Remembering a QPR legend

June 29, 2012

I didn’t know Alan McDonald well. There are others – including one or two who’ve been reporting on QPR longer than me – who are much better qualified to write about him.

Macca left QPR two years before I started covering them. Until he returned as assistant manager, our only contact had been a few phone calls, the first of which was for a preview of the 2003 play-off final.

His love for the club was clear, although so too was his hurt at the manner in which he was released after such long service.

After he came back to Rangers, I got to know him a bit and can only concur with how others have described him; warm, generous, with a great sense of fun and an obvious love of QPR.

The last proper conversation I had with him was a day or so after he left Rangers following the appointment of John Gregory as manager – a departure which was again difficult, but one he took in his stride.

I think one of the things that made Macca special was that while other icons did their thing and moved on, he was a constant.

Rangers had some superb and hugely popular players in the 80s.

In the following decade, Gerry Francis coming back was a big deal as he was a legend as a player. Players like Wilkins, Ferdinand and others also etched their names into Rangers folklore.

But they all came and went. Macca was the one who was there through it all. To perform to such a consistently high standard over so many years is a remarkable feat.

When I think back to the various QPR open days and other events I loved going to as a youngster, I recall times when Ferdinand, Roy Wegerle, Wilkins or someone else was the man of the moment – the one swamped by autograph hunters at that particular time.

Francis, when he returned as manager, was definitely such a figure and has that personal touch.

But again and again, Macca was a focal point. He was always the one surrounded by the largest group, posing for the most photos, being passed the most babies and small children to hold.

It’s a corny term, but he really was Mr QPR.

He was also very much loved by those who knew him well and this was reflected in the tributes paid this week from different parts of the world, from his great friend and dressing-room partner in crime David Bardsley, who now lives in the US, to Paul Parker (Malaysia) and Jim Smith (Spain).

One of the most poignant tributes came from Dave Anderson, the manager of Harrow Borough. The pair had been friends for most of their lives, were best men at each other’s weddings and godfather to each other’s daughters.

A frequently-made comment this week has been that the word legend is overused, but Alan McDonald is a proper QPR legend alongside an elite group of other names. He belongs in that category.

So how should his contribution be fittingly and lastingly honoured?

Personally I felt a good start would have been for the club to hold off on announcements involving Joey Barton and Samba Diakite for a few days.

Barton, of all people, sharing the spotlight with a worthy captain of the club seemed crass to me.

As for Diakite, yes he’s potentially a very good signing (and a signing agreed ages ago) but the chest-beating over the latest big deal could and should have waited 48 hours I thought.

Of course the business of the club must not stop, but I felt the public focus should have been solely on one event this week.

Watching Tony Fernandes talking about the Diakite deal on TV, I couldn’t help wondering, had he succeeded in taking over West Ham and they had lost a figure like Billy Bonds, whether he would been speaking about a big-money signing before a funeral had taken place.

But, as I expected, most people strong disagree, with many on Twitter making it clear they were very happy with the way the club have handled things this week. The vast majority feel QPR played a blinder.

And as opposed to signings or other football-related matters, when the majority can be very wrong, with something like this if the fans feel the club got it right, it got it right. Simple as that. On that basis the club got it very right indeed.

I hope they get the next stage right in the form of a memorial to one of the club’s great servants.

There has been some talk of retiring the number five shirt. I think that would be a mistake. Besides, he also wore the number six and two shirts during his time at the club.

Getting rid of a shirt number seems to me to be the last thing that should happen. The legend should very much live on, and it ought to be a shirt that means something to future generations, as the number 10 shirt has.

Imagine how proud you’d be if your son or grandson went on to grace the shirt worn by Alan McDonald. It ought to remain.

Renaming a stand would be a significant and worthwhile gesture and one I can see the club going for, partly because it’s logistically not difficult and would be a quick win for them in PR terms.

A statue or plaque would be harder work but an option I hope won’t be discounted.

I was always more of a Danny Maddix man myself – something I enjoyed telling Macca on a few occasions.

But there’s no doubt that Alan McDonald is in that very elite group of former QPR players who can be considered true legends, and I don’t think talk of statues or renaming stands is an over-reaction.

In addition to a stadium memorial, I also think something at the club’s new training ground would be appropriate.

Fernandes believes the signing of Diakite is a watershed moment. But I think the training ground at Warren Farm will be the watershed moment – a hugely important development.

In my eyes it’s more than just a training ground. I think it can become a local landmark and really announce Rangers as a big club in the heart of west London.

