Rangers are stepping up their pursuit of Steven Gerrard after deciding they have had enough of Graeme Murty.
Ibrox chiefs called time on Murty’s reign just 48 hours after Sunday’s record thumping by Celtic.
Now they are hoping to conclude talks with former Liverpool skipper Gerrard. The two parties have been locked in discussions since last week and Gers now say they hope to be able to release news about Murty’s successor “in the near future”.
However, Press Association Sport understands there is no “imminent announcement” and any agreement will have to wait until Gerrard – who currently is in charge of the Anfield Under-18s – returns from Rome, where he is working for BT Sport as a pundit during their coverage of Liverpool’s Champions League clash with Roma.
Former under-20s coach Murty was due to remain in charge until the end of the season but was relieved of his duties after meeting with Stewart Robertson on Tuesday morning.
Assistant coaches Jimmy Nicholl and Jonatan Johansson will take over dugout responsibilities for Saturday’s home game with Kilmarnock while Rangers chiefs look to lift the dark gloom currently sitting over Ibrox by securing the appointment of Kop icon Gerrard.
Murty was only meant to be a short-term fix after being called in as caretaker boss following Pedro Caixinha’s sacking back in October.
But he ended up staying in the post for six months as chairman Dave King and his board dithered over appointing a new long-term successor.
The club said in a statement: “Rangers are grateful to Graeme, who did not hesitate when asked last October to become interim manager after the departure of Pedro Caixinha and then, at the turn of the year, when he was offered the role as manager until the end of the season.
“Graeme has had to contend with difficult and challenging circumstances but conducted himself in a thoroughly professional manner. He will take some time to consider his options, which include returning to his role at the Rangers Academy.”
Sunday’s record 5-0 league pasting by Celtic in the end proved to be a humiliation too far for the former Reading and Scotland defender.
It came just two weeks after a 4-0 drubbing by Brendan Rodgers’ merciless Hoops in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals turned what had been a previously sympathetic Gers faithful against him.
Originally there was a degree of understanding shown to Murty as the academy coach stepped into the Ibrox breach for the second time, having also served as caretaker boss after Mark Warburton’s exit.
He suffered early set-backs with defeats to Hamilton, Dundee, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock but showed some promise with home and away wins over Aberdeen as well as an encouraging 0-0 draw at Celtic Park.
🎥 @CelticFC 5-0 @RangersFC— SPFL (@spfl) April 30, 2018
â½ Celtic lift @Ladbrokes Premiership with victory!
â½ Rangers lose ground on Aberdeen â¬
â½ Celtic now unbeaten in last 1â£1â£ meetings with Rangers
Watch all the key moments again here 👇https://t.co/SRs83BkqJM 👀 pic.twitter.com/yio7BpWGuF
But that optimism was snubbed out as they suffered a 3-2 Ibrox defeat against 10-man Celtic in March.
That defeat sapped the confidence from the Gers ranks and the wheels came off at Hampden two weeks ago as Rodgers’ team ran up another one-sided triumph.
Events at Parkhead on Sunday merely underlined just how rudderless the Light Blues have become both on and off the pitch, with Murty and his players declining to address what had gone wrong as they snubbed the post-match press conference.
It will now fall on Nicholl and Johansson’s shoulders to guide Rangers past Aberdeen and Hibernian through to second spot.
The Parkhead mauling saw Rangers drop three points behind the Dons, with only goal difference keeping them in front of fourth-placed Hibs.
Gers travel to Pittodrie next Tuesday before rounding off their campaign against Neil Lennon’s in-form Leith outfit at Easter Road on May 13.
A fourth-place finish might not only see Rangers miss out on a Europa League slot should Motherwell beat Celtic in the Scottish Cup final, but it would see them miss out on a £560,000 cash windfall compared to ending the season as runners up.