HANDILY for a centre-half, David Weir’s timing has often proved exceptional. He left Rangers mere weeks before their financial woes were finally laid bare with a dramatic slide into administration.
The newly-appointed assistant manager has now returned to a club in the process of being mended, or so it was claimed yesterday on more than one occasion. In the interim there has been a lot of pain for those with the Ibrox club at heart.
“I am grateful to Mark for giving me the opportunity to be successful again”David Weir
Weir is plainly one of them. The troubled recent history is a reason why he has returned only once, for a game against Queen’s Park, since an emotional farewell to the Ibrox supporters at half-time in a Premier League fixture against Aberdeen early in 2012.
He made just one appearance for Ally McCoist in a turbulent season that started with European exits at the hands of Malmö and then Maribor and spiralled even further into disarray with the financial implosion under Craig Whyte’s regime.
Fortunately, Weir is associated more with the success achieved in Walter Smith’s second spell as manager, when he skippered the side in a Uefa Cup final and won eight major honours. So it must be considered noteworthy that the man likened to Rangers legend and club ambassador John Greig by director Paul Murray yesterday chose to stay away.
“I have been busy,” Weir explained, when asked if his exile was deliberately intentioned. “I’ve been working and quite far away the majority of the time. But there was a bit of that. Obviously there wasn’t great news coming out of Rangers for a couple of years there. So that allied to work swung the decision really.
“It has been difficult for every Rangers supporter to hear the sort of stories to come out of the club,” he added. “The news has all been negative. These have been difficult times for the club.
“But hopefully with the help of Paul [Murray] and John [Gilligan], the backing of the board and Dave King as well we can take the club forward and start getting some good news stories and start talking about football. We can start talking about things we all want to be talking about by getting a team on the pitch that is getting Rangers back to where we all want to be.”
The 45 year old Weir admitted he could not have dreamed about being back so soon as part of the new management team headed by Mark Warburton. Indeed, at one stage it seemed more likely that Weir would climb the ladder at Everton, where he started his coaching career and for whom he played for so long.
He did in fact begin his management career as manager of Sheffield United in June 2013. He was sacked in October 2013, after just one win in 13 games. Did he fear his manager’s dream was over before it had begun?
“I was just disappointed with how it ended but you move on,” said Weir. “Life and football are full of disappointments but it’s how you react and recover.
“I was lucky that after a disappointing experience, I had a really good one after it. You learn from the bad ones and you learn from the good ones as well.”
The good experience which he credits for reinvigorating him was at Brentford, where Warburton invited Weir to join him. They had met when Weir was a youth coach at Everton and Warburton was the inspiration behind the NewGen series, an innovative cup competition for youth teams all across Europe.
“I was working with Everton and was keen to get involved in the competition so I had various meetings with Mark,” explained Weir. “That was probably the start of the relationship and then we kept in touch.”
Weir and Warburton led Brentford to promotion from League One in 2014 and then to nearly everyone’s surprise, they had them challenging for promotion to the Premier League last season.
Again, to nearly everyone’s surprise, they were informed that their contracts would not be extended several months ago. Brentford then lost to Middlesbrough in the play-off semi-finals but Warburton had already established himself as a manager of substance. Was Weir impressed in their early days together at Brentford?
“I would be lying if I said I was convinced he was going to be a success,” he said. “But I knew him as a man and I liked him. I thought he was going to be a success but I don’t think you can ever guarantee it.
“I thought he had all the attributes and I liked him as a man, which is really important that you get on well with somebody and respect them and they show you respect.
“That was the biggest thing,” he added. “When we got the Brentford job, we were fourth in League One. In the 18 months to two years we were there we moved the club forward so, hopefully, that has given a bit of reassurance to the Rangers fans and everyone associated with the club that we can be a success.”
“I definitely owe him,” added Weir, who acknowledged he was at a low ebb following his Sheffield United tribulations. “After the disappointment at Sheffield you lose your confidence. That’s natural. When you lose your job you lose your confidence.
“For Mark to give me the opportunity to work again so quickly was great for me and I am grateful to Mark for giving me that opportunity to be successful again and to get back the belief that what I was doing is right.
“That sums up the kind of fella he is. He is a straight talker and you believe in him as soon as you meet him and work with him. I liked him from day one. When I got the opportunity to work with him I thought it was the right opportunity for me.”