Speculation is rife regarding the longer-term prospects of the man who was placed in charge until the end of the current campaign and, while performances like the one his men produced in the first half of this game will do him no favours, Murphy believes that the fact Murty was able to motivate the players to turn things around after the break speaks volumes for his managerial qualities.
“We are all 100 per cent behind him. He has been great for me since I came in. He brought me here and has me involved every week. He has done a lot for me so it is up to us. We owe him performances like the second half.”
From the outset, Motherwell showed the greater intensity, getting at their guests from the first minute and giving them no time to settle. Busy, bright, bustling and full of belief, they got their rewards with two quick goals.
The first came in the eighth minute when Russell Martin was caught the wrong side of Chris Cadden as a ball was played into the box and, in trying to retrieve the situation, he succeeded only in bundling him to the deck, which allowed Curtis Main, pictured, to send Wes Foderingham the wrong way from the consequent penalty and give Stephen Robinson’s side the lead.
As Rangers struggled to find a way into the game, with the home team dictating the tempo and the play, Motherwell cashed in, adding another goal in the 16th minute. It was another example of Motherwell’s greater will and wherewithal as another ball was pinged into the danger area and Main showed a decent touch and determination to hold off Martin and slip the ball through for Allan Campbell, who slotted it low into the far corner of Foderingham’s goal.
While Motherwell were delighted with their start, it was a shambolic showing from a side staring some unwanted history in the face. A matter of weeks ago, they had been entertaining thoughts of catching Celtic at the top of the table but after two defeats they were on the brink of piecing together three successive top-flight defeats for the first time since 2000.
Which explains the half-time rollicking delivered by Murty at the interval. “Quite rightly so,” said Murphy, who admitted it was probably as angry as he had ever seen his boss. “Everyone in there knew it was an unacceptable first half to be 2-0 down and for them to be good value for their two goals as well. We are glad we managed to turn it around and take the point but we came here for the win so we are disappointed.
“We were talking about that at half time and we had to show some character and some pride in the jersey.
“With the standards at this football club, everyone knew it wasn’t an acceptable first half and it was up to us to put it right. We put it 90 per cent right but we wanted to go and win the game. I think if we had played like we did in the second half in the first we would have won the game.”
It was a game of two halves, with the guests blitzing their hosts with two quick second-half goals to restore scoreline parity but, although they pressed and Motherwell began to flag, they had left themselves too much to do against a side who were still battling to stay in the mix for a top six place and did not want to see their early work amount to nothing.
“Credit to Motherwell, they did what they are good at and were organised,” Murphy added. “They won tackles and second balls and we never matched them in the first half. It is up to us as players to fix that and we did second half.”
They reduced the deficit in the 51st minute, when Elliott Frear brought down James Tavernier, who got up and took the spot kick himself, producing a clinical finish.
But it was Motherwell old boy Murphy who completed the comeback, showing purpose and vision to cut inside and find space before conjuring up enough composure to ping the equaliser past Trevor Carson and offer his manager some hope of retaining his position come the summer.