Mark Warburton was latest victim of Challenge Cup curse

Mark Warburton lasted only 11 months at Ibrox after winning the trophy. Picture: John Devlin
Mark Warburton lasted only 11 months at Ibrox after winning the trophy. Picture: John Devlin
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Jack Ross and Ray McKinnon may want to think twice about trying to win next month’s Irn-Bru Cup final when St Mirren take on Dundee United at Fir Park.

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That’s because over the last seven seasons the winning manager of the Challenge Cup has failed to stay in his job through to the end of the following campaign.

This run looked certain to end when Rangers won the trophy last term, defeating Peterhead 4-0 in the final. Mark Warburton, with magic hat still firmly atop his noggin, could do no wrong in the eyes of the Rangers fans, board and Scottish media. This feeling of security was further reinforced by the Scottish Cup semi-final victory over Celtic the following month.

Cracks would begin to appear towards the end of the Championship-winning campaign, as Rangers showed some disinterested performances after clinching the title, before surrendering a 2-1 lead in the final 15 minutes against Hibs to hand the Easter Road side their first Scottish Cup triumph in 114 years.

It didn’t get any better this season. Rangers have never managed to fully get going, hindered by a poor summer recruitment drive which saw several players arrive but few make an impact. All of this contributed to Warburton’s messy exit from Ibrox earlier this month.

Although, perhaps forces outwith Warburton or Rangers’ control pushed him outside towards the door. Maybe it was the football gods, angered by his winning of the most sacred of trophies, who dispensed with the Englishman just like they had the previous six winners before him. Ross and McKinnon beware, you could be next.

The list in full...

2016: Mark Warburton (Rangers - 11 months)

Mislaid magic hat. It all went wrong from there.

2015 - Mark Burchill (Livingston – 8 months)

Despite leading them to Challenge Cup success and executing a great escape in the league, Livingston’s delusions of grandeur motivated them to sack Burchill despite them still being competitive in a tough Ladbrokes Championship table.

2014: Grant Murray (Raith Rovers - 14 months)

He was responsible for one of the best days in Raith Rovers’ recent history, but it wasn’t enough to make up for some underwhelming league performances across his tenure. Clubs often look to make PR moves around the time they launch season ticket packages for the following campaign. Raith chose to sack Murray.

2013: Allan Johnston (Queen of the South - 2 months)

A little different as Johnston walked away from the club when an offer to manage in the top flight came his way. Though Kilmarnock fans would argue he brought the curse with him to Rugby Park.

2012: Steven Pressley (Falkirk – 11 months)

Pressley left Falkirk to join Coventry City and then watched his new employers go into administration within a month of him pitching up in the Midlands. After a promising start he was sacked in 2015.

2011: Jimmy Calderwood (Ross County – 2 months)

Victory in the competition wasn’t enough to persuade Ross County he was the right man for the job after taking over on a short-term basis following the sacking of Willie McStay. Calderwood, despite having ample time to improve a clearly underachieving squad, only just avoided relegation. He’s not had a job in Scottish football since.

2009: Jocky Scott (Dundee - 4 months)

Back in the days when the Challenge Cup final was played before Christmas, Dundee came back from two goals down to defeat Inverness in a thrilling contest. However, Inverness would get the last laugh with Terry Butcher’s side overhauled a 15-point deficit in mid-January to take the First Division title. This was a Dundee side with Leigh Griffiths and Gary Harkins in it as well.

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