And as Alan McDonald was a product of the youth system, a renowned training-ground joker but also regarded as a great professional, someone who represented all that was good about QPR and lived in the area for many years, a memorial at Warren Farm would surely be a fitting tribute.


Still questions for Buzsaky to answer

January 24, 2012

I’ve received some nice comments since Saturday suggesting I was proved right about Akos Buzsaky, which in fairness is a bit premature.

Even while Taarabt was in his pomp I’ve always said Buzsaky is the best player at Rangers and the one whose attributes are most transferable to the Premier League, which upset some admirers of Ale Faurlin as well as Taarabt’s fan club.

But even after Saturday I think questions still remain about Buzsaky. Three bad injuries in succession and other periods of inactivity are bound to affect a player.

I doubt even his staunchest critic would deny that Buzsaky is dangerous from set-pieces and can deliver a ball, so in many ways the Wigan game told us nothing we didn’t already know.

The main question is whether Buzsaky has the legs to play consistently in the Premier League and so far that hasn’t been answered. The Wigan game was ideal for him. Faurlin, who I’ve been critical of, looks a great player in matches like that too.

The signs are good though. Buzsaky’s actually getting better and sharper with every game and during games, which is exactly what you’d want to see from someone who needs to recover his sharpness after a long spell of inactivity.

It’s been particularly difficult for Buzsaky, because the odd cameo appearance in which he’s desperate to impress is the worst situation for a player of his type to be in.

He’s a touch player, and those kind of players need games – and confidence.

With that and some match sharpness back, I’ve no doubt whatsoever that Buzsaky isn’t only Premier League class, he’s top half of the Premier League class.

I’ve believed that since he wasn’t even a first-team regular at Plymouth and stand by it. But the centre of a 4-4-2 can be very unforgiving in the top division and tougher tests lie in store for him, that’s for sure.

I’d really like to see him establish himself as a first-team regular, which won’t be easy under a new manager who is urgently looking to strengthen every area of the team apart from goalkeeper – despite being linked with Ben Foster and Heurello Gomes.

It’s a great chance for Buzsaky though, made possible as much by Faurlin’s sad injury as the sacking of Neil Warnock.

In fairness to Warnock, he did initially regard him as a first-team player and planned to make him a key part of the side last season.

But Buzsaky picked up an injury shortly before the opening game, Shaun Derry – who was signed purely as a squad player – started instead and the rest is history.

That said, only a club with more money than sense would have been looking to offload a player like Buzsaky while, as usual, trying to buy half a team during the transfer window – something no-one else does but which at Rangers seems to be accepted as the done thing.

Buzsaky was written off too quickly, and I think the same may be happening with Jay Bothroyd.

I can’t claim to be Bothroyd’s biggest fan, but I would have taken him on a free last summer and think he’s since been a bit unlucky.

Apart from last season, Bothroyd has never been a goalscorer. So getting on his back for not scoring is a complete waste of time.

He isn’t that kind of forward. His strengths are his touch, being at the centre of things, bringing others into play, moving defenders around and so on. He isn’t and never has been what you might call a number one striker.

And like Buzsaky, he’s a touch player who needs games. There’s no point putting him in and taking him out. You either stick with him or ditch him, and I’d be inclined to stick with him.

Part of the reason he was so effective last season was that he played regularly for Cardiff. Their other striker changed repeatedly, but be it alongside Chopra, Bellamy, McCormack or Whittingham, he played.

It’s different for someone like Helguson – once similarly written off and now the blue-eyed boy – as he’s more of a battering-ram type of forward so can be chucked on during a game and expected to do his stuff.

Bothroyd did his job as a lone striker very well earlier in the season, but that job is a thankless one and it’s no coincidence that players in that role are consistently criticised by fans at QPR and elsewhere.

It’s a team role appreciated mainly by the team – not least the attacking midfielder who pops up in acres of space in the penalty area. Few ask how and why he got there or where the opposing centre-backs were.

Helguson is a recent example of that. Kevin Gallen made Rangers tick and was a fine Mark Hughes-type forward but, according to some, slow, overweight and often the weak link in the side.

Bothroyd’s confidence dipped a bit after his time in the firing line and he’s having to work his way back into the swing of things when he’s not a crowd favourite.

Personally I’m not a fan of his attitude, but he’s one of these players who doesn’t respond to being berated, either from the stands or touchline.

He does have a contribution to make and, like most number two-type forwards, that contribution is always more appreciated on the pitch than in the stands.

