Murty pays price for Old Firm embarrassment as reign comes to early end – but fingers should be pointed elsewhere
The former academy coach could not survive his side’s latest heavy defeat to Celtic, but the position Rangers find themselves in is not all Murty’s fault, says Grant Barnes.
When it was announced that Graeme Murty would remain in charge of Rangers until the end of this season after Pedro Caixinha’s departure, many hoped this would be a chance for Rangers to rebuild and ready themselves for next season. However, he hasn’t even made it that long, gone with only three games to go as the race for second place heats up.
Sunday’s 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Celtic was the final straw for Rangers fans and the board alike, as it was announced on Tuesday morning that Murty had been relieved of his duties.
The relatively inexperienced Murty would have been aware of the size of the task that faced him to turn the club’s fortunes around after Caixinha’s disastrous reign. Things started quite well for Murty, there was an instant injection of belief and passion in the Rangers squad, culminating in victories over Hearts and Aberdeen.
But as tensions grew over the uncertainty surrounding the managerial position after Derek McInnes’ rebuttal, Rangers slipped to two consecutive defeats at the hands of Dundee and Hamilton.
As Murty was appointed on a permanent basis, inconsistency again creeped into the Rangers side, with victories over Hibernian and another win over Aberdeen marred by defeats to St Johnstone and Kilmarnock.
Murty’s recruitment in January was met with open arms from the Ibrox faithful, as he managed to bring in Jamie Murphy from Brighton along with Jason Cummings and Greg Docherty as the 43-year-old looked to restore some much-needed pride in the Rangers squad.
As Rangers fans began to warm to Murty, it became clear that he was not the man to take them forward. It is unlikely that this was ever the Rangers’ board intention, as his inexperience began to show.
During the last Old Firm game at Ibrox, Celtic found themselves down to 10 men after Jozo Simunovic was sent off in the second-half with the score locked at 2-2. Murty, however, could not capitalise on his side’s man advantage, and Celtic would go on to win the game. It was at this point it became clear that despite his best efforts, Murty was out of his depth.
Murty’s lack of effort and passion could never be questioned during his time as Rangers manager, unfortunately for him, he is the victim of yet another disastrous period for the Rangers board.
This is the second time in four seasons that Rangers have found themselves led by three different managers throughout the course of the season. During the 2014-15 season, Ally McCoist was relieved of his duties and Kenny McDowall would replace him on a caretaker basis. After just three months, McDowall resigned and was replaced by Stuart McCall, who failed to get Rangers promoted back to the top flight.
Caixinha lasted only 229 days as Rangers manager, the shortest serving manager in the club’s history. His recruitment has been severely scrutinised, with signings such as Dalcio, Eduardo Herrera and Carlos Peña – who are all reportedly on substantial wages – finding themselves nowhere near Murty’s current squad.
Poor recruitment has been a trend at Rangers the last few years, with Joey Barton and Niko Kranjcar more examples of extremely expensive signings which never took off. After such a turbulent period where recruitment and performances on and off the pitch were scrutinised more than ever, it was imperative that the board made the right decision to take the club forward.
In Murty’s appointment, they injected much needed passion into the stands at Ibrox, and the belief started to appear once more. However, this was short lived as the gap between Rangers and Celtic stayed as wide as ever, culminating in a 9-0 aggregate in the side’s last two meetings in favour of Celtic.
The match at Ibrox back in March showed that if Rangers had made any progress, it was not to the level which fans expect.
In the build up to the week where Celtic could win the league against Rangers, the focus was not on whether this Rangers side could finally claim a victory over Celtic in the top flight, it was on whether Steven Gerrard could be the new Rangers manager.
Murty himself admitted that he had been personally affected by the news. To throw your manager’s attention away from an Old Firm derby mere days before kick-off showed a complete lack of respect to Murty and the effort that he has placed into the Rangers job during his short tenure.
Brendan Rodgers claimed that Murty had been ‘thrown to the garbage’ after the game on Sunday. The magnitude of the task that faces any incoming Rangers manager is not one caused by Murty, it is one that has been caused by years of uncertainty at board level, years of poor managerial appointments and years of poor recruitment which is not up to the standard of a club like Rangers.