Warburton Is Claiming Success With His Signings. I Wonder What He Thinks Failure Looks Like.

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Yesterday I read a truly extraordinary piece from Christopher “Union” Jack in The Evening Times, where he pronounced Mark Warburton’s signing policy a success, based in no small part on the words of the manager himself. I was dumbstruck.

I’m not sure how you define success when someone who thinks an expensive project that looks doomed to failure qualifies under that term. This guy has put together the second most expensive squad in the country, and he’s signed over 20 players, only to find the team loaded down with dreck. His answer to that isn’t better coaching, or trying to assemble a decent team out of the best of them either.  It’s to sign more players.

This guy is like the worst Football Manager players, the ones who think every problem has only one solution and that’s to spend money.

Brendan Rodgers has moulded something brilliant with only five signings; the real trick was taking the players who were already at the club to a higher level than Ronny Deila managed. That’s where his impact has been most keenly felt.

Warburton has only got away with this nonsense because of a series of breaks, both good and bad for him. The first is the injury to Kranjcar which is probably the best thing that’s happened to the Sevco boss this season. It’s allowed him and the media narrative to be constructed around the idea that this is a player cut down just when he was starting to show what he had, and it’s utter bollocks. Because Kranjcar had one moderately good display in the club shirt; it just so happened that it was the last one he played in.

On the back of that this signing – which until then matched the textbook definition of “expensive failure” – has been heralded a success.

Only the dumbest Scottish hack could have bought into that, which of course Union Jack did without a single murmur of dissent.

Joey Barton’s disastrous failures on and off the park will soon be airbrushed from history as a sort of aberration. Warburton will try to dodge any responsibility for that at all, and of course the media will make sure he never gets any for it. The player himself shoulders the blame, which wouldn’t be wrong but for the number of us who said it would go just this way, that it would end in disaster, that the signing was a time-bomb primed for detonation from the start.

If we saw it coming – and especially when Warburton let the player mouth off about Brendan and Scotty and others – why didn’t he? It’s a catastrophic failure of judgement for which any other manager in the country would be under intense scrutiny.

If it stopped at these two then he might have a case, but even his so-called “success stories” aren’t functioning at the moment, with Waghorn and Tavernier failing to impress against a better class of opposition than last season. A lot of people had kidded themselves on about these two and his other “big names”, such as Halliday and Holt. These guys aren’t more than bog-standard mid-table footballers, the kind you find at Motherwell and St Johnstone.

I think the litmus test of any signing they’ve made is to ask a simple question; would any of these guys get into an Aberdeen team where everyone was fully fit? Is there a midfielder at Sevco you would drop Ryan Jack or Kenny McLean for? Would you swap Waghorn for Rooney firing on all cylinders? Would you leave out Jonny Hayes or Niall McGinn to accommodate Harry Forrester or even Barrie McKay? Would Andrew Considine or Mark Reynolds really drop out of the team for Rob Kiernan or Clint Hill? And is Wallace really a better player than Andrew Shinnie when he’s played in his right position at left back?

Aberdeen fans would debate with you all day, every day, on that and to me this tells its own story. None of them would turn up their noses at Tierney, Armstrong, Forrest, Brown, Simunovic or Lustig far less Griffiths, Dembele, Sinclair or Rogic.

No Ibrox manager has ever had such a narrow definition of “success” in the transfer market; there are around a dozen of his signings who wouldn’t get into an average SPL team far less the ones at Aberdeen or Hearts. That’s even more damning.

All of this flannel has a purpose, of course.

The club’s AGM is coming up at the end of next week and this is about getting all the ducks in a row, and restoring some positivity to a place that’s in bad need of it after the Barton fiasco and their indifferent start to the season, made all the worse for their fans by what’s going on at Celtic Park.

And course, that’s their own fault because the real problem here is that this is a club that judges itself according to our standards instead of simply trying to make sure they’re better than the other teams in the league. They simply assume that, which is why the pain isn’t over but has barely started yet.

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