Tag Archives: Mark Warburton
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Evolvolution Trumps Revolution

11 Feb

Lets be honest the seeds for Mark Warburtons Downfall were sown in early 2016.  After a blisteting start to the all important Promotion or Bust season the other Nine Teams began to learn from their Homework.  To the degree that you didnt need to send a Scout to build a dossier on Warburtons Rangers all you had to do was check your notes from previous games.  

Warburton had the element of Surprise in his first round of fixtures in league.  Blowing Hibs away in Petrofac Cup first Round surprised many.  

Then a good first round of League fixtures for Warburton and the frailities of back Four with Wing Backs, a narrow mudfield three combined with a mobile front Three.  Starting from Deep keeping possession at almost all costs.  Warburton set rules and they mostly had the letter P as a key.

Possesion and play percentage passes. 

The problems came when other teams realised to defend against this Rangers team all you had to do was man mark in your own half with a chaser running down the Centre Backs in Blue. That lead to Rangers turning from a free flowing Attacking force who would score more than they let in, to a nervous uncomfortable squad in possession who leaked goals. In fact it seemed Rangers needed to go a goal down to begin to look like they were interested in putting the opponents goal in Danger. 

Countless examples of how to Play Rangers and win come right out of the Alan Stubbs Robbie Nelson Play Book.  Against Brendan Rodgers Celtic at Recent League Cup Semi Final with Tavernier in Midfield and Lee Hodson in at full back playing a solid looking 4-4-2 then it took some formation Changes from Celtic to win at Hampden.  

Warburton was is stubborn the joke was Mark had only read one paragraph of one page in one chapter of the Big Book of Football Tactics.  And like a Born Again Christian he believed every word to be Gosple.  Warburton seemed to fail in questioning his own ethos to the degree that he could not evolve.  From early 2016 the signs were there. First Game of Warburton Era versus Hibs at Easter Road a surpise drubbing of Hibs.  Last game of season a toe to toe battle at Hampden in Scottish Cup Final with Hibs winning by using only one page of Tactics.  How to beat a Warburtons Rangers. 

Flattering to decieve with some lovely moments but for me Warburton Plan A became a bust flush and the lack of a Plan B caused the downfall. 

The Warburton Revolution simply failed to kick on and Evolve.  

Ladbrokes Premiership Predictions 2016-17

30 Jul

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It’s that time of the year where fools go and the devil fears to tread simply put its prediction time.  Season 20016-17 can not be understated.  The return of Rangers and the massive additional fan base this gives the league generates interest in every game every week.  Only time will tell on how accurate this prediction is but anyway here goes.

 

Ladbrookes Scottish Premiership Predictions

1 Celtic
2 Aberdeen
3 Rangers
4 St Johnstone
5 Hearts
6 Ross County
7 Dundee
8 Kilmarnock
9 Partick Thistle
10 Inverness CT
11 Motherwell
12 Hamilton
Bren Rog

           Brendan Rodgers               ( © Belfast Telegraph)

 

 

 

 Can’t really be a surprise to pick Celtic to win this season.  Brendan Rodgers simply has to win or be judged a worse failure than he was at Anfield.  There can be no slip ups.  Interesting signings belay the fact that there is simply too many Players on Celtics books. The Wage Bill is enormous and even reopening areas of the Stands and the new still to be tested Standing area will not reduce the pressure of paying wages for no return.  The embarrassment of Lincoln Red Imps shall be the fired at Rodgers if his Hoops lose in Any Match.  Celtic to win but not by Much certainly not more than 10 Points.

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Derek McInnes   (© Ronny Davies)

 

 

Aberdeen in Second seems an easy pick too.  Oh how every Dons Fan wants to forget October 2015.  The usual Consistency Question Mark sits over a soon to be demolished Pittodrie.  The Squad seem to take their eyes off the ball for long periods of the season.  Draws at Home to Partick and Inverness seem to compound the maintaining of Standards set so High by Derek McInnes who has to be attracting other Clubs wishing a vibrant Manager to reverse their Clubs Fortunes.  A Massive season for Aberdeen they simply have to impose themselves as valid Championship Contenders on the Field before as you would expect the Old Firm begin to resume pass the Cup across the Clyde Game they play so well.  In addition Aberdeen’s Board have to not focus so much on the New Stadium In Westhill so that they lose sight of the actual business of Playing Football.

