Why is Mark Warburton struggling?


When Rangers secured the services of Mark Warburton in June last year, they had managed to sign up one of the most promising managers in football. Despite his senior years, he was new to the management game, having only gone pro late 2013 with then-League One Brentford.

Gaining promotion at the first time of asking, the Magic Hat nearly did it again the following year with the Bees, only losing out in the playoffs to Boro.

His stock was on the increase, and his move north was seen as a huge coup for Dave King – and that hype was justified as Rangers (mostly) sailed to a Championship title at the second time of asking following the miserable failure by the previous three managers to handle Scotland’s second tier of professional football.

Unfortunately, this season the honeymoon has brutally soured for Warbs, and for the first time, questions are being asked of his ability, with Rangers’ disappointing start to life back in the SPL being magnified thanks to the hype surrounding the club.

But why is he struggling so much? Why exactly is the system which served Warbs so well now looking stale and weak?

When Brentford were in League 1, the standard of the division as a whole was not great – good, but not great. And Warbs was taking over from Uwe Rosler’s high-flying regime which was running pretty smoothly at the time as it was. Securing promotion was a case of continuing that good work.

When they found themselves in the Championship, little was expected of this newly-promoted team, and Warbs’ effective Barca model (4-3-3) found itself able to express itself against bigger teams who tried to play football against him expecting to win.

Hence no expectation delivered good results for the Englishman at Griffin Park. When he arrived at Ibrox, few in Scotland even knew who he was, and for the first few months the results and displays reflected the same approach to him as Championship teams in England had engaged.

However, Rangers being Rangers, expectation grew – unlike Brentford whose ambitions, with all due respect to them, were modest, Rangers’ were not. As expectation grew, opposition started to sit in more, not wanting a ‘battering’.

And while promotion was still achieved, the new land of the Premiership has seen a culture shock for Rangers’ slightly beleaguered manager. Instead of being under the radar with Brentford and able to produce good football without too much hype, the spotlight is instead magnified in his and Rangers’ direction and he is now in charge of the big fish in the small pond.

Psychologically, Mark Warburton is struggling to deal with a defensive league which completely contradicts the more open tactics found in English football while all the expectation is on him to win every match.

Walter Smith’s Rangers dominated Scotland by suffocating opponents when they had the ball, soaking them up and hitting on the counter, while being able to play a bit when need be with individual brilliance. Walter Smith’s system owned Scottish football. Mark Warburton has neither option currently at his disposal – not enough great individuals nor the players as a whole to handle the league, or indeed his own approach.

It is not that Rangers’ squad is bad, it is that it is trying to play to Warbs’ plan in an environment ill-suited to it.

In order to fix it, Warburton would have to completely change his philosophies. Whether he is capable of that is unknown.

Some may wonder then why Celtic’s more free-flowing football works better in the SPL by my logic:

1: It is not free flowing, it is more dynamic – as capable of defence as attack.

2: It has a far higher standard of player.

For Rangers to match Celtic will take a lot of work. The true journey is far from over.


  1. I agree. Seeing Senderos attempting tiki-taki football from inside his own box just about sums up the philosophy.
    Sure, let's see tiki-taki from midfield to attack. And, call me Scottish, but when the ball is anywhere within 20 yards of our goal, I'd like it to be booted to fuck. We only need one look at our defenders to see that that's the only option! But no, Warbs isn't having any of it. He still thinks our defence can be coached to play out like the 1970 WC Brazil team.

  2. I hope Warburton stays, turns things around and has a successful season. But if he can't do it, Phil Parkinson is the man.

  3. I saw a lot of positives today despite the obvious disappointment of defeat. Windass looks a class act and showed he'll trouble defences. McKay was also hard work and probably our best player. If he equalised would we be celebrating a result? I also thought Miller played well. Warburton, perhaps naively went for it when we went down to 10 men, if we'd scored and gotten a draw he'd have been a genius, but we lost heavily in our pursuit of a point. He could easily have put on Hill and closed shop.

  4. Senderos was not match fit and it showed. he has a good C.V. but was exposed in possession and for Pace. Barton talks a good game but he looks to have played one game too much.

