The sacking of Pedro Caixinha last week will have come as little surprise to those that follow the ebb and flow of Scottish football, but his departure further signals the growing chasm that currently exists between Rangers and their Old Firm rivals Celtic.
Whilst Celtic have flourished under the stability and leadership provided by Brendan Rodgers, who has successfully rebuilt his reputation since moving north of the border, Rangers continue to be undermined by uncertainty, instability and, in Caixinha’s case, just rank bad managerial appointments.
On the same weekend that Celtic equaled their own one hundred year record of going 62 domestic fixtures unbeaten, Graeme Murty once again found himself filling in a caretaker manager for Rangers, just as he did prior to Caixinha’s appointment in March.
The different atmospheres that surround the two clubs could not be further apart.
A stab in the dark rather than a well-calculated move
When Rangers announced the appointment of Pedro Caixinha in March it came as something of a surprise and raised plenty of eyebrows around Ibrox.
The 46-year-old did not possess an impressive track record having previously worked for clubs in Qatar, Mexico and Portugal without achieving any accomplishments worthy of note. At the time his appointment appeared to be more of a stab in the dark than a well-calculated move and, on reflection, the most remarkable thing was that he was ever handed the job in the first place.
Caixinha oversaw a turbulent seven months at Ibrox that was characterised by inconsistency, tactical naivety, and regular public outbursts before a draw against Kilmarnock resulted in his dismissal. His 229-day reign makes him the shortest serving manager in the club’s history and he will be remembered more for his words off the pitch than the performance of his side on it.
The problem for Caixinha was that although he could talk a good game he never fully understood what it took to win matches in the physical, high-intensity environment of the Scottish Premier League. The fact that Ranger failed to win three successive games under his stewardship emphasizes his failure to build a team capable of consistently producing positive results.
Glasgow Rangers were left stumbling along for seven months without any real sense of direction or vision, all the while watching their Old Firm rivals complete a domestic treble that saw them go the entire campaign unbeaten. Caixinha’s side were defensively fragile and attacked with little purpose, aggression or desire whilst the team often mirrored the lack of discipline that the manager demonstrated himself.
The 46-year-old was allowed to bring in 11 new players during the summer but very few have acclimatised or made the definitive impact that was expected whilst he was quick to dismiss established existing first-team players whose faces did not fit.
There was an intense irony at the weekend when Kenny Miller, who had been frozen out by Caixinha, scored twice and provided an assist after he was recalled to the starting eleven by interim manager Graeme Murty. Under their Portuguese manager, the club looked more like a collection of individuals than a united team.
The lasting memory for many Rangers supporters of Caixinha’s reign was the Europa League qualifying defeat against Luxembourg minnows Progres Niederkorn. The loss, against what was effectively a team of part-time players, will go down as one of the worst results in the history of Scottish football and was rounded off by a bizarre after-match exchange when Caixinha was pictured standing in a bush arguing with supporters.
When people look back on his short-lived spell in charge of Rangers, they will simply scratch their heads and wonder how a man of his, unimpressive, calibre ended up with the job in the first place.
A poisoned chalice?
It is worth noting that the managerial hot-seat at Glasgow Rangers is not some sort of poisoned chalice. The club remains one of the two largest and most influential institutions in Scottish football and the history, heritage and impressive fan-base will ensure that the next manager has a foundation on which to build.
Rangers may have fallen significantly behind their Old Firm rivals but the environment of Scottish football is such that clubs can make quick progress both on and off the field, as characterised by the early season performances of Motherwell so far this campaign.
The club still retains the fundamentals to at least offer a challenge for Silverware and, with the right appointment, can begin the process of building a team that is capable of closing the gulf in class between them and their Old Firm rival.
The appointment of Pedro Caixinha was a poorly evaluated gamble at best or negligence at worst, but the club must now move forward and ensure that their next manager is the right one. What Rangers need now is a man who can provide stability and begin to restore a sense of pride around Ibrox.
Rangers get one over Celtic with arrival of Jon Flanagan
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard is bringing his old pal to Ibrox this summer, despite interest from Glasgow rivals
Rangers are set to complete the signature of Jon Flanagan. The 25-year-old has been released by Liverpool after years of injury trouble and recent problems off the pitch. He finished last season on loan at Bolton Wanderers, but just four years ago he only just missed out on the World Cup squad for England in Brazil.