New AFC Westhill

New Aberdeen Stadium Plans          Westhill Aberdeenshire              (© http://www.afc.co.uk)

 

Rangers in Third seems like a newly promoted clubs Dream but Rangers are not really comparable to the usual promoted Teams.  Rangers have a Squad littered with International Class Players,  have a well-respected and feared manager in Mark Warburton.  Also lets mention the Elephant in the Room have more than a point to prove against Clubs whom in the eyes of Rangers Fans and Board were heinous in their victimisation of Rangers in last five years.  As Criminal Proceedings continue it would be unwise to comment but as the dust settles most fair-minded Commentators realise the fervour that was aimed at Rangers and placing the club in the lower divisions was short-sighted and fuelled by Jealous and Hatred.  Almost Every Game Involving Rangers in the Premiership will have this edge.  The Important things for Rangers Fans is to curb this enthusiasm so its channelled positively and not into any Rod Petrie Style Exuberance.  Dave King has Talked the Talk its time he Walked The Walk.  The stage is set for him to back himself and his words the question is will he?

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Mark Warburton 

(© Ronny Davies)

Saint Johnstone in Fourth seems a push but I like Tommy Wright,  he has a workmanlike Managerial style that is displayed by His team week in week out.  Perth is blessed with a good tried and tested Squad that can easily spring surprises in the league and should unspectacular hit fourth with no real sparkling individual displays but a great team ethic.  To my mind it’s really that short and sweet.

Hearts in Fifth,  the Gorgie Club flattered to deceive last year poor in cups and disappointing in the games that mattered.  Letting Neil Alexander go seemed fuelled by either lack of ambition or an unwillingness to Pay a seasoned Professional the going Rate.  The loss of some experienced players in Tynecastle’s home dressing room will only be exposed in the games when Craig Levine And Co can’t walk onto the Pitch during games and look out for Graeme Hogg style targets.  The Fan ownership model and Ann Budge have yet to display that no matter how ethical everything financial is at Hearts it’s yet to deliver anything notable in terms of pure footballing success.  Winning the Championship in 2014-15 will not keep Jam tarts fans happy for much longer.  A long season ahead for the Maroon Legions.

Ross County In Sixth again much like Saint Johnstone the Dingwall side just seem to consistently be there or there about. Mid Table far from mediocre more secure in knowledge they are safe might interfere with European places might change the destination of the Title and might be the team that pushes a Club mathematically into the Championship or play off place.  They will do all this without actually being the club in any of the places neither at top or at bottom.

The  City of Discovery’s only representative in the top league in Seventh place.  Following James McPake’s horror injury the Dark Blues seemed to be in shock for most of the season afterwards.  I witnessed Paul Hartley in a Post Match Press Conference looking like a Crime Watch Victim reliving a Mugging.  Too many times last season Dundee were Mugged, robbed of valuable points and the sparkling performances from Gary Harkins shall not be so easily done with the loss of the Highly talented Kane Hemmings.  I imagine a tight race for seventh place in a league within a league  with Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle.  The lack of Dundee Derby’s will give the Dens fans the chance to lord it over their City Rivals in Pubs and Clubs and at work but the missing sparkle and excitement of the rivalry will detract from the feeling with in Dens Park.

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Paul Hartley post Match

(© Ronny Davies)

 

 

Kilmarnock in Eighth. It is a punt in the dark. Lee Clark has signed a whole new starting eleven!  How quickly they gel and how easily they are accepted is of paramount importance to The Rugby Park faithful.  With their own Celebrity You tuber ready to fire off vitriol from the Rugby Park  Car Park even before the final whistle its very much up to Lee Clark and Co to silence the uneasy dwindling masses who have more than enough to throw at everyone at Rugby Park.  Kilmarnock are a club on precipice of Board room troubles and Player Revolts hand in hand with a Fan Base that is near the end of its tether.

