Jimmy Nicholl always Rangers number one target – Graeme Murty

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Graeme Murty believes Jimmy Nicholl might just be the best acquisition of the January window having revealed that he was always his first choice to become his assistant at Rangers.

Murty knew he needed to bring in someone with vast experience, knowledge and a full understanding of what the Light Blues are all about.

Jimmy Nicholl, left, walks through Edinburgh Airport with new signing Sean Goss en route to Florida on Saturday. Picture: SNS.

Jimmy Nicholl, left, walks through Edinburgh Airport with new signing Sean Goss en route to Florida on Saturday. Picture: SNS.

And he reckons Nicholl can have a huge influence in a strong second half to the season as Rangers begin their winter training camp today at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, south-west Florida.

Murty said: “Right across the board, Jimmy Nicholl ticked so many boxes.

“We had been looking to add some more experience to the management group.

“We wanted someone who would perhaps see things differently from myself, Jonatan Johansson and Colin Stewart.

“He brings a wealth of experience with him but, more importantly, it was about the man himself.

“Given the way he conducts himself, when you look at the man he is, it was really a no-brainer from our point of view.

“He was someone that we wanted to bring in and it will be really interesting to see the dynamics between him and the playing group.

“I’ve no doubt they’ll be looking at him to see what he brings and, similarly, he’ll be looking at them to see what they’re all about.”

Murty, pictured, admitted that he did not know Nicholl that well but once he began seeking opinions from others, he was in little doubt that the man who had two spells as a player at Ibrox in the 1980s.

Murty said: “Our paths had crossed briefly, but not to any great degree.

“So I talked to people he knew and I talked to people who’d worked with him before.

“Of all the people I spoke to, not one person had a bad word to say about him, which is a measure of the man.

“In terms of the person he is and in terms of where he is on his own journey, nobody spoke badly of him.

“So I think it was vitally important we got someone of his ilk in.

“He’ll change the mix of the management group, bring in more experience and, at the end of the day, he’s exactly what I was looking for.”

Nicholl famously won the League Cup in 1994 as Raith Rovers manager and also bossed Millwall and Cowdenbeath and worked as assistant to Jimmy Calderwood at Dunfermline, Aberdeen and Kilmarnock.

He has also played a huge part in the remarkable success of Northern Ireland working beside Michael O’Neill and most recently was helping Paul Hartley at Falkirk.

Murty believes the players will be motivated to impress Nicholl in the Sunshine State, where Rangers will play against Brazilian sides Atletico Mineiro and Corinthians on Thursday and Saturday in the Florida Cup.

He said: “We’ve had coffee a few times and before heading to America we sat down and had lunch together.

“We spent a bit of time together and we just had a good, open discussion about what I see developing and where I think he can help and what his role will be.

“I was really clear that I didn’t want to prejudice his view of the players. I didn’t want to give too much away.

“I want Jimmy to come in with a fresh pair of eyes and give us a no-holds barred assessment of where we are right now.

“That’s the only way we can improve what we do. Heading to America is ideal. We will get to know each other better and probably a bit quicker than we would had we still been in Glasgow.

“It will give Jimmy time to assess the players and tell me, honestly, what he thinks.

“You only get one chance to make a first impression. I’ve worked with the players, JJ too.

“But this will their first time with Jimmy and, while I know he’s desperate to get going and make a good impression, I hope the players are keen to make a good impression too.

“He’s got so much enthusiasm for this football club and, better than most, Jimmy understands what it takes to be a Rangers player.

“He knows what the standards needed are and he’s someone 
who will hopefully drive standards up.”