But Murty refused to concede the title to their Old Firm rivals because he pointed out he never said Rangers were challengers in the first place. Celtic are now nine points clear at the top having played one game fewer.
“I have not talked about the title once – you guys [reporters] have been talking about the title as is your wont, and your job,” said the Ibrox manager, who saw his side lose 3-2 after twice taking the lead. “My job is to look after these players. We want to push on and narrow the gap and be competitive. Until it is over we will continue fighting as hard as we can. We will improve.”
Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic was sent off after 56 minutes for elbowing Alfredo Morelos. But substitute Odsonne Edouard secured the points with just over 20 minutes left.
Murty, pictured, said yesterday’s defeat to Celtic stands as his greatest disappointment in his two spells as Ibrox manager, interim and otherwise. He challenged his players not to allow the disappointment to affect their performances from now until the end of the season.
“It’s the hardest so far – you are excited with the emotion of the game and some, not all, of the play,” he said. “But we squandered a real good opportunity to apply some pressure.
“Those are the margins at the top level, when you give good players space and time,” he added. “It was a big opportunity we failed to grasp. I am not sure these opportunities come around too often.
“I said to the players afterwards, every single person and probably their dog will tell us everything they’ve done wrong and what’s fundamentally wrong with this club. But we can not afford to let one bad result wash away all the good work we have done. I have a group of players who are hurting and wanted to do better. The measure of the team will be how well we bounce back.”