Rangers manager Graeme Murty has backed the protest action taken against the club by a section of their support but insists he and his team do not deserve to judged solely on their 4-0 Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to Celtic.
Murty’s players responded to their Old Firm humiliation at Hampden by claiming a 2-1 win over Hearts at Ibrox yesterday which takes them back into second place in the Premiership.
Large parts of the match were played in a low-key atmosphere as the Union Bears fan group held a silent protest and unveiled banners condemning the attitude of Murty’s side the previous weekend.
“The fans are fully within their rights to do what they see fit,” said Murty. “I would never ever go against their wishes.
“But I said to the players that we had to generate an atmosphere in the changing room for ourselves. If we wanted something from them, we needed to put on a performance.
“I thought there were times when we were on the brink of clicking into a high gear. I hope the fans saw some passion, intensity and a bit of quality today. I thought the players stood up after a hard week.
“It shows the dressing room is united. A lot of people outwith our dressing room have said a lot of things without knowing too much. But, we have remained focused and just concentrated on the display.
“Listen, we were all hurting last week. We all had a hard time. We will not be, in my opinion, defined by one game. We won’t allow ourselves to be. We have to react in a positive way. I thought the reaction I asked for is the one that I got.”
Rangers now face a trip to Celtic Park next Sunday where victory for their Old Firm rivals will clinch a seventh consecutive title triumph.
Asked if the match offered him and his players an opportunity for redemption, Murty replied: “I see it as a massive game for this football club. That’s why the split was introduced, to give us massive games every week, and there is none bigger than Rangers and Celtic. We didn’t turn up at the last one in a way which would represent ourselves in a correct manner. We know that.
“We started back today by doing simple things really well with intensity and quality. We need to do more of the same.”
Rangers could line up at Celtic Park with an Old Firm debutant in goal. First choice ‘keeper Wes Foderingham missed out yesterday with a shoulder injury with his deputy Jak Alnwick stepping in for his first league appearance of the season.
“I’ve played in big games before, I played for Newcastle against Sunderland in what is a big derby, and these are the kind of games you work hard to get a chance to play in,” said Alnwick.
“If we were to win next week, it would lift things going into the end of the season as well as into next season. We’re not looking at Celtic winning the league against us or things like that. We are going there to win a game, like we do every week.”