You will not hear supporters or staff at an opposing club with a bad word to say about Graeme Murty. He took over a shambles of a football club and for several months matched results with anyone in the league. Twice he took Newco to Celtic Park and left with a point, but the man is a football coach, not a miracle worker. The disparity in resources would eventually tell.
Against the might of Brendan Rodger’s Celtic for a third, fourth and fifth time he experienced increasingly worse defeats. No one was surprised by this, the Newco board even tried to sell these results as “ahead of the curve”, but there was a fundamental issue that made it difficult for Murty to remain in position – he was sabotaged.
The evening before a game at Celtic Park, news leaked (and was not contradicted by the club) that Steven Gerrard agreed terms to become Newco manager. This came a day after Murty spoke about his chances of keeping the job if he won the four remaining league games. It was degrading and prioritised the position of the board over results on the field.
Dave King made a similar comment about the future Newco manager just days before his team faced Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final two weeks ago. That statement coincided with season ticket renewal letters.
What could Murty say after losing 5-0 at Celtic Park? We did our best but last night someone, who travelled with us on the team bus today, leaked that I was soon to be removed from my position? Whatever exchanges took place between the manager and his employers, a common purpose was difficult to imagine.
Inevitably, there has been some pullback on the Gerrard ‘news’. It seems matter is not as clear-cut as was believed on Sunday morning. I spoke to Peter Lawwell before the appointment of Brendan Rodgers. Brendan wanted to come and the Celtic board were equally keen, but Peter was clear: until a deal was signed, no one really knew what would happen. He had not committed to deliver anyone in particular, but he was nervous.
Promising a new manager the evening before you visit Celtic Park might take the edge of the inevitable pain for some, even at the cost of undermining your manager, but you had better deliver on that leak. Otherwise, you will look like pathetic opportunists who are exploiting the trust of your fans and are miles behind the curve.