Mark Warburton: ‘Nonsense’ to suggest title race is over

A stunning result at Easter Road last night. Picture: SNS
A stunning result at Easter Road last night. Picture: SNS
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Without kicking a ball in anger, Rangers saw the finishing line in the Championship title race move ever more clearly and enticingly into view on Wednesday night.

The 3-0 home defeat suffered by their nearest rivals Hibs against Morton would have been as welcome as it was unexpected in the Ibrox camp.

It leaves Rangers eight points clear of Hibs at the top of the table, having now played the same number of games, and with a vastly superior goal difference which is effectively worth an extra point.

With just 11 rounds of fixtures remaining, the top flight is now beckoning loudly for Mark Warburton’s side.

Predictably and sensibly enough, the Rangers manager is not prepared to start counting any chickens just yet. But Warburton has absolutely no doubts that his players possess the mental strength necessary to see the job through and claim automatic promotion to the Premiership.

“I think people were shocked at the result at Easter Road on Wednesday as a very good team were beaten at home,” he said.

“But it doesn’t impact on us in any way. It doesn’t change anything that we do. We won’t change our training or our approach. There are still 11 games to go, and 33 points to fight for. So it’s not over. That’s nonsense. There are more twists and turns to come. All we can worry about is Rangers. What happens elsewhere doesn’t affect us if we do our job well.

“The players read the media, they get drawn into the hype [about the title run-in]. They read people saying ‘can they get it done by April?’

“But all they have got to do is focus, come into training and be better than they were the day before and keep on doing that. If they can do that and avoid the hype, which is not easy because this is a passionate football city, they will be fine.

“Look at the hype which surrounded our home game against Hibs in December, which said it was a must-win game for our players. They handled it and delivered a first-class, dominant and tactically aware performance.

“So they can deal with it and thrive on it. The whole squad has character. We have a really tight squad. Whoever we pick I know has the character. Character won’t be an issue. There will never be a lack of work ethic.

“There will be days when they can’t pass water, but that’s just human nature. There will never be a shortfall in terms of work ethic and that’s important.”

As Rangers prepare for the visit of St Mirren to Ibrox tomorrow, Warburton also highlighted what he regards as the passionate commitment of his squad to representing a club many of them only joined at the start of the season.

“Some people say playing for the jersey is a thing of the past but that’s nonsense,” added Warburton. “Obviously, Andy Halliday is an easy example for me to make because he’s a Glasgow boy, but look at Wes Foderingham, James Tavernier, Dom Ball or Gedion Zelalem, look at them when they score a goal, make a tackle or a save. It means so much to them.

“They absolutely play for the jersey. What they do recognise now is the weight of the Rangers jersey in terms of the expectation. It’s about enjoying that weight of expectation. If you thrive on it, you will be in a good place. If you can’t handle it, then you won’t be here very long.”

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