  5. His team selection for today has to be questioned Krancar is a luxury and should be brought on when we are leading not to battle in the midfield of the players on the park today pass marks to tav,windass,I am struggling to think of anyone else It has been patently obvious we needed two quality centre backs and the manager has to stop sticking his head in the sand and have more to offer than his four three three formation

  6. God,man as soon as we suffer a setback you are on the managers back,the players backs,are you a messiah who can change everything at a brush of a pen??we have just went through four years of hell,got back to where we belong on a shoestring after years of people raping our club,yes we were soundly beating,poor defending by certain individuals,but if you have a better setup/answers then apply for the managers job as you do nothing but come up with criticism when we are defeated or draw,we are in a rebuilding process so give us a break,today was not nice we all agree,but if your not happy and are unwilling to wait for progress go to the other side,you do nothing but want to fill the space with criticism. Get a grip

    • Bluenose 11 Sep.
      well said mate I agree with you , do so many Gers fans really think it was going to be so easy , just to walk back in to the SPL AND WIN WIN WIN, fuck me get a grip of reality, we need time ,a lot of time , let the team settle and give the manager a chance , give RANGERS a chance to live again if you so called fans cant wait then go …that simple we dont need you ….

    • Your both deluded! All this " look where we were 4 years ago" is utter nonsense and needs to stop being used as an excuse. Mark Warburton is totally out of his depth it is that simple. And rebuilding process? What are we rebuilding with Krancar, Hill, Barton, Senderos? You may have confidence in a guy whos managed less than 150 games in his history and somehow had 3 transfers and signed 20 odd players and STILL built the worst team in the clubs history but I don't and plenty of fan have woken up to it. Personally he desperately tried to so hard to sign Eustace who was 36 had been out for half year with knee ligament dmage I know he was not what we neeeded. They when he let Darren macgregor walk to our biggest rivals for free and replaced him with a much much worse player in rob Keirnan it was the final straw. Some fans want to wake up and realise Mark Warburton is the new Ally Mcoist – or is signing over the hill players on big wages, not giving the youth a chance, playing one dimentional football, having a terrible defence, signing his old pals NOT what mcoist was hounded out for?? Check your heads because Warburton is the exact same with better resources. Clueless, out his depth and NOT the man I want to see in charge of my football club. On £12,000 a week I think we could do a lot better than a Mark Warburton. Must be someone who can build a defence in less than 20 players??

  7. Even with eleven players on the park Rangers look disjointed and look like they play with a man short. Whether in defence , midfield or looking at the striker position they look like a man down. I think a Rossiter/Windass/Holt midfield can give us a better ball winning feature to our game and more penetration through opposing defences. The three players mentioned along with MOH and Hodson should be ever present. Hills, Sanderos, Miller, Kranjcar and Barton should be dropped. Tactics leave a lot to be desired. Surely we will see some young players come in to next week's team.If not I despair.

  8. Is not Warburtons fault, the players let him down especially Senderos. He had made a very attacking change just before that and looked like getting back into it when clown went and did that.

    I thought he set up well today, Celtic are vulnerable if you get at them, showeshowed this in the first half but the players started ththe game like it was a friendly which is not good enough.

    The score flatters Celtic as had 11 stayed on the pitch the game could have been salvaged. Weir also let him down by getting sent off. He knows the scene better than anyone and should have been thee to help. But marks my words the magic hat will be picking up silver this season.

    In King we trust.

    • In King We Trust. ……..are you kidding.

      The man is a complete charlatan yet the deluded amongst our support can't see what's in front of their eyes.

      That was Dave King's team on tbe park yesterday, a bunch of ageing, overpaid Bosmans looking for a final wage packet.

      That's 6 IAR now a certainty……..will they go on to 9/10/11 with CL monies to improve the team whilst we struggle to keep the lights on with Rangers 1872 monthly contributions, contributions which will fall off a cliff when the fans realise that they, and not King co, are funding the club.
      Transparency?……….,there is none. Let's see what the annual accounts look like to see if the financials have been turned around,

    • It is not Warburtons fault? guessing you were one of the magic hat brigade and now can't accept whats happening. Mark Warburton never has been and never will be the man for our football club..PERIOD!

