Monday saw the official unveiling of Mark Warburton as our new manager along with David Weir as his assistant. Following weeks of speculation surrounding the appointment, with candidates such as Vitor Pereira and Derek McInnes also being touted, it will come as a relief to the Rangers faithful that we finally have our man and are able to now build for a hopefully more successful tilt at the Scottish Championship this time round.
Warburton is certainly an interesting appointment, insofar as that he does not possess the long managerial history which have perhaps been hallmarks of previous Rangers managers, however this lack of lengthy experience in the top job at a football club is countered by his impressive acumen in terms of coaching proficiency and general footballing ethos.
Having spent his playing days in England’s provincial leagues, he ended up as a a currency dealer for the likes of Bank of America and AIG. He has previously described working 18 hour days and has compared many of the pressures he faced in the financial sector to those felt at a football club, life experience which I’m sure can only serve him well whilst under the intense glare of the spotlight at a club like Rangers.
Warburton’s coaching career started at a local academy school whilst he was still working as a trader and it was then that he made the decision that football was the path he wanted to go down. With the house and car paid for and a lifestyle of comfort, Warburton left his job as a trader in the early 2000s and relinquished a significant portion of his personal wealth in order to tour Europe, observing training sessions at prestigious clubs such as Ajax, Sporting Lisbon, Barcelona and Valencia. His willingness to learn and eagerness to become involved in the world of football coaching led to a permanent appointment as a youth coach at Watford, overseeing the U9-U16 age groups, showing that he certainly has a strong pedigree in youth development and sponsorship.
By 2006, he had become manager of the academy, however, differences of opinion saw him part company with the club in 2010 in order that he could ‘pursue other footballing interests.’ In the same year, alongside TV producer Justin Andrews, Warburton formed a company in the name of Cycad Sports Management, through which they launched the NextGen Series, an U19 club cup competition. The inaugural tournament began in August 2011 and featured 16 teams, including European heavyweights Barcelona, Inter Milan, Sporting Lisbon, Ajax, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. Despite cancellation following the 2013 event following the emergence of the UEFA Youth League, Warburton continued to display his firm belief in the development of younger talent by signing numerous youngsters who had put in some notable performances during the NextGen Series tournaments during his tenure as Brentford boss, such as Joao Teixeira, Alex Pritchard and Nico Yennaris.
Having begun work at Brentford in February 2011 as first team coach, Warburton moved into the role of Sporting Director following an unsuccessful application for the vacant managerial position in the summer of the same year. In this role, he oversaw dealings with agents, club finances and contracts, in addition to scouting young players and recommending them to then manager Uwe Rosler and his coaching staff. Along with Director of Youth Development Ose Aibangee, Warburton oversaw Brentford being awarded Category Two academy status in July 2013 and the opening of a new purpose-built facility in nearby Uxbridge.
After turning down an opportunity to follow previous manager Uwe Rösler to Wigan Athletic, Warburton was announced as the new Brentford manager on 10 December 2013. Following a hugely impressive start to his reign at the club and a string of fantastic results, Brentford were automatically promoted from League One after a 1-0 win over Preston North End guaranteed them a spot in the Championship with 3 games to spare. In 27 games in the managerial hotseat during the 2013–14 season, Warburton won 17, drew six and lost four. Warburton’s managerial promise continued to blossom as he led Brentford into the 2014/15 Championship season. Consistently overachieving, remaining within the play-off places for much of the campaign and even as high as 3rd, Warburton maintained his strategy of bleeding in young talented players and placing his trust in their flourishing abilities. Following rumours that Barberton would be replaced as manager at the end of the season in around February 2015, Brentford suffered a slight dip in form but managed, however two wins in the final two games and favourable results elsewhere saw Warburton lead Brentford to fifth position and a place in the playoffs, the club’s highest second-tier finish since the 1934-35 season.
Although defeated by Middlesbrough at the semi-final stage, Warburton was lauded for taking a squad of League One hopefuls to within a couple of games of the Premier League. His modern and innovative style of management which focuses on nurturing young talent as early as possible and bleeding these players into a first team surrounding with all the added pressure and expectation which comes with such a strategy brings plaudits from across the footballing world. His apparent view of a club as one congruous entity, with each aspect having some form of impact on another is the modern ideology which I think is required to freshen things up at Rangers and I sincerely wish the man and our old servant the best of luck in their endeavours.
Warburton was particularly commended on the stylish brand of football employed during his reign at Brentford, and in one of his first interviews as Rangers manager, he declared his admiration of players who can command a football and make things happen. This is such a polar opposite of what we have experienced and grown used to over the past few seasons, namely the directionless hoof-ball, and can only serve to excite our supporters. The prospect of finally getting a real chance to rebuild the club in a sustainable way both on and off the pitch is a delightful one and a challenge which I’m sure the new managerial duo shall relish.
I genuinely believe that Mr. Warburton and Mr. Weir are exactly what Rangers require at the moment. It is great to see that we have moved away from what seems to be the Rangers ‘old boys’ act, where previous servants of of the club are favoured for positions such as manager due to their past glories. I strongly feel that the intelligence, hard-working ethos and innovation of Mark Warburton will combine fantastically with the class of David Weir, not to mention the fact that our former captain will no doubt have already fully briefed our new gaffer just what it means to manage Glasgow Rangers and the expectations which now sit on their shoulders.
I would like to see Warburton utilise a scouting operation in order to unearth gems from what I’m sure is already a vast pool. We must avoid the mistake we made of 2012 and do some serious research into which positions we need to prioritise and which type of player we need to fill these gaps. With so many recent departures following contract expirations, Warburton and Weir have almost a blank canvas to work on, which can be seen as a positive, but with our first game in the Petrofac Training Cup only around 7 weeks away, work will have to been done hastily but meticulously to ensure that we are able to guarantee our passage back to the Premier League next season and hopefully in a strong enough position to put in a challenge for that title too as soon as possible.
The soundbites I’ve heard from Brentford fans, English journalists and other managers regarding Warburton sound hugely positive and I wholeheartedly believe that this has been a massively intelligent and forward-thinking move by our new board. Let’s hope this is a sign of the corner finally being turned. Let’s hope we’re now well on the road back to the glory days once more.
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