Proof of that is in the reaction of other players to him.

Think of the QPR players you’d consider to be the best pros at the club and have the best attitude. I imagine the kind of names that come to mind are Derry, Hill and Mackie maybe.

Now think back to last season and those players’ reaction to Taarabt during games.

Yes, they tolerated him and at times marvelled at him. But there were times when their anger at him was obvious. Before his injury, Mackie often looked particularly frustrated with Taarabt during matches.

Look at the very different reaction to Bothroyd from those players when they’re on the pitch together.

At every opportunity they’re having a word in his ear, patting him on the back when something doesn’t come off for him, and are always looking to get around him and encourage him. That tells you a lot.

So I’ve got some time for Bothroyd. As misfiring strikers with questionable attitudes go.

RIP Ronald Bunyan

December 5, 2011

I was sad to hear last week that Ron Bunyan, a great servant of QPR, has passed away.

Ron helped out in the press room on matchdays for a number of years until he and others were told during the Briatore era that their services were no longer required.

Some of us in the press pushed for them to be reinstated and it seemed at first we had succeeded, but the guys were later replaced for good – although in any case Ron was forced to support Rangers from home because of poor health.

As well as the press room, Ron was a regular at Rangers’ training ground, where he often helped out too. In fact he started working at QPR as a steward in 1948 and performed several roles over the years.

Ron loved Rangers and was never slow to make his feelings clear – usually using only one or two words – to us after a bad result.

He would always ask me for my press passes after matches as he liked to give them to his grandchild.  He leaves two grandchildren, a daughter and his wife, Barbara.

When I started covering games, the press room often seemed a very intimidating place for a youngster starting out. Having a few friendly and soon-familiar faces like Ron’s around really helped me, and for that I’ve always been grateful.

RIP Ron.

Ultimate survivor reaches the end

November 17, 2011


Gianni Paladini. It’s difficult to know where to start.

My view of him isn’t favourable, to put it mildly, and some of that was reflected in a previous blog post, which can be read by clicking here.

I’ll remember him mostly as a deeply divisive character who completely transformed QPR as a club and in whose name some were willing to wage war against fellow Rangers fans or at least stand back and watch.

The Paladini era will certainly be dissected, not least when The Four-Year Plan, the documentary many will have heard about, is shown in this country.

It will astonish and no doubt anger Rangers fans and yet, in my view, it charts a period at the club which was farcical but in many ways less so than the two years prior to the Briatore-led takeover, when at times things were even worse.

As I always say about the soap opera that was QPR: it’s a 2005 thing, not a 2007 thing.

Briatore didn’t start something, he merely carried it on. But his profile was such that his nonsensical regime attracted more scrutiny and in the end it became trendy for the media to give him a deserved kicking.

Paladini and his supporters would have you believe that the club stumbling from debacle to debacle in the two years before Briatore’s arrival was the inevitable result of a lack of money and a campaign by dark forces with links to previous board members.

On both counts that’s absolute rubbish.

Paladini’s allies are also quick to talk up his supposed role in that takeover. That’s a matter for some debate.

What isn’t debatable is his role in securing vital funds for the club when he brought the Monaco-based investors on board in 2004.

That was crucial money that helped keep the club going and is often overlooked. Others put money in too and, unlike Paladini, were not paid a salary. But there’s no doubt he played a role at a hugely important time.

On a personal level, my relationship with Paladini improved even though it wasn’t all plain sailing. I was banned from covering matches at Rangers at one stage.

That ban came as part of a Paladini-led purge of people seen as sympathetic to those he ousted from the club and who, he believed, were plotting against him and QPR. They included me. 

I was told the ban would probably be lifted if I attempted to speak to Paladini to discuss the issue, which I wasn’t keen to do – although I did have one moment of weakness. It came at Southend.

Having been assured by more than one media high-flyer down the years that I was “a Premier League reporter” and should stop covering Rangers, I was deluded enough to think my ban would pave the way for Saturday trips to Arsenal and the like.

When the call came, I was given Southend v Plymouth. And on reflection that probably flattered me.

At half-time, the stadium announcer proudly revealed that X-Factor hero Chico would be singing during the interval.

As I sat there being subjected to Chico, with the east-coast wind blowing a chill through me, I did briefly think: ‘Maybe I’ll apologise to Paladini after all.’

Chico time? Tail between legs time, more like.

Plymouth were then managed by Ian Holloway – a man not best pleased with me when he left QPR but who, upon hearing of my ban from Rangers, acted with typical decency.

