Walter Smith has advised Rangers not to leave Graeme Murty hanging on as fresh doubts emerge about his long-term future as Ibrox manager.
Murty was given the role until the end of the season but successive defeats at home against Celtic and Kilmarnock have led some fans to demand that a more experienced figure is named in the post.
That will not be Smith, who has confirmed he is “finished” as a manager after briefly being linked with the Scotland post prior to Alex McLeish being appointed. But Smith has expressed sympathy for Murty, who has another test of his abilities next month in a Scottish Cup semi-final v Celtic.
“It wouldn’t be an easy circumstance for any manager to handle, never mind someone who has come in to take over a managerial job for the first time,” said Smith yesterday.
“So you have to say that overall a decision needs to be made as soon as the season ends. That means whoever is going to be in the position - whether it’s Graeme Murty or otherwise - can get on with changing the team around a little bit for next season.
“If you look a couple of weeks ago everybody was saying he was doing well,” Smith added. “He has won a good few games and it was looking as though they were getting a level of consistency, maybe for the first time this season.
But then you have a couple of home games that you lose and of course everybody turns the opposite way.”
Smith did not shy away from highlighting the significance of the Rangers board’s next managerial appointment– whether it is Murty on an extended contract or someone else.
“It means that the appointment of the next manager is probably one of the most important decisions that the board will make,” he said. “Whether it is Graeme Murty or it is someone else, it is a vitally important one because there has to start to be a level of stability within the management before you are starting to look at massive improvements on the pitch.”
Smith distanced himself from the process of appointing a new manager, having been approached for advice in the past. “It’s not my forte,” he said. “My forte was picking teams but not managers.”
With next month’s Scottish Cup semi-final in mind, Smith believes Rangers will not be scarred by the recent experience of losing to a ten-man Celtic at Ibrox.
“I don’t think it will inhibit them in any way,” he said. “If they have anything about them they will take it as a challenge.
“After the disappointments of going down 3-2 they had a couple of opportunities to get a draw. So I don’t think the game itself was one where Celtic looked that far ahead – they have done so in a couple of other games in the last two seasons. I don’t think that was one of them. As I said they (Rangers) can use it as a motivating factor because they did look as if they could score a goal or two.”
Whatever happens in the next clash, Smith said it will take longer than just one victory to amend a winless run over 90 minutes against Celtic that stretches back six years. The only success for Rangers in that time was on penalties in the Scottish Cup semi-final in 2016.
“I hate to use these two words but the natural order has been that Celtic have been winning championships,” said Smith. “To reverse that Rangers have got to get stability and an influx of a better level of player.”