Mark Warburton's subtle dig at Joey Barton shows Rangers have learned

Rangers manager Mark Warburton with' Joey Barton at the end of the game

With January on the horison, Warburton has a chance to make up for the mistakes of the summer.

Mark Warburton says he wants no ‘bad eggs’ in his Rangers squad, according to the Daily Record, as the dust begins to settle on the season-defining Joey Barton narrative.

The former Brentford boss has made no secret of his desire to add to his squad in the New Year, with out-of-contract youngsters heading his transfer strategy such as Aston Villa starlet Rushian Hepburn-Murphy.

This is in stark contrast to the recruitment policy the club employed over the summer, with Rangers bringing in a number of experienced big names in order to make a substantial splash in their first season back in the first division.

However, while the once-capped England international Barton was supposed to spearhead their rise to the top, the 34-year-old’s contract was terminated just a few months into his Ibrox career after a training ground spat with Warburton and team-mate Andy Halliday.

Rangers manager Mark Warburton with' Joey Barton at the end of the game

That such a repugnant episode occurred immediately after their 5-1 Old Firm humiliation at Celtic Park just exacerbated an issue that threatened to spiral out of control.

As such, Rangers’ long-awaited homecoming to the top of the Scottish game has been marred by off-pitch controversy, overshadowing the decent progress made by a side who have spent the last four years desperately trying to claw their way back from the lower leagues following their 2012 demotion.

All the while, Celtic are chugging along comfortably in cruise control, Brendan Rodgers leading a settled and seemingly contented squad to yet another top flight title.

Celtic - Brendan Rodgers Press Conference

While big name players such as Leigh Griffiths, Tom Rogic and Nir Bitton have been marginalised on occasions, there has been no hint of discontent within the ranks.

Quite the opposite in fact – Bitton himself spoke to the Daily Record of a need to prove himself to Rodgers and show that he’s worth a place in the squad. There was no subtle digs, public complaints or airs or graces.

If Warburton is to add another chapter to the Rangers’ phoenix tale, he needs to avoid adding unstable elements to his squad. Or, like throughout the Barton saga, it could blow up in his face once again.

“Too many players coming in is more damaging than no players coming in," he told the Daily Record. "You can upset the unity of a dressing room so you need to be very careful of what you do in January.

Joey Barton applauds fans as he is substituted

“The dissatisfaction can be from a real bad apple in the dressing room as well.”

Such comments suggest a harsh lesson has been learned. Talented players may make the difference in games, but a settled squad is crucial to a successful season.

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