Rodgers feels for Murty over rumours of Gerrard move
Old Firm conspiracy theorists - a constituency large enough to fill Ibrox or Parkhead, according to taste - might be inclined to suppose that the Rangers board is subjecting Graeme Murty to an ingenious stress test.
Installed for a second spell as interim manager because of the failures of supposedly more permanent candidates, Murty went into the most recent derby against Celtic having had to fend off questions about his future after his chairman wrote to the club's season ticket holders to say that whoever got the job on a longer-term basis would be expected to deliver "immediate success".
The subsequent drubbing inflicted in Celtic's 4-0 Scottish Cup victory bodes ill for the final collision of the pair today, when the Hoops can secure their seventh successive Scottish title.
The prominence of Steven Gerrard's name in the lead-up to this derby can be regarded as an attempt to keep the Rangers fans sweet in the event of another traumatic afternoon in the east end of Glasgow.
Murty responded to this development with a robust assertion of his own claim to the job when he said: "I'll be fighting as hard as I can in these last four games to finish as high up the table as I possibly can.
"I'm in the role currently. I love the role and will do everything I possibly can to keep it."
Brendan Rodgers, Murty's Celtic counterpart and Gerrard's former manager at Anfield, was inevitably drawn into the issue.
"I don't really want to speak on it, to be honest, and I think it's hugely disrespectful to the guy who's been put in to help manage Rangers over the last seven or eight months," Rodgers said.
"I know Steven very well, I know he wants to manage at some point. When it's your first time it's not necessarily about a club, it's about the right club. At the moment it's only speculation if anything materialises or develops I'll be more than happy to speak.
"But you have a guy in the role who is doing his very, very best in what has been probably a very difficult situation for him and you always have to respect that. I have empathy for him (Murty), of course."
Celtic could have celebrated their title with a win at Easter Road last weekend but were thwarted by a spirited and tactically excellent performance by Neil Lennon's Hibernian players.
Dismay, however, was short-lived amongst the Celtic contingent because of the opportunity presented to win the championship against Rangers on their own turf. (© Daily Telegraph, London)