Rangers fans sing praises in swan song for McLeish

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The Independent Online

It was the perfect end. Rangers fans sent Alex McLeish on his way yesterday afternoon with a huge ovation after a 2-0 win over Heart of Midlothian.

The outgoing Rangers manager, who is being replaced by the former Lyon coach Paul Le Guen, watched from the dugout as Kris Boyd scored twice in the final game of the season.

"It was a wonderful send-off from the fans," McLeish. "I was really touched by that. I am proud and privileged to serve this fantastic football club. The highs far outweigh the lows and winning the treble was quite an achievement - I'm really proud of that."

McLeish walked on to the pitch to acknowledge the applause at the final whistle and screens around the stadium beamed out a message: "Thanks for the memories Alex - good luck."

"I was overwhelmed by that. I was very humbled and honoured," McLeish said. "I think I'm leaving the club in a healthier state financially than the day I arrived."

McLeish also believes he has left a solid foundation for Le Guen in the shape of Boyd, whose tally for the season has reached 20.

"It has been a frightening return from the big man since he arrived in January," McLeish said.

Boyd was the difference on the day, but the uninspiring match was an apt conclusion to a disappointing domestic season. The world snooker champion Graeme Dott paraded his trophy at half-time, but it was also an unwelcome reminder that this would be the only silverware on display at Ibrox this season.

After champions Celtic had drawn 2-2 at Aberdeen, their manager Gordon Strachan claimed that fear of being implicated in any end-of-season conspiracy theories had prevented him from using Paul Lawson immediately after the Hoops had won the title.

The 21-year-old midfielder made only his third SPL appearance of the season yesterday - since securing the title with six games to go, Strachan has continued to field a strong team lest he was accused of helping Hearts beat Rangers to second spot and a place in next season's Champions' League.

But on the last day of the season, with the Jambos uncatchable in second place, he gave a starting berth to Lawson and several other fringe players, including Mo Camara and Stephen Pearson.

Afterwards he said: "You would like to play them but if you play them and you lose then people like to point the finger at you."

Meanwhile, the Sydney FC chairman Walter Bugno is poised to offer the Motherwell manager Terry Butcher a two-year deal.

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