MARK Warburton believes he and David Weir can revive Rangers and restore them as serious rivals to Celtic at the summit of Scottish football.
Former Brentford manager Warburton has confirmed for the first time he has held initial talks with the Rangers board over taking charge at Ibrox. The 52-year-old was last night priced as short as a 1-2 favourite by bookmakers to get the job.
Warburton left Brentford at the end of the season after leading the unfashionable London club into the English Championship play-offs.
The former Watford coach had been assisted at Brentford by ex-Rangers captain Weir and the duo are under serious consideration by Ibrox chairman Dave King and his fellow directors.
Stuart McCall, who took the role on an interim basis in March but saw the season end in disappointment with defeat in the Scottish Premiership play-off final, remains a candidate.
But Warburton, the former London city trader who forged his coaching reputation as academy director at Watford, is confident he and Weir would be the right men to take Rangers forward.
“I would be doing myself and Davie Weir a disservice if you talk about any job and say we haven’t got the attributes,” Warburton told BBC Scotland.
“You have to have the confidence and self-belief in what we can do. Not in an arrogant way – far from it.
“But I’d like to think we’ve shown we have the attributes required to do a good job at a football club.
“Rangers and Celtic are the two big teams, obviously. That’s known globally in football. Whoever comes into that seat, the job must be to get them back to competing neck and neck with Celtic, so to speak, and pushing on from there.
“Whoever the candidate is that comes into that job, he must appreciate the size of the task in terms of the history of the club and where they have to be.
“This is not just about solidifying and steadying. This is about making significant progress in a designated period of time. I’d hope very much we would have those attributes but I’m sure many others do as well.
“Any manager would be very flattered to be linked with a club like Rangers. The tradition and history of the club is well known. It has an incredible fan base.
“It is always good to be linked with a job of that nature. I’ve had some nice discussions, some informal ones to be fair. That’s the right way for any club.
“The first meetings are always informal. You are looking to see if there is a chemistry between the parties. Then you can move forward from there.
“We’ve had a couple of informal meetings. I appreciate the kind comments everyone makes about the job we did at Brentford. But there are not many jobs in football where you feel the chemistry is right and you can go in there and add value and make that difference. So for all parties – coaches, managers and the club obviously – it’s about making the right decisions. Because these type of decisions are key to the future of the club.
“The health of the football department is of paramount importance. We’ve had one or two discussions and we have to see what happens now and over the coming days.
“It’s important that the parties get on and your football philosophies are aligned. Informal discussions were held and we’ll see how it goes from there.”
While Rangers’ immediate priority will clearly be to achieve promotion from the Championship next season, Warburton would be keen to address the need for more sustainable success at the club.
“Any manager, not just myself, looks to add value to the project,” he added. “If people are looking at short-term – six or nine months – I think it’s the wrong approach to take.
“So any job that myself and Davie Weir would look at would be about going in, having a project and being able to add value to any football club or football department.
“That’s not the real detail. The bigger picture for us is the job that needs to be done and do we have the attributes to do that job in an effective manner.
“I’ve got to be very respectful. I’m sure a club like Rangers has got a big search process underway.
“But from my point of view, you go into any club and the key thing is to clarify expectation. So what do the board and the owner want from a new manager or new coaching team.
“What would be the short, medium and long term targets? Without getting too technical or all statistical, you are looking at what the KPIs [Key Performance Indicators] are for the club.
“Then, as I say, do you have the attributes to do it – building the youth, using the youth, utilising the current squad, making the necessary changes and preparing the team to make the move forward.”
With rival Championship clubs, most notably Hibs, already some way ahead of Rangers in terms of recruitment and planning for next season, Warburton is keenly aware of the need for a swift conclusion to the Ibrox outfit’s managerial search.
“Time is of paramount importance to any club,” he said. “The pre-season period is the key time when you can introduce players, get the new recruits on board and build them into the philosophy and history of the club.
“So it’s a very important time, without a doubt. Any clubs currently looking for a manager or coach will look to do so in the next two or three weeks.”