Glasgow (AFP) – Breaking up is never easy, but Rangers supporters are still seeking clarity on the club’s split with former manager Mark Warburton following what has been another chaotic week in the life of the Glasgow giants.
The club’s board announced last Friday that Warburton, his assistant, David Weir, and the club’s head of recruitment, Frank McParland, had resigned their positions at Ibrox -– a version of events the trio strenuously deny.
The abrupt departure of the management team came almost five years to the day since the club’s financial meltdown which saw Rangers enter administration in February 2012 over an unpaid tax bill during the short, but chaotic, reign of Craig Whyte.
Liquidation followed in June 2012 to cap an amazing fall from grace.
The club’s rebirth in the lowest tier of Scottish football was seen as an opportunity to start afresh but following a further period of financial upheaval and boardroom infighting, a consortium headed by South African businessman Dave King took control in March 2015.
The new board’s subsequent appointment of Warburton and Weir in the summer of 2015 was widely heralded after the Englishman’s success with unfashionable Brentford.
And the new management team initially hit the ground running as his patient passing philosophy paid off as he led the Gers to the Championship title, Challenge Cup and a defeat of rivals Celtic en-route to the Scottish Cup final.
However, his team came up short on their return to the top flight and have won just 12 of their 24 league matches.
For the Rangers support second is nothing, but Warburton has left the Gers sitting in third — three points behind Aberdeen who also have a vastly superior goal difference.
Worse, they trail Celtic by 27 points as the unbeaten Hoops chase a domestic cleansweep, and it now seems that second has become everything to Rangers as they chase a European spot.
Whether Warburton resigned or was sacked, the Rangers board have pressed the reset button as they search for a way to be competitive with a Celtic side who are within touching distance of a sixth successive title and whose financial clout is growing.
In the interim, under-20s coach Graeme Murty has been put in charge of a team low on confidence and with just one win in their past five league outings.
But after clear the air talks with the first team stars this week, Murty is hopeful of building on last weekend’s 2-1 Scottish Cup win over Morton when the Gers travel to take on Dundee on Sunday.
“I just chatted to them about what they want to do and what they want to achieve and they were really open and honest,” the former Scotland international said.
“They gave each other clear markers on what they expect from one another in terms of behaviour and performance.
“Getting that out in the open and getting them to actually be as open as they were was really beneficial I think.”
As Rangers struggle, Celtic continue to go from strength to strength under former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers.
With the League Cup already claimed, the record-breaking team remain unbeaten in 30 games since the start of the season and have won the past 19 league matches.
That run looks set to be extended on Saturday when the Parkhead side host a Motherwell side that shipped seven to Aberdeen in midweek.
Celtic v Motherwell, Hearts v Inverness CT, Partick Thistle v Hamilton, Ross County v St Johnstone
Kilmarnock v Aberdeen (1300GMT), Dundee v Rangers (1515GMT)
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