Rangers have won plaudits in recent months for their various successes at youth level as the Academy sides have picked up a host of trophies, both at home and abroad, and Development Squad manager Graeme Murty has praised his young side for the “growth and leadership” they have shown as his staff push them out of their comfort zones.
Murty’s side impressed in last night’s 2-0 win over Slovan Bratislava in the UEFA Youth League and the Reading legend was full of praise for his young players; not just for their performances but the way that they have responded to the challenges set for them.
Murty spoke with Rangers News after the win at Firhill and explained how without more experienced players such as Eros Grezda and Jamie Barjonas due to age restrictions, other players have had to take more responsibility within the side.
“I think they understood, first of all, the brief; because we worked very hard at showing our opponents to them and what their threats were. I thought they understood what we wanted from them but in the game, they managed their direct opponent and the unit they were up against really well,” Murty said after his side’s comfortable win.
“We’ve seen it when Eros and Jamie are in the team, but Lewis Mayo, Rhys Breen and Danny Finlayson are in the team. There are different roles and different leaders within the unit and our challenge to our younger players is to come out of that bubble they have around themselves.
“They tend to have a five-metre bubble around them which is all they try to control. The ball and themselves, that’s all they try to control. We try to force them to expand that bubble to the guy next to them. Once they’ve done that, pat on the back and well done, can you extend that to the furthest away guy in your unit? Can you help him?
“As they are starting to do that, we’re seeing real growth and real leadership qualities from them, which is pleasing for us because these are still really, really young men.
“It’s getting them right out of their comfort zone but if you know anything about us, we don’t really like them being in their comfort zone, we like to see them stretched.”
Murty has made it a consistent learning tool to let his players make mistakes and have to figure out solutions for themselves rather than spoon-feeding everything to the players without them understanding the reasoning behind it.
There’s little doubt that the young players at the club really benefit from working under the former first-team interim boss and he really looks to be at ease working with the younger players and trying to mould them into first-team stars.
With the Colts also in the quarter-final of the Challenge Cup too, they won’t have long to wait to sample what is likely to be the biggest game of their – or the opposition’s – careers up to this point.
Hearing Murty describe how he wants his players to learn and the benefits of even some of the simplest situations show just how well-suited to his current role and just how important he is to Rangers just now.