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Rangers interim boss Graeme Murty has received a fair bit of criticism from his own fans and from opposition support after his side blew their chance to win the latest Old Firm match.
The Ibrox club took the lead twice in the game before letting their opponents back in, they then couldn’t take advantage when Celtic were reduced to ten men and to make things worse, it was the Hoops that managed to come up with a winner.
Now Murty and his team did make mistakes, the Gers man admitted as much after the full-time whistle:
“I am immensely frustrated because I don’t think we will ever give ourselves a better opportunity to go and win the game.”
“We started brilliantly and then lacked composure, got carried away with the atmosphere and they got back into it with a good hit from them but a poor goal from us”
“It is a lack of concentration, a lack of switching on at the right times and you don’t get opportunities like that to catch up against players of this calibre.”
“If you give them an opportunity they go and score and it is exactly what we talked about in the brief and all week.”
Some had a problem with the Gers substitutions or lack of.
Even when chasing the game and having an extra sub to make, Murty decided not to throw the dice and bring on another forward like Kenny Miller who has a rich history of scoring in the derby. Josh Windass was clearly flagging by the last twenty or so minutes and should have come off.
When looking at the game, you can still see positives. They created chances, scoring two of them. Had Alfredo Morelos scored his late sitter instead of hitting post, then they would have got a draw from the game. They had most of the possession and at times they really did rattle Celtic.
Now I understand that the Gers support will be hurting and don’t want to be anything but winners, but there needs to be some perspective.
Under Mark Warburton and Pedro Caixinha, Rangers never raised a glove against a Brendan Rodgers Celtic side. They were out fought, bossed and simply couldn’t cope.
Yet under Murty, he managed three times against their Glasgow rivals and drew two at Parkhead and came close to getting a result in Govan.
Plus Celtic still have the better squad and that was clearly evident when you looked at the two benches. They also have more experience and that was vital in their win.
In truth though, Murty and his team might get more out of that result on Sunday. They should now know that they can definitely compete with Celtic and use the latest loss as a motivation to prove themselves as real Scottish Premiership title challengers next term.
Another positive is that they don’t have to wait that long to gain some sort of revenge. They’ll play Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final April.
Midfielder Greg Docherty has stated as much:
“We’re hurting and we need to remember this feeling and take it into that game,”
Murty is still learning on the job but his record is extremely healthy and he deserves the chance to build on the foundations he has given the team.
In 2018, Rangers have won nine out of eleven games. The interim manager has guided the club into second place in the league table and into the last four of the Scottish Cup. Just think Pedro couldn’t win three games in a row!
Murty is also getting the best out of the players at his disposal. Morelos and Jason Cummings are scoring goals. James Tavernier and Declan John are impressing as two star wing-backs. Windass is becoming a creative force with his goals and assists.
January signings like Jamie Murphy, Sean Goss and Docherty have all settled in without any fuss.
Players like Wes Foderingham, Tavernier, Windass and Morelos are all committing to the club. That’s a big sign that things are going in the right direction at Ibrox.
Is there really a ready-made manager out there that understands the club and who won’t come in and upset the applecart? I don’t think so.
Listen, when Graeme Murty took over the job I thought he was too inexperienced to handle the pressure but he’s proved me wrong. He seems to get it and has got his team playing with confidence.
Some Rangers supporters need to look past the latest setback and appreciate that things are improving and that keeping Murty is a strong and stable choice that could bring more positive results in the future!