Mark Warburton was too thin-skinned for Glasgow and Rangers are 20 points short of where they should be in the Scottish Premiership, according to Dave King.
The Ibrox chairman added that he was “not distressed” by Warburton’s departure because, although he credited the former Brentford boss with making improvements at the club, the step up to direct rivalry with Celtic had been too much for the Englishman.
“He is a bit thin-skinned,” King said of Warburton, whose contentious departure from Ibrox is in the hands of lawyers from both sides. “In an environment like Glasgow, having a thin skin is certainly not an advantage, particularly with the media. The media gives guys a pretty hard time, sometimes on facts, sometimes on vapour, but the fact is that it’s part of the Glasgow deal.
“It is a tough environment and if you are thin-skinned it is not going to be easy to adjust to that. When a lot goes wrong on the park, the media is going to be all over you.”
Asked what position he had envisaged at this stage of the season for Rangers – who are 33 points behind Celtic and eight points adrift of Aberdeen – King said: “If we were 12 points behind Celtic and 12 points ahead of Aberdeen I would have thought that was a fair position, at the beginning of the season.
“It may be that between now and the end of the season some of the players start playing a lot better. The fact is, the team certainly underperformed relative to the quality.
“Joey Barton didn’t work out and there was a large cost there where we weren’t getting the advantage of outspending, say, Aberdeen. Philippe Senderos wasn’t playing, Niko Kranjcar got injured, some of the youngsters got injured. We were consciously outspending Aberdeen knowing that we couldn’t match Celtic yet, but it wasn’t happening on the park.
“He [Warburton] might have turned it around, he might have finished second. The season’s not over yet, but the fact is that that it was a choice that was really taken out of our hands.
Rangers thrashed Hamilton Academical 4-0 in their first match under new permanent manger Pedro Caixinha at the weekend, and King said he was comfortable with Warburton’s departure. “Am I distressed about it? No, I think we’re better off now than we were two months ago.”
Warburton left in acrimonious circumstances after his agent, Dave Lockwood, approached the Rangers board, told them that the manager and his assistants, David Weir and Frank McParland, wanted to resign and requested that the directors waive their right to compensation from the backroom team’s next employers.
Warburton claimed subsequently that he had not resigned, although neither he nor Lockwood responded to The Telegraph’s request for them to clarify the nature of the agent’s approach to the Ibrox board, or any of the board’s accusations against them.
Lockwood’s conversation with the Rangers managing director, Stewart Robertson, occurred while the manager’s job at Nottingham Forest was vacant.
However, once Gary Brazil was named as caretaker later that week, the agent told Robertson that Warburton and the others wanted to withdraw their resignations.
Rangers refused and the three men were subsequently appointed to the positions at Forest earlier this month. “It appears to me that what you’ve got now is an engineered outcome, to the benefit of Nottingham Forest,” said King.
“I was approached directly, when they were in negotiation with Nottingham Forest to ask if Rangers would waive compensation and that was the first I was aware they were even talking to Forest.
“My response was that we would not waive the compensation because if the management team did walk out and we had to replace them, we might have to pay compensation, but I said I’d be flexible in how they paid the compensation – maybe spread it over a period of time. That was taken out of our hands with the whole resignation debacle and they’ve all ended up at Nottingham Forest without us getting compensation and we’ve had to pay compensation for a new manager. That’s exactly where I didn’t want to be.
“You can’t un-resign. They resigned, we accepted the resignation, they decided to un-resign. We said you can’t un-resign and they have all ended up at Nottingham Forest. I think one can join the dots quite clearly.”
Shortly before his departure, Warburton complained that he had had little recent contact with the Rangers chairman. “I didn’t appreciate some of the comments that I felt were getting into the media that were emanating from Mark,” King said. “So I wasn’t as confident having a confidential conversation with him, quite frankly. He didn’t owe me but he came into the club and the club gave him a chance to showcase himself.
“He could have said, ‘Look, it’s not working, I’m finding Glasgow very tough,’ or whatever the reason was, and we could have planned the exit. I don’t think it should have happened in such a ramshackle manner.”