SCOTTISH FOOTBALL: Rangers manager Graeme Murty reflects on tumultuous week after Celtic defeat

The storm clouds that have swarmed over Ibrox all week since last weekend's debacle at Hampden show no sign of dispersing '“ yet on Sunday afternoon Rangers will attempt a return to winning ways when they play host to Hearts.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 20th April 2018, 9:19 pm
Updated Friday, 20th April 2018, 9:21 pm
Rangers manager Graeme Murty and his assistant Jimmy Nicholl (right) during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final match against Celtic at Hampden Park.
Rangers manager Graeme Murty and his assistant Jimmy Nicholl (right) during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final match against Celtic at Hampden Park.

Graeme Murty – who has come under fire from all sides this week, including from within and outside the dressing-room – remains in charge despite mounting criticism of his team selection and tactics in the Scottish Cup Semi-Final from all manner of armchair ‘experts’.

There is however a great deal of sympathy for Murty who has seen his prospects of securing the manager’s chair on a permanent basis disappear like melting snow.

More and more blame for the crisis now enveloping the club is being laid at the door of Chairman Dave King and his Board of Directors, who have lurched from one shambolic decision to another over the past two campaigns.

There is indeed very real concern that not only will Graeme Murty not succeed to the seat once occupied by such as Bill Struth, Jock Wallace and Walter Smith, but that he will be obliged to leave the club altogether instead of returning to the excellent work he previously did as Youth Coach.

Murty spoke of the severe pressure he has found himself under this past week and the help he has received from within the club.

“If I can get through this week, I can get through just about anything. I’ve had Director of Football Mark Allen, my entire staff and the Board of Directors making sure I’m OK and ready for this weekend,” he said.

Murty conceded that Sunday’s performance was simply not good enough whilst acknowledging that he is inexperienced at this level.

“I’ll make mistakes very publicly but I’ll learn from them. As for Sunday, it wasn’t just one thing that went wrong. There were lots of things we needed to do better - myself and the players - because we were guilty of letting a lot of people down.

“There are lots of different things about the performance on Sunday that wasn’t right. If I look back on it, there are things I’d do different. I feel I’m learning in the most public environment you could imagine.

“We didn’t do the club or ourselves justice on Sunday. I think there was potential for us to do better than we did,” he added.

“We didn’t turn up and we were punished accordingly. That hurts, but there’s very little we can do now, so we need to move forward to the visit of Hearts.”

Both club captain Lee Wallace and experienced striker Kenny Miller will of course be posted missing this weekend, as indeed they were - along with most wearing Light Blue jerseys - against Celtic.

There is certainly a strong argument that could be put forward that the inclusion of Miller at Hampden may well have made a difference, although for Wallace there is no guarantee that even if fully fit he would have been recalled, such has been the form of Declan John at full-back since signing from Cardiff City.

It remains to be seen whether Greg Docherty and Alfredo Morelos will feature, given reports of a tunnel bust-up between the two last Sunday. However, an absence of alternatives may well force Murty’s hand on this one.

Meanwhile, Ross McCrorie will be available despite receiving a red card in the semi-final as his suspension will apply only to the club’s next Scottish Cup-tie.

The impressive form that permeated so many Light Blue victories since the turn of the year has all but disappeared and the mood of the Light Blue legions has turned from hope to despair.

Not even a win against Hearts on Sunday will dispel the gloom surrounding Ibrox but it will surely lift some spirits.

Controversially this will be the third visit of the season by the Tynecastle men to Govan due to the idiosyncratic nature of the Premiership set-up – a goalless draw back in August under then-manager Ian Cathro was followed in February by a comfortable 2-0 ‘Gers victory against opponents by then led by current boss Craig Levein, who was also in charge when Rangers emerged triumphant 3-1 at Murrayfield, overcoming an early Kyle Lafferty free-kick.

Under Levein, Hearts have proven hard to beat, with a solid defence almost the signature basis for teams managed by the former Scotland international manager.

As well as Lafferty, the visitors’ line-up may well include another former Ranger, namely Steven Naismith who is assured of a warm welcome from the home support. Unbeaten in their last three outings, they will present a serious challenge for Light Blue hopes of a return to winning ways.

Meanwhile, the week did end on a positive note when Rangers announced a three-year kit deal with Danish sportswear firm Hummel, which will replace the current arrangement with Puma this summer.