Appointed as Rangers 14th permanent manager in the club’s 143-year history in June 2015, Mark Warburton took charge of Rangers as they looked to finally return to the top flight after three years away. The ex-Brentford boss, and his assistant Davie Weir, immediately embarked on a recruitment spree bringing ELEVEN players into the club in the summer transfer window. The players gelled straight away and Rangers went on an impressive winning run as Warburton got his Rangers career off to a successful start as he quickly led his side to the top of the Championship table.
The good form would continue through to late October before a run of games where Rangers only picked up 8 points in 6 games saw Hibs get back into the title race ahead of the clash between the two sides just after Christmas. Rangers would beat Hibs 4-2 on December 28th and never look back in the league table.
As 2015 turned to 2016, Warburton continued to rebuild his squad with the addition of Harry Forrester, Maciej Gostomski, Michael O’Halloran and Billy King joined the club as the chase for three trophies continued;St. Johnstone eliminated the ‘Gers from the League Cup but a unique treble of Scottish Cup, Challenge Cup and Championship was still on offer.
Rangers would continue their inevitable march to promotion throughout the first quarter of 2016 and it was finally secured at the beginning of April and a week later the Challenge Cup would be won by the club for the first, and hopefully last, time in history.
Shortly afterwards, Warburton would face his first Old Firm clash as the Glasgow rivals went head-to-head in the Scottish Cup semi final at Hampden. Rangers triumphed. booking their place in the final in May, but it was to be the beginning of the end for Warburton.
A run of games without winning in the league after the victory over Celtic saw Rangers go into the cup final against Hibs looking to find some form and lift the final piece of a treble likely never to be completed again but Hibs would go on to win in injury-time as Rangers fell to a devastating defeat.
Warburton returned with renewed optimism ahead of the 2016/17 season and again put his squad through a massive overhaul, signing eleven players, as he planned for a tilt at Celtic’s title. High profile signings like Joey Barton, Niko Kranjcar and Jordan Rossiter had fans hopeful of success but a dismal opening day draw with Hamilton set the scene for the rest of the season.
As Rangers continued to huff and puff their way to indifferent results, injuries and poor discipline restricted Warburton’s use of his new signings with Joey Barton sacked for a bust-up with Warburton and Andy Halliday, Niko Kranjcar tearing his ACL and Jordan Rossiter suffering a serious injury/rare case of dwarfism and others suffering constant niggles limiting their game time. And there was the 5-1 pumping at Celtic Park.
By the end of 2016 Celtic were that far ahead of Rangers in the league that they could lose every game between now and the split and we’d only just be drawing level on points and fans were beginning to lose patience. The botched transfer window aside, Rangers struggled to look like a team made of of professionals let alone one who had ‘trained well’ and ‘worked hard’ all week.
Seeing the same mistakes made, time and again, by the same players was the last straw for supporters and by last week 65% voted in favour of his dismissal (in a poll by GTBFO).
Despite recent results Warburton was expected to be in the dugout for this weekend’s Scottish Cup tie with Morton but it will now fall to Graeme Murty to take pick the team. Warburton and co look to be off to Nottingham Forest and Rangers begin the search for the club’s 15th manager.