  9. It's not Jst about nieve with tactics is about the signings made the 2 signings in summer shud have been 2 quality centre half nothing agains garner bt that money shud a b used in defence instead of in positions wer already have an abundance of players out of our four centre halfs I don't think any of them are upto it. Rossiter our most consistent player this season so far left out.Barton, kranjcar and McKay not kicked a ball this season so far. Forrester again got us out a hole a few times awready this season n been scoring goals left out. Ohalloran electric pace cud a cost a lot of problems the day not playing while McKay can't kick his own arse n a striker in Miller playin out wide does make sense he's not playin his strongest team in my opinion but coming down to name n c.v. N favouritism I.e McKay kiernan n foderinham. We have not kicked a ball since Scottish cup semi drop a lot of point n conceded way to many goals so he must change his tactics or there is only one way we re goin sitting 3rd at min n goin to pitodrie n tynecastle doesn't fill me with confidence.

  10. £22 million. Thats the difference between the price of the squads that played today. "struggling" When you are in the bottom half of the table mid way through the season is when you could use the word struggling, but its a bit overly dramatic to say that 5 games in and sitting 3rd in the division. Warburton had Brentford in and around the playoffs in the english championship all season and made it into the playoffs for the EPL first time of asking. On feb 2nd of that season it was announced that even if warburton succeeded in getting Brentford into the EPL he would no longer be manager. Brentford then immediatly when on a bad run of 5-6 games which had that not happened they would possibly have won the league. Rangers have lost one game of football and people are saying he should go. Who would be a Manager !

    • You are totally living in the past! he went on to a run of 5 or 6 bad runs or would possibly have won the league…brilliant eh. Thats what Gers need a guy who could possibly win the league! Managing Brentford and managing Glasgow Rangers is two different things and Warburton is out his depth. he is the new Ally mcoist.

  11. Far too early to put the boot in. However, my concern would be that the youth and pace we had in the team on MWs arrival seems to have disappeared with Barton etc. Let's stick behind the Hat and support his efforts to get us back on track. As supporters we have to play our part, let's get behind the man and prove WATP.

    • Far too early to put the boot in…….are you serious?

      That's the league challenge over and it's not even half way through September.

      Aberdeen, Hearts, Ross County coming up….will we get 9 points, nae chance.

      10 IAR is staring us in the face yet the deluded amongst our fans think Warbs and King are beyond criticism.

      If the Rangers 1872 contributions start to dry up the financial mess behind the scenes will come back to haunt us.

  12. This is what happens when you tie a managers hands behind his back and give him fuck all money for players, King promised over investment for first year and said sb money would be used for signings and he'd match it? ???? Hopefully gers fans will start seeing King for what he is, liar and charletan

  13. I have to say that he has brought in quite a few youngsters who seem to have the talent needed, why isn't he playing them instead of these old "experienced" guys getting to look a bit like the Ally show right now

  14. Rob Kiernan is fuckin shit & that is why Warburton is struggling cause he keeps playing him , first goal today his attempt to header ball was fuckin woeful, second goal gives the ball away every player caught up the park, third goal he was touch tight to dembele then drifted off him to give five yards of space to create goal, worst of all he kidded on he was injured cause he had a fucking nightmare, now last year about January the magic hat told us Kiernan could play in epl no probs Mr Warburton you are a magician not a fuckin comedian, Kiernan has just about played a part in every goal we have lost this season , if this post seems a bit harsh so be it because I am sick to my back teeth of watching a player you know is going to make an arse of it at some point in the game & you know the manager will do nothing about because he thinks the sun shines out of his arse

    • Absolutely spot on… Kiernan has no positional awareness, he can't head the ball and he certainly can't pass it.

      If that was Wilson I reckon we'd be better off… even though he's not the answer

    • Keirnan is the worst centre half I have ever seen in a Rangers jersey and if Warburton can't see that then he should be sacked. We should sign Callum Paterson from Hearts and push Tav forward into right midfield as well, because Tav is brilliant going forward but dodgy defensively. Sick of Warburton.

