Rangers confirmed the worst-kept secret in Scottish football over the weekend by announcing that Paul Le Guen will become their next manager when Alex McLeish steps down in the summer. The club's chairman, David Murray, then threw down the gauntlet to Rangers' players, warning them that the rest of this season will effectively be a trial on which their futures will be based.
"Everybody must get behind Alex so we can finish second in the League," Murray said. "And the players must also demonstrate they want to play for our club in the future under the new manager."
The chances of finishing as runners-up in the Scottish Premier League have seemed remote for most of the season. Celtic and Hearts, in that order, have been favourites for months to finish first and second.
But Rangers' 4-0 win over Kilmarnock on Saturday, combined with another blip for Hearts, who had a goalless draw at Inverness Caledonian Thistle, has closed the gap to six points. The two sides meet next Sunday at Tynecastle, where a Rangers win could seriously destabilise Hearts's season.
Le Guen has been Murray's first-choice target to follow McLeish since last year. The Frenchman, who guided Lyon to three League titles in France before stepping down last year, has agreed a three-year contract at Ibrox.
"I am looking forward to the challenge," he said. "I received a number of interesting offers from major clubs around Europe in the last year, but this move to Scotland was the right one for me and my family."
Le Guen will be only Rangers' 12th manager in 133 years and will be assisted by his long-time No2, Yves Colleu.
As a player, Le Guen had spells with Brest and Nantes before his career really took off in 1991 with Paris St-Germain. During his seven years at the club, he won the French title, the European Cup-Winners' Cup, three French FA cups, and 17 caps for France.
His professorial approach to coaching has been likened to that of Arsène Wenger, as has the attacking flair of his teams.Reuse content