Former Rangers striker Derek Johnstone believes Graeme Murty is still favourite to take the reins at Ibrox long-term after Sunday’s Old Firm defeat – and says he would’ve “bit your hand off” in the summer for the Gers to still be competing for the title in March and in a semi-final.

The defeat to Brendan Rodgers’ side at Ibrox killed off the Gers’ hopes of lifting the Scottish Premiership title this season although few would have expected the Light Blues to still be in the reckoning this late in the season.

Johnstone doesn’t think the defeat will affect Murty’s chances of being given the job long-term at the end of the season “no matter what.”

“Graeme Murty’s lack of experience showed a bit when he didn’t bring on the likes of Cummings. When Celtic went down to 10 men he could have played two men up the park and had a real go at Celtic. He will learn from that and so will the players.” Johnstone said, as quoted by Sky Sports.

“I think he is still favourite to get the job no matter what happens between now and the end of the season. If you said to me that Rangers would be competing with Celtic in the last third of the season and in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup, I think I would have bit your hand off for that.”

The Light Blues face Celtic at Hampden next month in the Scottish Cup semi-final as they look to end a seven-year wait for a major trophy.

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After sacking manager Pedro Caixinha in October and ending last season more than 30 points behind their city rivals, Murty has done a fantastic job of turning the side around since being handed control.

Football Insider verdict:

Murty must be a shoo-in to be named manager in the summer. There’s no other candidates that immediately jump out as being a surefire winner and unless the Ibrox board have an ace up their sleeves it seems certain the former Reading captain will be in the dugout next season. I doubt many would disagree with Johnstone’s assertion he would’ve “bit your hand off” earlier in the campaign for the Gers to be where they are currently although they need to ensure they build on the improvements in recent months and put themselves in a position to snatch the Scottish Premiership away from Celtic.

In other Rangers news, Chris Sutton has given his instant Twitter verdict on Sunday’s Old Firm thriller and named his man of the match.

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