Despite leading Brentford through their best season in 69 years, taking the Bees to the brink of England’s top flight for the first time since 1947 having only been promoted 12 months earlier, Mark Warburton clearly wasn’t ‘Moneyball’ enough for Griffin Park head honcho Matthew Benham.
The former City trader’s fate, along with colleagues David Weir and Frank McParland, was sealed in mid-February when Benham announced the trio would be leaving the club at the end of the campaign, due to their inability ‘to work under the changed structure and approach as it differs from their football philosophy’, according to a statement on the club’s website.
To ensure the long-term prosperity of the club, in their words, Brentford will adopt ‘a new recruitment structure using a mixture of traditional scouting and other tools including mathematical modelling’, with Marinus Dijkhuizen, the former coach of Feyenoord feeder club Excelsior, at the helm.
Warburton was always likely to land a decent coaching gig after such a bizarre turn of events, and London’s loss looks to be Glasgow’s gain as the 52-year-old and former Rangers captain Weir head to Ibrox on three-year-deals.
After four galling years of administration, liquidation, and relegation to the lower leagues, Gers fans will feel they finally have something tangible to look forward to.
Warburton’s mantra during his time at Brentford was ‘Plan B is doing Plan A better’, with a paramount focus on passing football and no long balls or panicking in possession.
Having helped establish the Under-19 European club football ‘NextGen’ series, which has been superseded by the UEFA Youth League, Warburton forged links with top English clubs such as Arsenal and Tottenham, using these relationships to loan youngsters such as Chuba Akpom and Alex Pritchard while at Brentford.
Furthermore, the former Leicester and Enfield right-back could have a line to the likes of Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter and PSV Eindhoven, who all sent teams to compete in NextGen, and Warburton also borrowed players from Liverpool and Sporting Lisbon in his last job.
So, Rangers have secured the services of a coach with a purist, passing-football philosophy, door-opening connections to some of Europe’s top clubs, and the goodwill of David Weir alongside him to boot. What could possibly go wrong in their pursuit of the Scottish Championship? (priced at 20/21 with bwin)
Well, Warburton may have had practically unprecedented success at Brentford, but he has only ever managed one club, and for just 17 months at that; an ungenerous analysis of his ‘Plan A/Plan B’ philosophy could be that its idealism is borne of inexperience.
That being said, the positives clearly outweigh the negatives for Rangers, whose new manager was linked with hotseats at Leicester, Fulham, QPR, Aston Villa, Derby, Newcastle, Leeds and Norwich over the past 12 months.