Mark Warburton: sliced bread or stale loaf

The arrival of the Englishman was met with a sense of optimism by Rangers’ fans. Stadium goers will be hoping that he will be the answer to the question: Is he the right person to get the club performing on a level they are capable of.

While not young at 52, he is fresh to management with 18 months at the helm of Championship club, Brentford. He will not being heading into the footballing caldron that is Glasgow without someone that is familiar with the pressures that go with the occupation. The man for that job being Davie Weir, a five-year veteran under Walter Smith, who was assisting at Griffin park.

His first job was to rebuild what was an old and underperforming squad of players. His first signing was a statement of out with the old and in with the old with Danny Wilson. The centre-half was a youth player with the club before a difficult move down to Liverpool. Weir knows of Wilson’s potential having shared the backline duties with him in the 2009-10 season, in which he earned Young Player of the Year plaudits.

Hoping to pair up with Wilson is Rob Kiernan formerly of Wigan Athletic and perhaps more notably Watford – where Warburton was involved within the academy for four years starting back in 2006. The 24-year-old had nine loan spells from clubs at League Two level up to the Championship and including a short spell at Kilmarnock when he was a teenager.

The two that sat in front of Cammy Bell in the infamous playoff final second leg defeat to Motherwell was Lee McCulloch and Marius Zaliukas. The two had an average age of 34-years-old. Kiernan and Wilson reduce that to just shy of 24. An instant change in approach to that of ‘Super Ally’ who relied on the senior pros to get Rangers back into the top flight. A plan that failed spectacularly considering the vast wage budget.

Although Warburton is more of an old school manager rather than the new breed of head coach, he does believe in youth. While at the Bees, he and the owner founded the NextGen Series. The U19s was a relative success and paved the way towards the UEFA Youth League. The tournament also exhibited a perfect scouting platform for him as he signed a number of notable performers, the standout being Tottenham’s Alex Pritchard – who was instrumental in their sixth-place finish in their first season back in the Championship.

Having taking the job over from Uwe Rösler, who had departed to Wigan Athletic in December 2013. He took what was predominantly the German’s side and sustained them near the summit of League One and won promotion through the runners-up spot. In the second tier, they outperformed expectations and finished in the playoffs. His stock as a manager has never been higher and because of his success was linked to many jobs with Premier League clubs and teams of a bigger stature in the Championship.

It is a notable that this is a man that was a non-league player back in the eighties with Enfield and Boreham Wood respectively. It was at the E’s when Warburton got into city trading and had been for over 20 years before deciding to pursue his ambition. He gave himself 10 years to achieve something in the game. He traveled around Europe watching training sessions at a number of elite clubs picking up methods that he would implement into his repertoire.

Warburton was offered a coaching job with Watford and climbed the ladder until he was appointed academy manager in 2006. In 2009, in the first of his many reshuffles, he became assistant academy manager for U17 to U19 age groups before a falling out seen him depart the Hornets in 2010.

We never know with the constant circus that goes on in Govan with Rangers but with a progressive mind in control of the playing squad. It is possible that he and his staff will be able to bring a sense of normality to Ibrox but like figures of the club before that promised hope, it could be a spectacular disaster.

You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.


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