  15. Warburton is far too attack minded. When Keirnan was injured the obvious thing to do was stick on Hill and limit the damage, instead he put on Forrester when the game was already lost. Within a minute Senderos was sent off because he had been left exposed by not having a central defensive partner alongside him, when he wasn't match fit. Warbs is 100percent to blame for us going down to ten men and letting in two more goals. We should boot the ball into row Z when we are defending, not playing tippy tappy crap on the edge of our own penalty box! Also drop Barton as he is over the hill and play Halliday.

  16. If Warburton can't see keirnan is shit probably one of the worst player's ever in a rangers shirt then we're in big trouble

  17. Got to agree that he has been responsible for a lot of goal losses this season, especially today. The sooner Wilson is fit again the better. And we need to stop trying to play the ball from back to front as we are giving goals away as we don't have the players who can play it out. Unlike some people, I thought that Barton had a good game today, showed leadership qualities that our captain never does.

  18. There were were periods of good play today, some half decent possession at the beginning of the second half.
    Windass was outstanding, tav and mckay were decent, the rest?
    the modern game is more about speed than skill, we have no speed, period!
    Miller & kranjar should be cameo players, not starters.
    The gulf is clearly there.
    In a few months the board will be writing this season off and turning to next summers transfer window for another clear out and hopefully some players at the beginning of their careers.

  19. Fantastic reply. Why are we getting so negative? Give the man time. After some of the dross we've watched in the last four years, Warburton has got Rangers playing football again. Yes, Celtic smashed us, but let's never forget, four years ago we were almost all Partick Thistle fans, as Rangers were on the brink. Get behind the team and let's enjoy that we have come back from the brink of death.


  20. Reading all these replies, we all must have been watching different matches. That team has been put together on a budget of slightly less than fuck all. We got fucked, let's accept that and get behind the team. It's only the start of the season and we have to make do with the hand we've been dealt with. We've come a long way from the 8 players Ali had to start again with.

  21. if we could choose 4 teams to play b4 yesterday they were the team's to pick to jell our team and we couldn't do that why have we change from fast passing game to this drivel we get now is it to suit new players? let's get back to it get MOH a run in team and other younger players

  22. It's a lack of funds tbh,we have signed 3 players who r passed there best let's be real barton kranjcar and hill they r crap,I thought we might have learned our lessons from last season when mediocre teams were scoring for fun against us ,rangers need hard cash and that is the bottom line ,we r going to struggle big time against Aberdeen hearts and I wouldn't fancy our chances against hibs or dundee united in any of the cups ,av studied this gers team and they lack quality big time but there's no harming in dreaming if u think rangers will win the league

  23. 3rd in the table in the SPL after so long out of the top flight on a shoe string budget (remember Warburton said Brentford had a bigger budget than he has at Rangers and they have the second smallest in the English 2nd division) is hardly struggling. Its unrealistic to think you'd be winning the SPL in the first season back after all the off field troubles. For me, the only thing i agree with is to see if the manager can adapt his footballing style. With decent investment I'm sure he and Weir will be able to improve the on field situation. A decent cup run and qualification for a European cup would be an amazing achievement this term.

  24. forget buying players bring the kids through this year at least we know they will play for the shirt and not top up there pensions

  25. Mark Warburton is simply out his depth it is that simple. Too many deluded fans can't see by it. The Warburton who spoke the talk when he first came isn't the Warburton we see now! Going to give youth a chance?, young players need to know there is a pathway for them to the first team?…So far we are signing loan players from Raiths youngsters( a first division academy, and struggling to sign any top quality Scottish youth for our own academy with the two most promises youngsters in the country knocking us back to go elsewhere), Can't blame them when they see how Warbs treats Scottish youth! The pathway to the first team is now blocked with over the hill duds on big wages! Did we not see that under Ally? Personally the minute came in and tried the old pals act to sign a long term knee injury player in John Eustace I was Dubious. When he let Magregor walk to our biggest rivals for free to replace him with a much worse defender I was dubious, when he spoke about this great posession game but was failing to score against small championship teams I was dubious, when he jettisoned all the young Scots like Hardie, Murdoch, Walsh so he could train kids from Totennham for them I was dubious, When he watched us get embarassed in the cup final with no defensive pace and his answer was to sign a 37 year old dud who nobody wants in the championship I was dubious, When he signed one of the fastest wingers in the country then refuses to play him because he wants Tav playing as RB and Winger I am dubious. When he starts signing over the hill duds on big wages, playing one dimentional football, talking about judge us in May,having 3 transfer windows and signing over 20 players and STILL managing to build one of the worst defences in our clubs history then I am not suprised…It's what you get from a guy who was the cheap option, a guy who has managed less than 150 games in his career, a guy who by all intent purposes looks like an academy coach and not an actual manger. He was signed as this messiah who works with youth and build strong youth teams yet can't get the academy of the ground, would rather send our young Scots out to anywhere than give them a chance and sign his odl pals on big wages. Sorry but Mark Warburton is not the man for my football club! Been going to Ibrox since 1960 and this is on of the most undisciplined, unorganised teams we have ever had and I include Ally in that! Time to go Warbs. WATP

