McLeish makes the switch to Rangers

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The Independent Football

Alex McLeish was handed the reins of power from Dick Advocaat at Ibrox, after the Dutchman anointed the Hibernian manager as his chosen one to lead Rangers into a new era.

The former Netherlands national coach yesterday stepped down, as expected, after three and a half years in charge, to take over the role of director of football with Rangers and announced that McLeish, 42, had been his "first choice" to succeed him.

Hibernian reluctantly granted permission for McLeish to head to Glasgow for negotiations after learning that their manager had a "strong desire to speak to Rangers". A compensation agreement – thought to be £1m – has been agreed between the sides, who, ironically, meet on the pitch tonight at Ibrox in an league match.

Advocaat confirmed yesterday that he will be in the 'home' dugout to close the chapter on his managerial reign. McLeish will be in neither dugout. Hibs, have put their coach, Donald Park, in charge.

"I am not saying goodbye, because I am staying at this club," pointed out Advocaat, who now intends to pursue a more global role to help Rangers return to the ascendancy, while the younger McLeish will shape team matters. "I will still be working for Rangers, it doesn't matter whether it is in the dugout, a room or an aeroplane."

Advocaat said he had told David Murray, the Rangers chairman, some time ago that he would not re-new his contract as manager, which ends its four-year term in June.

However, the bullish Dutchman insisted that taking a back seat to the exploits of Martin O'Neill at Celtic had not prompted his decision. "It has nothing to do with the last two seasons," he declared.

Now the task of halting O'Neill will fall to McLeish, who guided Hibernian to third place in the Scottish Premier League last season and the Scottish Cup final.