War­bur­ton re­buffs Wi­gan talk as Bar­ton nears exit


MARK WAR­BUR­TON in­sists that he re­tains the sup­port of 95 per cent of Rangers fans and re­mains com­mit­ted to the job amid ru­moured in­ter­est from Wi­gan Ath­letic. Spo­radic boos rang around Ibrox Sta­dium on Wed­nes­day night after the home draw against St Johnstone which left the club trail­ing city ri­vals Celtic by seven points, hav­ing played a game more.

A busy day at the Ibrox club in­volved morn­ing pa­pers link­ing the English­man with the va­cant po­si­tion at the DW Sta­dium while con­tro­ver­sial mid­fielder Joey Bar­ton met with the club’s hi­er­ar­chy at Ibrox in an at­tempt to thrash out his fu­ture.

Her­ald Sport un­der­stands Bar­ton’s Rangers ca­reer is all but over after the dis­ci­plinary hear­ing, where it was de­cided his sus­pen­sion – in place since Septem­ber 19 after a train­ing-ground spat with team-mate Andy Hal­l­i­day – will con­tinue for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

Mean­while man­ager War­bur­ton said last night that the link with Wi­gan, where he was said to be on a short­list which also in­cludes Karl Robin­son, was news to him and the vast ma­jor­ity of the club’s sup­port­ers re­mained fully be­hind him. He feels the main source of pres­sure on his job prospects comes from “cer­tain news­pa­pers”.

“There is a lot of non­sense writ­ten,” said War­bur­ton. “We have spo­ken to enough gen­uine Rangers sup­port­ers that we are not lis­ten­ing to the five per cent mi­nor­ity, we are not lis­ten­ing to them at all. The feed­back we get is pos­i­tive. They un­der­stand that we are try­ing to play.

“I see Mark War­bur­ton linked to Wi­gan on the back pages of pa­pers,” he added. “How? No dis­re­spect to Wi­gan, far from it, they are a very good club. But where did that come from? I have no idea. Does it re­ally war­rant back pages? I hope the fans know that. And they see the project we are do­ing.”

Rangers face a Kil­marnock side who have claimed seven of their last nine points at Ibrox on Satur­day and the pres­sure is on, even if War­bur­ton in­sists he also re­tains the full con­fi­dence of the board of di­rec­tors. “Why did I say that the boos were un­der­stand­able?” said War­bur­ton. “I didn’t en­joy watch­ing my team in the sec­ond half, so I un­der­stand the boos, ab­so­lutely. But I know the vast ma­jor­ity of Rangers fans have been first class, they have been fan­tas­tic. There have been some rogue com­ments in pa­pers, or ra­dio phone-ins, what­ever it may be. But if the board come and speak to me that is a dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion.

“I talk with Ste­wart [Robert­son, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor] and An­drew [Dick­son, di­rec­tor of fi­nance and ad­min­is­tra­tion] ev­ery day,” he added. “I’ll talk with them this af­ter­noon as they have an SPFL meet­ing to­day. I spoke with Ste­wart last night after the game and An­drew be­fore the game.

“We are right in the mix, if we win our next two games and are sec­ond go­ing into the in­ter­na­tional break. Is that bad for a team which has just come up? Is it bad if we are sit­ting sec­ond after a “shock­ing” start? I am not so sure.”

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