RANGERS manager Mark Warburton expressed his dissatisfaction with what he regarded as a substandard performance from his team against Hibs despite maintaining their 100 per cent winning record this season.
A stunning free-kick from James Tavernier earned Warburton’s side a 1-0 victory at Ibrox which leaves them sitting at the top of the Championship table, already six points ahead of sixth-placed Hibs who are expected to provide their biggest challenge in the promotion race.
Rangers have now won all six of their competitive games under Warburton but the Englishman was less than impressed at how the latest success was achieved.
“To have a packed stadium at Ibrox and to get the right result and six wins out of six is of course pleasing,” said Warburton. “But we’ve got to accept we fell below the levels we want at certain times today and we’ll analyse that and learn from it.
“The squad are keen to do that. It would be too easy to say ‘three points, thanks very much’ and move on. Instead, we’ll learn from it and hopefully be a better team for it.
“We were loose in terms of our ball release and decision-making. We need to take better care in the final third of the pitch.
“We thought Hibs’ game plan would be to sit in and hit us on the counter, which they did on two or three occasions through our sloppy play.”
Warburton refused to read any added significance into striking an early season blow against Hibs.
“No disrespect but it’s just another three points,” he added. “Regardless of whether you beat a top-of-the-table team or a team at the bottom of the table, it’s still the same three points.
“Our focus has to be about being the best we can be every single week. That’s the key to the group. There is a lot of talent in that dressing room but we need to recognise the levels we need to reach every single week. It can’t be up here one week and down there the next, there must be a consistently high level of performance. I think we’ve got the players to do that.”
Warburton has added to his squad with the loan signing of 18-year-old midfielder Gedion Zelalem from Arsenal who could make his debut in Wednesday night’s League Cup second round tie at Airdrie.
“‘I’m delighted to get Gideon,” said Warburton. “It’s down to the people at Arsenal and a lot of hard work by the people here, too.
“He is a very talented player. He’ll have to work hard and earn his pitch time, which I’m sure he’ll do.
“He’s here until January with a view to extending if all goes well. That’s about us making sure he’s right for us and him making sure we’re right for him.”
Hibs manager Alan Stubbs was left to bemoan his team’s wastefulness in front of goal and was also critical of referee Steven McLean’s award of the free-kick from which Tavernier scored, Dylan McGeouch penalised for handball when he blocked a Kenny Miller cross.
“I can see why Dylan was upset at the free kick being awarded,” said Stubbs. “It’s one of those that sometimes you get and sometimes you don’t. It’s very difficult to get out of the way of a ball that’s coming at you at that speed. I think it’s a bit harsh but you’ll find that some referees give them and some don’t.
“I thought for long periods in the game we did very well. Goals change games and we had good chances when the score was 0-0 and you have to take them.”