Rangers say Mark Warburton walked away from Ibrox. The manager says he didn’t. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. That said, it was Warburton’s match day programme notes that provided the club’s voice to supporters for the Scottish Cup encounter with Greenock Morton. The Gers won 2-1, thanks to goals from Kenny Miller and Martyn Waghorn, and did so under the temporary stewardship of caretaker boss Graeme Murty.
But it was the words of Warburton, the man who is now tipped to take over as manager of Sky Bet Championship outfit Nottingham Forest, which gave this cup clash a backdrop of intrigue. Having written his notes before the unholy mess which had both sides providing argument and then counter-argument, there was plenty to read between the lines in what the former Brentford coach had to say.
His overall message to supporters, before he and assistant manager David Weir and head of recruitment Frank McParland left the club, was one of a request for faith in the process along with a generous measure of patience. Ironically, it will be even more difficult for followers to exercise the called-for calm and restraint given the current turmoil perpetuated by the lack of clarity of what actually prompted Warburton’s departure.
Prior to the confusion, Warburton had written that he had often spoken of the weight of expectation at Rangers and of the demands that come with signing for such a “great club”, but that he believed that too often such statements had been taken lightly or ignored.
He said: “The players are here at an unprecedented time, when the club is rebuilding from the very lowest level and yet the expectation remains strong. The fact is that most of us – players and staff – would not be here had the club not been through recent traumas.”
Warburton added that supporters were desperate for the club to return to previous highs and that the “football department” was equally desperate to play their part in helping the club once again taste former glories.
He added: “It is incredibly hard to have to see the club go through a rebuilding process but it is only through time and patience that we will indeed see Rangers back at the top of Scottish football and gracing European venues.”
And while the league title may be a former honour beyond their grasp this season, the Scottish Cup remains on their radar after the victory on Sunday. The visitors took a lead in the seventh minute through Michael Tidser, though the advantage was quickly cancelled out when Miller pounced for 1-1 just six minutes later. Just after the hour Waghorn netted what would be the winner and put the Glasgow giants in the hat for the quarter final.
Warburton or not, Ranger and their fans will be hoping to get past the Pars or the Accies once they settle their tie with the fifth round replay following the weekend’s 1-1 draw.