Rangers have taken a thinly-veiled swipe at Derek McInnes after the Aberdeen manager’s shock decision to turn down the chance of an Ibrox return.
Gers chiefs finally made their move for the Pittodrie boss on Tuesday after six weeks of rumour and speculation. But their number one target to replace Pedro Caixinha has stunned Scottish football by knocking back the club he supported as a boy and went on to serve as a player.
Now the Light Blues – who have confirmed caretaker boss Greame Murty will remain in charge until the winter break at least – have responded with a statement that claims they only approached Aberdeen for permission to hold talks with McInnes because they wanted to “assess” whether the 46-year-old was up for the job.
It read: “After the two games against Aberdeen, we requested permission to engage with their manager to assess his readiness and willingness to consider the Rangers position. This was declined.
“We were subsequently made aware by Aberdeen’s statement that, at this stage in his career, it would be best for him to remain in his current post.
“We endorse that position because moving to a massive club like Rangers is a big step with concomitant risk.
“We continue to consider candidates but will only appoint someone in whom we have full confidence and who feels he is ready for the job.”
“There has been a great deal of media speculation regarding the appointment of a new manager. We assure all supporters that they will be the first to know when we are certain we have someone with the correct qualities required by our club.
“The chairman made it clear at the AGM that the club did not consider there to be an outstanding candidate among those who had applied for the position and the club was therefore considering managers currently under contract. This requires permission from their present clubs.
“The position of Rangers manager requires an ability to win football matches and the mentality to cope with the demanding off-pitch environment that goes with being the Rangers manager. This is a critical aspect of our assessment of any candidate during the interview process.
“In the meantime, we have great confidence in Graeme Murty, who will continue as interim manager at least until the end of the year. The manner in which he has approached this task is a credit to himself and the club.”
However, former Gers midfielder Derek Ferguson has claimed the failure to land McInnes is an embarrassment for the “clueless” Ibrox directors.
Ferguson, who played for Rangers between 1983 and 1990, told BBC Radio Scotland: “I think it is a bit embarrassing. A club of the stature and the size of Rangers Football Club, to be six weeks without a manager, it’s not good enough. And the reason I’m saying that is because, being a player, at times players look for excuses. And they’ve got the biggest excuse of all, that they have not got a manager there to answer to.
“The directors just look clueless at the moment. There’s been no clarity. We heard at the AGM that Mr King said they were looking at certain people in employment. Well, it’s not worked out and it’s not good enough. Is he going to take another six weeks? It’s scandalous.”
Murty has overseen six games so far on his return to interim management duties, having previously filled the role after Mark Warburton’s departure.
Back-to-back defeats against Hamilton and Dundee appeared to have killed off the former Reading defender’s chances of landing the post permanently but, having outsmarted McInnes twice last week, he will now re-enter the running.
The Gers statement confirmed he will take charge of the club’s six remaining fixtures of 2017 – including the December 30 Old Firm showdown at Celtic Park.
“In the meantime, we have great confidence in Graeme Murty, who will continue as interim manager at least until the end of the year,” it said. “The manner in which he has approached this task is a credit to himself and the club.”