Maybe he then found a quiet corner of Roots Hall and burst out laughing. If so I wouldn’t blame him.

In fairness to Paladini, after the ban was lifted without any apology from me or conditions set by him, he did make a genuine effort to get along with me in the years that followed.

Unfortunately for me, this wasn’t always helpful.

I’m not much of a networker but was giving it a go in the press room at one Rangers game in an effort to secure a bit of extra work.

The person I was speaking to expressed some misgivings based on the fact that I was a QPR fan so maybe not impartial.

I told him that wouldn’t be an issue, as I had an awful relationship with the club. When asked to explain I slipped in that I’d been banned, threatened with other bans and was generally seen as an enemy of the Paladini regime.

Completely unbeknown to me, Paladini was elsewhere in the stadium having his ear bent by a well-meaning figure at the club who was suggesting he mend fences with me.

With my story of a fearless reporter and man of principle visibly impressing my would-be new freelance employer, out of the corner of my eye I could see you-know-who walking purposefully towards me.

I could hardly believe my luck. Here I was, stating my case, and as if to prove me right it was actually about to kick off. Perfect.

To my absolute disgust, Paladini embraced me like a long lost brother, telling me how much he respected me, even holding my face for crying out loud. In return I managed a false smile Tony Blair would have been proud of.

It wasn’t a one-off. Paladini remained more than civil to me during the rest of his time at Rangers, even when not best pleased with what was written about him.

In fairness to him, he showed a genuine willingness to speak to the media and an understanding of why, as chairman, he ought to maintain good relations.  

Yes, some of it was for his own self-gratifying purposes and while I wasn’t exactly his journalist of choice, he found others who portrayed him in a much more favourable light.

But while many in football will only co-operate with journalists who play their game, Paladini is not one of them. Not by a long shot.

He was often prepared to give his time knowing full well he probably wouldn’t like the end result. He wasn’t all about self-promotion when it came to the media. Far from it.

And while reluctant to oppose Briatore to his face, Paladini did raise objections to ridiculous price rises and his fellow Italian’s attitude towards QPR supporters, arguing that although he himself had received what he considered to be unfair treatment from fans, they were the lifeblood of the club and should be respected as such.

The irony of that, however, was that Briatore’s apparent disdain for the club and fans should always be seen in the context of what he inherited.

What kind of club did he find? One that was down on itself and had been purged of good QPR people because of Paladini’s assault on the fabric of the club. His so-called Italian way.

Like I said, Briatore was simply carrying on a process. It was a 2005 thing, not a 2007 thing.

Paladini is the greatest opportunist I’ve ever come across. His great gift is taking openings that come his way. He was often described by one of his boardroom enemies as “just a waiter” because of his past job working in a restaurant.

It was a term that stuck and was used by others behind his back. My response was always: “Yes, but what a waiter.”

That was the problem with many of Paladini’s foes – they too often underestimated him. He is the ultimate survivor and so will have no trouble carving a role for himself elsewhere in football, which is what I expect him to do.

What I know for sure about Paladini is that his children and grandchildren mean everything to him. So when his retirement does eventually come, it ought to be a happy one.

Taarabt, Tottenham and Tiger Cubs

October 12, 2011

I’ve been inundated with two e-mails asking why I haven’t posted on my blog for a while, so now I’ve got a spare 15 minutes for the first time in about six months here goes.

I’ll soon have much more time on my hands actually, as I’ll be waving goodbye to my main employer after 12 years.

Faced with a choice between virtual unemployment and moving to Manchester, I opted for option one for various reasons and the redundancy that once was years away and then months away is now a mere four weeks away.

It was with one eye on the future that I created the West London Sport site in the summer, having had the idea in the back of my mind for over 10 years.

It’s been stressful – to put it mildly – but has gone quite well, although the plan has always been for it to be fully up and running in the new year, when I and a couple of others I’m working with will have more time to develop it.

There’s a lot of work to do and one of the many things I need to sort out is the social media side of things, which has been a bit of a mess.

For starters, we had a problem with our original Facebook page, which we haven’t been able to update and will soon be deleting.

We have a new page which will be used from now on, so you can ‘like’ West London Sport on Facebook by clicking here. You can also follow us on Twitter by clicking here.

We also soon hope to offer video and audio content, but for various technical reasons it’s proving to be a bit problematic.

Which brings me to Adel Taarabt.

