I’ve got to be honest, I don’t know a great deal about Graeme Murty the coach. He’s held various positions at Rangers over the years... but before we get into any detail: is he any good?
TII: He came to us quite well regarded, especially on the youth coaching side. He has a playing background (mainly with York and Reading) and even played a season in the EPL with Reading. His main time with us was spent in the youth set-up and we are currently enjoying a good group of youngsters knocking on the first team door - most notable is Leon King, who made his full UCL debut at Anfield on Tuesday night.
Let’s go back to before he ended up in the first team dugout - how did he arrive at the club, and what was he up to?
TII: He was with Norwich for a couple of years prior to joining us. He was initially working with their under 16’s but was then promoted to their under 18’s. He had a season in that role before we approached him and he came in to manage our development squad. As above he was well thought of and most fans saw this as a positive step, as our youth system just wasn’t providing the level of talent we needed to break into the first team.
What were the circumstances that led to him taking over as the permanent first team manager?
TII: So it was the acrimonious departure of Mark Warburton and Davie Weir that led to him being bumped up to first team coach. There was an on / off saga with the pair being touted for the top jobs at Nottingham Forest which became very convoluted. According to Warbs and Weir there was nothing much in it, but then next thing we knew we were told they had both resigned and shortly after it was announced that Murty would assume the role in a caretaker capacity.
At the time, were fans in favour of him getting the job?
TII: It was a bit of a mixed bag to be fair. Most fans didn’t really know much about him, with many not having youth football on their radar unless it’s an exciting talent coming into the first team. I think it’s fair to say most fans were okay with him being given the role in a caretaker capacity, however weren’t so keen on him being in that role longer term.
He was appointed in the December but by May, he was sacked. Was he out of his depth?
TII: Which time? So it might surprise your readers but he actually held the first team coach role twice for us. First up was the time after Warbs and Weir went and to be fair we played out the process, eventually appointing Pedro Caixinha. At that point most fans were fairly happy he had filled the spot when asked and were excited to see what Pedro would do with the team. Unfortunately for us the Pedro reign was a bit of a disaster with him not even seeing out the season! Pedro lasted from March to October but the board quickly realised it was the wrong man for the wrong club. They turned to Murty again who went into the caretaker role, but he did well for himself and got the team firing. As supporters enjoyed a mini resurgence in fortunes we appointed him full time in the December. Unfortunately after initial success things went a wee bit downhill and a 4-0 and 5-0 defeat to our biggest rivals saw him removed.
Most fans were getting a bit worried by that point that he was possibly out of his depth, but he wasn’t really given time to turn it round as the club began talks with Steven Gerrard. He was dismissed from post and replaced, shortly after by Gerrard. I think he may have been slightly out of his depth as every draw at Rangers is a major issue, a loss is not much short of a crisis, and he didn’t really seem to get that. It could in part be down to the positive attitude of the guy, but it did rub a lot of fans up the wrong way, and by the end I think it’s safe to say it was a fairly agreeable split.
After that he returned back to his role in the academy, holding down a job for over three years before eventually departing about a year ago. Why did he leave, and what did fans make of it?
TII: Firstly I think we need to talk about the fact he went back to the academy at all.
Given the souring of relations towards the end, most fans didn’t expect him to return to an academy role. It was thought he would go over the summer and it wasn’t even confirmed that he was going back to the academy until later in the year.
When he did come back he continued to work away in the background, bringing on players’ ability.
When it came to him leaving it was all a bit of a mystery to be honest, we got a simple statement that he had left and wishing him well.
I think a lot of fans had gotten back to the position where unless you follow youth stuff they had pretty much forgotten he was there, but when he did go it got folk talking again. There was a bit of surprise that he had been there so long, and confusion over why now was the time he had left - and generally I think most just wished him well.
What sort of coach is he? Is he well suited to working with youngsters?
TII: I would suggest he is actually more suited to working with youngsters than the first team. He’s very positive as a person, and it’s almost infectious with those around him. You may have seen he did a headstand on the sideline whilst in charge of the first team which perhaps tells you a bit about the character of the man! He likes his teams to play the right way, and has coached some decent attacking football throughout his time with us.
Who are some of the Rangers academy success stories that Murty has had a hand in developing and coaching?
TII: Perhaps this season (and the end of last) is most notable, with us seeing a host of youngsters he would have been involved with.
Alex Lowry (AM) is highly regarded and is an incredibly gifted player with bags of technical ability. As mentioned Leon King (CB) is starting to make a mark on the team with his full UCL debut on Tuesday coming after a host of appearances in both the league and cup. Devine (RB) is seen as the eventual replacement for captain James Tavernier, who won the Europa golden boot last year, and Charlie McCann (CM) has had a few run outs in the league and cup and has done well when he has been given a chance.
Some of our readers might not know this but Murty originates from just down the road in Saltburn, like Tony Mowbray. Right man, right club do you reckon?
TII: In the role you’ve signed him for, yes. More than likely will do a really good job for you. Perhaps not the person you want leading the first team, given the expectation of Sunderland fans is reasonably high, but definitely a good choice for a youth coach.
For any fans who maybe aren’t sure about this appointment, what would you say to them?
TII: Give him time to get in, establish himself and work with your youngsters.
We are seeing a really good crop of talent come through and in a lot of cases they are genuinely able to compete in our first team. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to say that and although he didn’t work alone Murty was a big part in their development.
You’re getting a good coach, well suited to working with youth who will add value in the medium to long term picture.