Tuesday, March 14, 2017

It will be impossible for Caixinha to succeed at Rangers

Well, Pedro Caixinha is an interesting name, and not just because it has an 'x' in it.  I look forward to the sophisticated tongues of Sportsound's motley crew of Proper Football Men trying to pronounce it.

But it's mainly interesting because it has, to excuse the pun, come out of the blue.  The Portuguese coach is not a well-known figure in these parts, given that he did very little of note in his playing career, his previous successes as a head coach were mainly in Mexico, and that he has spent the last fifteen months managing a club in Qatar.  His resume also isn't what one would expect from a prospective Rangers boss, in that it doesn't contain 'proper Rangers man' in it.

However it is a surprise that he's been given an easier ride by the media than Ian Cathro got when he joined Hearts.  No, actually, what's that word that's the exact opposite of surprise?  Caixinha could have shown up with three laptops, an iPad and a ZX Spectrum under his arm and the headlines would still have been overwhelmingly positive.  That of course is how Scottish football journalists do things.

That's not to say it's a bad appointment; after all his countrymen Jose Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas also had no playing career of note, and also focused on coaching from a young age.  They've done alright.  And I understand that Caixinha's achievements in Central America were pretty impressive - reaching the final of the CONCACAF Champions League, for example.

But there are still question marks over the move.  The first is why a whole month passed following Mark Warburton's 'resignation' (the inverted commas will remain until his tribunal is sorted out).  Leaving Graeme Murty in charge of the first team for that long has been hugely damaging - perhaps irreparably so - to the club's chances of finishing second in the table this season.  Under his management, they lost at Dundee for the first time since dinosaurs walked the earth, and were then defeated by a Caley Thistle side which would be improved by deploying five wheelie-bins as their goalkeeper and defence.

Another is the mooted appointment of a Director of Football, which seems on the face of it to be a good idea - and one that should have been implemented in 2012 - but which is still to happen.  Surely the DoF should be appointed before the coach?  Now Rangers need to find a DoF who is happy to work with Caixinha and who shares his philosophy; given the Portuguese's career path it is unlikely the appointee will have ever met him before now.

Still, with Rangers third in the league, eight points adrift of Aberdeen, that should temper expectations...right?

Or maybe not. "We are talking about European trophies", he said at his unveiling.  That's awfully bullish.  Of course it's what the supporters want to hear - according to fans group Club 1872, the Chief Executive Stewart Robertson himself said ""Being second isn't good enough...Rangers is all about winning" - but it is pie in the sky.  They are no likelier to win such a competition than they are to eradicate sectarian singing from Ibrox for more than a few weeks at a time.

Hell, winning the Scottish Premiership is grossly unrealistic in the short-term, unless Celtic lose Brendan Rodgers and decided to replace him with Mark McGhee.  The gulf between the sides, both on and off the pitch, is as vast as ever.  Even if Moussa Dembele is sold this summer - for a fee that will probably be higher than Rangers' annual turnover - that cash will be reinvested in the squad to aid another pop at Champions League qualification...which in turn would put another £20million-plus in the coffers.

Meanwhile in Govan the last set of accounts revealed that extra cash would be needed just to get through 2016-17 in one piece.  They also admitted that the players' wage bill for the current campaign is upwards of £10million, which is horrendous value for the quality on show.  Every area of the team except goalkeeper needs overhauled: the only central defender they can rely on, Clint Hill, is 39 later this year; the only striker they can rely on, Kenny Miller, is 37; there are no natural wide players bar Barrie Mckay; there is no proper defensive midfield player; the most impressive midfielder, Emmerson Hyndman, is only on loan.

Only Hill, Miller, Philippe Senderos (and of course the long departed Joey Barton) are out of contract and can be removed from the payroll easily.  And bringing in quality reinforcements will be expensive - Celtic's staff costs last season were 250% higher, and you get what you pay for.  But given the aforementioned fiscal issues, there's no reason at all why there will be more money on the table for Caixinha than there was for Warburton, especially if the latter is successful in his case for unfair dismissal.  And no, there won't be £6million coming in for Mckay; they'd be lucky to get even half of that from a prospective buyer.

There is also the new spectre of Dave King's investigation by the Takeover Appeal Board, who have demanded that the and club chairman make a takeover bid for the club; that would cost £14million just for the shares.  Given the South Africa-based businessman's general reluctance to splash the dough to the extent he claimed he would a few years ago, it seems unlikely he would be willing - or able? - to come up with the cash.  Even if he is forced to make a bid, the whole process will be expensive.

While the gap to Celtic can hardly get any bigger, it will in the circumstances be a huge success if Caixinha manages just to make it significantly smaller on his watch.  But l suppose realism rarely sells season tickets.

Sadly, Caixinha will surely be left regretting his crazy comments in the long run.  One suspects that his inevitable failure to live up to them will be used as ammunition against him when his new employers decide the time has come to try to get him to 'resign' too...

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