Rangers boss Ally McCoist blamed Stephen Whittaker and Madjid Bougherra after his side’s exit from Champions League qualifying on Wednesday.McCoist did not mince his words as he pointed the finger at the pair who were both red-carded in the Scottish Premier League champions’ 1-1 draw with Malmo at the Swedbank Stadion.
Whittaker’s exit came after just 18 minutes while Bougherra was sent off with 24 minutes remaining, leaving Rangers with just nine men as they bravely tried to defend their one-goal lead, secured through Nikica Jelavic’s first-half strike.
But Malmo, who themselves were down to 10 men, managed the all-important equaliser with just 10 minutes to play as Jiloan Hamad netted to level the scores in the match and send the Swedish side through 2-1 on aggregate.
“The real disappointment for me is two of my players gave the officials a chance to dismiss them,” McCoist, who watched his side suffer a shock 1-0 defeat to the Swedish champions at Ibrox last week, said afterwards.
“We said to them at half-time, looking at the way the game was going and with Steven already sent off, that there might be more red cards to come. So, overall, I am very disappointed the players gave the referee the opportunity to send them off.”
McCoist offered praise for the remainder of his side, who battled valiantly throughout.
“I could not be happier with the vast majority of our players. I am bitterly disappointed but a number of the players showed tremendous spirit; some of them showed real character, in fact.”
“But it is a team game and we’ve lost out to Malmo. It was not to be for our nine men.
“We created enough chances to add to the goal we did score here. Unfortunately we did not take them.”
McCoist also labelled the exit from the third round of qualifying of the Champions League as a ‘real low’, with the club set to lose millions of pounds in revenue for not gaining entry into the group stages.
Instead, they’ll be forced to qualify for entry into the Europa League.
“I’ve been involved at this club for a number of years and you have to experience the highs and the lows. This is clearly a real low for me.”
“The end of last season was a massive high and this is painful. But I would not swap it. It is where you want to be. You don’t want to be at a club where mediocrity is accepted and we won’t accept this. We will pick ourselves up from this.”