The passion of Graeme Murty this Easter-time seems pretty similar to the original one. It appears no time ago that, with 11 wins and a draw from 13 games, hosannas were being exclaimed loudly in his direction amid demands he be handed the job beyond the contracted stint of this season. Home losses to Celtic and Kilmarnock and the 43-year-old is now being crucified. A resurrection would be miraculous.
Yet, as he prepares to take his team to Motherwell, Murty is unbowed as pats on the back have given way to slaps in the face. The Rangers board always said no decision would be taken on the managerial position until the summer. The feeling was that a second-place finish in the Premiership, a Scottish Cup success, or both, would earn Murty an extended stay in a role he was given on a (semi) permanent basis in December.
However, the mood has changed after Stevie Clarke’s Kilmarnock scored a victory at Ibrox that meant the ground had witnessed seven away league wins in a league campaign for the first time in 103 years. On the back of Celtic securing a 3-2 derby success with only ten men, Murty’s standing plummeted. In the aftermath, former Rangers player Alex Rae petitioned for Clarke to be brought in over the summer, while this week former Rangers manager Ally McCoist hinted that clarity over the role he struggled in would come within a fortnight. That was taken to mean the Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic on 15 April would seal Murty’s fate were he to lose it, but the man himself sought yesterday to present his case.
“I can’t control the messages from outwith the group,” he said. “There are lots of people giving their opinions as they are entitled to do. Lots of experts, telling all and sundry what should happen and what will happen, and generally it doesn’t tend to come to pass because the board of directors and the chairman will make their decision in due course.
“As for the noise that goes around this job, it is something you have to be really, really good at shutting out. If I spent too much time considering what could happen, and what he said and what they said, I would never actually get on with the job.
“We had a reversal and in a game where we were a little bit flat after a really pulsating Old Firm game… that’s one game where we haven’t been at the right level intensity-wise. Previous to that, we had ten games in 40 days and won nine of them, so we were in a really good place. We have had a reversal, we won’t throw out all of that hard work because of one bad result.
“I know what it’s like, I know what the demands are on this football club, I know the desire of the fans and the media for us to be challenging at the top. It’s a reaction you have to cope with and then move forward from. I’ve talked to the players about it and I said ‘listen, it’s the first time since I’ve had you, this new group of players, that we haven’t been quite there. Let’s get back on the horse again’.
“We’ve got a really good opportunity tomorrow to go ‘right, this is us, this is what we’re about’ and, if we do that and we perform the way the boys have trained, I’m confident we can do that.”