Ally McCoist believes Mark Warburton is still “two or three” years from restoring Rangers to former glories, but knows patience will be in short supply.
McCoist was manager when the Govan club entered administration and then liquidation in 2012 before re-emerging in the bottom tier of Scottish football.
After taking the Light Blues through two leagues, the former Rangers striker, who played during the club’s nine-in-a-row era, was put on gardening leave in December 2014 after handing in his notice before subsequently leaving the club.
After Stuart McCall failed to take Rangers into the Ladbrokes Premiership via the play-off, Warburton was appointed, winning the Championship at the first time of asking, and is this week preparing for the first Old Firm league game in four years at Celtic Park on Sunday.
McCoist, speaking in Glasgow where was helping publicise The Scottish Qualification Authority’s (SQA) endorsement of skills, education and training firm, Spohrt, has watched Rangers’ unconvincing start to the season – they are one point behind league leaders Celtic having played a game more – and offered his assessment.
He said: “They have been fine. I was never of the opinion that Rangers were going to come in and set the place on fire and win the league by some considerable distance.
“The building process is still quietly in operation. I think it is still going to be two or three years.
“What we are seeing from Rangers at this moment is what I expected it to be.
“There will be games where things don’t go their way. Obviously the standard of opposition is better than it has been in the last few years so they are finding their feet.
“There has been some good performances, one or two average performances but all in all, Rangers are okay at the moment.
“I know what Rangers fans and Celtic fans are like.
“As fanatical as they are in their support of the team, they are not the most patient and some of them perhaps are not the most realistic.
“Rangers and indeed Celtic have improvement in them, particularly Rangers, if they want to challenge for the title and cups on a regular basis and get back on to the European scene.”
While Warburton has relatively little money to spend in terms of transfer fees, there appears to be more stability at the club than during McCoist’s time in charge.
Far from being envious of the former Brentford boss, McCoist said: “I look at it with 100 per cent pleasure because the football club and the supporters deserve that and it is what is required.
“We didn’t have it in our time, but in many ways we probably could say we won the biggest battle that we ever had and that was to continue playing as a club and continue the unity of the club.
“I don’t have regrets. I think circumstances would indicate I was probably unlucky in the timing of the managerial job, but you can’t have everything.
“I was very fortunate to play at the club I supported for 15 years, then be assistant manager and then manager. So I think it would be wrong of me to start complaining.
“I am delighted to have been there. I am a Rangers man, always have been, always will be.”
McCoist believes Rangers can take encouragement from their William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final win over the Hoops at Hampden Park last season, albeit in a penalty shoot-out.
“Celtic will go into the game strong favourites, but they went into the last game strong favourites and didn’t win,” said the former Scotland striker.
“Rangers played exceptionally well.
“I thought Celtic had good chances to score, but I thought Rangers were far and away the better footballing team that day and they must take heart from that because they passed the ball as well as I have seen them pass it in a long time and they will be looking for a similar performance.
“But the game being at Celtic Park will be a big difference.
“The home support will be in the vast majority and hopefully the Rangers players will handle that okay.”