I have always believed that football managers should be given time to implement a philosophy in to a club, and for that philosophy to be allowed to embed and start bearing fruit, however, I have also believed strongly that this kind of approach is far more complex for Rangers than most other clubs, and that embedding a new philosophy has to be balanced with a level of pragmatism that recognises that Rangers fans require success.
Conversely, many Rangers fans, including myself, have recognised that the club is “on a journey” after a difficult few years.
I’m no Dave King apologist, and believe that he needs to explain why his promises of £30M investment have never materialised, however, Mark Warburton has no excuses for what is a consistent theme of his management; a lack of quality defenders, and a dreadful track record of away performances in the matches that matter.
He has brought in such a volume of players, that he cannot point the finger at Ally McCoist, or Stuart McCall or Kenny McDowall. The abject failures are all his own signings. Many Rangers fans observe that Warburton hasn’t recognised the squad’s weaknesses, and has failed to make attempts to address those weaknesses. I disagree, which is where this becomes really important.
He clearly knew enough at the end of last season, to recognise that we needed certain areas of the side refreshed, and it’s in this exercise that he has failed.
To refresh the problem central defence area, he brought in Senderos and Hill. Senderos effectively killed his own Rangers career in that Old Firm goal, and Hill has belied his years holding together 3 defenders who are nowhere near Rangers class, and I include our captain in that analysis. As a team we have frequently found ourselves exposed with the full backs halfway up the park and only Kiernan and Hill “protecting” Wes Foderingham, who is the only goal protector who can have some pride in his displays this season.
To refresh the toothless and pedestrian central midfield area, Warburton signed Barton, Krankjar and Rossiter, and we all know what happened there. With none of them available, he again had another bite at the cherry by picking up Toral and Hyndman on loan, however, rather than being brought comfortably and used sparingly at first, they have had to be thrown in immediately as our main players. Hyndman has started very well, and must wonder why he was taken off last night, with Toral looking absolutely lost as mayhem ensued all around him.
To refresh the attack, halfway through last season Warburton signed Michael O’Halloran, then followed that up by signing Joe Dodoo and Joe Garner prior to this season, with none of them establishing themselves as goalscoring threats week in week out.
Conversely, a consistent theme this season is a number of our attackers not being given a run of games to embed themselves in the team, and the fans left to wonder what is going on, as the fringe players become overly desperate when they do get on the field. These players look shorn of confidence and poise, and it’s no coincidence that this is shining through in their performances.
Just like it was under Ally McCoist, there are good players at Ibrox, who are not being managed properly, and my view is that they will not flourish under the current management. Last night will not act as the catalyst for radical improvement under the current management team, as we already had that low point on 30th November.
I do not pretend to speak for the masses, and I expect there will be some erudite defences of Warburton penned across the Rangers supporters’ forums and websites over the next few days, but I can’t nudge that gut feeling that this well meaning experiment can go no further, and that change must be made now, in order that a new manager can assess and work with this squad ahead of a further summer of upheaval to turn around our fortunes.
Please go now Mark, with our best wishes.