Graeme Murty has warned the Rangers players under his temporary guidance that they are already being closely scrutinised by whoever is appointed as the Ibrox club’s new manager.
Development squad coach Murty will oversee his third game as caretaker boss of the Rangers first team tomorrow night as they travel to Inverness on Premiership business.
It is unlikely to be the 42-year-old former Reading and Scotland defender’s final match at the helm as the Rangers board are content to take their time over a process which will see both a director of football and a new head coach/manager recruited. Murty, however, believes the leading candidates for the main job are already forming judgements of the first team squad which failed to meet expectations under the now departed Mark Warburton this season.
“Every single time they put the shirt on is an opportunity for the players because I’ve told them the new manager is watching,” said Murty.
“I can’t make it any clearer. Whoever it may be, the new manager is watching and forming opinions of them as players and people, so they want to put themselves in the very best light they can.
“They’ve got it in their heads, they know that they are playing for their future. They’ve been told, not in a bad way, but in the group chat that they’re playing not only for themselves but each other, and also for the club.
“Whoever is going to come in is out there forming an opinion right now on what he wants this football club to look like in the near and the more distant future. So, if they want to be part of it, they have to go and stake a claim for it right now.”
Rangers are now six points behind Aberdeen, with a significantly inferior goal difference, in the race for second place in the Premiership behind champions and runaway leaders Celtic. Murty is seeking a positive response to last Sunday’s dismal display in a 2-1 defeat at Dundee.
“I’ll be trying to make sure the players prepare as well as possible and go to another massive game ready to go and try and get a positive result,” he added.
“We have to be realistic and find out what we’re playing for in the rest of the season. We’re playing for, minimum as far as I’m concerned, second place in the league and we’re playing for a place in the Scottish Cup final to go and try to win a trophy.
“So, if we set those targets and we make those targets realistic, then we can set realistic goals to actually benchmark our way along and make sure we go and get to it. If we’re looking too far ahead, then we’ll lose our focus on what is directly in front of us.”
Murty has received no firm indication from the Rangers board as to how long he is likely to remain as caretaker manager.
“The board have just been asking me if I need any support and they have been really supportive of me,” he said. “Their only dialogue with me is to ask if I needed anything to make my job easier and I am really grateful for it. In terms of telling me how long it’s going to be? No.
“I want to do well for myself and the players, but more importantly I want to do well for the people who have put their trust in me. So I put pressure on myself to try and be better every single day. People have said I am in a no-lose situation, but it doesn’t make any difference to me personally. Professionally, I want to do well for the football club. They have to come first and that’s how I see it.”