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Reverence of Ferguson has still to fade at Ibrox

AS part of the Snapchat generation for whom a moment is enjoyed then forgotten instantly, it is probably not all that surprising that Lewis Macleod struggles to recall the details of Barry Ferguson's Rangers career.

Lewis Macleod, pictured celebrating with Fraser Aird, looked up to Barry Ferguson when the midfielder was at Ibrox. Picture: SNS
Lewis Macleod, pictured celebrating with Fraser Aird, looked up to Barry Ferguson when the midfielder was at Ibrox. Picture: SNS

That is not to say, however, that the 20-year-old does not retain fond memories of Ferguson in his pomp. Quite the opposite in fact. Macleod remembers the whole picture rather than the specifics. He was only 11 when Ferguson returned to Ibrox for his second spell, and still just 15 when the former Scotland captain moved on again.

But the images are clear in his mind of that gallus Ferguson swagger, the ball at his feet, head up looking for a pass, barking at a team-mate; snarling at an opponent. These are the things that will come to mind should the pair cross paths when Ferguson returns to Ibrox as the manager of Clyde this evening for their Petrofac Training Cup second-round tie.

"I was obviously young at the time, but when I was growing up guys like Barry, [Kris] Boydy and Kenny [Miller] were the players who I looked up to," he said. "I watched them play at Rangers and always wanted to do what they were doing.

"Barry was definitely an inspiration to me. He was someone who came through the ranks at Rangers and had such a great career. Most of the guys my age who were playing for Rangers would have looked at Barry and wanted to emulate what he did for the club and how he played. He was a brilliant player. The all-round way Barry played and conducted himself on the pitch was the most impressive thing.

"He always played with his chest puffed out and was a stand-out player in the team, even with all the big stars that came in. He could take games by the scruff of the neck and conducted the way the team played. The majority of the time, they played well."

Ferguson is still in the embryonic phase of his managerial career but it has been a fairly rough ride so far. His first steps at Blackpool earlier this year were to a backdrop of ongoing financial uncertainty and worsening results. It was hardly a shock when he left in the summer but perhaps more of a surprise that he would choose Clyde of SPFL League 2 as his next venture. Not to everyone, however.

"I think that says a lot about Barry," said Ally McCoist, the man who will occupy the opposite dug-out this evening. "There are no airs or graces about him. He is what he is. He wants to do well in coaching and management. I don't know whether he got any other offers last season, but the fact that he's gone to Clyde and taking that as his first job in Scotland would indicate that he's 100% focused in terms of what he wants to do. I think it's a very positive thing actually."

The return of Ferguson, and his assistant Bob Malcolm, to Ibrox has provided the main storyline ahead of this evening's game but there are other angles too. This is a tournament which has changed names more often than Cat Stevens but Rangers have endured only heartache in their first two attempts to win it, knocked out on penalties at home to Queen of the South two years ago before losing last season's final to Raith Rovers. Should they return to the SPFL Premiership next season without having added the trophy to their honours list, McCoist admits it would rankle somewhat.

"It would be a disappointment certainly," added the Rangers manager. "Last season's final was disappointing because we had really good chances to score. You can safely say that was as big a disappointment as anything we've had in recent times.

"I keep saying, though, the most important thing for us is to get out the league. We need to get back to the position where, along with Celtic, there is an expectation to win cups. But we've got a good bit to go before we are anywhere near that."

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