Dundee boss Paul Hartley believes the pressure is right on Graeme Murty after being “thrown in at the deep end” by Rangers.
Hartley is odds-on to be pitting his wits against Murty at Dens Park on Sunday, with the Ibrox men seemingly set on sticking by their caretaker coach until a permanent successor to Mark Warburton can be found.
The Dark Blues’ gaffer went from being a player one day at Aberdeen to manager of Alloa the next in May 2011 so knows how difficult it is to move from the background to being the “face” of a club, albeit at a lower level than Murty is now operating at.
Hartely has also played for Celtic so appreciates how great the pressure can be when you are working at one of Scotland’s big two.
Murty has been parachuted in from the under-20s and managed – just – to steer Rangers to victory in the William Hill Scottish Cup over Morton last weekend.
A lot more will be asked of him this Sunday afternoon, however, when the Light Blues visit Dens.
According to Hartley, the whole experience will be a major test for Murty.
“I was in a couple of Scotland squads with Graeme Murty and managed to have a chat with him when our under-20s played Rangers,” said the Dundee boss.
“He is a decent lad who has probably just been thrown in at the deep end.
“He has had a job where there was not much attention on him to, all of a sudden, you are the face.
“The pressure then becomes much greater when you are at the front of the football club and you have to make tough decisions.
“It is OK being an under-20s manager but you are going to the next step up now and it’s something that has probably come as a shock to him.
“He has to go and make decisions where some players might not be happy.
“He might see a different way of Rangers playing now. Under Mark, the type of football they played and the system was mainly the same. That may change now because they have someone else in.
‘He might have to make decisions where he doesn’t become popular, I don’t know.”
Hartley was thrust into a lesser spotlight himself at Recreation Park but he still has experience of suddenly being the one everyone else looks to for answers.
He said: “It is totally different.
“I think when you are a player you don’t really think about the manager too much.
“It’s not until you become a manager that you realise that you didn’t really think about the manager’s role.
“What I am saying is that when you are a player you only think about playing, training and getting results.
“When you are thrown into the hotseat everything changes, as regards what you have to deal with within the football club.
“The higher you go up in the game the more pressure there is.
“You go from being an under-20s manager where there has not been any great attention on you.
“Your results are not in the papers and there is nothing on the back pages about you.
“It’s one thing doing the Press as a player and another thing as a manager, especially at a club that size.
“You then have to go and pick a first team and win a big game, for example against Morton if you’re talking about Murty.
“It is all new.
“The attention is much greater and comes at you from every angle. It’s not only the supporters but everybody wants to have their say and tell you what to do.
“How do you handle that? I’m sure he is pretty level-headed but I bet his phone has never stopped and I bet his days have been longer.
“He’s probably been in from first thing in the morning to last thing at night.
“Your preparation also has to change, from being a youth coach to a first-team manager, especially at a club like Rangers.”
As for Dundee’s approach to all the shenanigans at Ibrox, Hartley is backing his players to keep their minds on the job in hand.
He joked: “We’re the sideshow, aren’t we?
“All the attention is going to be on Rangers. We just have focus on trying to get a result against them.
“We will set a team up to try and get three points and think about how we can hurt them, how we can exploit their weaknesses.
“We don’t really think about what is going on behind the scenes at Rangers.
“A lot has gone on there over the last week.
“It was a big surprise to me. You see Mark doing his presser on Friday and then it had changed within a few hours.
“I spoke to (his assistant) David Weir at the Raith Rovers game last Tuesday and didn’t have any indication that something wasn’t right.
“It was a big surprise but then nothing really surprises you in football I don’t think.”