23 Feb Murty aiming high with Rangers
Rangers boss Graeme Murty has told his players to “aim high” as they bid to cut the gap at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership to six points.
The Light Blues moved second with a 5-3 victory at Hamilton on Sunday, sparking debate over whether Scotland has a title race on its hands.
Rangers have only added to back-to-back league wins once this season but the visit of Hearts on Saturday offers a chance to improve on that statistic following victories over Partick Thistle and Accies.
And with leaders Celtic facing third-placed Aberdeen on Sunday, Rangers know victory would improve their position one way or another.
Murty said: “We will finish where we deserve to finish at the end of the season, we will be the team we want to be, or closer to the team we want to be, by the end of the season.
“But this team is still coming together. We are still in a position where we are improving all the time.
“If we can carry on getting positive results, who knows what might happen?
“I said to the players just to aim high. Don’t worry about anything else, just aim high and be as competitive as we can all the way through the season and have a positive end to the season.”
Victory over Craig Levein’s side is far from a certainty, especially as Rangers have lost two of their last four home games. While Rangers’ attacking more than compensated for errors at the back against Hamilton, they cannot be as sloppy against a side who have kept clean sheets in 10 of their last 13 games.
Murty said: “I expect it to be tighter than last weekend, I don’t expect there to be eight goals, and I expect it to be a real challenge.
“But we are confident that the players we have, and the options we have, can cause any team in this league problems. The way we move the ball and the individuals within that structure can cause anyone problems.
“It’s down to us making sure we make good decisions at the right time. But Craig has changed Hearts, he has made them much, much harder to score against, they are far better organised, and it’s down to us to accept that challenge of trying to break them down.”
Hearts have improved greatly since an injury-hit side lost 3-1 to Rangers on October 28 in Murty’s first game in caretaker charge. Now installed until the end of the campaign, the 43-year-old also feels he has developed personally.
“I’d like to say I’m more calm but that’s possibly just on the outside,” the former Scotland defender said. “I don’t think the real learning will come from me, I think it’s going to take someone from outside to sit down and go through different points.
“But I think my language has changed to the players, I’m more confident in dealing with them and telling them explicitly what I want, and I think that’s good for the players. The players want clarity. Other than that, I’m still the same guy, I still see football in the same manner.
“I am possibly a little bit happier to take direct control. But it will always be about me facilitating the players to be brilliant, and trying to take a backward step and allowing them to get on with what they have to do.”