Many Glasgow Rangers supporters were surprised when coach Graeme Murty’s services were being retained at Ibrox by the new rookie manager Steven Gerrard.
The ex Liverpool and England legend arrived at the Gers on 1st June 2018 from looking after the Merseyside giants under 18’s team.
Gerrard obviously decided to check out all the members of Rangers staff at the Hummel Training Centre, before deciding who to keep and whose services he could dispense with.
In his wisdom, Gerrard kept a hold of Murty, even though Kenny Miller and Lee Wallace had an almighty bust-up at Ibrox after an embarrassing drubbing by Celtic.
The club sided with Murty and the players were punished – for telling the truth about what they had witnessed on the field of play, against bitter Old Firm rivals.
Murty had a fairly successful role with the Rangers Academy players before being asked to become an interim manager to replace Mark Warburton on February 2017, until they found another boss to take over.
In March 2017, Pedro Caixinha was heralded as the new brilliant manager with all his great ideas of filling Rangers with international players from Portugal and Mexico, where he’d been previously managing.
After only 227 days in charge of Rangers, Caixinha was unceremoniously sacked by the board – and guess who would become the new interim manager – yes you got it – Murty.
From 26 October 2017 until 1 May 2018, Murty was promoted as short-term manager, until that fateful showdown fight at Ibrox.
It was between non-playing players Miller and Wallace who were livid with Murty and the team he picked. The mistake they made was telling Murty to his face and both got banished by the club.
Jimmy Nicholl was asked to take over until the end of the season, and Rangers had fully investigated the Murty, Miller and Wallace dispute.
After his two spells as being interim coach and manager, Murty is back again, looking after a very special Under-20s squad. He still holds on to his prestigious role in the Academy.
Murty is lucky enough to have the help and talent of former Ibrox legend Peter Lovenkrands as one of his main coaches.
The Rangers Colts enjoyed the extra space of Ibrox Park to win 2-0 against the older and more experienced National League side Wrexham at home on Saturday afternoon in front of over 5,000 paying fans.
The boys played terrific football in the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup game, and showed how well they are playing this season as a top class unit, which have become very difficult to beat.
Young midfield player Jamie Barjonas who extended his Ibrox contract last week, opened the scoring in the first half, with 16-year-old forward Nathan Young-Coombes sealing Rangers appearance into the Challenge Cup semi final on the 70th minute, by scoring the deciding winner.
The young Rangers side decided to include former Liverpool and England full back Jon Flanagan and ex-Oldham centre-back George Edmundson, as they are allowed to play two over-aged players in the Challenge cup rules.
Both players were chosen to enhance the boys cup side, and it certainly paid off as Rangers controlled 68% of the game with good attacking football. Murty was delighted with their efforts and performances.
Murty is still only 45 and is contributing enormously to the success of the Academy which continues to move in the right direction. It’s all about progressing at every level, and that process will never stop at Rangers.
The U20’s are firing on cylinders just now and pulled off an outstanding win over Slovan Bratislava in the UEFA Youth League last week.
Rangers Head of Coach Development, Neil Mackintosh, is just back from England having had a good look at different things being done down there.
Craig Mulholland, the Rangers Head of Academy likes the best versus the best running through all the youngest teams. It is extremely competitive and very professionally run by top coaching procedures throughout the club.
Newly appointed Sporting Director Ross Wilson will now have a hand in shaping the infrastructure and the future kids that share the dream of playing for Rangers one day.
All of Rangers’ efforts are being recognised throughout the United Kingdom, but Murty and his staff know there is no time to sit back and relax. If you stand still in football, you get left way behind.
Even today, every coach at Rangers is open to new ideas and clever tactics, as they are always keen to learn from the best. Different teams and countries often warm up their starting X1 in many other ways to the Scottish sides.
In football, everybody is always interested in finding the next stage of preparing their team for success. Excellent players who can read the game well and work as a unit together, are usually the ones who are capable of winning trophies.
As youngsters are rising through the ranks, their time with the Under-20s is more or less their final stop with the Ibrox club, although Liverpool do run an U23’s team – could be worth thinking about!
From there, they either go on and make the grade, or they cannot break that final hurdle and earn a place in the side.
The biggest challenge for all giant clubs, is the bridging gap from being an outstanding youngster with all the potential in the world into a fully fledged regular first team player.
It is not a new problem but Murty hopes Rangers will have more solutions to the problem to enable as many kids as possible to realise their dream.
Rangers are open to signing the best players within their budget, and also bringing in their own young players. Gerrard has made a great start, but he has only been in Glasgow less than two years into this special journey.
The fans know there is more to come, there are always improvements to be made and the club are striving on a daily basis to continue to get better and if that strengthens Rangers each year, then that would be fantastic.