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.”