Rangers remain in advanced negotiations with Steven Gerrard over the managerial position at Ibrox after sacking Graeme Murty with just three games of the season left.
The former Liverpool and England captain broke his silence on the vacancy last night, confirming that he had held positive talks with the Rangers hierarchy.
The discussions will resume tomorrow when Gerrard has completed his Champions League semi-final punditry duties.
Asked about reports linking him with the post, Gerrard told BT Sport: “Yes, there is truth in the rumours. I’ve held initial talks with Rangers and the plan is to pick them up in a couple of days’ time. We’ll see.
“There is [interest]. I’ve held positive talks with them. I’m busy now for a couple of days but I will pick it up on Thursday and we’ll see if we can progress it.”
Murty was relieved of his duties yesterday morning after the Ibrox board decided it was no longer tenable to leave him even in temporary charge following last Sunday’s record 5-0 Old Firm league defeat at Celtic Park.
The 43-year-old, who won 21 and lost 11 of his 35 games over two spells as interim manager, has been offered the chance to return to his previous post as the club’s head development squad coach. Former Rangers players Jimmy Nicholl and Jonatan Johansson, who were assistant manager and first team coach respectively under Murty, will take charge of the last three Premiership fixtures.
Rangers are hopeful of reaching an agreement with Gerrard over the next few days. But, even if the 37-year-old, who is currently the under-18 coach at Liverpool, accepts the job this week, he will not take charge until June.
Murty was informed of Rangers’ decision in a meeting with managing director Stewart Robertson at Ibrox. It is understood he would have been dismissed as manager regardless of how talks with Gerrard and his representatives were progressing.
Any prospect Murty had of extending his tenure beyond the end of the season was effectively ended by the 4-0 Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to Celtic at Hampden on 15 April. Rangers’ second successive Old Firm humiliation at the weekend duly sealed his fate.
“Rangers are grateful to Graeme, who did not hesitate when asked last October to become interim manager after the departure of Pedro Caixinha and then, at the turn of the year, when he was offered the role as manager until the end of the season,” read a club statement.
“Graeme has had to contend with difficult and challenging circumstances but conducted himself in a thoroughly professional manner. He will take some time to consider his options, which include returning to his role at the Rangers
“Jimmy Nicholl and Jonatan Johansson have already started preparing the team for the match against Kilmarnock on Saturday and they will be in place for the two remaining fixtures, against Aberdeen and Hibernian.
“The club hopes to be in a position to comment further on the managerial situation in the near future.”
Rangers are locked in a tense battle with Aberdeen and Hibs to finish runners-up in the Premiership this season with both prize money differentials and the possibility of missing out on Europa League football at stake.
Nicholl, 61, will take the lead role in trying to lead the Ibrox squad through a testing trio of matches.
Gerrard, pictured, who is currently in charge of the under-18 side at Liverpool, has been urged to seize the chance to manage Rangers by his former England team-mate Frank Lampard.
“In terms of the size of the club and knowing Steven pretty well, I think it’s a great opportunity for him,” Lampard told TalkSport. “If it feels right, I think he can handle that pressure from his playing days, he’s no stranger to that with the career he had in the game.
“He has cut his teeth at Liverpool with the young lads there and at some point Steven is going to step out of that and go into managing men, managing a first-team. So that’s why I think Rangers would be a great opportunity for him.”