Partick in Ninth for me the best organised team in the league. Alan Archibald has no star players he has a well-drilled squad that collectively is greater than the sum of its Parts . How no Club from down south has whisked Alan away to  pastures new is beyond me. Quietly Spoken and intelligent When you look at the Firhill Teamsheet the twelfth man is listed as head Coach because you play twelve when you play Partick. Hard to break down but the rest of the Clubs have seen chinks in the Harry Wraggs armour the question is has Thistles brilliant manager identified them too and filled them with his excellent organisational tactics for the new season.

Inverness  Caledonian Thistle in Tenth for no other reason than the departure of the vibrant John Hughes and the installation of a Player direct from the Dressing Room as Manager Rarely works  even the Great Kenny Dalgleish struggled and he was the only real successful transition from Pitch to Dug Out in recent times . Saint Mirren suffered Humiliation and relegation two seasons ago following this route, and it is only the bottom twos making better cases to be in these positions that to my notion prevents Inverness following out of the Premiership.  I very much doubt Calley will be out the bottom Six past September and will flirt with Playoff and Relgation all season sure they will still spring a surprise result here and there but not in a way that will propel them up the league.

Will deal with Eleventh and Twelve together or the Lanarkshire derby Hamilton look like their Luck has run out with no new Wonder Kids coming out of their usually Prolific Academy the season looks like a journey back to the Playoffs for The New Douglas Park Club where their Playoff History makes them a force to be reckoned with. Motherwell have the same feel as Dundee United had last term no new blood same old same old for Mark McGhee to pick from and like their Neighbours across the M74 no real exciting Youth prospects to display or even some one in the pipeline.  The New Ownership Model seems to strangle Scotland Assistant Coach McGhee’s ability to raid the transfer market and from disappointing survival last season to automatic relegation seems the most likely outcome in May 2017.

Rangers Looking Forward

6 Apr

It’s a massive summer in the One Hundred and forty three year history of Rangers Football Club.  The journey back to the top Division of Scottish Football has been a long and arduous one.  Casualties have been taken a Rangers Legend has had his Reputation Tarnished and the Club lost a Legend to the evils of Liver Cancer.  Let’s not forget the fortitude of Ally McCoist and Sandy Jardine, when Rangers had no voice these Legends stood up.  When others ran for the hills Ally and Sandy went the took the path least travelled and stood firm.  Only one other Man has faced a dilemma of finding a squad similar to Ally that day the Journey began, Founding Father Moses McNeil. Let no one disagree that history may not reflect Ally’s managerial record in a a good light but in terms of the building a squad only Ally and Moses faced the same challenge.

Bill Stewth, Greame Souness, Willie Waddel and Walter Smith all built successful squads but they all at least could field a team at any given time. These guys may well of picked teams with players they considered not up to standard but not one looked at a player rosta that could fit into a Hackney taxi and would be struggle to fulfill a Tennents Sixes game.

Mark Warburton faces a Summer of challenges and given his track record the Ibrox Loyal are confident that the Londoner has the smarts to make the right decisions and bring in fresh players to bolster the Clubs push to their fifty fifth title.

The return of the Old Firm in the Scottish Cup Semi Final on April 17 give everyone concerned a chance to review and compare the Glasgow Giants. No matter the result its a win-win situation for Warburton. A victory and he knows his squad can take on Celtic and win. He also finds out where he would like to strengthen. A loss and he can identify the weaknesses and set about eradicating them. Either way The Rangers Gaffer will make a list of signing targets and provide recent evidence to aid Dave King and Company to open up their purse string and spend.