Steven Gerrard, his former team-mate, has clearly managed to talk the player into an Ibrox move. It is a great coup for Rangers as, when fit, the defender can be a star for the club. Considering he was being tipped as a future superstar by Cafu just three years ago it is not a stretch to believe he can be a star in Scotland.
Rangers also have double the reason to celebrate, as the signing of Flanagan gets one over on their Old Firm rivals Celtic. As reported by The Sunday Post Celtic were also after the full-back earlier this month.
That is not the first time Celtic have wanted him either. The Scottish Sun reported interest in the player back in the summer of 2016. It is clear that Brendan Rodgers was hopeful of reuniting with his former player, but it seems the bond with former team-mate Gerrard may be stronger.
It could also be that in terms of first-team football in Glasgow, Flanagan fancies his chances at Ibrox over Parkhead.
But if he can become a hit at Rangers, no doubt the clubs fans will be reminding Celtic that they beat them to his signature.
Connor Goldson desperate for trophies at Rangers in near future
The new Rangers man is keen to bring the glory days back to Ibrox.
Fans were jubilant last week after securing the signing of impressive defender Connor Goldson from Brighton & Hove Albion last week, and the 25-year-old is bringing the mentality required to bring “revolution” to Ibrox in the near future.
Goldson has revealed his desire to win trophies with the Scottish giants, in quotes via the official club website, and sees the new manager Steven Gerrard as a major turning point in the club’s fortunes.
The Gers have failed to win silverware since their return to the Scottish top-flight in 2016, and have chopped and changed managers regularly, with Gerrard now the third manager to take the reins following Mark Warburton’s dismissal in March of last year.
But Goldson is undeterred by previous seasons and believes the club will re-establish themselves as contenders on all fronts in Scotland next term.
“It is more team targets that interest me. I want to win things and I have always been in teams that have won things,” the Englishman revealed.
“That is a reason for coming here. I’ve said to the manager – I don’t want to come here and just play good football and not win things. I want to come here and win trophies, and I think that’s what the fans are craving. They’re craving success and we need to build a team is able to give them that.”
The Wolverhampton-born defender claims the arrival of Gerrard was a major factor in his decision to join Rangers, and believes he will instil a winning mentality at Ibrox that players will buy into, while revealing he is also keen to become a leader on that front.
“He [Gerrard] wants to bring a winning mentality to the football club, and I am all for that. I have been lucky to have been in winning teams, being promoted a couple of times, and that is what I want to do here.”
Gerrard is coming into an extremely demanding job and will need to have the courage to well and truly shake things up at the club, because bitter rivals Celtic are showing no signs of faltering in recent times – having won the unprecedented ‘double-treble’ this term.
The Hoops have dominated everyone in the Scottish Premiership since Gerrard’s former boss Brendan Rodgers took over at Parkhead two-years back, and if Rangers can secure silverware in their first season under new management it would indicate a very successful year, and the club could build on it in the near future.
Rangers will hope Nikola Katic can become their Virgil van Dijk
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has brought Nikola Katic to Ibrox and will hope he can have a similar impact as a former hero across Glasgow.
Rangers recently snapped up the signature of Nikola Katic from Slaven Belupo. The one-cap Croatia international cost a fee reported by The Scottish Sun to be in the region of £1.5 million. It was a deal which had Rangers fans frantically Googling the 21-year-old.
What they have found has fans in Glasgow excited. Katic is a brilliant young talent and the sort of foreign recruit that Rangers used to make. In recent times most of Rangers’ recruits have been homegrown talent or run-of-the-mill players from south of the border.
Last summer they snapped up Alfredo Morelos, an inspired piece of business despite his frustrating habits. This year, Katic looks like an even better catch.
His former sporting director has this week stated he can go on to become the next Dejan Lovren, the £20 million Liverpool defender.
However, it is the man he partners at Liverpool that Rangers boss Steven Gerrard will hope he can emulate. Virgil van Dijk was plucked from relative obscurity by Celtic back in 2013 from Groningen.
He went on to become Scottish football’s standout defender and earned a move to Southampton. Now the world’s most expensive centre-back at £75 million, Rangers fans can only hope that Katic can have a similar impact at Ibrox as the Dutchman did at Parkhead.
If he can, then Rangers have found themselves an absolute gem.