    • At last someone who sees the problem..MW.sure he did great beating part time teams but like Delia at celtic, out of his depth.
      Blame lies at Board level. Mismanagement beyond belief. 4 years wasted where youth could have developed into a young hungry premiership team. A couple of genuine experienced pros added and gers would be competing next season. Instead the hype about winning 55 is swallowed.
      The consequences of failing to manage and build over 5 years is now clear to see and there is no plan b, no funding and huge salaries going to incompetent so called experienced pros.
      It will only get worse as the losses on the park and commercially are realised.

    • At last someone who sees the problem..MW.sure he did great beating part time teams but like Delia at celtic, out of his depth.
      Blame lies at Board level. Mismanagement beyond belief. 4 years wasted where youth could have developed into a young hungry premiership team. A couple of genuine experienced pros added and gers would be competing next season. Instead the hype about winning 55 is swallowed.
      The consequences of failing to manage and build over 5 years is now clear to see and there is no plan b, no funding and huge salaries going to incompetent so called experienced pros.
      It will only get worse as the losses on the park and commercially are realised.

  26. I remember times when we pumped septic by similar scores at Ibrox and they had a good team. Don't panic that's football it's all swings and roundabouts. We are a new team with (in football terms) no cash. We have suffered 1 defeat to the strongest team in the league. Did we ever really expect to win the league in the first season back? Support the team. We all seen the depth to which the ' Celtic Family' will plummest with the suicide dolls. Never Never Never give up!

  27. Blaming Keirnan is not the answer here. Do you honestly think leaving him out would have meant competing with celtic?

    Watch the game again and look carefully at a number of players trotting back when possession is lost especially at the goals conceded.
    There is no heart in the team and a huge lack of pace and basic awareness. That is down to competence and coaching shortfalls. MW puts the team on the park.
    MW.sure he did great beating part time teams but like Delia at celtic, out of his depth.
    Blame lies at Board level. Mismanagement beyond belief.
    4 years wasted where youth could have developed into a young hungry premiership team. A couple of genuine experienced pros added and gers would be competing next season. Instead the hype about winning 55 is swallowed.

    The consequences of failing to manage and build over 5 years is now clear to see and there is no plan b, no funding and huge salaries going to incompetent so called experienced pros.

    It will only get worse as the losses on the park and commercially are realised.

  28. I agree at the moment mw is looking a bit shaky and I understand why people are saying he looks out his depth. People like Barton and kranjar shouldn't need time with their experience.If he were to drop them play the youth and it still didn't work then I would agree he is not the man for the job but until he has had a decent run at it….I mean come on guys 5 games???? The man needs time with the new squad and the squad needs game time together in order to gel

    I think we will have a clearer pic of how we are going to look in the next season hit Xmas, we are not going to win the league…fact but like said wouldn't a decent cup run and a wee shot at the Europaleague not be a good return for our first season? I would certainly be happy with that,
    I hate to admit it but the gulf in class is undeniable between ourselves and celtic.
    They look good,Rogers is a good manager and they have depth and money.
    All we can do is do what we do like mw says. The more we play the better we will get and one day we will be challenging properly but let's be realistic every draw is going to be hard fought for every win should be treated as well earned instead of expected,
    We are not that team anymore but with time and the backing from every last bluenose bear there is we will rise once again

    We are Glasgow rangers,54 league titles,the most decorated club in world football for feck sake…let's start to show it once again guys…no surrender

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