Mark Warburton has tried to bring a sense of reality back to the Rangers support while at the same time insisting he can deliver victory in tomorrow’s Betfred Cup semi-final.
Securing the future for Rangers was always one of his major remits after the turmoil of the previous four years but the dilemma is that the club’s demanding fans want instant success.
He has not had the best of fortunes, given he will not have either of his marquee summer signings in the team at Hampden tomorrow for contrasting reasons.
Joey Barton, of course, is suspended after his behaviour in the wake of the last meeting with Celtic and now Niko Kranjcar is effectively out for the season after suffering a serious knee injury in training on Tuesday. All of this is set against the fact that Celtic, who beat Rangers 5-1 in the Premiership last month, are better, stronger, quicker and more organised under Brendan Rodgers.
However, the 51-year-old was able to find a way to beat Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final six months ago and believes his players can deliver again.
He said: “It is the fine margins in football, whether it is belief, unity, an aspect of play, whatever it may be, sometimes it falls into place. That is how the game works.
“They have added some very good attacking individuals in Sinclair and Dembele and they are proven young talents.
“I said in the first press conference that Brendan, having worked with him, would bring a level of organisation and belief, which I am sure he has done.
“They are a team packed full of internationals and a number who played in the semi-final will play on Sunday, I am sure. There is not a huge change in terms of the personnel
“The fact is, budgetary wise, I imagine the gap is probably two and a half to three times. They are playing in the Champions League, gaining valuable European experience and have a squad packed with international players. I have got utter belief that our squad here is getting better and better. We are gelling in that a number of new players, players are getting fitness levels back and are understanding how we play.
“You might come from a team where you have 40 per cent possession to Rangers where you have 70 per cent possession. You might be entrenched in 4-4-2 and are now being asked to play 4-3-3.
“There are various things and demands placed on players coming into the team that aren’t always recognised. We are getting there and I was pleased with the performance last Friday in Inverness.
“It was a tough place to go, we were brave, we moved the ball. Criticisms? We didn’t score enough goals. But the performances are consistently getting higher.”
Warburton implied that he could have gone for a quick fix in terms of his summer recruitment, but he believes solidity is the key for Rangers as they build again. The problem is he has to win along the way. He said: “The fact of the matter is that we are building and after where the club has been in the last four, five years, we have to build strong foundations.
“You have to make sure that everything is in place. Get the staffing right, the infrastructure right, the work with the Academy.
“The ethos of the club, is it clear? Is it well defined? Is it filtering down? When you start doing that you are in a good place. If you come in here and ignore the Academy, that would never work. Short-term fixes won’t work for Rangers after where they have been.
“I hope you can see the foundations being laid down, the staffing structure, the communication throughout the club, the type of player we are bringing in.
“There is a lot of focus on Kenny Miller, Lee Wallace, Clint Hill and Kranjcar but don’t forget Rossiter, Dodoo, Windass, Crooks, these young guys coming in.
“We have brought in a number of players between 19 and 24. Foderingham, Tavernier, Kiernan, Waghorn, all these guys.
“If we can get a core squad, you improve the balance sheet of the club and then we will be in a good place.”