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Walter Smith defends Ally McCoist's time at Rangers after recent criticism

Former Gers star Mark Hately had questioned the players' fitness last season, saying they already look much better under new manager Mark Warburton.

Walter Smith has come out to defend his former star Ally McCoist's time in charge at Rangers last season, in a piece on the Ladbrokes site, after Mark Hately criticised the levels of fitness of the side under the Scotland legend in 2014/15.

Former England and Rangers forward Hately had earlier this week insisted that the Gers were short of the required fitness to challenge for the Championship last season, in an interview with the Mail, a campaign that started off under his old Ibrox colleague McCoist, insisting the club are already looking much fitter under new manager Mark Warburton.

But that claim has been thrown out by Walter Smith, the man that managed both players at Ibrox, who insisted that fitness wasn't the issue, the players' ability to deal with the pressure of being at Rangers was.

"I have to say I completely disagree with Mark Hateley's assessment of that situation," Smith said on Ladbrokes.com.

"I don't think for one minute that there has been an issue with fitness at Ibrox. I worked for Rangers for years and we'd equalled the record number of matches played for one season (reaching the 2008 UEFA Cup Final) and when I left there is no way that Ally McCoist and (assistant) Kenny McDowall, in any shape or form, would have allowed the fitness to drop.

"The issue last season was not fitness, it was the squad not handling the pressure of playing for Rangers adequately. I think what's happened now and what is noticeable is that everyone at the club has a far brighter view of the future as far as matters off the field go."

Rangers ended up finishing in the playoff positions in the Scottish Championship, defeating the division's runner-up Hibernian but going on to lose comprehensively to Motherwell in the final.

Stuart McCall was the man who was in charge of Rangers until the end of the season, after Kenny Black's ill-fated spell following on from McCoist.

Mark Warburton and David Weir have since taken over, tasked with taking the famous Glasgow club back to where they belong, at the top of Scottish football.

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