WARNOCK WATCH: Prowling in the technical area, Aberdeen’s new veteran boss had bags of enthusiasm on debut… but he’ll need his side to stop gifting goals away after another error-prone defeat by Rangers

Neil Warnock rolled up at Aberdeen earlier this week and wowed the assembled media with a performance worthy of his reputation as one of the greatest performers in football.

While the Pittodrie Club has undoubtedly been a circus of late, it would be unfair to stretch the PT Barnum analogies too far.

After all, the 75-year-old veteran manager made no extravagant promises or predictions. He wanted to have fun, challenge for the Scottish Cup and finish as high as possible in the Premier League.

But he refused to guarantee success – and perhaps with good reason.

For example, there is little any manager can do when his goalkeeper, in this case the Dons’ no. 1 Kelle Roos, palms a tame shot straight at a grateful striker. Indeed, Rangers forward Rabbi Matondo was delighted to accept such a gift after just seven minutes of Warnock’s reign.

Neil Warnock led Aberdeen for the first time against in-form Rangers on Wednesday night

Neil Warnock led Aberdeen for the first time against in-form Rangers on Wednesday night

Warnock celebrates his side's equalizer on the stroke of half-time

The veteran succeeded Barry Robson, who was sacked last week

The 75-year-old boss was full of energy in the technical area despite Aberdeen’s 2-1 defeat

Rabbi Matondo pounced on Kelle Roos' mistake to score for the host Rangers in the seventh minute

Rabbi Matondo pounced on Kelle Roos’ mistake to score for the host Rangers in the seventh minute

The Ibrox club are an in-form side under Philippe Clement and, recognizing that, Warnock has brought the experienced Jonny Hayes into his line-up for part two of Aberdeen’s Old Firm double.

The Dons drew 1-1 with Celtic on Saturday in a game they could have eventually won – but only after surviving a first half in which they were completely dominated by Brendan Rodgers’ side.

Such was Aberdeen’s rollercoaster season, with their Jekyll and Hyde displays costing Barry Robson his job.

Prophetically warning his successor before the game of the kind of error that plagued the Dons in the first half, Warnock told the BBC: ‘You can plan everything in the world but if the whistle goes and your boys aren’t not ready for that it goes out the window.’

Perhaps frustrated by that, the Yorkshireman soon introduced himself to the fourth official as his side struggled to make it to the break without conceding again. On the technical front, he certainly didn’t lack enthusiasm and while the same could be said of his new charges, most of their energy was spent keeping Rangers at bay.

Aberdeen forward Bojan Miovski leveled the scoreboard on the stroke of half-time with a well-taken strike

Aberdeen forward Bojan Miovski leveled the scoreboard on the stroke of half-time with a well-taken strike

Warden Roos will feel he could have done better for Todd Cantwell's winner in the 72nd minute

Warden Roos will feel he could have done better for Todd Cantwell’s winner in the 72nd minute

So it was somewhat of a surprise when the visitors grabbed the next goal – although the identity of the man who grabbed it was no shock. Bojan Miovski is the kind of striker a manager loves – one who scores goals – and that he is still at Aberdeen will be of no small consolation to everyone at Pittodrie after he netted his 20th of the season just before the break.

Warnock spent the aftermath commanding his defense and no doubt did more of the same in the dressing room, with the scores somehow level at half-time.

The Dons appeared to have heeded his warnings at the start of the second period, but the pressure began to mount again after the hour mark.

There was certainly no shortage of effort and the Aberdeen players gave their new boss their all as they struggled to hold on, with Roos coming up with some impressive saves as he tried to redeem himself.

Clement was now the more animated of the two bosses – who saw that coming? — the Belgian is desperate for his side not to miss the chance to go level with Celtic at the top of the league.

Warnock is ready for the fun, exciting challenge of managing Aberdeen, who are ninth in the table

Warnock is ready for the fun, exciting challenge of managing Aberdeen, who are ninth in the table

But the experienced head coach will know that his team needs to iron out mistakes to claim results

But the experienced head coach will know that his team needs to iron out mistakes to claim results

And as Rangers pushed relentlessly towards his side’s goal, Warnock could probably see what was coming – but it’s not easy to hold back the tide or hang on to the ball while it’s happening.

Todd Cantwell was the beneficiary this time as Roos palmed away an admittedly more powerful attack than the one that led to the opening goal, but the result was the same and a raucous Ibrox must have felt a lonely place for the goalkeeper.

There was still time for Warnock to experience VAR in all its glory as a manager for the first time, with Rangers full-back Dujon Sterling’s red card sent for an on-field review before referee Don Robertson decided to to stick to his initial decision.

With the home team down to 10 men, a fairytale was on the cards. Alas for Warnock, it was not to be. Not on this occasion anyway. Come May, who knows what awaits these most intriguing characters.