Irrespective of how Rangers’ pursuit of Steven Gerrard ends up, when it comes to managing the Ibrox club Graeme Murty will soon fall. The 43-year-old is adamant, though, he will be able to stand by his record in a job he still refuses to give up on. Given the situation into which he was plunged after Pedro Caixinha was jettisoned six month ago, the fact he is looking to end the campaign effectively bested only by Celtic convinces Murty that no-one could have done more.
“Rangers fans demand that we are not bested by anyone. I understand that but given where I started, and where I am now, I believe if we finish second that I’ll have done as well as I possibly can,” he said in an impassioned defence of his time in charge. “I am not sure that there are many people who could do better than I’ve done in their first managerial appointment with the circumstances I inherited. That’s the first time I have said that to you guys. But deep down inside of me there is a core of belief in what I do, and my abilities.
“I have four games left to finish my audition. So far I think I have done well coaching and managing with a squad that’s not mine, with no budget, with disparate groups and with some problems in the changing room. I am not sure that many people could have taken us to second so far.
“Obviously there are things in there that I would have liked to have done better. But if we continue in a way that I think we can and we finish second then I am not sure how much more I could realistically have been asked to do. If that is enough, then fantastic. I would love to be able to have the opportunity to bring my players in and put my blueprint on the team.”
Deep down Murty must surely know that his profile as much as any outcomes mean his efforts won’t be enough to be retained for next season. His goose was cooked by the chicken display that condemned Rangers to a 4-0 thumping in the recent Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic. It hasn’t helped that the internecine rowing this precipitated effectively ended the Rangers careers of club captain Lee Wallace and vice-captain and Kenny Miller.
Tomorrow he faces the prospect of being the Rangers manager as the club assume the patsy role on a Celtic title-winning day at Parkhead. Murty puts on a brave face when considering his prospect of ending a ten-game winless run in the fixture, pointing out that the Hampden fiasco was the first of four derbies in which his side has not competed. He also puts a brave face on his status being reduced to seat-warmer for the next Rangers manager.
“I think, up to this point, I have done a good job. I want to do a better job. I want to be given the opportunity to do a better job. If I am, fine. If not, no-one can ever, ever take away what I have experienced in the past seven months. I have had a decade of personal development in the last seven months.
“From dealing with you guys [in the media], to dealing with changing rooms, to dealing with staff, to dealing with an eerily quiet stadium, to a slow death in front of 50,000 people at Hampden. I have been questioned from every single manner of person but I am still sitting here and talking to you about progressing this football club onwards. I think I have represented myself and developed myself in a very mature and considered and positive manner. I said when I first came in that this is a stellar job, one of the best jobs in British football.
“There is going to be speculation that is rife through the media, about this guy wanting it, that guy going to get it. Until it is signed, sealed and delivered, it is all just speculation and I can’t afford to waste any energy going into an Old Firm game by worrying about it. Listen, if the board or the club are going to appoint someone who is not me then I am big enough and man enough to accept it. That’s the job, that’s football. You deal with it. But until that time happens, I will continue represent myself, the players and the football club as well as I can. I am in the job at the moment. Until I hear otherwise I will doing my damndest to keep it.”
It believed that the Rangers job is Gerrard’s if he wants it but Murty says it would not be a particularly bitter pill to swallow if he lost out to the former Liverpool and England captain, whose only coaching role has been with the Anfield under-18s. “I’ll be upset if I lose the job. Full stop,” Murty said. “I love this job, I love this club.”
His first love was Liverpool, which the former Reading defender would suggest means he could hardly be resentful of Gerrard.
“I have played against him and I am full of admiration for what he did,” he said. “As a Liverpool fan and he’s one of the best players to ever play for my football club. If he was to get it… a part of me still holds him in high esteem.”