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Gordon Smith: It would be foolish to rule Graeme Murty out of Rangers job

Rangers interim manager Graeme Murty (left) (SNS)
Rangers interim manager Graeme Murty (left) (SNS)

A lot of people would have you believe Graeme Murty is not ready to lose the interim tag and simply become the Rangers manager.

I don’t agree.

He is a strong candidate for the post, someone with all the attributes required to lead the club forward in the longer term.

And, while the same could be said of others, Murty holds a crucial advantage over his rivals, with his caretaker role until the end of the year handing him the equivalent of an ongoing audition.

It is, of course, a double-edged sword.

Win games, and everyone will argue your case for you.

Lose, though, and your faults will be dissected with equal – at least – enthusiasm.

After yesterday’s home defeat to St Johnstone, Murty will experience that over the next few days.

Rangers owner, Dave King, has gone on record to state that a decision of such magnitude can’t be taken on the basis of one or two results.

He is quite right.

I know from own time in recruitment, back when I was the SFA’s Chief Executive, you have to strive to take an overview of the proceedings and not be swayed by public opinion, which can be fickle to say the least.

Yet, were Murty to lead his side to victory over Celtic at Celtic Park on the 30th, it would be hard not to give him the job.

If, in the process, he were to end the Hoops’ hugely long domestic unbeaten run, it would be near impossible.

The demand would be irresistible.

Some people reading this column will think it is a fanciful notion to imagine 2017 throwing up such a dramatic end of the year.

Yet we have already seen this caretaker boss deliver a draw against the champions, and with far less preparation than Murty will get this time round.

I have been impressed, too, with the resilience which the group of players are increasingly displaying under his charge.

No-one would argue the victories over Ross County or Hibs were slick or stylish performances. But Murty’s team found a way to win and that is the bottom line.

I played in Rangers’ Treble- winning side in 1977-78 and, let me tell you, there were more than a few of what you might call “ugly” displays that season.

It didn’t matter. You can’t win trophies without carrying a bit of luck. You can’t win trophies without experiencing a dip here and there.

In our case, we always did enough to stay in contention so that when we were on song, we were able to make it count.

While we are talking different times and a different situation, the principle is the same.

For Rangers to beat a Hibs side which, just days earlier, had come within Mikael Lustig’s goal-line clearance of taking down Celtic, is a feat deserving of great credit.

What came across from it was that this is a group of players prepared to put the work in for each other and for the man in charge.

That is a pretty good starting point, one which will not have been missed by the Ibrox directors.

Directors who already owe Murty a debt of gratitude for making the AGM a whole lot easier than it might otherwise have been when masterminding a 3-0 win over Aberdeen the night before.

I don’t think there is any question that took the heat out of things.

As I said earlier, however, these run of matches coming up to the winter break are a double-edged sword.

Those same directors won’t yet have forgotten the humbling loss at home to Hamilton Accies, the Lanarkshire club’s first league win at Ibrox for 91 years.

Nor the defeat by Dundee at Dens Park which followed six nights later.

Yesterday’s unexpected reversal will inevitably be lumped in with those two earlier disappointments.

The ifs, buts and maybes of the situation could drive even the most level-headed of coaches to distraction, so I found it reassuring to hear Murty tell of the encouragement he has been receiving from Walter Smith and Neil Lennon.

If anyone can help him keep things in perspective, it is those two.