When Rangers revealed the identity of their managerial successor to Pedro Caixinha, all that was missing was the sticky back plastic and someone to say “here’s one we made earlier...”
A full eight weeks after jettisoning Caixinha and after being rebuffed by Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes, the Ibrox directors decided that the man for the job was the one they already had as interim boss and, moreover, who has been acting in that capacity for the second time in a year. Graeme Murty will now be in charge until the end of the season and will be active during the January transfer window.
Some, including a section of the Rangers support, will regard the appointment as cheap and expedient. It is certainly remarkable that the board could not identify an irresistible candidate with pedigree willing to take the job.
According to Stewart Robertson, Rangers’ managing director, however, Murty effectively worked himself into the position, despite losing 3-1 at home to St Johnstone last weekend.
“There was a wide range of candidates we were looking at – and still were, post-Derek [McInnes] – but we weren’t overlooking the job that Graeme had done and is doing in the last couple of months and also in his previous stint,” Robertson said.
“As time went on we were confident that he had the capability to take us forward. It wasn’t about one result. You’re looking at the body of work and the body of evidence over a period of time.
“That made us confident that, while Graeme is inexperienced in management, a lot of the characteristics we were looking for were sitting right in front of us. He (Murty) is taking it that he gets one kick of the ball and he wants to give it a right good welly.
“He has got a once in a lifetime opportunity to be the manager of Rangers and it says a lot about his character how he is approaching it, with his enthusiasm to take things on and get stuck in. He has got a different level of authority with the players now.
“He is now the manager, not the guy who is only holding the fort until the manager comes in and it will be interesting to see if that helps. It has to help him, it has to be a positive. He doesn’t see it as a burden. If he thought he was going to see it as a burden, we wouldn’t have appointed him.”
Murty was invited to extend his tenure at a meeting in Robertson’s house at 8.30pm on Thursday and did not require time to muse upon his options. “There was no way I could turn that down,” he said.
Had he supposed, after last Saturday’s defeat by St Johnstone, that he had blown his chance? “As low as I got – because I was annoyed at the way we played – I didn’t think that would have any bearing on it because I didn’t think I was under consideration,” said the former Scotland defender, who played for York, Reading, Charlton and Southampton.
“Before, I was just preparing the team for someone else to come in, judge and take forward – and I was content with that. Now that it’s my team, there are things I would like to change, things I’d like to implement around the training ground and around our match-day protocols that I think we can be sharper on.
“It wasn’t my place because I was just trying to keep them ready for someone else coming in and now I’ve got an opportunity to the end of the season to try and do things as I would like to do them.”
It was a 1-1 home draw with Kilmarnock that finished Caixinha and, by grace of the fixture list, Murty has the chance to open his longer-term account against the same opponents at Rugby Park. Should Rangers prevail over Steve Clarke’s improving side in the lunchtime kick-off in the Scottish Premiership, they would be bound to gain from whatever occurs later at Parkhead, where Celtic play second-placed Aberdeen.
Murty’s extended appointment was not the only news emanating from Rangers, whose chairman, Dave King, was judged in the Court of Session to have breached the 2006 Companies Act when he acted in concert with businessmen George Letham, George Taylor and Douglas Park to acquire more than 40 per cent of voting rights in the club in 2014.
King must make an £11 million offer to buy stock from other investors at 20p a share, although since they are valued currently at 32p, he is unlikely to find takers. “In terms of the day-to-day running of the club and the PLC and the share issue we are looking at in the future, it has no impact whatsoever,” said Robertson.