Mark Warburton turned to youth this season & it worked wonders

written by – Rangers Report

Back in the summer, we juxtaposed Mark Warburton’s deployment of minutes in his last season at Brentford to how the trio of Ally McCoist, Kenny McDowall, & Stuart McCall decided to approach Rangers first season in the Championship.

In 2014-15, 59% of Rangers total minutes were played by players 29 or older, while Warburton only relied on veterans 29 or older for only 8% of Brentford’s total minutes.  Of the 23 players that Warburton gave time to that season – 18 were 18 or younger & nine were 23 or younger.

Given that Hearts had just won promotion, I also factored Robbie Neilson’s distribution of minutes in the post as they waltzed to a league title.  Neilson’s approach was very much in the school of Mark Warburton & that was the breath of fresh air that supporters needed after a season of watching the likes of Kris Boyd & Marius Zaliukas collect pay cheques.

Below you can see how many players each team used based on age & then what percentage of the team’s minutes each group played for the 2014-15 season.

 2014-15 Under 23 23-28 29+ % Mins Under 23 % Mins 23-28 % Mins 29+
Brentford 9 9 5 0.39 0.43 0.18
Rangers 6 8 10 0.18 0.23 0.59
Hearts 15 9 2 0.48 0.37 0.15
courtesy of RFC

So how did Mark Warburton distribute minutes this season?

Under 23 23-28 29+ % Mins Under 23 % Mins 23-28 % Mins 29+
10 11 2 0.28 0.63 0.09

Of the 23 players who saw first team minutes in league play, 21 were 28 or younger & 10 were under the age of 23.  Of the total minutes played, 91% were played by players under 28 & only 9% of the minutes were played by players 29 or older.  Players in the peak years of their careers (23-28) played in 63% of the minutes.

Kenny Miller & Dean Shiels were the only players born when Graeme Souness was hired, while five teenagers saw time this season.

Of those teens, Gedion Zelalem saw the most time, while Nathan Oduwa played nearly 700 minutes in 15 appearances.  Meanwhile, even though Tom Walsh, Jordan Thompson, & Liam Burt didn’t see much time (126 combined minutes), they at least have hope given Warburton’s track record 0f developing young players.

Meanwhile, many supporters quickly forgot that players like Jason Holt (22), Barrie McKay (20), Dominic Ball (20), & Billy King (21) were still so young yet being called upon to play crucial minutes.

As Rangers management team lines up transfer targets for the upcoming season, it will be interesting to see if the emphasis is still on bringing in young players to develop or if the team will look to bring in players already in the peak seasons of their career.

Either way, fans can trust that Mark Warburton won’t stray too far from the philosophy he has firmly established in just one season at Ibrox.

Notes:  Ages are for the beginning of the season & Wes Foderingham was not included given the fact that the peak years of goalies tend to differ then other players.

The original idea for this post rooted in an article by @ObjectiveFooty from his site – the Objective Football Blog.

You can follow Rangers Report on Twitter @TheGersReport


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