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G. Smith, Adamant He Knows When To Back Off


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AS players, Gordon Smith and Ally McCoist were never team-mates. Only once were they opponents on the pitch. In the early 1980s, when England's top flight was known as the First Division, the two strikers were engaged in a shoot-out. McCoist scored for Sunderland that day, but Smith went one better, netting the winner in a 2-1 victory for Brighton & Hove Albion.

As the two prepare, 30 years later, to forge a working relationship at Rangers, the question for many is who will come out on top this time?

If that sounds a little unfair, especially given the compliments they have showered upon each other alrea

ADVERTISEMENTdy, it is also the inevitable sideshow for anyone given the dreaded "director of football" role, handed to Smith by Craig Whyte, the new owner at Ibrox.

While the position has long been accepted on the continent, it is treated with the utmost suspicion in Britain, where it is seen either as a polite way to move an ageing manager upstairs or a device with which to undermine the man in the dugout. The last thing McCoist wants during his first season at the helm is the distraction of a power struggle behind the scenes.

Part of the problem is that the director of football's role is ill-defined. Sometimes, the job now occupied by Smith has its value questioned, as it was by Celtic players who wanted to deal a little more with Kenny Dalglish, and a little less with John Barnes. More frequently, it is accused of carrying too much weight, as it was during the "reign" of Dennis Wise, right, at Newcastle United. He recommended a player to Kevin Keegan, and when the manager said "thanks but no thanks", Wise went ahead and signed him anyway.

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That, says Smith, will never happen at Ibrox. You won't catch him presenting McCoist with a fait accompli, as Roman Abramovich is rumoured to have done to Carlo Ancelotti with Fernando Torres. If he were a manager, he would not tolerate the practice, even though he experienced it during a spell in Switzerland at the end of his playing career.

"I'd gone to Basel and dealt with the general manager while the coach just took the team. I found out later that the coach didn't really want me. The manager brought me in, which was why the coach wasn't as keen to start with. But that isn't going to happen here. The manager has ultimate responsibility for all the transfers. It has to be that way

http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/sport/Gordon-Smith-is-adamant-he.6795040.jp?articlepage=2

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