20 Aug Warburton sets the record straight
Mark Warburton has rubbished Aston Villa claims that Joleon Lescott’s Rangers move broke down because the Ibrox club failed to deliver on the terms they had promised the defender.
The former England centre-back backed out of a switch to Glasgow on Friday, with sources close to Gers insisting family reasons were behind his decision.
But while there were also reports the 34-year-old ex-Everton and Manchester City player had failed a medical, Villa chairman Dr Tony Xia took to Twitter to pin the blame for the breakdown on Warburton.
He posted: “Lescott didn’t feel happy with personal term missed [sic] which the boss promised.”
But the Light Blues boss hit back, saying after his side’s 2-1 win over Motherwell: “Let me be really clear about this – it’s absolute nonsense.
“Personal terms were all agreed but the player just decided to keep his family in Manchester. He’s well settled with three young children.
“It’s absolute nonsense to say anything other than that.
“The fact he’s up here tells you that terms were agreed and there wasn’t a problem with that.
“It’s a big decision on the player’s part and we understand that. But it’s nothing to do with what I’ve read in the papers.
“We know what happened, the player knows what happened. To take your three young kids out of school is a big call on his part and we respect it. It’s unfortunate but we wish him all the best.”
Gers are now considering a deal for trialist Philippe Senderos, although Warburton insists he could look beyond the former Arsenal centre-back.
“We’re looking at a number of options,” he said. “Philippe is in with us but it’s important we make the right choice.
“Philippe has been first-class though. For a guy who’s been training away without a team he looked fit and strong and his CV is very impressive.”
Gers claimed their second victory of the new Ladbrokes Premiership campaign to remain top of the table but left it late to find Kenny Miller’s stoppage-time winner.
Scott McDonald gave Well a first-half lead when he tapped him from close range as Gers toiled for fluency but the second-half introduction of Niko Kranjcar gave Warburton the spark he was looking for.
Harry Forrester swept home the equaliser on the rebound after 64 minutes when a Miller shot had been saved by Craig Samson.
The former Scotland man then rammed home the last-gasp winner after Michael O’Halloran’s miskick fell to him at the back post.
“We lacked penetration in the first half and conceded a poor goal but the second half was much, much better,” said Warburton. “Thankfully we got our reward in the end.
“How concerning is the performance? We can turn around and say we were below bar but got three points. We’ll take that.”
The late goal was a sickener for Motherwell but boss Mark McGhee was looking on the bright side.
Asked how hard a defeat it was to accept, he replied: “It’s easy to take it. If you play poorly, you go away thinking how can we talk? You can’t look each other in the eye, we’re all down and wondering what we do next. We’re scratching our heads.
“Instead of that we’ve got a lot to build on, a lot to be positive about.
“The boys can hold their heads high. I thought the performance was superb.”