GRAEME Murty, who oversaw a 1-1 draw with Celtic in his final game as Rangers caretaker manager yesterday, last night insisted the Ibrox club should go into the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final against their city rivals next month confident of triumphing.
A Clint Hill goal with just over two minutes remaining cancelled out Stuart Armstrong’s first-half opener and earned Murty’s men a deserved point in a fiercely-contested Ladbrokes Premiership match at Parkhead.
Celtic’s players and supporters were incensed when referee Bobby Madden failed to award them a penalty kick in stoppage time after Leigh Griffiths went down in the Rangers area following a challenge by Hill.
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However, Murty – who will hand over first-team responsibilities to new Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha today and return to his role with the under-20 side – believes they can be proud of their overall display away from home.
Asked how much self-belief the 1-1 draw will give the Rangers players, the former Scotland internationalist said: “It should give them loads. They stood up to the challenge of a very, very good team that moves the ball very well.
“They didn’t get rattled and they didn’t lose their discipline. They ensured that when we had an opportunity we actually got at them a little bit. We didn’t do it always the way I’d have liked. But they continued to actually cause problems.
“So I think the next game and in the game after that, this group knows that if they stick together and believe in themselves they can go and get positive outcomes.”
Murty added: “It’s been said they’re not hard to play against, that they’re weak. I also heard the word timid. But I didn’t see that today. I’m incredibly proud of the players because of all those things said about them. They put that right today.”
Murty, who joined Rangers last year, believes Caixinha, the 46-year-old Portuguese coach who signed a three-year contract at Ibrox on Saturday and watched yesterday’s match from the stand, will have been buoyed by what he witnessed at Parkhead.
“I think he saw the players deal with what is an unbelievable atmosphere,” he said. “It took a real man’s performance to go and play in that stand up against a very good team and get something from the game. I challenged them all the way through the week.
“He [Caixinha] didn’t speak to me or the players, he let the players concentrate on the game. From the moment I saw them at breakfast this morning I knew they were right where they needed to be.”
“We are in on Monday, we have a staff meeting. The players are going to be off so the coaches can meet the new manager. We’ll just go at his request and see what he wants to do. If he asks my opinion I’ll give it openly and candidly and we’ll see what happens from there.”
Murty admitted his side had been fortunate not to concede a late penalty. Asked if the match official should have given Celtic a spot kick, he said: “Possibly. Rangers TV tell me it was an outstanding tackle. But they are bound to say that.”