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Thomson says academy return was always the plan at Rangers

Women’s head coach happy to step away from hotseat after cup final


MALKY THOMSON always knew his time at the helm at Rangers would be a good one, and not a long one – but hopes his players will now have an additional incentive to go and clinch the Scottish Cup on Sunday.

The club announced on Tuesday that the manager would be stepping down from his position after this weekend’s showpiece occasion at Hampden, mere days after the agony of missing out on the SWPL title and a place in next season’s Champions League as Glasgow City’s 1-0 win at Ibrox consigned his team to a thirdplace finish.

The timing may appear a tad unusual to onlookers, given the magnitude of what is at stake at the national stadium as Rangers face Celtic with the final silverware of the season up for grabs, but Thomson was eager to get the news out.

It was the 54-year-old’s decision to return to the club’s academy set-up, he says, and it has been a long time coming. After winning a first league title with Rangers last year and leading the team into the Champions League for the first time this term, he feels he has reached a natural point for a parting of the ways.

“It was always going to be [that way] when I took the job,” he explained. “I am employed by Rangers Football Club as a coach and in that role I can go anywhere, from under-10s right through to the first team.

“The club have been fantastic to me on my journey. I have been there now three times on and off so whilst I have still been a Rangers coach,

I’ve been allowed to go out to India, Dubai and bring back some takebacks.

“I always knew that the relationsh­ip I have with the club is quite open and is healthy. So I knew that when I took the job it was about building the women’s game, building the brand, building everything to do with Rangers Football Club. And at the right time we would decide that I would always go back in to the hub.

“That could be the girls’ academy as well so there are still things there that in four or five years’ time, maybe that’s another pathway I would take. It’s a commitment to Rangers Football Club but I think it’s the right time now.

“When we won the league, we got into the Champions League and it was in my heart that I wanted to go and experience that. I think it was the right thing to do, to stay on for another year and try and retain the title and get the Champions League thing. But then at the end of this one, there had to be a kind of break and a freshness and move on.

“We had kind of planned that

from the outset and we kind of knew that I would move back into the academy.”

This might well have been the plan but that does not mean Thomson will be able to divorce himself entirely from the emotions that will inevitably be swirling around on Sunday as he takes charge of the team for the last time – particular­ly after missing out on back-to-back titles in heart-breaking fashion.

“I will [miss it], aye,” he said. “It’s quite funny because I think if we had won the title I would have been really happy with it, whereas when you don’t win the title I feel a wee bit torn with the girls and feeling that I could have done a wee bit better for them.

“I know that they feel the same, I think everyone feels that way. We did so well but didn’t get over the line with it. So there is a wee bit of emotion there, which is good. I think it’s healthy to have that natural feeling of those kind of emotions.

“We spoke about it with the board and I felt it was the right thing to do because I have got the confidence that I know the girls and I know what they’re about. So the board left that to myself – when would be the right time to do it.

“But I think it’s right to show strength and have a faith in the team that no matter what news they get, it’s not going to destabalis­e what we’re about at Rangers. It’s more about the club than the individual.”

That theory will be put to the test against Celtic. Thomson hopes that this week’s developmen­ts will give his players an extra shot in the arm as they bid to lift their second trophy of the season, having already secured the Sky Sports Cup courtesy of a 2-0 win over Hibernian in December.

“That’s one of the things that I thought myself because of the bond we’ve got,” he added. “We might just get that extra wee bit out of it. We’ll soon find out if they like me or not!”

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 ?? ?? Malky Thomson alongside the women’s Scottish Cup trophy
Malky Thomson alongside the women’s Scottish Cup trophy

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