ALEX Totten had the chance to become Rangers manager taken away when there was a sudden change of both regime and ethos at Ibrox in the mid-1980s and Graeme Souness was appointed ahead of him.

Yet, he has no doubts that Graeme Murty can grasp the opportunity he has unexpectedly been handed and do well enough between now and the end of the season to secure the position on a long-term basis.

Totten spent three years working under Jock Wallace at the Govan club, during which time they won the League Cup twice, and was earmarked as his eventual successor.

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But when David Holmes was made chief executive by majority shareholder Lawrence Marlborough in 1986 he brought in Souness as player/manager and embarked on a lavish signing spree that stunned British football.

Totten will return to Ibrox with Falkirk, where he has worked for the last 18 years in a variety of different guises, tomorrow for the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final and is hopeful the Ladbrokes Championship club can pull off what would be a massive upset.

However, the former Falkirk, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock manager admits he has been impressed with how Murty, the development squad coach who was put in charge of the first team until the end of the season back in December, has acquitted himself since being promoted.

“Jock told me he was grooming me to take over when I was his assistant,” said Totten. “Jock said: ‘When I step up to general manager you’ll take over the team’.

“Jock’s idea was to do what they had done at Liverpool, where I had spent time at the start of my career. They developed their own managers. They had Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and then Kenny Dalglish got his chance. He told me: ‘I want to do the same at Rangers’.

“John Paton was the chairman at that time. But David Holmes took over and he brought in Graeme Souness. I moved on. That’s football. I really enjoyed my time at Ibrox. I don’t regret a thing. I certainly learned a lot from Jock. He won a lot of trophies at Rangers, including back-to-back trebles. I was there when Rangers won two cup finals. We beat Celtic 3-2 thanks to an Ally McCoist hat-trick and then Dundee United 1-0 the following year when Iain Ferguson scored.

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“But David Holmes took over and Graeme Souness came in. When I was there everybody, whether it was Davie Cooper or Ally McCoist, was on the same basic wage. But when Graeme came it changed and it became every man for himself. Terry Butcher and Chris Woods were two of his first signings.

“I took over at St Johnstone. I helped them go from the Second Division to the Premier League in the space of three seasons. Jock came to see me one day. ‘I knew you were a great manager!’ he said.”

Totten, who now works as business relationship manager at Falkirk, believes Murty, who took over on a caretaker basis when Pedro Caixinha was sacked in October, has the potential to do well in the dugout himself. He has certainly approved of the signings the former Scotland right back made during the January transfer window – he brought in Jason Cummings, Greg Docherty, Sean Goss, Russell Martin and Jamie Murphy last month – and with the appointment of the vastly-experienced Jimmy Nicholl as his assistant especially.

“Okay, Graeme is not a big name and Celtic and Rangers often go for big name managers,” said Totten. “But everybody is due a chance. That is all you can ask as a manager. Fair play to him if he can take it.

“So far he’s done well. He has brought in players who know what Rangers are about. That isn’t always the case with foreign players. The signings he’s made will be more dependable, more reliable. I watched them the other night at my old club St Johnstone and thought they played very well. It will be a tough game for Falkirk.

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“It will certainly help Graeme having Jimmy Nicholl there. I’ve known Jimmy for years and years. He was a player at Rangers when I was assistant and he was at Falkirk before he moved to Rangers. He’ll keep Graeme right. He has all the experience in the world.”

Totten was involved in some memorable games at Ibrox during his own time as a manager. His Falkirk side defeated Celtic 1-0 thanks to a first-half Paul McGrillen goal in a Scottish Cup semi-final replay there in 1997. That result that led to his opposite number Tommy Burns standing down. “Tommy was a lovely lad,” he said. “I always had tremendous respect for him as a player, a manager and a person.”

His team was defeated 1-0 at Ibrox in the final by the Kilmarnock side he had left to join Falkirk, but he feels their semi-final win shows that the second tier club, who are now managed by former Celtic, Hearts and Scotland player Paul Hartley, can go through.

“It seems unbelievable now, but back in 1997 we played Celtic in the semi-final and beat them over two games in Glasgow,” he said. “It happened. Maybe our final was the semi-final that year. Rangers are playing very well at the moment, but in these games it is 11 v 11.

“Paul has got a point to prove. We have had a poor season so far. It has been tough. But he has got a lot of experience. He did really well at Alloa and led them to two promotions. At Dundee he did well and then they sold his two first-choice strikers. His record as a manager is good. He is working extremely hard to get things right.

“It’s fantastic for Falkirk to have this game against Rangers at Ibrox to look forward to.”