It was half time, and his team has been thoroughly, comprehensively dismantled by Hibernian in 45 brutal, shocking minutes that left him on the cusp of being fired.
Few can doubt that a couple more Hibs goals and he’d have been done.
No-one will ever know what McCoist said to his players in the dressing room, but there was to be no comeback like Neil Lennon secured during his own dance with death on a never to be forgotten game in Kilmarnock. His side rallied that afternoon, backed by an awesome support that would not allow the players to give up.
Sevco Rangers came out in the second half and kept things from getting worse. If that was what he told them to do they succeeded. It saved his job. They scored a single goal, but at no point in the proceedings were they “back in the match” or anything like it.
Indeed, for all the Sevco Rangers players’ efforts, Hibs could have scored again, several times, and this would be a very different article if they had.
He left the ground blaming his defenders. At one point last season it was plastic pitches. He’s had a go at dodgy refereeing on occasion. After one match he blamed the press. After another he cast the result at the door of the club’s former owner Charles Green.
I’m guessing that Green is sitting somewhere today sniggering, glad that he was not around to provide McCoist with that easy alibi.
This is a man who never finds fault in himself. This is a man who has, in the past four years, become a self-parody. Once he was the darling of the Sevco support, a media icon. Much of the Scottish public thought the sun shone out of his arse.
No more. What Scotland now sees instead is a bitter, spiteful, greedy, grasping man who never accepts responsibility for his own mistakes. No longer is the loveable rascal, the Cheeky Chappy we were told could hold a room of celebrities in the palm of his hand as he traded funny stories with the assembled hacks.
Now, in most circles, he is seen for what he always was. A charlatan with Fugazi people skills. A self-promoter par excellance who no longer has anything to promote. He has taken money from a club that is skint, under false pretences, in the guise of a football manager.
Some there still love him, but they would continue to if their club went downhill like a steam-roller with the brakes failed. They’d continue to sing his praises if he were the worst performing manager in the league, if, if you will pardon the expression, it was obvious to even the most blinkered that he sucked the sweat off a dead man’s balls.
Ally McCoist will always have fans. So will Vanilla Ice.
For all that, last night has not saved Ally McCoist’s career, or removed the necessity from the Sevco board to take a crucial and long overdue decision. It has postponed the day of reckoning, and that is all.
Sooner or later, Ally McCoist will have to be sacked. There’s nothing else for it. As long as he’s manager the team on the pitch will lurch from drama to crisis, and he’ll pocket a mid six figure salary and make excuses all the while.
Last night, what must have embarrassed Sevco Rangers fans most was not the sight of the players trudging off at half time 3-0 behind. It would have been the manager’s “change of tactics”, when he brought on John Daly in the second half, to chase the game by punting long balls up the park.
I’m a huge Football Manager fan, and I love the game primarily because it rewards a basic knowledge of tactics. Oh, don’t get me wrong, no player who has taken St Johnstone to the Champions League Final (some have, you know, and without cheating) is ever going to be able to do it in reality, but a little awareness of how the game works in the actual world is certainly essential if you’re going to achieve any kind of success.
Even at the lowest level, in the most basic leagues, what McCoist did last night would be unlikely to win you many games. Every wannabe manager who ever picked up a copy knows this. See, the long-ball game has a rich and varied history, but at no time in that history was the sole strategy to hoof the ball all the way up the pitch and hope a big strong striker can put a head on it.
What McCoist did last night was not tactical at all, in any real sense of the word, and Hibs dealt with easily by putting their defenders on the Sevco strikers, one on one. All they had to do was keep their eyes on the ball, stay alert, and they could have defended their lead all night.
See, McCoist, like many others who think they understand “route one football” doesn’t actually have a clear grasp on the concept. Route One football is about moving the ball quickly, directly, up the pitch, and when this can be best achieved by a long ball then that’s what you do.
But this does not mean, and it never has meant, big long kicks up the park directed at the head of your tallest centre forward. A third-rate manager, five minutes after getting his coaching certificate, would be able to deal with that, and with some ease. Alan Stubbs has been a manager for only a few months, and he knew what McCoist was doing the second he told Daly to get stripped, and he how to neutralise it too.
At its finest, route one football relies on a variety of different options and skills to succeed.
One of those options is to use your target man in support of another, more mobile, player. Getting the ball quickly to him is only a means to another end. He is supposed to hold the ball and feed it to a sharper, better finisher, preferably a natural goal-scorer.
Last night, there was no pacy striker to offer Daly knock-on options, no alert football brain to take advantage of his own quick thinking. The one man who might have done that was Dean Shiels, who McCoist brought off to bring Daly on.
That left only one option, Kris Boyd, who’s only outward demonstration of mobility was wandering around in an extra-large jersey like a guy in a pub who’d forgotten where he put down his pie and his pint.
This is the guy they let go of young Andy Little – who could have provided that option they were lacking – to re-sign. A 30 year old, way past his best, who looks like a guy who was kicked out of his local Fat Club.
McCoist’s decision making is absolutely inexcusable, bordering on farcical. Last night’s display is up there with the very, very worst, and should render all further attempts to defend him as a manager futile.
There are any number of places in football where you can go to see his version of the Long Ball Game outside of Ibrox, and fortunately you can go and see it every week at no charge, and only rarely will you hear the Famine Song.
Last night, as he stared out onto the Ibrox playing surface, as his players toiled and Hibs threatened to run riot, at the moment when he needed to do something special, McCoist adopted a tactic most commonly seen in public parks and on gravel pitches where middle aged men go once a month to live out their fantasies of scoring at Hampden.
There is no defending that at all. That should be a sacking offence at any club in the land, but I knew at full time he had kept his job. The disaster was not total. The rout was not complete. The crisis had not washed over him like a tsunami.
Yet it has to be coming, no matter what he’s done for the club, no matter how many skeletons he can pull out of closets. Decisions like that make it a certainty. His side is six points behind Hearts and a visit to Tynecastle lies just over the horizon – on 22 November – like a Deadman’s Curve on a rain lashed night. They have Easter Road to visit too, two days after Christmas.
I think he’ll be gone before we’re changing our calenders.
Knowing what I do – that Sevco Rangers will be stronger when he’s gone – I am no hurry for that day to come around, but when it does I will raise a glass and be grateful for the retribution meted out just the same, for this is a man I cannot stand.
To me, he will forever be the guy who waved a sheaf of paper and made accusations about corruption for which he was never brought to book.
He will be the guy who whispered something sinister in Neil Lennon’s ear, and then backed up like a frightened child and feigned innocence in front of the SFA beaks, hanging our manager out to dry.
To me, he will forever be remembered for demanding the names of officials who’s only “crime” was sitting in judgement on the litany of offences committed by the old club of which he was once the head coach, and then pretending he was unaware that it would set off the rabid element of the support he has long pandered to.
In my eyes, he will always be a coward, a braggart, a legend in his own lunchtime, the bigot who accused Celtic fans of burning buses without proof, and has not apologized for it yet.
Yes, when the reckoning comes I will drink a toast to the end of his tenure, the halting of his gravy train and the finish to his managerial career.
Last night I thought I might be 45 minutes away from writing his footballing obituary.
It’ll keep. Time is not on his side.
“I see hurricanes a-blowing … I know the end is coming soon ….”
McCoist is a Dead Man Walking. In due course, they’ll put him out of his misery.
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