Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has expressed sympathy for his Rangers counterpart as Mark Warburton’s position at the Ibrox club comes under increasing scrutiny.
Warburton goes into Sunday’s Scottish Cup fifth-round tie against Morton amid growing unrest among Rangers supporters.
There is also speculation one of Warburton’s key allies, head of recruitment Frank McParland, is poised to leave due to discontent at boardroom level over the success rate of players signed last summer ahead of the club’s return to the Premiership.
Rangers responded last night but stopped short of clarifying McParland’s longer term future at Ibrox. “Frank McParland is currently on holiday in Dubai and will return to work next week,” said a club spokesperson.
Celtic’s exceptional domestic form under Rodgers this season, which currently sees them 27 points clear of Rangers at the top of the Premiership, has added to Warburton’s problems. The two men worked together at Watford and Rodgers appreciates Warburton’s sutuation.
Rodgers said: “I have empathy for every manager, Mark and others, when it is tough.
“There are good rewards to being a manager. It’s a great life, you’re out in the fresh open air every day, you are coaching players and making people better. “But there’s another side to it that is tough.
“We know we all have to get through it. You’re never going to have it perfect. You just try to stay as calm as you can and know that you work well, trust in what you do and look to win games. That’s one of the biggest things I learned. Winning games will stop the critics but in the end they are still there.
“There are three types of supporters. The first type that absolutely love you because you are the manager. It doesn’t matter what you do, they’ll give you shirts and want you to sign everything.
“The second group are ‘okay, we’ll give you a chance and let’s see how you do. See if you win games and I’ll decide’.
“The third group, it wouldn’t matter. They are the critics. That’s the group that if you won by five, they’ll say you should have won by seven. You can never win.
“The first two groups you can influence. The third? I don’t even worry about that because it’s a group that’s always there. Don’t waste your time.”
Support for the Rangers boss also came from former Celtic defender and Hibs manager John Hughes, who heaped praise on his coaching and his team’s playing style.
“Scottish football needs Mark Warburton,” said Hughes. “Mark Warburton is total football. You can see his team trying to play total football. He is a football coach, and that’s what Scottish football needs.
“When you look at the nuts and bolts of football – how you coach, how you stimulate, how you put on a game situation that relates to a Saturday, Mark Warburton is right up there.”