ALLY McCoist recalled a humorous moment from a previous Rangers foray into Russia as he helped to launch the Kris Boyd Testimonial match down at Rugby Park yesterday.

It occurred during the Champions League qualifier against Vladikavkaz back at the start of the 1996/97 season as the Ibrox club – thanks in no small part to a hat-trick from McCoist – eased to a 7-2 win and a 10-3 aggregate triumph.

“After we knocked in the seventh goal their wee coach walked over, shook hands with Walter and Archie (manager Smith and his assistant Knox) then walked out the stadium,” he said. “They were saying: ‘Where’s he gone?’ He just disappeared.”

The legendary Rangers striker has no concerns about Liverpool and England great Steven Gerrard, whose side face a difficult away game against Spartak Moscow in the Europa League on Thursday evening, doing a similar vanishing act any time soon.

A man who knows all too well about how demanding being in charge of the Glasgow giants can be – he spent three-and-a-half seasons in the position that Gerrard now occupies during a far more turbulent and uncertain period in their history – has been pleased at how well the current incumbent has done in the opening months of the season.

The 38-year-old, who is in his first managerial role, has come in for criticism from supporters in recent days following the Betfred Cup semi-final defeat to Aberdeen at Hampden and a draw with Kilmarnock in the Ladbrokes Premiership at Ibrox.

He was under pressure to get a result in the league game against St Mirren in Paisley at the weekend and was clearly relieved when his charges won thanks to late goals from Daniel Candeias and Alfredo Morelos.

McCoist, though, fully expected Gerrard to have his ups and downs after he was, to the surprise of British football, appointed back in May. He envisages his successor learning from his mistakes and the setbacks he suffers and making tangible progress in the coming months.

“I think he’s handled himself well,” he said McCoist. “He is a clever individual who played at the top level and knows how to handle the media side of things as well. If Rangers can continue to show the consistency they have at home and start being a bit more consistent away from home, they will be alright.

“There was always going to be a period when Rangers hit a wall a bit. There has been an improvement in about five teams this year. Hearts, St Johnstone, Kilmarnock, Hibs and Livi - they have all done well. It was always going to happen.

“The defeat against Aberdeen was a blow and then they drew with Killie at Ibrox. But if you take a step back, that wasn’t a disaster. Killie had been the form team in the country in 2018 until the weekend, so it’s not the worst result.

“Obviously, though, if you are at the Old Firm and you don’t win for two games, then people start asking questions. The win on Saturday was important.

“Some people probably thought the improvement would go straight to winning the league. I never thought that would happen. I just thought, and hoped, there would be an improvement to make them competitive throughout the entire season. That looks as if it will probably still be the case.”

McCoist remembers how Graeme Souness toiled at Rangers after being made manager back in 1986 even though he had extensive funds to spend and was able to bring in the likes of Terry Butcher, Graham Roberts and Chris Woods.

“We were points behind whenGraeme first came in,” he said. “It wasn’t always plain sailing. There has definitely been improvement. People will argue: ‘Has there been enough improvement?’ That’s up for debate. But I think it’s been alright.”

Gerrard signed no fewer than 15 players, 10 on permanent contracts and five on loan deals, after taking over. McCoist, though, feels he must strengthen his squad further still with a better standard of player if he is to satisfy the ambitions of supporters and win silverware.

“There will need to be a turnover of players and that’s what he will want,” he said. “Rangers have improved, but if they want to take the next step and win something, they have to keep improving their quality of player.

“He’s not daft, he’ll know he needs a better quality of player to move to the next level. But patience is something fans don’t have. That’s just how it is. Fans make the opinions heard, particularly in this day and age through social media.

“But that won’t bother Steven. The important thing is that I can see the club moving forward with improvement on the pitch.”

Ally McCoist was speaking at the launch of the Kris Boyd Testimonial Game at Rugby Park on Saturday, November 17. Kick off 1pm with tickets priced between £5 and £10. Buy online at or call 01563 545310.