Nigel Spackman once took a neighbourly interest in Mark Warburton’s emergence as a managerial bright light at Brentford.
Having now delighted in seeing him further enhance his reputation at Rangers, former Ibrox midfielder Spackman is convinced Warburton has found a settled home for some time to come.
Although he expects there to be no shortage of interest from clubs hoping to tempt his fellow Englishman back south of the Border, Spackman insists Rangers currently provide Warburton with the best possible platform to fulfil his ambitions.
“People down south see Rangers as a massive club and see that Mark is doing a great job,” said Spackman. “He has won the Championship, he is in the Scottish Cup final and his stock is high, so there will be clubs keeping an eye on that. But I am not sure Mark will be tempted away from Rangers too quickly.
“Getting Rangers into the Premiership, maybe even playing Europa League football, where else would you want to go? Aston Villa? Which is in an utter decline. Yes, clubs are looking at him but I don’t see him leaving Rangers. I think he wants to do a good job here and build on it.
“I used to go and watch Brentford quite a bit when Mark was manager, because I live in West London and it’s my nearest club.
“A friend of mine, who is actually a mad Chelsea supporter, sponsors some of the games so I used to get a free meal and a couple of glasses of wine! So if I wasn’t working, I would go and watch them.
“I know the way that Mark likes to play his football. When I heard he was coming to Rangers, I got a few phone calls and I was asked about him being the first English manager of Rangers. I said the fans won’t mind that, as long as he does a good job and plays good football and I think he has done that.
“He has done a fantastic job, playing attractive, winning football and deserves to go up. If he can also win the Scottish Cup and get Rangers into Europe then it will be a magnificent first season for him.”
Warburton’s pursuit of Joey Barton is an indication of the player recruitment policy he believes will be necessary for Rangers to maintain their progress and compete at the top of the Premiership next season. Spackman believes it is crucial chairman Dave King and his fellow directors provide their manager with the necessary resources to meet his aspirations.
“He needs the backing of the board,” added Spackman. “How much they can support him, I don’t know. That is going to be a big test going forward.
“All you can do right now is enjoy what you have done, which is winning the league, and hopefully winning the Scottish Cup. But you know as a manager, coach or player, that stepping up a league is going to be tougher.
“Some of the players will be squad players next year rather than starters and he has got to strengthen the team, not just the squad.
“That is difficult to do, but if you are in the Premiership and Europa League then you can attract players.
“He needs the backing of the board to do that. He has got to get rid of some of the players he feels aren’t good enough to take Rangers forward and bring in players who he feels will add to the team, not just the squad.
“Mark knows the leagues in England well and he is already bringing in a couple of players from England. But I am sure he could do with a bit of money to bring some experienced players in.
“When you step up a league, teams are better organised, they are fitter and they are better quality. That is what Rangers have got to compete with next year. You can do that in a one-off game, say the semi-final of a cup as they did against Celtic last month, but it is over the season you have to do it now.”
l Nigel Spackman was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.