RANGERS manager Ally McCoist spared none of his players from criticism as he reacted with undisguised dismay to their 1-1 draw against Berwick Rangers at Shielfield Park yesterday.
While he has previously seemed willing to accept mitigating circumstances for Rangers’ difficulties in adapting to their new existence as a Third Division club, McCoist offered no excuses for a dismal display he described as “agony”.
“Outwith the result, I can’t say how disappointed I am with the performance,” said McCoist. “That is miles short of what any Rangers supporter or manager expects from their team. I’ve told the players that. It’s just unacceptable.
“You would struggle to give pass marks to any of our players. That’s how poor I felt we were today. There is a lot of hard work to be done and I’m up for it. I’ll tell you right now, the players will be as well, because I’ll make sure they are. I’ll be doing plenty, I’ll be letting them know. We’ll go through it and watch it again, because that was agony.”
Asked if there was a problem with the attitude of his team, McCoist admitted they have yet to come to terms with the approach required of them against supposedly inferior opposition.
“That’s probably as big a criticism as you can level at any player, to say his attitude is not right, so I’d be loathe to say that,” added McCoist. “But we have certainly got problems in the way we are playing. There was a lack of confidence and sharpness.
“Physically, we didn’t look superior and that’s also a concern. You would hope in the last 15 minutes or so that your physical fitness would be uppermost. I don’t want to sound unfair towards Berwick, because they played very well and I do appreciate that.
“Ian Little should be proud of his team, because they fought and got the least they deserved. Having said that, I have to look at it from our point of view and there are very few aspects, if any, of our performance I could give pass marks to.
“We could have lost the game. I’ve not seen Berwick’s disallowed goal at the end again, but I was obviously very pleased to see it being disallowed. Brechin City was jolt, Peterhead was a jolt and Falkirk gave us a right good game. I don’t know how many jolts we are wanting.
“Every away game is going to be like a Scottish Cup tie. That’s the way it is, that’s what we are going to be faced with. Teams will be up for it, aggressive and in our faces. They will also try and play, it’s not just kick and rush.
“The players must realise that. They have had four away games now and every one of them has been the same in the respect of opponents rolling up their sleeves and showing you no respect. It’s the way we would expect it, but at this moment in time we are not reacting to it too well.”
Fraser McLaren, who scored Berwick’s equaliser after Andrew Little had put Rangers in front, insisted referee Mike Tumilty had been wrong to penalise him for a foul on goalkeeper Neil Alexander in the build-up to Chris Townsley’s disallowed goal in stoppage time. “I was just standing my ground,” said McLaren. “The ‘keeper ran into me and fell over. What can I do about it? We know keepers get everything and it should have been 2-1 to us.
“The referee just ran away and when I asked him he said it was a foul and we had to accept that. But it should have been the winner and we should have had the three points.”
Berwick manager Ian Little was more circumspect in his reaction and predicted that Rangers will emerge from their early season stupor to win the Third Division title with something to spare.
“I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed not to win the game,” said Little. “I would have jumped through hoops for a point with 10 minutes to go. I didn’t see much wrong with the goal we had disallowed but I’m just pleased with the way we played. We had a game plan to try and keep the ball and it worked pretty well.
“I feel it will be a bit of an eye-opener for Rangers coming to places like this in the first quarter of the season. Teams will have a go at them. But I think Rangers will come on strong and still win this league comfortably.”