Alan Pattullo: Weir’s steel will galvanise Rangers

Fans can be sure that David Weir will not be a 'silent partner' in his new role at Ibrox. Picture: Rangers FC
Fans can be sure that David Weir will not be a 'silent partner' in his new role at Ibrox. Picture: Rangers FC
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RANGERS being linked with Danny Wilson has already underlined how there is little chance David Weir will be content to be a silent partner in the new managerial team at Ibrox. Wilson of course played in the centre of defence with Weir at Rangers and was mentored by him in his early years at Ibrox.

It seems only natural that Weir should encourage Mark Warburton to look to someone whose subsequent experiences, as well as a spell at Liverpool, also included leading Hearts to the Championship title.

It’s an early indication of the positive influence that Weir will surely have. While Rangers are intent on moving forward they are conscious of the need to maintain a link with someone who is deemed to represent the best of what the club is about. When even Ally McCoist can risk ruining his reputation, such an unofficial ambassadorial role isn’t without its hazards.

But there is something about Weir that suggests reliability. Even the wobble he endured as manager, briefly, at Sheffield United has been put down as a learning process by Weir himself. While Warburton talked a good game earlier this week and is clearly well qualified to be the new broom to complete the job of sweeping the stale, overpaid and over-regarded playing staff through the outdoor, Weir is a perfect ally (note the small a). Weir did not occupy nearly so many of the column inches yesterday but he is as big a factor in this latest attempt by Rangers to mend a broken club. Of course, he is not the type to gush.

According to Weir, Warburton, whose first visit to Ibrox was on Monday, did not need long to realise the size of club Rangers are. Weir wasn’t required to spell it out to him. They arrived together and came in via the Argyle House entrance rather than the front door on Edmiston Drive, behind which lies the marble staircase. “When you walk across the pitch and see the stadium, you realise the significance of the club,” was Weir’s sober take on things. There was little talk of “coming home”.

At the press conference on Monday someone wondered about the dynamics of the Warburton/Weir relationship. It seemed, this person proposed, more “good cop, good cop” than the good cop, bad cop routine that is reckoned to normally succeed in the traditional football environment.

Warburton replied with a good line. “More like short cop, tall cop,” he smiled. Weir stands 6ft 3in in his dark brown suede shoes, his day-of-unveiling choice of footwear on Monday.

But, while the contention he is tall is one that is hard to argue with, the perception of Weir as the perpetual good cop is not quite so accurate. Certainly not if the insinuation is he is in any way soft. Walter Smith dealt with this myth in the foreword to Weir’s excellent autobiography, published in 2011. “The first impression everybody has is ‘nice lad, terrific fella’, but I can assure you that there is enough steel in him, so that important decisions will be made and carried out,” wrote Smith.

He was steely enough to grit his teeth and inform David Taylor, the then chief executive of the SFA, that he no longer wished to be considered for the Scotland national team after what he felt had been unwarranted criticism from Berti Vogts. He was steely enough to give Kyle Lafferty a half-time rollicking witnesses still recall to this day after he felt the young, often wayward Northern Irishman was not pulling his weight in a game against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

Extra Time, his autobiography, is unusual in that you can hear Weir’s voice speaking throughout. It includes enough insight and revelations to underline how Weir is not preoccupied with making life easy for himself. It is very much a book that lets you inside the dressing-room walls without feeling unnecessarily indiscreet. He is no-one’s patsy.

In the same foreword, Smith, as well as describing Weir as one of his best-ever signings, commented that “with that bit of luck everyone needs, Davie could be a terrific manager”. Weir didn’t get that good fortune at Sheffield United, forcing him to retreat to what some interpreted as the comparative backwater of the assistant manager’s post at Brentford. But it is here where he was reinvigorated – and at the sharp end as well.

While Sheffield United remain in the third tier, Brentford only missed out on promotion to the Premier League at the play-off stage.

Surprisingly let go along with Warburton, it seemed only a matter of time until he was back in football. Such has been the extent of his rehabilitation at Brentford that Weir’s return to Ibrox has been swifter than anyone might have imagined, including, he has admitted, himself. Now what Rangers need is a team of “David Weirs” – Wilson’s capture, if completed, is a start.