Graeme Murty is ready to embrace what he insists would be a “stellar moment” in his career if he remains in caretaker charge of Rangers for the Old Firm showdown at Celtic Park in 12 days’ time.
The Ibrox club remain content not to rush their appointment of a permanent successor to Mark Warburton whose managerial tenure ended in contentious circumstances earlier this month. They hope to be in a position to name a director of football within the next week or so, with Southampton’s head of scouting a recruitment Ross Wilson among the leading contenders for the role.
A new head coach or manager is expected to be unveiled soon afterwards, although it remains entirely possible Murty will still be at the helm for the daunting trip to face runaway Premiership leaders and champions Celtic on 12 March.
The club’s head development coach will take charge of his fourth first-team game tomorrow night, when St Johnstone visit Ibrox on league business, and is also likely to be in the technical area for Saturday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final at home to Hamilton.
Murty has overseen two successive league defeats, away to Dundee and Inverness, which have contributed to Rangers falling nine points behind Aberdeen in the race for the runners-up spot in the Premiership.
Although the former Reading and Scotland defender admits he was surprised to be thrust into the frontline job in the first place, he is happy to stick around in the unforgiving spotlight for as long as the Rangers board require him to do so.
“I knew when I was asked to take the role that it would be difficult,” said Murty. “I knew there would be times when I was the face [of the club] and I would be in the media where people would say positive and negative things about you.
“I was willing to accept that at the start. It’s been difficult but I am still willing to do it for as long as they want me to. So I have put no time pressure upon them. I accept the amount of time the board will take to make their appointment. I did it freely at the start, I do it freely now, it’s not as if I’m demanding to be in the role. I am willing to fulfil the role as long as they want me to.
“Do I allow myself to think about [the Celtic game]? Minimally. I would say less than ten per cent of my thoughts are on that game because we have two massive games to go beforehand. I’m actually not even thinking that much about Saturday, I’m thinking about Wednesday’s game because it’s really important that we get the win.
“If it occurs that I’m still in post come Celtic, the message won’t change to the players. It’s all about them. Would I welcome being in post for the Celtic game? That’s a loaded question. If it happens, it would be a stellar moment for me as a person, to walk out there and experience that – the positive and negative parts of the atmosphere, the hostility, that exuberance that Celtic have got at the moment and the challenge of preparing a team to go and handle that.
“Would it be difficult? Yeah. Would it be something to look back on and say I learned a great deal about myself and about the players? Absolutely. But I’ve said from the start it would be presumptuous of me to project that far forward. I wouldn’t have imagined getting the role in the first place to be honest. The process is ongoing and will be done in due time in due diligence. We will crack on with our jobs and our roles until we are told differently.”
If Murty has longer term ambitions for a career in management, then there is a sense that any more defeats in this caretaker stint with Rangers may not necessarily reflect well upon his potential in that regard. The 42-year-old, however, is determined not to be concerned about his own reputation.
“If I was selfish about it, I probably would worry,” he said. “But I am not thinking about it. I am just thinking about what the team needs. I can’t control what people conceive my CV to be. The people in the staff, the academy and the first team here know the level of work that I do. Am I happy with that? Yes. I’m happy with my level of work and I can look myself in the mirror and be quite content. Am I pleased at the results? Absolutely not. But the level that I have worked at and continue to work at will be reflected further down the line. The best advice I have received is to believe in myself and to trust in what we are doing. Do I believe in myself? That’s taken a bit of a knock. Do I trust in what we are doing as a football club? Absolutely. I trust in the processes that are being put in place and that what we are doing in the long term will pay off.”