Make no bones about it if Leicester can win the English Premiership this year then Rangers can win the Scottish Premiership next year. More likely season 2016-17 season for Rangers is a top three place and possibly a Cup victory. That fits on the curve better than instant gratification. No matter what the Fans expectations have been raised by Team W (Warburton and Weir) the wizardry of a Magic hat and his Apprentice has brought Pride back to Ibrox.

Everyone has their views on what Rangers Need for my two pence Rangers need a snarling hod carrier in midfield someone like John Brown or Terry Hurlock or Harold Davis. A trusted tackler who is a master of the 20 yard pass to the play makers. If this player can also put his laces through a shot from 30 yards all the better. There is for all the skill no shock and awe in the line up presently. No Patrick Viera or Roy Keene type no one to fear physically. The squads weakness arw there to see but there is no psychological fear factor. No moment of realisation for Opponents in the Tunnel.

I am personally not convinced of the defence Rangers. On paper its full of good players well capable of defending in practice it seems to lack solidity and cohesion. Too many silly. Goals have been lost in the backwaters of the Innodrill and Tony Macaroni Stadiums. For every daft goal lost in the Championship it would be two in the Premiership.

Attacking wise Rangers are in OK shape maybe cover for Miller and Waghorn. No one is sure when Kenny will lose it all but under Warburton he shuttles back in the formation for every yard of pace he loses, no one could not predict Miller playing in front of the back four this time next year. When Talisman Striker Waghorn got injured his Midas touch was missed. He will have to return to plastic pitches at possibly Hamilton, Kilmarnock and even Falkirk next year so the chances of similar injuries are there so the squad has to be deepened in strength.

Off the field the Big Tax Case rumbles on this time it’s the Supreme Court sitting in judgement the current aggregate of two to one in judgements makes this one too close to call. Although the last judgement (the only one to go against Rangers) was based on ‘Common Sense’! It seemed to immediately lose its validity on this clause. Common Sense is intangible you can’t measure it and it’s certainly not included in either civil law balance of probabilities tests or criminal law behind reasonable doubt. Common Sense has no value it is neither Black or White or a varied shade of Grey. Common Sense being mentioned in a judgement just opens the door for the judgement to be thrown out. Common Sense is not Common Law it is not any Law.

The Criminal Cases will for most Rangers Fans and the media be akin to the the OJ Simpson trial. The Wee Tax Case and associated allegations and criminal charges won’t just be big news it will be the only news front and back page. Scottish Elections and Euro Referendum will fall by the way. The day of the Judgements from Court come be they Government Spin Doctors will release memos saying good day to release bad news.

Rangers fans just want the machinations of Whyte, Green, Ashley and co gone. These guys time connected with the club is one of shame and accusations. The second you have a Rangers fan considering not buying club merchandise on grounds of the retailer and distributer not on style you have problems. It does not matter if they decide to buy or not the fact they stopped to consider is enough. Playing wise the Dave King’s Blue Knights have to support Mark Warburton and Commercially they have to sort out the mire of hidden paperwork. The excuse of blaming the previous board is as tired as David Cameron blaming Gordon Brown six years ago. Dave King has had a Year in the big blue chair surely enough time to audit the contracts and accounts.

Salvation of sorts could come from an unlikely source. If Newcastle United fall out the trap door of the English Premiership then Mike Ashley/MASH/Sports Direct will be faced with a choice sell a recently relegated majority shareholding English Championship Club that has just missed out on the the biggest Premiership Moneyfest of all time. Or sell a minority shareholding in a Recently Promoted Business. As Newcastle’s value decreases the Rangers value increases. The opportunity to profit on your investment is greater in Clydeside than it is in Tyneside. Ashley will be forced to sell something simply by incredible strict and clear Football League rules. He will also be forced to sell quickly or face points deductions and sanctions. Ask yourself what has more likelihood of a quick sale, 9% of a business that the majority of your fellow shareholders want to buy off you or a whole football club in the slide?

This summer could easily define the next five years and edit the previous decade. Petrofac Cup and William Hill Scottish Cup runs aside this summer is the biggest in living memory for Rangers Fans. Thirty years on from the Sounds Revolution the Summer of 2016 is the Warburton Revolution.

