Mark Warburton still keen to learn as he closes in on title

Mark Warburton may be just 90 minutes away from winning his first title as a manager but he will leave it to others to assess the progress he has made in his first season at Rangers.

Rangers manager Mark Warburton is due to complete his Uefa Pro-Licence course in June. Picture: PA
Rangers manager Mark Warburton is due to complete his Uefa Pro-Licence course in June. Picture: PA

The 53-year-old Englishman’s unconventional career path, through his time as a city trader in London and director of the innovative NextGen tournament for elite European clubs, did not lead him to being a manager in his own right until taking charge at Brentford just three years ago.

Warburton has yet to operate in top-flight league football but is on the verge of taking that step with Rangers who could clinch the Scottish Championship title on Saturday if they win at Raith Rovers and Hibs slip up against 
St Mirren.

“Am I a better leader now for my experience at Rangers?” reflected Warburton ahead of the Ibrox club’s imminent promotion to the Premiership.

“That’s not for me to answer. That’s for other people. If we do well this season, I can turn round and say ‘yeah’. But you hope you keep on learning. That is really important. You also hope very much that the players and staff respond. You learn from them and they learn from you.”

Warburton’s ongoing quest for self-improvement and development has led him to make regular trips to 
St George’s Park, the English FA’s national football centre in Burton-upon-Trent, to sit his Uefa Pro-Licence course.

He is due to complete it in June, shortly before Rangers resume pre-season training, but is still taking in the impact of his most recent sessions last week when one of the guest speakers at St George’s Park was former SAS major and head of counter-terrorism, Floyd Woodrow.

Awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his service in Iraq and made MBE for his work in Afghanistan, Woodrow offered a fresh perspective on leadership to Warburton and his class-mates who include Valencia coach Phil Neville, veteran Fulham midfielder Scott Parker, USA under-19 coach Brad Friedel and QPR manager Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink.

“What did I learn from Floyd Woodrow? Don’t pick a fight with him or the SAS!” said Warburton with a smile.

“No, what he told us is that it’s about teamwork and trust. The absolute trust that is required. Once one of your team-mates makes a call, you stick to it. There is no deviation from it.

“Obviously, that is in a different theatre altogether as far as he is concerned, but it is very good to hear different ideas and principles.

“The whole course is good. We have five days left in June before we complete it. It’s a good bunch taking it and we all talk about each other’s clubs. As well as Floyd Woodrow, we’ve had some other really good speakers.

“Sir Clive Woodward has been in, as has Brian McDermott from Leeds Rhinos. You can gain a lot from listening to guys from other sports. With someone like Sir Clive, the level of detail involved in just phenomenal. The work he did at the Rugby World Cup and then with Team GB.

“Then you listen to someone like Brian Kidd from Manchester City, whose career allows him to talk about Sir Matt Busby and Fergie and Shankly. Magnificent names and experience.

“The course is about leadership, it’s about communication, it’s about business and finance. You also have a guy who comes and tells you what questions you should ask as a manager. Or possibly some you maybe shouldn’t!

“It’s all about different experiences and man-management is a massive part of it. How you conduct yourself.

“I was down there last week after we had lost 3-2 to Falkirk the previous Friday night and a very wise man there said that you over-analyse defeats and under-analyse victories. He is right.

“That is human nature. You go into a massive investigation about why we were in total control of a game of football and then had a bad 20 minutes. But the football up to that point had been some of the best we had played all season. We lost the game 3-2 but there were a lot of positives to take out of it.”