Neil Warnock is due to give his now regular pre-match press conference (they’re a Premier League requirement) on Thursday and this one could be more interesting than usual as there’s a chance Taarabt might appear alongside him.

Whether it happens, I don’t yet know. From the manager and club’s point of view it may look like they are pandering to the fuss made of Taarabt’s reaction to being substituted at Fulham, since which he has been quoted as saying he will leave QPR “for financial reasons.”

In fact, Warnock was considering bringing Taarabt to his pre-Blackburn press conference even before the Fulham game. But now it may seem like a response to recent events if he decides to do so.

From a player with a questionable attitude to somebody with an impeccable one: I’m shocked that no-one has come in for Hogan Ephraim, whose name was circulated when he (very narrowly) missed out on a place in Warnock’s 25-man squad.

I recently talked to Mick Jones about this and he was as surprised as me. I suggested to him that some Championship clubs maybe assume Ephraim would be out of their reach and likely to be wanted by one of the bigger sides, but that’s not the case as several have been invited to take him on loan and haven’t.

It looks like Crystal Palace, who along with Millwall showed some interest in him last season, may decide to take him.

But why there hasn’t been a queue of Championship clubs battling to get him I’ve no idea. Any team in that division should take Ephraim like a shot. Good player, great attitude and covers a number of positions – which in many ways hasn’t helped him.

I’d certainly rather have Ephraim in my squad than Jason Puncheon, who played at left-back in a reserve game against Tottenham this week.

Hampton & Richmond defender Dean Inman also played in the match as he’s now having the trial he was offered by Rangers in the summer but had to delay because of an ankle problem.

Inman, who is Martin Rowlands’ cousin, can play at centre-back, right-back or in midfield. Regardless of whether QPR take him it looks like he might make a career for himself in the game.

Talking of Spurs, I’ll be walking to Rangers’ game there from Loftus Road on October 30 as it’s Tiger Feet 3 – the latest sponsored walk to raise money for the QPR Tiger Cubs, a team for children with Down’s Syndrome.

The previous walks were to Watford last season and Crystal Palace the season before, with both games ending in important wins for Rangers – and blisters for me.

Tiger Feet was the brainchild of my friend James Doe, an R’s (and Harrow Borough) fan and also the creator of the hugely successful Non-League Day.

James’ idea was inspired by the fact that our friend and ex-BBC colleague – and now West London Sport blogger – Chris Charles has a daughter with Down’s.

James and Chris approached the QPR in the Community Trust, who have organised the last two walks and are now preparing the third.

Most who’ve been to White Hart Lane know all about the walk from Seven Sisters station, which I suspect I’ll never moan about again after the 30th. But it’s for a great cause.

And on the subject of great causes, this weekend the Trust are aiming to set a record for the most money raised by football supporters during a Premier League match.

Fans can donate by texting ‘QPRW12 £3’ to 70070 on Saturday.  The texts are free to send and every penny donated will go to the QPR in the Community Trust.

I’ve seen just a bit of the work the Trust CEO Andy Evans and his team do. They’re a credit to the club and I hope they set that new record.

You can tell a lot from a statement

July 24, 2011

The hallmark of a deeply troubled club is the ranting, self-indulgent statement.

Think of a problem club in recent years. It’s likely that those at the helm were prone to issuing these type of statements.

Luton, Wimbledon, Hearts, Liverpool, Darlington, Newcastle– you name it. In football, when the asylum gets taken over it starts issuing statements.

Bad regimes tend to produce badly advised, cringeworthy attempts to try and set the record straight from their point of view.  It’s a common characteristic.

Several clubs have been through this difficult but usually temporary spell.

Sadly, QPR have been issuing such statements on and off for six years now. That’s a very long time for a club to be so desperately lacking sensible and coherent leadership – and the previous years were pretty dismal in that respect too.

Saturday’s essay, written on behalf of the club’s owners, wasn’t nearly as horrific as some of the diatribes churned out by QPR since 2005. But it still highlighted that Rangers is a club with serious, deep-seated problems.

Massive spending (and it has been massive) by the owners, and one excellent season on the pitch, doesn’t change the fact that much is wrong at Loftus Road and has been for a long time.

What it also highlighted was something I alluded to in my last blog: that Neil Warnock was given a slap on the wrist for hinting at his frustration at not being able to sign some of his targets, and since then has been reluctant to comment.

I knew this because last month, Warnock politely told me he’d prefer not to speak to me and that this was likely to be the case for a couple of weeks.

