The last stand of the stand-in might be one way of describing the lunchtime Glasgow derby that will mark Graeme Murty’s final match as Rangers interim manager before Pedro Caixinha takes permanent charge. For the 44-year-old, it is nothing so prosaic.
A “life-changing experience” the Ibrox club’s under-20s coach called it the other day, before going as far as to declare it “a seminal moment in my life”. The family background of the impressively loquacious and likeable Murty might also allow the unforgettable happenstance of his helming Rangers at Celtic Park to be termed a slightly awkward moment.
The Yorkshireman is a Scotland international by dint of his father Edward being born in Glasgow. He might also have once been a Celtic supporter by dint of this pater being a passionate fan of the east end of Glasgow club. Joining the Ibrox club last August ensured no quiet gathering of his kith and kin in more recent times.
“All of my father’s family are Celtic fans and they reiterated that to me earlier this year when I met up with them and I got four hours of absolute dog’s abuse,” Murty said. “They said ‘what are you doing?’ and I said ‘this is what I’m doing’, and I sat back and accepted their backlash.
“The thing is that my old man is a great believer in self-determination. He doesn’t believe in telling you anything that he believes should be your belief. We have endless debates on all sorts of subjects; about religion, about sport, most definitely about football, because he has got his way and I have got mine. I’m really thankful that he’s broad-minded enough to give me a chance to go and be my own person.”
Edward Murty, who with the Rangers interim manager’s mum will watch today’s derby from Murcia, where they have a retirement home, might not be so broad-minded as to forego his footballing allegiance for the sake of blood.
“I thought it would have been incredibly arrogant for me to say that I would be in charge for this game. It’s going to take place whether I’m in charge or not, so if I am in charge and I speak to my old man then he’ll give me some abuse, give me some stick, but I’ve got no doubt that deep down inside he will want me to do really, really well.”
Murty accepts he may never know again a set of circumstances like those he will confront this afternoon, but sampling what the occasion has to offer will offer him strong pointers as to how he would like his coaching career to unfold.
“I’m not sure wherever you go that you can get a fixture as big as this. I think that this is going to be a unique moment. It would take some career to match this moment.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity and this will go a long way to educating me as to whether I want to do this full time or whether I want to go back to long-term development of young players. My view hasn’t changed, I’m still going to take time. The worst thing I could do is go and jump into something after an experience like this.
“I feel that this is a fairly unique football club, and I can take a lot of lessons from it. I’m looking at it and I’m thinking that I have to take time, learn lessons and be measured about it, because this club is a very good generator of emotions, and I have to make sure that those emotions don’t cloud my logic.
“I have to make sure I am reasoned with the positives and negatives of being in both roles. I’ve got a career to think about and taking care of my family too.”