THE dog has barked, Pedro Caixinha is cycling away from Ibrox, towing a caravan of destruction.
Yes, the Portuguese manager leaves Rangers with a legacy based on crazy statements and poor results, resulting in his dismissal after less than 300 days into a three year contract.
Normally, you’d feel sorry for a manager for losing his job, especially so quickly, but Caixinha goes with no sympathy having set himself up for a fall from the moment he jetted in from Qatar in March. Having declared that he had inherited the best squad in Scotland at his first press conference, Caixinha unnecessarily put his neck on the line. Making such a statement at a time Rangers were nearly 30 points behind Celtic, and nine behind Aberdeen, was bizarre to say the least. Whilst he was trying to boost morale in his squad by talking them up, he would have been better advised to do away from the public eye instead of giving the perception that he was off his head.
His next bizarre public outburst was to proclaim that Aberdeen had reached the end of their cycle, and boasted that his side were at the start of theirs. This came before overseeing the clubs first home defeat by the Dons in 26 years, which was hot on the heels of a record home Old Firm loss as Celtic romped to a 5-1 win. Rangers finished the season 39 points behind Celtic and nine behind Aberdeen as they ended up in third place, though it was acknowledged that Caixinha would be judged with his own signings.
The Rangers board backed him with a summer outlay of around £8-£10million as eleven new faces were brought to the club, including foreign imports like Bruno Alves, Alfredo Morelos, Daniel Candeias and Carlos Pena, plus Scots and boyhood Rangers fans Ryan Jack and Graeme Dorrans. Caixinha promised a bright new future but immediately failed to put big words into practice as his new look squad exited Europe in humiliating fashion, exiting the Europa League to Progres Niederkorn, Luxembourg’s FOURTH best side who hadn’t won a European tie in their history prior to their famous victory.
Some called for Caixinha’s head at this stage but he was given the opportunity to prove that his new squad had what it took to be successful, but results have been far too stop-start for the club so far. The fact that Rangers haven’t won three consecutive matches during his short reign is alarming, and has been a major factor in his demise.
Some of his new arrivals weren’t up to scratch. Cardozo has been a bomb scare at Centre half, the £2million Pena has looked lethargic, Eduardo Herrera has barely featured and Candeias, for the occasional signs of promise, has often gone missing in matches. Not that the foreign lads are only to blame, Jack’s lack of discipline has seen him sent off three times, plus one in a mid-season friendly, and hasn’t helped his teams cause.
Those problems have not been properly addressed, but Caixinha continued to defend his players in his own unique way, using a Portuguese phrase of “the dog barks and the caravan keeps going” as a message to get his side winning again. Another timid Old Firm performance last month was further proof that he was just barking mad as Celtic strolled to a 2-0 win at Ibrox without breaking sweat, a game where Pedro decided to confront Scott Brown at half time and tell him what he thought of the Celtic skippers attitude, not the example expected for a Rangers manager to show.
It was the aftermath of that game that a dressing room source leaked details of a team meeting where angry exchanges were made between the Scottish contingent in the squad and the manager. Pedro immediately dismissed it with a defence of “what stays in Vegas stays in Vegas” before he excluded veteran striker Kenny Miller from the match day squad for the visit to Hamilton and sent him to play for the Under 20’s in Brentford. It is not known that Miller, one of the most dedicated professionals at the club, was the leak and the fact Caixinha hung him out to dry was a brave move. This was his Paul Le Guen moment! Although Miller has since returned to first team training, he’s remained absent from recent matches, with Caixinha claiming he’s injured although Miller has trained every day since his return.
Wins at Hamilton and St Johnstone appeared to steady the ship but last Sunday’s disappointing Betfred Cup Semi Final loss to Motherwell was the beginning of the end of the woeful reign under Pedro Caixinha. He again disgraced himself by storming into the Motherwell technical area following an elbow by Ryan Bowman on Cardozo, whilst he had a right to be angry his reaction was bang out of order.
Having immediately taken responsibility for the clubs exit from the tournament, the Portuguese motormouth then publicly slaughtered his players, calling them an embarrassment to him and the club. Once again, this was something that should’ve been kept in-house and any respect the players had for him will have disappeared.
It was thought he’d have two games to save his job, but last nights home draw with Kilmarnock prompted the board to wield the axe and end one of the most humiliating periods in the clubs history. It may be seen as a rash move by some but it was one the club had to take as they risked further decline under a loose cannon of a manager who couldn’t back his loud statements with results. He may have been a media dream, and a figure of fun for opposition fans, but he was an utter embarrassment to Rangers Football Club and did nothing to impress the demanding supporters.
Now that Pedro’s gone, the attention for the second time this calendar year turns to the search for a new manager.
It is likely that Rangers will learn from the high risk Portuguese gamble and go for a manager who understands the club, at least to steady the ship to improve results between now and the end of the season. Of course, the media will be tipping Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes for the job given his record at Pittodrie and his connections to the club as a player in the nineties. However, McInnes did sign an extension to his contract, meaning Rangers would need to pay increased compensation to get him, and money is tight following the summer outlay, failure to progress in Europe and paying off the remaining two and a half years of Caixinha’s contract.
A safer option like Alex McLeish, a man who once managed the club successfully and with a reputation of building from a solid base, would be a decent appointment and fit the clubs budget given he’s currently out of work. With Scotland also looking for a manager, they may want to move quickly to entice him back to Ibrox rather than Hampden. Billy Davies is another out of work Rangers supporting manager being linked with the job, and he’s been installed as favourite amongst some bookmakers. The fact he’s not had a job since leaving Nottingham Forest in 2014 might be a sticking point.
Whoever Rangers appoint, they need to ensure they don’t make the same mistake they made in hiring Pedro Caixinha. Hiring an unknown quantity with a modest at best track record was a gamble that’s backfired spectacularly and his tenure at Ibrox has been a PR disaster from start to finish. After the Niederkorn match, it was only a matter of when Dave King and co sent Pedro on his bike, and they’ve done so before the clocks go back and before he took Rangers even further behind Celtic and Aberdeen.
Whoever becomes the next man to walk through the Managers Office at Ibrox has a tough job in repairing the damage left by Caixinha’s reckless spending, low morale and indiscipline within the dressing room. Acting now also gives the new manager time to fix the problems and put this sorry period behind them.