Ally McCoist tells 'preachers' to give El-Hadji Diouf a chance

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The Independent Football

Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist has told those who have been "preaching" about the past misdemeanours of El-Hadji Diouf to give the new Ibrox arrival a chance.

Diouf's loan move from Blackburn in the final stages of the transfer window proved to be one of the more high-profile deals in Scottish football in recent years given his controversial history.

The former Liverpool player, who is set to make his Old Firm debut in the Scottish Cup fifth round on Sunday, spat at a Celtic fan during a UEFA Cup tie in 2003, earning himself an appearance at Glasgow Sheriff Court and a £5,000 fine.

Just last month Diouf was again in the headlines for the wrong reasons when QPR manager Neil Warnock likened him to a "sewer rat" for his reaction as Scotland striker Jamie Mackie lay with a broken leg.

Further examples of Diouf's behaviour have been brought up, leading Rangers manager Walter Smith to compare his treatment over the past few days to that of a serial killer.

McCoist said: "I don't know if I would maybe go as far as that, far from me to disagree with Walter, but I know where he's coming from.

"It's a little bit amusing, shall we say, all the preachers getting on their pulpits and telling us what's right and wrong about people. I have quite enjoyed it.

"Some of them should know better, some of them have been quite embarrassing with their comments.

"We know the lad has made mistakes in the past, we have all made mistakes in the past. But nobody has any right to be judge and jury.

"All I would ask for is everyone to be fair, give the lad a chance and we'll see where he takes us."

Diouf this week claimed he enjoys being subjected to abuse from opposition fans and deliberately encourages it, so it was unsurprising when McCoist revealed he had brushed off the criticism of his signing.

"I don't think it bothers him to be honest," McCoist said.

"I don't claim to know El-Hadji very well at the moment. In the few dealings we have had with him since he came up, he seems a very nice lad.

"He mixes well with the boys, he seems a good lad to get along with and I don't think it really bothers him a bit. Thankfully, that's the only way it can be."

McCoist added: "I would think any Rangers player who enjoys getting booed will enjoy an Old Firm game.

"If that's his own particular masochistic form of enjoyment, he will certainly relish Sunday."

Diouf made his debut as a 20th-minute substitute as Rangers beat Hearts 1-0 last night to cut the gap on Clydesdale Bank Premier League leaders Celtic to five points.

He was the victim of six penalised fouls, two of which earned Ian Black and Ryan Stevenson bookings, and McCoist hinted Diouf might have to get accustomed to such treatment.

"We were happy with his performance, he's not had an awful lot of football," McCoist said.

"If last night is anything to go by, I think he might win one or two free-kicks in the Old Firm game and hopefully that will be the case."

While Diouf enjoyed an instant introduction, fellow newcomers David Healy and Kyle Bartley remained on the bench, but McCoist feels they have all given the club a lift ahead of the Ibrox clash against Celtic.

"I think it has freshened us up a bit, the three boys we have brought in," the former Rangers striker said.

"We have been wanting to do that for a while.

"They are keen and want to take part in games, especially the Old Firm game.

"I thought the reception Diouf got last night was fantastic and I thought he did well.

"Healy will be bursting to get on the pitch, as will big Kyle Bartley."

Lee McCulloch is expected to miss the Ibrox clash as a result of the knee injury he suffered against Hearts, but Nikica Jelavic could return after missing the contest with a groin problem.

"Jelavic is feeling a lot better," McCoist said.

"We'll be giving him right up until the weekend to see if he can be involved but we're very hopeful.

"McCulloch is going for a scan but I would hazard a guess to say he's extremely doubtful.

"It will be a big blow. We even lost our way when he went off last night for 10 minutes, we took time to readjust.

"We'll miss him but we'll just get on with it. You need winners more than anything in Old Firm games and he's certainly that.

"But we have got a team full of winners so we're hopeful we can adjust to it."