Mark Warburton: 95 per cent of Rangers fans back me

Joey Barton arrives at Ibrox ahead of disciplinary talks with the club. Picture: Graig Foy/SNS
Joey Barton arrives at Ibrox ahead of disciplinary talks with the club. Picture: Graig Foy/SNS
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Mark Warburton believes he retains the backing of 95 per cent of Rangers supporters and insists he remains fully committed to the task of restoring the Ibrox club to the summit of Scottish football.

The Rangers manager, who labelled speculation linking him with the vacancy at English Championship club Wigan Athletic as “nonsensical”, feels criticism of his team’s start to the season is largely confined to what he describes as “rogue comments” on radio phone-ins and newspaper hotlines.

Warburton’s side have dropped 14 points from their first 10 Premiership fixtures, leaving them in fifth place in the Ladbrokes Premiership. Their 1-1 draw at home to St Johnstone on Wednesday night was greeted by jeers from their own fans.

But, while Warburton accepts the level of Rangers’ second half performance merited that reaction, he is confident the vast majority of the club’s support still have faith in his ability to create a team ultimately capable of challenging for the title.

“We have spoken to enough genuine Rangers supporters and we are not listening to the five per cent minority,” said Warburton. “We are not listening to them at all. The feedback we get from the rest is positive. They understand that we are trying to play. The second half against St Johnstone wasn’t good enough. Why did I say the boos were understandable? Because it wasn’t a good second half. You pay your money to be entertained. I know I wasn’t entertained in the second half, I didn’t enjoy watching my team. So I understand the boos, absolutely.

“But I know the vast majority of Rangers fans have been first class, they’ve been fantastic. There are rogue comments in papers or on radio stations. We don’t listen to that.

“If the board come and speak to me, that’s different. If you listen to certain comments, you’d think the pressure comes from the board because we have won four out of 10 in the league. If we had won on Wednesday, where would we be in relation to Aberdeen and Hearts? We are just 10 games in, it’s still very early in the season. We still have players gelling and settling in.

“But right now, we are right in the mix. If we win our next two games and are second in the table going into the international break, is that bad for a team who have come up this season? Is it bad if we are sitting second after such a ‘shocking start’, as some people would have it? I’m not so sure.”

Warburton was quickly installed as one of the leading candidates for the Wigan job after the sacking earlier this week of former Celtic and Scotland defender Gary Caldwell.

“No disrespect to Wigan, they are a very good club, but I have got to ask where did that come from?,” said Warburton.

“Does it really warrant being on the back page, Warburton being linked to the Wigan job? I can’t control that, but it is nonsensical.

“We are more than committed to Rangers and I hope the Rangers fans know that. They see the project we are doing here.

“Of course it is a results driven business but, if you are going to do a project as people refer to, then it has to go right the way through the whole club, right down to the youngest academy players. If we can do that, we will be okay.”

Warburton was speaking before Joey Barton reported to Ibrox for talks with Rangers officials in regard to his ongoing suspension from the club following a training ground bust-up in the aftermath of the 5-1 defeat by Celtic on 10 September. Barton declined to make any comment as he made his way into the meeting which lasted for two hours. The 34-year-old’s suspension remains in place as the disciplinary process continues.