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Mark Warburton Q & A


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Mark Warburton Q&A: Rangers boss lays out signings strategy and the way forward for Ibrox club

Q. You’ve played two pre-season games so far. Happy?

A. Spurs was about trying to bed in a style of play and it was good practice. We were pleased with aspects of the game against Ayr the other night . We created lots of chances and must improve our ratio of taking them but fitness is good.

Q. You have Burnley on Tuesday and then straight into Hibs in the Petrofac Cup next Saturday. Are you ready?

A. We are a week short in the 
pre-season programme so the Petrofac and League Cup are games four and five in our pre-season programme . However, that’s not to say we’re going into them with a weakened team. We are 
going out to win those games but 
everything is geared towards August 8.

Q. Are you almost there, numerically at least, or still short in your squad?

A. We’re looking for more players, we hope we’re close on three or four. But we have a good squad now. If we started now we’d have no complaints. Andy Halliday is in the process of signing. He fits our profile. He’s 23 with good experience and an academy education. He came through here as a young player and went away to develop his career and now he’s back. We’re delighted.

Q. If you get those three or four would that be the end of it?

A. If we can add quality to the squad, within the budget, and add value on and off the pitch, then we’ll do it. We have some good links, we’ll use the loan market and that’s another aspect for us.

Q. Are players and clubs receptive to coming here when Rangers are in the second tier?

A. It’s not a problem, it’s a discussion point. If it’s the first loan for a player it’s not an issue. If it’s the second loan they will perhaps say they want to move up to a higher level. However, to counter that you have 45,000 at Ibrox and the weight of expectation 
at Rangers.

Q. Do you feel you have signed hungry young guys who want to settle down and improve?

A. Yeah, they want to put roots down. Their development has been good. They have gone away, they’ve experienced their first loan, second loan possibly, and now they’re ready to deal with that weight 
of expectation here and further their 
careers. I want young, hungry players 
supplemented by one or two senior guys who can play that mentoring role.

Q. Do you anticipate making any marquee signings this summer, perhaps more senior players?

A. It depends what you mean by “senior” guys. A senior guy for me, back at my old club, could have been a 21-year-old with 160 appearances and England Under-21 caps. Seniority isn’t age, it’s a number of 
qualities and attributes. We will look at three or four more and there will be senior guys within that but we are looking at the average age of the squad to be younger and to bed in a squad to hold us in good stead for the next two, three, four years.

Q. Are Jason Holt and John Eustace still potential signings?

A. Both are around. Jason has come in and done very well. He is an excellent player and we know the situation. John has done well with the physio 
department. I know him very well. When Derby played with John they won 88 per cent of matches. I hope he will have that same role here but we will talk in a couple of weeks. It must benefit all parties.

Q. What about stories Murray Park was looking rundown?

A. The term used was it “needs a lick of paint”. That is what I was told. Then you get here and think: “I have come from four or five Portakabins at the (Brentford) training ground and this is magnificent.” It is a huge selling point for players. This is a Champions League training ground.

Q. Are you comfortable with the financial backing you have received so far from your board?

A. Every player we have gone for so far, we have secured. It is great to have that level of support. Our job is to go to the 
powers-that-be with players who offer value, not short-term fixes.

Q. Is it unrealistic for Rangers to spend £1million on a player these days?

A. If I put the case forward that it was the right thing to do, great. Again, you have to think about words like “harmony” and “unity” within the squad. We build our season around those type of attributes.

Q. Is it quality against quantity?

A. It is always about quality, not 
quantity. If I can’t get the right players we are happy with what we have. We have a really good squad with an outstanding work ethic and commitment. Players aren’t lacking confidence. They want fresh blood to come in who can boost their chances of winning trophies.

Q. How do you assess the quality and reaction of the squad you’ve inherited?

A. I was conscious the disappointment of last season could overhang pre-season. Our job is to make clear the standards we expect.

The reaction of the squad has been outstanding. The unity is first class.

Q. How have fans reacted to you when you’ve been out and about in town?

A. I’ve been in the city once. I wore my glasses and sports cap and I was all right, I got away with it! Seriously, I have been there once. It has been a busy time – life at the moment is the hotel room, shower, bed, 
Murray Park.

Q. Will you move the family here?

A. Not at the moment. I have an apartment I’m moving into and they’ll come up for that. Once I’m into the apartment then you are a bit more settled.

Q. Have you had a chance to 
see any other pre-season games in Scotland?

A. I’m going to a game this weekend but our focus is here. I was amazed at the reaction to the draws for the various cups. Without being disrespectful, I don’t care. It’s purely about Rangers. As long as we prepare and train well, just worry about us.

