Mark Warburton won’t risk Rangers squad unity

SO MUCH has Mark Warburton fixed at Rangers, he now needs to take care not to break it. The new Ibrox manager’s new team has hit new heights in stringing together victories as a second-tier side, with a perfect ten this season. In turn that has brought Warburton the Ladbrokes Championship manager of the month award for August, with his right-back recruit James Tavernier snaring the player accolade in announcements made yesterday.
Mark Warburton, left, and James Tavernier with their awards. Picture: SNSMark Warburton, left, and James Tavernier with their awards. Picture: SNS
Mark Warburton, left, and James Tavernier with their awards. Picture: SNS

Yet, as the 52-year-old collected his trophy, he admitted bringing in a tranche of new signings come January may require to be avoided in order to preserve a dressing-room accord that has been so quickly, and valuably, established.

Warburton’s superior, chairman Dave King, suggested last week that Rangers could start off next season with the intention of winning the top flight through using the next two transfer windows to acquire the five or six new players King contended could allow the Ibrox side to scale the summit of Scottish football.

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In typically gnomic fashion the South African-based businessman suggested money would be made available to Warburton during the winter for that purpose… in the same breath as he acknowledged that the club, already propped up by a series of loans, would run out of money before the end of the season.

Warburton is in no doubt Rangers “need to add something” come the next window to maintain the trajectory that has the “aim” of bringing Champions League football to Ibrox in three years. The former city trader believes it is only sensible planning that he already has a fair idea of where he wants to take his upwardly-mobile team. Getting what he wants is one issue, though, with avoiding being disruptive while seeking to be constructive another.

“Sometimes more harm is done by adding unnecessary players to what you really need,” he said. “The January transfer window is very different from the summer transfer window. In terms of players coming in the summer, you have that pre-season period to bed players in, which you’ve seen with our own group this season. But in January you’ve got to be careful. You make too many changes in January and you can rock the harmony and weaken the squad unit and you pay the price for it. January’s a far trickier window. Summer you have more time to shape it, mould it and get it right for the start of the season.

“Yet you can’t get to January and just say, ‘we’ll see what we need’. You see the activity leading into the start of January. There’s an early flurry so you have to do your work beforehand. Our work is being done now. You always ask yourself the ‘what-if’ scenario. What if A happens or B happens. What if that player leaves or that player is injured, etc. All the various scenarios that you could imagine. You have to make sure you have options and our work has to be done now. Leaving it to December is way too late.

“We’ve maintained lines of communication with the chairman. We are already clear about what we think we need and how the squad is shaping up. Also areas of perceived weakness, where we are vulnerable, where we’ve been exposed. You have to go through everything and study it. It’s the same as any other business. It’s not just about football – in any business you need to make sure that communication is really clear and that messages are relayed so we are in a good position to act as and when we need to.”

Warburton believes the message sent out by the awards he and Tavernier collected yesterday is that his team is doing all the right talking. At Brentford last year, he also bagged such monthly accolades and, with endearing humility, the Ibrox manager does not take any such recognition lightly.

“The more we can have of those the better.” he said. “I got a couple last year. Not quite enough for a trip to Ikea yet for another shelf but we’re getting there slowly. It would be ludicrous if you didn’t appreciate them. It speaks volumes about the work the players are doing, the commitment they are showing and the quality they are showing. There will never be a complaint from us about winning an award.”