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Pedro Caixinha has not improved at new club Cruz Azul

The former Rangers boss is struggling to find success at Cruz Azul after his torrid time at Ibrox.

Mathew Nash

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Rangers have certainly had a mixed season in 2017-18. It started horrifically, being dumped out of Europe by Luxembourg minnows Progres Niederkorn and it did not get much better in the league. Things have however significantly improved since Rangers ditched Portuguese manager Pedro Caixinha.

His appointment was always controversial at Ibrox and, in truth, he never really won the fans over. He never really had any success at the club either and Rangers fans are far happier with the work of caretaker boss Graeme Murty.

Caixinha did, however, have a good record, especially in Mexico. He had led Santos Laguna to national success in 2015 so it was no surprise to see him head back to Mexico in December.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – AUGUST 12: Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha gestures during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Hibernian at Ibrox Stadium on August 12, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

The former Rangers man took the mantle at historic club Cruz Azul, who like Rangers are trying to rekindle their glory days.

But it has not been a successful return to Central America. Cruz Azul lost in their last outing, a 2-2 defeat v historic rivals Club America.

It was a loss that had fans of the club quickly forgetting the recent 5-0 win over Pachuca and with good reason. The former Rangers manager has now led Cruz Azul to just two wins in their last 13 games. Caixinha’s men are currently 15th in the Liga MX Apertura, just four points off the bottom.

Rangers fans will not be surprised. During his stint at Ibrox, the Portuguese did little to inspire the fans in Glasgow and brought in some questionable new players.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – MARCH 17: Pedro Caixinha, Head Coach of Cruz Azul gestures during the 12tth round match between Cruz Azul and Pumas UNAM as part of the Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX at Azul Stadium on March 17, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Caixinha’s job at Cruz Azul now seems to be at threat and the Rangers faithful are probably still wondering what possessed the board to appoint the 47-year-old.

This summer Rangers face a job searching for their new gaffer. This time they must get it right if a challenge can be sustained for Celtic’s fabled hopes of 10 title wins in a row.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Rangers

Three things learnt from Rangers’ qualification over Maribor: Morelos hasn’t learned

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Photo: Getty Images.

Rangers only needed a 0-0 draw to see out a 3-1 first leg win and secure qualification for the Europa League’s final qualifying round by beating Maribor in Slovenia.

A 91st minute penalty was the closest either team came to breaking the deadlock on the night with the hosts proving to be the more dominant of the two teams, but they failed to turn their chances and possession into goals.

Here’s what can be learned from the game…

McGregor is the quality of goalkeeper Rangers need

Having made six saves, including an injury time penalty from Marcos Tavares, Alan McGregor has continued to show that he is the kind of goalkeeper that the team need having failed to ever really replace him.

Now being asked to perform at a higher level than ever before to push the team into European football, the 36-year-old is showing that he has what it takes after having been with Hull in the second tier.

Gerrard is going for the Mourinho style of media management

Steven Gerrard remains unbeaten in his role as a manager at senior level, yet many are still beginning to learn what to expect from the former Liverpool captain. Perhaps surprisingly, his attitude when addressing the press has drawn comparisons to Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho, who he has never hidden his admiration for.

“They had confidence, they had ego, and they are devastated. They had no respect for us, but my players have proved over two legs we are better than Maribor, and that gives me great confidence going forward.”

Gerrard shocked some with his post-match comments.

The former England man’s ‘us against the world’ attitude was previously evident following claims of refereeing conspiracies against Aberdeen. He’s made it clear that he is no novice learning his trade, but is willing to come out fighting.

Morelos hasn’t learned

Despite having been sent off against Aberdeen, only for the decision to later be overturned, for lashing out, Alfredo Morelos was at it again against Maribor. His temperament got the better of him and, in a heated affair, he was involved in numerous altercations.

