McCulloch: Criticism was right

Date published: Monday 13th July 2015 7:54

The 37-year-old was one of 11 first-team players to leave Ibrox in the summer and has now taken up a coach/player role at Kilmarnock.

He played 46 times last season as Rangers finished third in the Scottish Championship before losing 6-1 to Motherwell in the two-legged Premiership play-off final.

Chairman Dave King, who, along with his allies, gained control of the club in March, described the team as “very inadequate” last season and said some of the players who were out of contract had “failed miserably”.

The Ibrox club endured another season of off-field drama but while some players chose to hit back at King’s comments, McCulloch refused to join them.

“I think we deserved it, all the players deserved it,” the former Motherwell and Wigan player said.

“The full dressing room, not just the players that were out of contract and not just the senior players.

“I think every single player deserved criticism and I think it was dressed up the wrong way in some quarters of the press that it was just the boys that were out of contract. You’ll not get me moaning about that.”

The former Scotland international repeatedly described the campaign as a “car crash” but took responsibility for the shortcomings despite pointing to the exit of former manager Ally McCoist as the crucial moment when the season imploded.

McCulloch added: “When Ally left, everything blew wide open. It was amazing the pressure he took off the players.

“Stuart McCall gave us a lift but we fell well short in the play-off final.”

McCulloch was frustrated at being unable to air his thoughts in his final season but he believes his experience will stand him in good stead as he begins a new chapter of his career with Kilmarnock.

And he is intent on looking back at the positives from his time with Rangers and the impressive trophy haul he managed to collect, especially under former boss Walter Smith.

“I look back on eight years at the club, won five leagues and five or six cups,” he said. “I’m in the hall of fame and captained the club and also played in a UEFA Cup final. That’s how I look at my career with the club.

“I think all the negativity makes you stronger so I don’t think you can have any regrets.

“I wouldn’t say I was relieved to be out of it. But I’m relieved to be at a club like this, the club the size of Kilmarnock and the chance to have a fresh start is something I’m desperate to get involved in.

“I’m delighted to have joined a big club that’s got great facilities, that have brought in eight or nine signings. Hopefully things are going to turn from maybe the last four, five, six years, in my opinion, under-achieving. I think everybody knows that.

“They have got a new board and have plans in place for an indoor facility, so the club is definitely going in the right direction. To come in and be a part of that is something that really appeals to me.”

Such was the turmoil at Ibrox in the past season that McCulloch needed reminding that he had briefly been first-team coach under reluctant caretaker boss Kenny McDowall.

“I got made first-team coach at Rangers but I didn’t really do anything,” he said. “That was just a board decision out of the blue when they got rid of the manager. But it was something I was privileged to do.”

McCulloch has since completed his UEFA Pro Licence course and will focus mainly on coaching at Rugby Park.

He will work alongside Peter Leven in Killie’s coaching staff under manager Gary Locke, promising he would only play for the side in “emergency” situations.

“I don’t see myself playing often at all,” he said. “I think it’s a club that has to promote youth and find a pathway for them into the first team. So I don’t think it’s very fair on the youth players if you have a 37-year-old taking up a place.

“I’m in here for emergency only, for injuries and suspension. Hopefully I will be able to use my experience for the younger boys breaking through and help them break into the first team and stay in the first team.”

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