Ally McCoist awaits the firing of the One o'clock Gun at Edinburgh Castle yesterday as the Ibrox club confirm ABF The Soldiers' Charity as their national charity partner for the season
What are the reasons for the team's uncertain form? What it is like to be the manager of Rangers in the third division?
The truth for McCoist is that the club faces a challenge, and that any notion that this league campaign would be straightforward was itself flawed.
When Rangers lost 1-0 to Stirling Albion earlier this month, McCoist was asked if he was embarrassed by the result. He said, quite firmly, that he was not, just disappointed and angry. That response brought criticism, but he stands by his comment, since there was never any question in McCoist's mind that the third division title would be a challenging environment.
"We have to get out of the division," McCoist said. "I've taken strength from the fact that other managers, like Jim McInally at Peterhead or Gardner Speirs at Queen's Park, knew it wouldn't be a cakewalk. I got a bit of stick for saying I wasn't embarrassed after the Stirling game and I'll go on record as saying I absolutely wasn't embarrassed. If I'd said that I was, what a show of disrespect that would have been.
"That's the one thing we'll never do as a club. I was as disappointed as I've ever been after any game, but what right would I have to be embarrassed? People got it totally wrong there. Generally, managers and coaches within SFL3 knew it wouldn't be a walk in the park."
Rangers travel to face Clyde on Saturday and McCoist believes that one away win might be enough to alter the team's fortunes. There remains a strong reliance on Lee McCulloch, though, since he could still be regarded as the club's most effective defender, midfielder or attacker. He scored both goals against Queen's Park on Saturday at Ibrox, taking his tally for the season to 12, and has risen to the role of being named captain.
"We have players who I believe will take responsibility and our older ones are visibly doing that," McCoist said. "Neil Alexander, [Emilson] Cribari in the last three or four games, Lee Wallace and, of course, McCulloch.
"The younger ones have a job to do as well and are not just in the team for show. But McCulloch has stepped up to the mark. He is acting and playing like a captain. We always knew he would lead by example."
Having endured uncertain times while the consequences of Rangers Football Club plc's failure to emerge from administration led eventually to the club playing in the third division this season, McCoist also has some sympathy for the players and staff at Hearts. The Tynecastle club will discover today the punishment for a second month of not paying some employees on time, but McCoist does not believe the team should be penalised.
"The people who are suffering just now are the Hearts players and staff, so if there's a punishment put on the club, who's going to suffer? It will be the players and the staff again," McCoist said. "We got punished, and rightly so, but effectively it was the people who were being punished getting punished again. I don't want to see the Hearts players or staff punished again, because they're the ones who are suffering."
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