Few doubt his potential and his ability, but concerns over his discipline remain. With Bordeaux having made a £3.75 million bid, which was instantly rejected according to BBC Sport, Rangers may well be tempted to cash in if he can’t prove that he can behave himself and avoid referees having to take action.

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Rangers

Rangers fans will be pleased Dynamo Kiev deal collapsed for Borna Barisic last summer

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard brought Borna Barisic to Ibrox this summer and he’s already impressed in Glasgow.

Mathew Nash

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It is fair to say that Rangers have been impressed with the early signs from Croatian newbie Borna Barisic. The £2.2 million signing from Osijek impressed in the 2-0 win over St Mirren at the weekend, playing 62 minutes on his debut.

Rangers fans know what the left-back is capable of. They faced him in the Europa League qualifiers earlier this season. The Croatian international looks like being a future star for Rangers and the Ibrox faithful will hope he continues to improve under Steven Gerrard.

They will also be thankful that a transfer deal that looked all set and done for last summer never went through.


“I had agreed everything with Dynamo Kiev and then I do not know what happened…

“In the end Kiev went to (Josip) Pivaric, a great guy, who is certainly not guilty, but I had missed the transfer, everything was clear, someone had undermined it.”

– Borna Barisic on his failed Kiev deal


The new Glasgow hero nearly headed to Kiev in the summer of 2017. As reported by Sportske Jutarnji, the player had agreed to join Dynamo Kiev last August.

A deal looked as good as done for the player. However, at the last minute, it fell apart. Instead, Kiev signed his Croatian compatriot Josip Pivaric.

(Photo by Sergei BobylevTASS via Getty Images)

Rangers fans will no doubt be pleased this deal fell apart. As a result, they have a top left-back at Ibrox who could go on to be a real star for Gerrard’s team.

Whoever managed to break up the Barisic to Kiev deal, deserves a big thank you from the Ibrox faithful.

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Three things Rangers fans learnt after victory over St. Mirren: Discipline concerns

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Photo: Getty Images.

Steven Gerrard picked up his first league win as Rangers boss as the team in blue overcame newly promoted St. Mirren. Alfredo Morelos and Conor Goldson raced the team into an early lead with a promising start.

Then, a sending off for a rash challenge from Ross McCrorie gave the visitors hope though it was not enough for them to work their way back into the game as they were forced to settle for defeat.

Here’s what we can take from the game:

Discipline is a concern

Two SPL games and two red cards is not the start that Steven Gerrard would have wanted. A hot head in his younger days as a player, he knows all about that aspect of the game but will be keen to stamp it out from his Rangers side as quickly as possible.

“I thought the officials were really, really good today. They got the decision spot-on and we’ve got no complaints. I’ve spoken to the team and praised them for the result. But I’ve also spoken about discipline and composure out there. It’s difficult enough with 11 men. We’re picking up too many red and yellow cards for my liking. But we’ll learn, grow and keep going.”

Gerrard revealed his frustration after the match.

Yet again the dismissal came in the first half, though fortunately for Ross McCrorie his team had already built up a two goal lead. Having just returned to the team, he could live to regret making such a rash mistake.

Overturning Alfredo Morelos’ ban was crucial

He could have been watching from the stands but instead, just inside the quarter of an hour mark, his high press and composed finish showed just why Rangers need him fit and firing if they are to push Celtic for the title this season.

Whereas last week showed the worst of his game, Morelos looked more at home at Ibrox and the pent up frustration on show last weekend was no longer visible. Now, he has to cut it out of his game completely.

Gerrard’s project remains a work in progress

It can be hard to judge a team based on performances with ten men, particularly two weeks in a row, but there are signs of progress already. There can be no denying that Rangers are not yet the finished package but it is beginning to come together for Gerrard.

Conor Goldson can be pleased with his goal and the side included several other new arrivals this summer including the likes of Borna Barisic, Jon Flanagan, Allan McGregor and young loanees Ryan Kent and Ovie Ejaria. It will take them some time to adapt.

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