Graeme Murty is in no rush for talks regarding his Sunderland future with the club's academy manager focused on the task at hand in developing Sunderland's youth players.

Murty has played an integral role in the recent upturn and success in Sunderland's academy programme since being appointed as the club's official 'head of professional development phase' in October 2022. Murty's young Sunderland academy side finished an excellent seventh place in the Premier League 2 this season before going on to reach the final of the Premier League 2 play-offs against Tottenham Hotspur where they were unfortunate in defeat at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Murty spoke candidly after that play-off final, sharing his pride in his young team as well as offering some insight into his immediate future at the Academy of Light.

"I’m going to be doing my job. Until I’m told otherwise, I’m going to be looking after these guys," Murty told We Are Sunderland. "I love working with this group, they’re great to work with.

"They’re talented, they’re hardworking, they’re honest and we’ve created, myself and my staff, a relationship with these players where we can be constructively critical, but we’re honest with them about where they need to get better and they take it really well and they hold each other to account really well. For me, looking at that group, I could not be happier with what they’ve done this year. I’ve really enjoyed working with them."

The 49-year-old had been out of football since leaving his position at Rangers where he had held a number of roles with the Glasgow club from youth development to eventual head coach. Murty spent five years at Ibrox before leaving in 2021 ahead of his appointment on Wearside over 18 months ago. 

“Graeme stood out to us as the natural candidate for this role," the club's head of coaching, Stuart English, said of Murty's appointment. "His experience in a playing and coaching capacity is something that can greatly benefit those in the under-21s and beyond, and in addition to his coaching duties, he will also work closely with our players on an individual basis to create personalised programmes to further enhance their development.

"We believe he will be a great addition to our coaching team at the Academy of Light and we are delighted to welcome him to Sunderland.”

Murty's contract with Sunderland has not been disclosed, but the former defender has no concerns over his short-term future, with the focus solely on continuing his excellent work within the club's academy over the summer and endeavouring to improve on a season which has provided great success and encouragement. 




Given Murty's recent flirtations with senior management, however, twice as a caretaker manager with Rangers before being handed the role on a permanent basis in the second half of the 2017-18 campaign, as well as his involvement with Mike Dodds during his 13-game interim period in charge of Sunderland this season, the incentive for Murty to step back up could be enticing. 

We Are Sunderland: Graeme Murty has done an impressive job in Sunderland's academyGraeme Murty has done an impressive job in Sunderland's academy (Image: Sunderland AFC)

But Murty, who earned four caps for Scotland during his playing career, reiterated his desire was not to look beyond his role as a development coach, with Sunderland's under-21s having bought into both his and John Hewitson's methods over the course of the last 12 months. 

"I’m not thinking about it, at all," he said of moving back into senior football management. "I enjoy working with the first team when I’m asked to. I enjoy that different challenge, but I enjoy this challenge.

"I’m just thinking about making sure I get my ducks in a row considering these players’ futures, because I have a really big responsibility to make sure next season is better in development-wise than this season was, and that’s a challenge because this season has been particularly good.

"But we need to look and reflect upon the programme as a whole and not just the games programme what you see. We have to make sure we continue to give them the experiences they need to continue to grow and, for me, that’s all I’m considering at the moment."


WATCH: Sunderland under-21s Premier League 2 play-off final review and Graeme Murty's impact

Murty has excelled in building on the improved foundations at the Academy of Light since the arrivals of Kristjaan Speakman and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus. The club has seen a significant overhaul in the way in which the academy is looked upon in recent years, with a clear pathway to the first team environment now evident with the likes of Chris Rigg and Tom Watson having bridged the gap from under-18s level, beyond the 21's and into the first team picture, on multiple occasions in Rigg's case. 

We Are Sunderland: Chris Rigg has progressed through the club's academy ranks ahead of time to establish himself in the first team set-upChris Rigg has progressed through the club's academy ranks ahead of time to establish himself in the first team set-up (Image: Ian Horrocks)

Sunderland's showing in this year's Premier League 2 and subsequent play-off campaign further emphasises the progression that has been made, with the club having also secured international football for the first time since 2018 - a period which saw a change of ownership as the first team fell into League One which, as a consequence, led to the the oversight of the academy structure. 

"That’s really hard on a club and it’s hard on the staff and it’s hard on the players," Murty explained of the club's recent struggles at development level. "What we’ve tried to do is make our players hopeful and we’ve tried to make them understand that we believe in them and we trust them.

"We’ve also tried to elevate their levels and challenge them more in training but this games programme has been an absolute boom for us because you’re playing against the best teams. They’re learning that the challenge is not something to be afraid of, and if they continue that growth and continue that mindset, then we don’t know where they could go but I’m glad to be along for the ride and I’m glad to be helping them."

With the club's hierarchy still to appoint a new senior first team head coach, Murty's involvement with the first team squad next season remains unclear, having been part of senior training sessions and handed an analysis role during first team fixtures at the Stadium of Light. 

The club appear keen to retain the foundations of its current coaching staff and structure which means Murty could still play a part next season alongside his overriding role in the club's academy. 

And, at the moment, that's exactly where Murty wants to be.