Just how much the reservoir of patience among Rangers supporters has run dry in this chaotic season for the Ibrox club may become evident at a potentially fractious annual general meeting of shareholders at the Clyde Auditorium tomorrow morning.
It is now five weeks since the calamitous managerial tenure of Pedro Caixinha was cut short with no clear indication yet of when a permanent successor will be appointed.
As results on the pitch falter yet again, the focus is firmly on a board of directors who have faced widespread criticism of being at the helm of a rudderless ship.
But before answers are sought from chairman Dave King and managing director Stewart Robertson at the agm, the man who has stoically been the public face of Rangers for the past few weeks has pleaded with fans to exercise just a little more forbearance.
Interim manager Graeme Murty believes the decision currently facing King and his colleagues is among the most important in Rangers’ history, one which could have far-reaching implications for the hopes they hold of somehow diluting Celtic’s dominance of Scottish football.
“This is the key signing for the next three years or more at the football club,” said Murty. “If it takes a couple of weeks more than the fans would like, to make sure we move forward, then I would ask them for a bit of understanding. I know people want things sorted out. I know they want a resolution now, but the correct resolution would be better for the football club than a hasty one.
“I’ve spoken before about where we need to be, how we need to be at the top table of Scottish football. We want to actually get into European football regularly.
“If we get the next five years right, this club is a massive club, an epic name. We want to get it back to where it deserves to be, where we want it to be.
“Brief disappointment now (with the pace of appointing a new manager) could set the next five years down a fantastic path. If we get that appointment wrong we risk jeopardising that future.
“The last thing we want is for the other guys across town to get further away from us. We want to close the gap. We don’t want that gap to get bigger. The disappointment fans feel now will be critical in that.”
Murty and the players currently under his command faced the full fury of those supporters at Dens Park last Friday night when they trooped off the pitch following an abject display in losing 2-1 to Dundee.
It was Murty’s fourth defeat in ten matches over his two spells as caretaker boss. He had no complaints about the reaction and has challenged the players to bounce back in the Premiership double-header against Aberdeen at Ibrox tonight and Pittodrie on Sunday.
“You have to be big enough to take it,” he said. “We all love getting plaudits, we got nice stuff at Celtic Park last season, nice stuff at Murrayfield recently, loads of pats on the back. So if you are going to take those, you have to be big enough to take some stick when it comes your way. If you can’t take it on the chin, you might not be here for very long.
“I don’t blame the fans. It’s human nature. It’s just raw emotion and you can’t judge anyone for their emotional state because you can’t control your emotions generally. All it was was them venting their emotions, you have to understand that. We were feeling the same, but we have to make sure we move past that, stop it being destructive and translate that into a performance. I said to the players we need to come together as a team and lift the team. Give them something to cheer about rather than shout about.
“The players have an opportunity on Wednesday and Sunday to go and stake your claim to play in this team and go and win points for this football club. That would change people’s perception of you. How do you want to be perceived? Do you want to be perceived as winners? Then they have to go out and do it and grasp that opportunity because that opportunity won’t stay there for very long.”
Murty is content with the way the situation is being handled behind the scenes by director of football Mark Allen as the longer-term future is mapped out.
“I’ve had discussions daily with Mark,” he added. “I also had a phone call from Mr King and a phone call from Stewart (Robertson) after the game at Dundee. We had a good chat and I have to say it made me feel better about my own position and the work I am doing. But still I understand the frustrations and they were frustrated as well, but I won’t speak for them. I just appreciated the phone calls and the conversations we had.
“The process is ongoing. Things are happening – they are just not there yet. That’s the indication I had.
“I know where I fit in the grand scheme of things. If everything had gone smoothly for the previous manager I wouldn’t be sitting here. Things weren’t working and I have to do this job for an amount of time.
“I fully expect to get back to my job with the younger players at the Academy. I wouldn’t expect (to still be taking the first team at Christmas) but, equally, I have no idea when that timescale will be firmed up.”