MARK WARBURTON is urging his players to kick-on and win their final two Championship matches against Livingston on Tuesday and St Mirren next Sunday to rebuild their momentum before the Scottish Cup Final on May 21.
The Light Blues stumbled to a 1-1 draw with Alloa Athletic at sold-out Ibrox this afternoon, and despite the title already being sewn up, Warburton revealed his players were highly critical of their performance.
The manager told RangersTV.tv: “The players were angry at half time with themselves. Their standards dropped, and I think perhaps subconsciously, that maybe happened after achieving their goal of winning the league, winning the Petrofac and then winning the Scottish Cup semi-final.
“So we were maybe a little bit flat. We lacked a spark, we lacked a little bit of cleverness, but there was no lack of effort out there. We huffed and puffed though and maybe lacked a spark.
“So I think we have to recognise that, refocus as a group, train well, recover well tomorrow and then start again on Monday.
“We have another tough test at Livingston on Tuesday, and when fans go and follow us, we have to make sure we perform.”
One positive from the afternoon was the performance of Liam Burt following his introduction from the bench, and also the showing from Barrie McKay, who once again was the game’s standout player.
Warburton added: “I had Michael [O’Halloran] on the bench, and I am conscious that Michael is cup-tied so I wanted to give Liam some pitch time for that reason.
“Michael will be a big name for us going forward, but it was good to see Liam doing well, and I thought again, Barrie McKay was outstanding, and deserved his ‘Man of the Match’ award.
“So I am delighted with his level of consistency, but all over the park, the effort was there but we lacked a bit of quality in key areas.”
Warburton also discussed his players having to get used to tight turnarounds between games should they defeat Hibernian on May 21, and by doing so, qualifying for Europe.
He continued: “We talked about the Europa League if we are in it if we win the Cup Final. You could be playing on a Thursday night, getting home in the early hours of the Friday and then be playing on the Sunday.
“So we have to learn from every experience we have. We’ll be fine for the Final, but it’s just about making sure we refocus and move forward.”