Q. Are you ready for people making snap judgments on you as manager?

A. No. I’d be lying if I said I was. I’ve come from a smaller club but their fans were equally as passionate about what they wanted. The more information you can give to the fans, the better. I’m told: “Don’t give too much.” I disagree. Make them feel part of what we’re doing.

Q. What’s your message to fans who may be anxious about the absence of a marquee signing?

A. I’d ask them to name one Brentford player we brought in. We were a smaller squad on a tighter budget and it’s our job to get value for money. Just because you spend £1m-£2m doesn’t mean you’ve got value for money. I’d say to fans: “Judge us later, be patient with us.” I’m sure they’re demanding supporters but I hope they see some differences.

Q. But that needs trust?

A. Absolutely. They have to know we are working hard. That’s why I speak about communication. If they don’t know what’s going on, tell them what we are doing, show them how hard the players are working – double sessions every day and gym work. You have to be the best you can be. If not, you get found out. This badge does not win games. I used to say to Brentford players: “We are not playing Leeds United’s history. We are playing 11 players.” We must get the fear factor back.

Q. What about the changes to the canteen menu?

A. I like mini Mars bars as opposed to big Mars bars. Seriously, we are professional athletes . If you are at the cinema until 11pm and playing the next day you will not be at your best. You need a lean and hungry squad where, if standards drop, you pay the price.

Q. Do you have a 
particular era of Rangers’ history you admire?

A. As a kid in North London there were 10 or 12 teams mentioned around Europe and Rangers were one of them. I walked into Ibrox that first day and thought: “If I am with an opposing team I am inspired to play here.” Our job now is to make sure that fear factor comes back.

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My favourites:

Q. What about stories Murray Park was looking rundown?

A. The term used was it “needs a lick of paint”. That is what I was told. Then you get here and think: “I have come from four or five Portakabins at the (Brentford) training ground and this is magnificent.” It is a huge selling point for players. This is a Champions League training ground.

Q. Have you had a chance to 
see any other pre-season games in Scotland?

A. I’m going to a game this weekend but our focus is here. I was amazed at the reaction to the draws for the various cups. Without being disrespectful, I don’t care. It’s purely about Rangers. As long as we prepare and train well, just worry about us.

Q. What about the changes to the canteen menu?

A. I like mini Mars bars as opposed to big Mars bars. Seriously, we are professional athletes . If you are at the cinema until 11pm and playing the next day you will not be at your best. You need a lean and hungry squad where, if standards drop, you pay the price.
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My favourite, "a 21 year old with 160 appearances having the experience"

i.e. able to deal with the responsibility by being brought in to the team early and having the confidence to fulfill his potential at 21, great philosophy.

Q. Do you anticipate making any marquee signings this summer, perhaps more senior players?

A. It depends what you mean by “senior” guys. A senior guy for me, back at my old club, could have been a 21-year-old with 160 appearances and England Under-21 caps. Seniority isn’t age, it’s a number of 
qualities and attributes. We will look at three or four more and there will be senior guys within that but we are looking at the average age of the squad to be younger and to bed in a squad to hold us in good stead for the next two, three, four years.

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Great interview.

Just impresses every time you hear from him. There's a quiet confidence about him that's just addictive.

As much as I was disappointed about not getting promoted , it's only now that it's starting to bite. Call it too many rums , but I think we'd have done really well in the top league with MW in charge.

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My favourite, "a 21 year old with 160 appearances having the experience"

i.e. able to deal with the responsibility by being brought in to the team early and having the confidence to fulfill his potential at 21, great philosophy.

I like the way he's sussed out our local press that like to embellish things ie Auchenhowie.

Even better to see he put them right .

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Same, been a long, long time since I felt like that.

Probably Advocaat or Le Guen.

That's a good comparison,bbb, although I think this is even more exciting because Warburton is an unknown quantity compared to Advocaat and Le Guen. Anybody involved in football knew what we were going to get with Tricky Dicky and that Moonbeams would back him to the hilt with a load of dosh to buy the likes of Gio van Bronckhorst, Kanchelskis, Ronald de Boer etc. Paul Le Guen was also a highly sought after manager after his work at Lyon and although he wouldn't get the budget of Advocaat, he still bought a heap of well known players.

If Warburton and Weir can progress our club back to where we should be, then they will definitely become legends at Ibrox. That dark cloud that has hovered over us circa 2011 might finally be lifted. :pipe:

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He continues to impress. Looking forward to Tuesday's game and the season ahead - he looks to be exactly what we needed. But, lets see how the team performs.

This. Talk is talk but it's the performances of the team on the pitch that really counts. I firmly believe it will be night and day from what we've seen over the last few years but only time will tell.
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