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Manager Report Cards March 2016

13 Mar

When you examine the season so far only really one thing stands out.  The performance of Managers.  With only a few stand out players and a couple of memorable games what you are left with is how well the Coaching staff have done. So in view of  this I have complied a Top Twenty Managers.
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Stubb It Out

20 Aug

Any Club or Manager is well within their Rights to choose who they do business with.  They can pick and decide who to sell Players to whom ever they like.  They can have any motivation they choose to make Public. In fact they can have any motivation they choose not to make public too.

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Allan Stubbs playing the long game at Hungry Hippos

We all understand this but it does not stop the curious case of Allan Stubbs at Hibs.  So ok he says he didn’t want to sell a quality player to a rival, this is ok.  There is no real reason to think any other reason comes into play.  Scott Allan signs for Celtic, Hibs make a profit and life moves on.
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Hibs are due to visit Ibrox and Allan Stubbs concocts a quote on how he considers it a easy job to be Ibrox Manager. Rangers being able to spend almost limitless cash on players at the whim and whimsie of the Manager.

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Rangers Boss Mark Warburton putting up a ballsy defence against misfiring bully boy tactics from along the M8

I have to admit Mark Warburton stood up to this examination of his Rangers Regime rather well. It takes balls to stand up to a bully especially one publicly displaying little knowledge of Rangers History.

It’s not as if the Scouser has ever been more than a visitor at Ibrox. Stubbs rather than concentrating on his own mismanagement of Hibs (look at the start to the season for the Leith Club) or even his disaterious Coaching of the Easter Road side last season (put out of promotion play offs at semi final stage by the worse Rangers squad ever) has decided to turn on the revitalised Teddy Bears under Mark Warburton and David Weir. No mention from the former Celtic centre back of the well publicised rebuilding of the structures and systems within Rangers. No mention that quiet possibly Warburton having to rebuild coaching and scouting and playing squad at Murray Park may be detrimental to the results week in week out. No gentle dig that maybe if Rangers had the Scouting and Coaching Network of Hibernian they could of saved a many column inches in the summer of 2015 by signing free agent Scott Allan in the summer of 2014.

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Mark Warburon and David Weir rebuilding Rangers

Stubbsy devoid of talent, manners, grace and gumption takes aim at Rangers and misses all the easy targets to spectacularly misfire at the one element of the Warburton / Weir management that actually no one had noticed. The reason for no one noticing is that it’s a non issue. Rangers spending this summer has not been extreme. It seems to be well within Budgets of lower end Scottish Premiership and top of Scottish Championship. It is certainly not in the Manchester City or Chelsea or English Premier League levels of many hundreds of millions.

Remember no one put these words into Gormless Gaffer Stubbs mouth. Unless someone is working him from behind no one is forcing him to say these pattently off target remarks. Ir is possible that cash strapped Hibernian will use the transfer fee from Celtic to employ a Public Relations Spin doctor to reel the Manager back into a world that even Hibs Fanatic Irvine Welsh would consider non-fiction. Maybe the Rangers Stubbs remembers facing while a Celtic Player spend wildly but then again wasn’t he in hoops as the product of Celtic splashing the cash?

This is really at the Heart of Stubbs statements every one of his recent tirade against Rangers has exposed his own laughable hypocrisy. Scott Allan asking for a transfer or engineering a transfer from Hibs is in Stubbs’ eyes bad even though it’s exactly what he did as a player at Bolton. Rangers putting unsolicited bids in on Players is distruptive even though His Hibernian Club have put bids in for Players under contract too. Interclub contact being leeked into the public domain even though the news about Scott Allan Old Firm bids came out of Easter Road not Glasgow.

Sir Alex Fergusion was the master of the mind games in his tenure as Manager of Manchester United Allan Stubbs is showing all the signs that he is not even the Master of Hungry Hippos in his management in Leith. In a City full of Comedians every Fringe Festival August Allan Stubbs is appearing in Edinburgh all year round.

