It didn’t take long for football management to start messing with Graeme Murty’s head. Just two games into his stint as caretaker boss of Rangers, he found himself behaving in a manner which caused him severe embarrassment.
There was, of course, a funny side to Murty’s peculiar reaction to Harry Forrester missing a sitter which might have salvaged a point for Rangers as they lost 2-1 at Dundee last Sunday. As the Sky Sports images of Murty’s touchline acrobatics went viral, however, they also provided an indication of the strange ways pressure can manifest itself on those who venture into the front line of a technical area.
Murty has been thrust there in the wake of Mark Warburton’s messy departure from the Ibrox club and will remain so indefinitely while the board pursue the recruitment of both a director of football and a new manager. The 42-year-old will be happy to return to his original role as Rangers’ head development coach as soon at that process is completed. Until then, he is determined to absorb all he can from the experience of being in charge of Rangers, even if it occasionally leaves him as red-faced as he was last weekend.
“However long this period is, it will go a long way when I finally sit down and get my thoughts down on a piece of paper so I can actually organise them and determine where my future lies [in coaching or management],” said Murty.
“At the moment, I’m still dazzled that I get to walk out on a football pitch with that title at Rangers, and it’s a very fortunate situation that I’m in. It’s difficult, it’s hard – I get that – but I can’t think of many other people who can say that their first managerial job, interim or otherwise, has been at a club of this stature. It will definitely play a massive part in forming where I go next.
“Last Sunday at Dundee was kind of a visual representation of how I was feeling. I honestly thought we had got back into it at that moment. Personally, I am absolutely mortified. I am getting so much grief and rightly so. I actually saw the incident again just after the press conference. Some of the journalists were talking and the guy had it on his phone already. As I walked past, I caught a glimpse of it and thought ‘That’s my future right there’. Imagine what I would have done if we had scored!
“My pals have been asking me if I have been looking on Twitter. I have tried to avoid it, quite frankly, because I know what is coming my way. But you know what? It was just the emotion of the situation. Because we had put ourselves in such a hard place and I thought the lads had done it by digging themselves out. We just couldn’t get that finish. When I do that normally, it comes back up into a perfect handstand. But about halfway up, I thought ‘What am I doing?’ I hoped that no-one had seen it – forgetting it was on Sky! Professionally, I’ve actually got bigger things to worry about but I know it wasn’t the best thing to do.”
Murty also revealed he is taking inspiration from an unusual source as he tries to stabilise Rangers’ season which continues with tomorrow night’s Premiership fixture at Inverness. It must certainly be the first time anyone in Scottish football has ever referenced a renowned orchestra conductor in a media conference.
“I once saw a fantastic talk by Benjamin Zander,” said Murty. “He said he relies on the players in his orchestra for his power, because he makes no sound. Coaching is exactly like that. I don’t make a sound in that I don’t kick a ball. But what you see on the football pitch directly correlates to what I have done during the week. The pressure is for me to give over the trust to the players to go and be great and execute the things they are good at. That feeling of not holding on too tight, is the hardest changeover from footballer to coach. It’s hard to master.
“As a young coach, this is an unbelievable task. Not for reasons to be fearful, just the scale of the club, the scale of the responsibility and that it could be a big springboard for the club to move forward if we get it right.
“The most galling thing for me last Sunday was that the performance wasn’t indicative of the training they’d put in all week. They worked extremely hard and they were very intense during the week. So the disappointing thing for me was the players didn’t show their attributes and skills to the best of their abilities until it was too late in the second half.
“The phrase ‘back to basics’ is used almost too often. It is more about identifying to the players what excellence looks like in all facets of the game. So it’s about what we demand of ourselves and being cohesive as a squad.”