Chris Sutton believes a heavy loss to Celtic in the Old Firm derby could set off a chain of events that lead to Mark Warburton exiting Ibrox.
Writing in his weekly column for the Daily Record, the former Celtic striker insists Warburton will want heavy investment in the side this summer if the match demonstrates Rangers are not at the same level as the Ladbrokes Premiership league leaders.
Sutton doubts Dave King would have the funds to keep his manager happy, highlighting the January transfer window where Rangers lost out on Brentford player Toumani Diagouraga as the midfielder signed for Leeds United.
He believes Warburton, still highly thought of south of the border, would return back to England if the funds aren’t there to capture his desired transfer targets.
He said: “What happens if Rangers go to Hampden and get thumped 4-0 or 5-0 by an average Celtic team? I would suggest that puts Warburton right back to square one.
“Rangers could win but at the same time this under-performing Celtic side could just as easily find their form and go and give Rangers a right hiding. If they do it gives Warburton a serious problem.
“He’s going to know already his team needs serious strengthening for the Premiership. I don’t know how much money Dave King has.
“What if the inability to capture the two targets Warburton identified in January comes back to repeat itself in the summer?
“Warburton will not be in for the long haul at Rangers but with a trouncing by Celtic and not enough investment in the summer, a smart guy will hedge his bets and head south, where I think he feels he belongs.
The BT Sport pundit also dismissed some of Warburton’s achievements this season, insisting the Rangers boss is only doing what is expected of him giving the club’s stature in the second tier.
“I’d say Warburton isn’t doing anything with Rangers in the Scottish Championship that he shouldn’t be doing. Let’s not get too carried away as in the main Rangers should be smashing the likes of Alloa, Dumbarton and Livingston with their eyes closed,” continued Sutton.
“The Light Blues underachieved massively last season and Warburton has come in, calmed things down and simply achieved what he should have league wise and improved the playing personnel. Hibs and, to a lesser extent Falkirk, are the only real competition in the Championship. Warburton has beaten them, yes, but he has lost to them both as well.
“I’m looking to judge the Ibrox side over a 38-game programme next season and, with the current squad, they look mid-table. I’ve said they could possibly beat Celtic in a one-off tie but not over 38 games. Nor Aberdeen and nor Hearts for that matter.”
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