From the moment that Mark Warburton’s representative waltzed into the office of Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson, the managers position became untenable. Dave Lockwood’s impromptu meeting with Robertson midweek started the wheels in motion that would end the troubled relationship between the club and Warburton. His request to alter the contracts of Warburton, his assistant Davie Weir and Head of Recruitment Frank McParland may have been a simple one but the alarm bells rang out loud and clear to Robertson – Warburton wanted an exit route. The ask was to allow for the wavering of a fee for Rangers to be paid by another club if they wanted to hire their management trio. A strange request, especially by an agent if all was well and the trio were keen to remain. The fact that the managers chair at English Championship side Nottingham Forest was vacant at the time will not have been lost on anyone at Rangers.
Robertson agreed to the exit proposal put to him by Lockwood and the two partied. However less than twenty four hours later, the agent was back in touch attempting to move the goalposts from an immediate resignation to allowing the team to continue working until a club approached. Rangers called a board meeting to discuss clearly annoyed by what they saw was a deliberate attempt at backtracking by Lockwood. at the meeting, it was agreed that Rangers would accept the original proposal and issued a press release stating that the club had partied company with its management team. Warburton’s reaction that night, insisting he hadn’t resigned was laughable as he must have given permission to his agent to go and negotiate the deal even if it hadn’t worked out as planned. The former manager is now set to take legal action in what is another troubling turn of events for the club.
in the meantime, Rangers are pressing ahead with its plans to restructure the management setup by announcing plans this week to bring in a Director of Football to work with the new manager. The club also revealed that it would prefer to appoint a new boss now rather than wait but did concede that it may not be possible to get the right candidate at this stage in the season and that waiting until the summer is a possibility. Both appointments are seen as crucial to the forward momentum of the club which at times felt stalled under Warburton and to many, the jobs will have a huge appeal. Early indications are that Rangers may be looking at Southampton’s Ross Wilson for the Director of Football role. Wilson has had a successful career today on both sides of the border helping Falkirk to establish its flourishing youth academy before venturing down to England for spells at Watford, Huddersfield and now Southampton. He is very highly rated by the St Mary’s club so would come at a hefty price which might force Rangers to look at other cheaper options. Former managers Walter Smith, Graeme Souness and Alex McLeish could all prove interesting options with the latter able to step in temporally until the summer as manager.
That would give Rangers more time to pursue the manager of their choice and the options are plentiful. Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes and St Johnstone’s Tommy Wright are two local candidates who have worked wonders at their respective clubs whilst Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill could be tempted to return to club management. The fans favourite but also the most unlikely given what he has already achieved is former player Frank De Boer. The Dutchman, who played 15 times for Rangers in 2004 alongside his brother Ronald, is available now after leaving Inter Milan but has indicated that he wants to wait until the summer before making his decision on his next job. Whilst returning to Ibrox may have an appeal (likely bringing his brother as well), the stature of the club has fallen significantly in recent years. Added into this the gap (both financially and on the field) that has grown between Rangers and Celtic so competing effectively will be a challenge regardless of the manager.