SCOTTISH CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTIONS 2015-16

7 Aug

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Ladbrokes SCOTTISH CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTIONS

1
Rangers

2
Hibernian

3
Falkirk

4
Queen Of The South

5
Raith Rovers

6
Dumbarton

7
Alloa

8
St Mirren

9
Livingston

10
Morton

Once again the Championship is where it is at.  Already taken up more column inches and the season has not started yet. 

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Rangers simple have to win this year. No one could have predicted the catastrophic events on and off the field last season and Mark Warburton has invested well yet kept enough experience to settle this side.  The Petrofac Training Cup demolition of Hibernian set a standard that might not always be held up but means that the no brainer is to back the Govan team to win this league and win it comfortably with or without Scott Allan.

This brings us onto Hibernian. Alan Stubbs seems more intent in kicking his rivals transfer bids than kicking his team into shape.  The only positive about the Scott Allan transfer saga for him is that it took away the pressure from losing at home to Rangers so badly in spite of taking an early lead.  Solid in second for the Leith side if they get their act together.  The Hibees have to hope that they will finally win a playoff tie in the new league set up.  Peter Houston’s Falkirk runners up in the Scottish Cup for me are solid in third a good cup team strengthened in right areas with a superb youth system and training set up.  Dangerous in playoffs given their cup record and always a tough proposition at the Falkirk Stadium. Third with a chance in Playoffs.

Queen of the South in fourth seems such a waste but its stable and that is exactly what the Dumfries side are solid dependable with enough skill to cause any team problems.  James Fowler has simply operated a business as usual police and you know for the Palmerston players same as last year and a good shout in play offs is not the worse result ever.  Good cup record too so always a danger.  Raith Rovers Grant Murray has that mix of youth and experience and looking at them it is another year in the Championship gaining experience with the occasional shock to build towards a genuine push next season.  Starks Park on a cold Tuesday in December is a cold and foreboding place and more than a few visiting teams will leave points in Fife.  For their part, blowing hot and cold away from home is a worry for the Kirkcaldy Side. 

Dumbarton in sixth Ian Murray may have departed on a ferry across the Clyde but Stephen Aitken has a solid well-drilled squad with a good mix and the shadow of the rock makes the sons a tricky proposition at any time.  Staying in Championship is their priority. Playing Rangers brings back the historical shared League title glory. 
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Alloa in seventh.  The much-maligned plastic pitch at Recreation Park is a great leveller whether there is anything that wrong with it or not.  It gathered a reputation that Hibs Fraser Fyvie can testify too and this fear makes teams travelling to play the Wasps wary of the sting in the tail.  Danny Lennon should enjoy his trips back to Paisley and his guile; self-assurance and need to get one over his former employers should place Athletic above St Mirren.

St Mirren Eighth.  A dismal season last year with a decision to release Danny Lennon compounded by a strange promotion of Assistant Manager then when he was sacked a senior player!  The only thing that distracted people from looking at the shenanigans in Paisley was the events happening just along the Paisley Road West in Ibrox.  Disastrous home form for the last two seasons and not much better away.  The League Cup Winners of 2013 have choked on the smell of Brasso and choked in the face of opposition from every league in all Cup competitions.  Ian Murray has jumped across the Clyde to sort it out but selling Kenny McLean might stabilise finances but hurt the team.  A year of rebuilding and should stay in Championship without challenging either the top four or endangering relegation spots. Important they keep the Buddies Fans onside too.
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Livingston ninth Mark Burchill is trying to rebuild a club that has been subject to more financial audits than is healthy for any club in recent years.  Do not get me wrong Burchie is the man for this job and although I predict a lowly finish, I do feel they have just enough to stay up. 

Morton Tenth.  The jump up is enormous they done well to beat Dunfermline last year to win promotion but it has to said there is really nothing that makes you think they will set the heather on fire.  Jim Duffy will enjoy the Renfrewshire Rivalry with St Mirren but Greenock will only be a destination in this league for one year.