THE to-do list may have fewer bullet points on it than it once did but the items at the top are as important as ever for the Rangers board.

For the third time in three years, they are faced with issues in both a football and financial sense. There are plenty of questions, and answers must be found sooner rather than later.

The decisions to appoint Mark Warburton and Pedro Caixinha, and fund their respective squad rebuilds, have backfired and Rangers find themselves back at the drawing board.

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In a matter of weeks, a manager, either Graeme Murty or a new candidate, must be installed. In a couple of months, the chequebook must be put to use once again.

As Celtic move ever closer to a seventh successive Premiership title and set their sights on another domestic clean sweep, the pressure increases and the spotlight shines brighter at Ibrox.

It is Murty that currently has that weight on his shoulders and former Ibrox boss Walter Smith believes the 43-year-old has been dealt a difficult hand in his first managerial role.

"I think he's been put in an awkward position,” he said. “Anybody who is named caretaker manager between a January period and the end of the season is always in an awkward position.

"Even player wise, the players don't know whether he's going to be there for next season or whatever else. So it's an awkward circumstance for him to be placed in.

"If you look a couple of weeks ago everybody was saying he was doing well. He has won a good few games and it was looking as though they were getting a level of consistency, maybe for the first time this season.

"But then you have a couple of home games that you lose and of course everybody turns the opposite way.

"That's the position he's been placed in and I don't think you can blame him for that.

"If you ask 'how has he handled the circumstances?' then I'd say overall he's handled it well.

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"Whether he'll be considered to be a Rangers manager or not, it's not my place to say that.

"But I don't think I'd have liked to have been in the circumstance of being a caretaker manager for that length of time.

"Rangers are still in that kind of process where they're in between everything at the present moment.

"That's one of the reasons there's been a fair bit of inconsistency in performances, not just in the last couple of weeks but over the season."

Having made the decision to sack Caixinha in October and then seen Derek McInnes turn down a return to Ibrox in December, it was to Murty the Gers board had to put their faith in for the rest of the season.

It has been a difficult campaign once again for Rangers, with the strides forward often followed by steps back as momentum has been lost as quickly as it has been gained.

Murty will remain at the helm for the final weeks of the term but the future is uncertain for the former Under-20s boss and the Light Blues.

Smith said: “They have had options overall. You are inclined to look at where Rangers are at this present moment and, as much as anything else, where they have come from.

“I know it takes a level of time, but time is not something that managers, directors or anyone involved with a club gets.

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“But there are extraordinary circumstances that they have had to come through over the last five years or so.

“They could certainly have been doing without having to change manager halfway through this season, that is one of the aspects we can look and say they could well have been doing without.

“It reached the stage where, you would hope, they would have been ready to put in a better challenge to Celtic. It hasn’t happened that way and that is football.

“Really, it is the club overall. You can’t just turn round and say it is the interim manager, the previous manager, the board of directors. Everybody has had a circumstance where they have had a lot to handle on and off the pitch.”

The crucial call on who will have their name on the door of the Manager’s Office will kick-off another summer of significant change at Ibrox.

The squad that is in place is not capable of challenging for the Premiership crown and further improvements must be made as quickly as possible to give Rangers the best chance of overhauling their Old Firm rivals.

“I think that is part of the responsibility that the board take and you have to remember that the people there at the present moment have kept Rangers going through a really bad time,” Smith said.

“The support have stayed with the team all these years but, like everything else, the pressure starts to come on you when Celtic are winning.

“It is the same the other way round and happened in the years I had as well. That pressure comes on either club and that is what happens when you are in a smaller country and the two main teams are involved.

“It is great for everybody when there is a level playing field but when there is an imbalance it puts a hell of a pressure on the other one.

“It is Rangers’ turn for that and there is where the pressure comes on the board, to try and find a way to get a level of finance that will allow them to challenge Celtic.”

When it comes to football decisions, the overall track record of the current Ibrox incumbents does not make for pleasant reading.

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But King and Co. can’t be accused of not backing their men after giving Warburton and Caixinha significant funds and allowing Murty to bring in five players during the January window.

There is no definitive equation as to how much investment is required this summer. It is imperative that Rangers get value for money, however.

Smith said: “In my first spell as Rangers manager Graeme Souness and I were looking at proven international players such as Butcher, Laudrup, Stevens and Gough and Rangers might not get back to that circumstance again.

“In my second spell we weren’t operating at that level so therefore we were able to get guys such as Carlos Cuellar who cost us a couple of million from Osasuna and we transferred him later on.

“He came in and did a really good job, we were looking at a slightly lower level but it didn’t stop us from finding a way of putting them all together.

“While a lot of times we might not have been the prettiest team in the world to watch we found a way to win and when you offer that circumstance then a manager can look and say, ‘Okay, I’ve got a basic level of investment and I can go on and find a way to win.’”