THE pain of his departure from Rangers is, despite his excitement about the new and considerable challenge which he now faces at Nottingham Forest, still raw.
His exit from Ibrox is also the subject of an ongoing legal action which promises to be, due to the downright peculiar circumstances under which he moved on, complex and protracted.
Yet, Mark Warburton is still, regardless of the highly contentious developments of recent weeks, able to look back on his spell in Glasgow with great affection and, for that matter, no small pride.
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Yes, this term didn’t go exactly as he would have liked it to. The return to the top flight may not have gone as planned. The signings he made last summer have failed to make an impact or even feature. Performances and results have often been disappointing. The manner in which he moved on was highly unsatisfactory.
But as he was officially unveiled as the new manager of English Championship club Forest in the boardroom of the City Ground - where he was flanked by the two European Cup trophies won by his legendary countryman Brian Clough in 1979 and 1980 – Warburton reflected on his tenure in Glasgow with a touch of defiance.
The success which the former City of London trader savoured in his first term in Govan, during which he finally secured that elusive and lucrative promotion to the Ladbrokes Premiership and came within minutes of winning a unique domestic treble, is what sticks out in his mind, not recent events.
“Please don’t take this in an arrogant way, it is far from it, but I think we went into a situation where we had nine players on our first day,” said Warburton.
“We won the league by nine points, we got to the Scottish Cup final beating three Premiership teams, Kilmarnock, Dundee and Celtic, along the way, we won the Petrofac Training Cup as well and we were sitting second in the league when we left.
“From our point of view, Davie (his assistant Weir) and myself look will back very positively. We were privileged to be at that club and I think most would agree, 99 per cent of football fans would agree, that was a fairly successful time. But now we move on. Our focus now is absolutely on Nottingham Forest.”
Graeme Murty, the under-20 coach who was asked to take charge of first team affairs until a permanent replacement for Warburton was found, may have been in the dugout at Parkhead as Rangers drew 1-1 with Celtic on Sunday.
However, Warburton points out, after being questioned about the inability of , for a variety of reasons, so many of his summer signings to justify the outlay that it required to secure their services in recent months, that he brought in the majority of the players responsible for the result.
“We have had this discussion many, many, many times before up in Glasgow,” he said. “All I would say is if you look at the squad that drew last weekend, I think most of the signings we brought in very cheaply and they performed very well for the club.”
Indeed, Warburton, who has nine games to try and keep a Forest side which is fifth from bottom in the Championship, just two points above the relegation zone, in the second tier of English football, refused to rule out moving for any of his former Rangers players in the future.
“The biggest mistake you can make is to make wholesale changes,” he said. “Let’s give them the chance to show how good they can be. But the summer window is the summer window. Our job will be to bring the best value possible to Forest - wherever it comes from.”
Warurton was lauded as a hero and dubbed “The Magic Hat” by Rangers supporters as he finally led the Ibrox club into the Premiership last summer. He was rewarded with a pay rise and an extended contract after defeating Celtic on penalties in a classic William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final.
This season, though, things haven’t gone quite so swimmingly. There has been disaffection in the stands about his signings, his tactics and his team’s displays. None of that, though, has diminished his gratitude to the followers of his former club. “The Rangers fans know what I think of them,” he said.
Warburton, the former Brentford manager, has just as big a job on his hands at Forest, possibly bigger, as he did when he took over a Rangers side in a state of some disarray nearly two years ago now. He is, after all, their fifth manager in two seasons.
The East Midlands club is beset by offield problems and performing poorly on it. Fawak Al Hasawi, the Kuwaiti chairman, is in talks to sell a controlling stage to Evangelos Marinakis, the owner of Olympaikos. The future is highly uncertain.
The new man at the helm, however, feels that his experiences in Glasgow will be hugely beneficial in his new role. Asked if he was a better manager now than when he took over at Rangers, Warburton replied: “Absolutely. I think any job that you go into, forget football, any job that you go into, you’d like to think that you’re better for the experience, that you’ve learned from the experience.
“I’ve no doubt that I’m a better manager, David Weir as well. I think we are better for the experience. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Glasgow and now I am delighted to be here at Nottingham Forest.”