I’ve got no problem with that. I’m not close to Warnock, don’t know him as well as I have previous Rangers managers, and am used to being in the doghouse with people at QPR. But this came completely out of the blue and, at the time, I couldn’t think of an obvious reason for it.

But the following day, I was told some of Warnock’s previous comments had not gone down at all well, and he’d been given a warning.

In a way, I can understand why. I wouldn’t be too amused by some of Warnock’s comments either. But then I wouldn’t have given any manager the kind of mandate to run the show he was handed when he took over last year. And what Warnock was promised is the key issue at the heart of all this.

Warnock is a very shrewd football man with a Gerry Francis-like understanding of his stock among QPR fans compared to the board’s, and his musings this summer have reflected that.

His words are very clever and effective. They boost his profile and mean he is taken seriously. His bosses, despite their successful backgrounds, are not.

And no wonder, when they talk about working with the manager in a “professional and confidential manner” while giving him a very public and unprofessional slapping down. Only at QPR.

Since their takeover was being negotiated in June 2007, I have never believed the current owners would be good for the club. But despite this summer’s relative lack of transfer activity, for which there are many reasons, I’ve always felt the allegation that they’re unwilling to spend is not only unjustified, but ludicrous.

The irony, though, is that Saturday’s statement was largely about their willingness to back the manager and sign players, yet does nothing to help them do that.

Another very obvious sign of the division and incoherence that prevails at QPR will only add to its reputation as a club best avoided.

Being prepared to spend is only part of it. Being able to convince good players that QPR is a stable, progressive club they should want to join is the most important bit.

And in that respect, Rangers haven’t made things any easier for themselves.

A critical stage

June 30, 2011

Just over two weeks before the start of Rangers’ pre-season campaign and it seems all is not well.

A row over bonuses from last season has been averted, but the all-too familiar spectre of a stand-off between the manager and board is hanging over QPR once again.

I’ve been told that promotion will cost the club around £10m in player bonuses.

That could be a wild exaggeration, but what I do know for sure is that a number of players were unhappy – to put it mildly – when the squad didn’t receive their bonuses in May.

A settlement was reached when it was agreed the players would receive their bonuses at a later date.

But a gulf between Warnock and the club’s owners will also need to be closed if Rangers’ preparations for the Premier League aren’t to be thrown into total chaos.

Warnock told me shortly before the end of last season that he fully expected to be nudged towards a number of Italian players this summer, but most of his targets were English-based.

For recently making public his frustration at missing out on some of those targets, Warnock angered his bosses and has since been reluctant to comment.

Rangers do look close to getting a few of his preferred signings, especially in the case of Jimmy Bullard.

But other potential deals have hit problems, including the mooted signing of Jay Bothroyd, which was shelved because of the proposed wages involved. Talks apparently resumed, and it looks like there is a fair chance the player will end up at Rangers.

DJ Campbell has also been in talks, and again the signs there are positive.

The club need – and expect – to confirm the signings of two to four players very soon, which would indicate that Warnock is getting his way.

In 12 years of covering QPR, you could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve referred to a ‘source’ or ‘insider’. I hate doing that. And there have been even fewer occasions on which I’ve been talked out of doing a story by the club.

But late on Saturday night, after conversations with (here goes) club sources, I was talked out of circulating a story that Warnock’s relationship with the board was close to breaking point.

I was assured that such a story would be proved wrong within a few days, as the club would definitely complete some signings and were making progress with other possible additions.

For once, I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt, partly because I knew much of what I was told to be true.

But the situation has reached a critical stage and is, I understand, being monitored by the League Managers’ Association, which is a very significant development.

The owners have never intended to fire Warnock, but his contract states that he has full control over transfers, and according to some inside the club, there is now a feeling that this stipulation may have been breached, which would apparently entitle him to a full pay-off were he to walk away.

He made several excellent acquisitions last summer but there have been rumblings of discontent among his bosses over signings such as those of Petter Vaagen Moen, Leon Clarke and Rob Hulse.

That may have been a factor in the sea-change during the second half of last season, when Bernie Ecclestone started having more of an influence behind the scenes and Gianni Paladini’s involvement, which had been reduced, seemed to slightly increase.

It is worth pointing out though that Paladini is a staunch ally of Warnock, who was very much his choice for the manager’s job – regardless of how things were portrayed at the time.

I do believe the situation will be resolved, that Rangers will get over the line with at least a couple of signings in the next 48 hours, and that Warnock will still be in charge come August.

But I have to admit I’m less confident about that than I was this time last week.