I must admit that Mark ‘Warbmeister’ Warburton seems like a perfectly nice chap, and I don’t dislike him.
However, one of The Clumpany’s favourite things about him is the contrast between his image (which is lapped up by those parts of the media who still haven’t washed their hands having shaken The Hand of Warb at his first Ibrox press conference), and a gradually-emerging alternative impression.
The popular image is of Warbo the genial and relentlessly-focused former City Trader who is thorough in everything he does, and who leaves nothing to chance. He is so on top of the detail at all times, and so ‘forward-thinking’ in his approach to the game that you could be forgiven for believing that he actually invented modern football, and is driving its evolution on an hourly basis. Even in the middle of the night as he arrives for training before he has left the night before!
But then you see how he reacted to that defeat against St Johnstone in the League Cup – speaking of his side deserving more respect. And you consider how Alan Stubbs seemingly got under his skin when Hibs closed the gap at the top of the Championship, even though Warbo INSISTED that he was only focused on his own side and didn’t think about anyone else. No really. He didn’t. Not at all. NOT ONE LITTLE BIT!
…And you start to wonder how he might react under some serious footballing pressure.
The Clumpany’s curiosity in this regard was further piqued today by his quite extraordinary comments about Alloa ‘Always Cheating’ Athletic.
Apparently Warbo is deeply unhappy that Alloa have narrowed their pitch to the width of a cigarette paper on a diet, moved their ground to Narnia, locked the wardrobe behind them and left a note on the door saying “GIRUY Warbo, you’ll never take three points off us!”.
OK, so I made that up, but the truth of Warbo’s wibbling is no less surreal. As STV reported:
“SPFL rules dictate the maximum, minimum and recommended dimensions for playing surfaces and Alloa have narrowed their pitch from close to the recommended 68m width to the minimum 60m.
Clubs can apply to change the dimensions at any time, and more than once a season, but must gain the written consent of the SPFL board.
Warburton complained about the rules at his pre-match media conference on Thursday, saying that changing the pitch size was akin to changing the size of the goals.
“I’ve never heard that you could change the playing dimensions mid-season,” Warburton said. “It’s a difficult surface but we played well and dealt with it and trained there before.
‘But now you find the width has changed significantly. It hasn’t changed by a couple of feet, it’s changed significantly. I personally find that bemusing. A change mid-season I just find bizarre. It’s not a problem, we’ll go there and deal with it. It’s not an excuse in any way and we’re looking forward to the game. Speaking to other managers as well, I’m sure they are as bemused as I am. It’s a huge change and we’re surprised it’s allowed to happen mid-season.’
Asked why he was bemused by the change, he answered ‘Would you change the size of the goals mid-season? Would you have two referees, not one, mid-season? It’s just a personal opinion. I’ve never heard of it down south. It won’t change anything from our point of view and, speaking to other managers earlier in the week, some spoke about changing tactics because of it. It’s another challenge but it is a bizarre decision.”
“It’s not an excuse in any way”. Aye, right you are Mark!
My favourite part of his ‘analysis’ was equating Alloa’s altered pitch size to a change in the size of the goals. Which is the worst comparison I have heard since a misguided Clumpaneer remarked that seeing Sevco play was “like watching Rangers”.
Were Alloa to reduce the width of the goal into which their opponents were trying to score to 6 inches, while expanding the goal they were aiming for to a width of 30 yards, then Warbo might have cause for complaint. Especially as there is no provision for it in the rules. Which all clubs and ethereal entities signed up to before the season began.
However, Alloa have done absolutely nothing wrong, and although Warbo insists “it’s not a problem”, his reaction suggest that it most certainly is a problem for him. Such that if I were the Alloa chairman I would now try and have the pitch dimensions changed at half-time in their game against Sevco. And I would certainly have the parking space for the Sevco Not-So-Super Bus narrowed before it arrives for this weekend’s game.
Quite what prompted Warbo’s little outburst today is anyone’s guess. But it gives the impression of someone who is more easily irked than his image might suggest. Which could prove to be very entertaining indeed if he ever ends up experiencing real pressure in Scottish football…
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