's League 1 has been taken for granted by many but there can be no room for complacency this weekend. Rovers have already beaten top-flight side Motherwell and Rangers' third-tier peers Stenhousemuir on cup duty this season and McCoist admits the magic of the cup has been a welcome release for his squad as they bid for a semi-final place this weekend.

"I hope the players sense how special this could be," he said. "I don't want them to be up there and get too carried away. Rightly or wrongly people look at us and see that we are going to win the league and secure promotion. There was a big question mark: do we have the luck, the ability and the potential to go far in the cup?

"We've done that and now we have a terrific opportunity to get to a semi-final. I was hoping we'd get a run in the cup because it would give everyone a boost."

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