GRAEME MURTY can’t wait to see his Rangers under-19s face a ‘fantastic test’ as the Mercedes-Benz Junior Cup in Germany this weekend.
Played as a six-a-side tournament, Gers kick-off their first ever participation tomorrow with group stage matches against Bayern Munich, Hertha Berlin and Rapid Vienna.
It’s a unique challenge for the young Gers, but one Murty is relishing for his squad.
Speaking to RangersTV at the Glaspalast Arena in Sindelfingen, Murty explained: “It’s a brilliant arena and it’s going to be quick with quick transitions and quick substitutions. It’s going to be fast, it’s going to be frantic, and our first game is against Bayern Munich, so it is going to be a fantastic test for our young players.
“I think all areas are going to be tested. These guys, especially the German guys, are used to playing indoor tournaments and they do it every winter.
“We’re not going to be used to it so it is going to be difficult for us in terms of the tactics of the game, but also they need to be very, very technically proficient to deal with the ball on a bouncy surface with good opponents and a high tempo and hopefully a packed arena.
“That’s going to make it hot, it’s going to make it noisy and it is going to make it a challenge, so all of these things are going to make it a test for the players.”
The environment and matches Gers will face will be totally different to what they are used to back at home, but it is one in which they can learn so much from.
Murty, however, wants that initial learning within the games to be done by the players themselves as opposed to the coaches having to provide the bulk of the guidance.
He continued: “I am going to be interested that rather than me dictating to the players, I am going to be interested in what the players bring to it and how they are going to go and impose themselves on their opponent and try to maximise their own learning.
“As involved as we want to be as coaches and as much as we want to shout and scream and be part of it, it is more important the players take ownership and take a driving role in their own development.
“If they can do that in this environment, then it is going to be really good for them.
“That is why we have come out here as we want to play against the best. We want to go and look at other academies and other players, see how technically proficient they are and see what they do differently to us and try to bring that into our environment.
“If we can do that, as well as maintaining our own unique standards and making sure we appreciate where we have come from, we can only continue to improve for these players and give them a more rounded and wholesome education, and I think we have seen in the last couple of years the players really develop from the different challenges they have had, and long may it continue.”
Gers’ 12-man squad features two 16 year-olds and five 17 year-olds, with the selection of such a young pool being deliberate by Murty and fellow coach Peter Lovenkrands.
Murty added: “It is an under-19 tournament, and we have said already we are going to be young, but we want to be young and we want to expose these guys to it. We want to see them struggle and see them out of their comfort zone a little bit as that is where we believe real growth occurs and we know that they are going to find it hard and find it challenging and find it hard.
“We do that deliberately though to stress them and it’s all within a safe environment as they have a massive amount of support from us as coaches and also the Academy manager [Craig Mulholland] is here and we don’t expect them to fly straight away – we expect them to improve.
“As long as they keep on doing that and we see growth during these two days, it will be a worthwhile experiment.”