There was a time, not so long ago, when the appointment of a Portuguese manager at the Scottish Football institution that is Glasgow Rangers would have garnered a far greater level of interest in the Portuguese sports media – and indeed across Europe – than has been the case since Beja-born Pedro Caixinha stepped into the breach at Rangers’ Ibrox Stadium.

Times have changed, and then some. Caixinha’s appointment at Ibrox in March on a three-year deal was greeted with an outpouring of indifference in his home country for numerous reasons. Primary among these is that the Rangers of today are not the Rangers of yore.

Gone are the stellar names from the 1990s like Paul Gascoigne, Brian Laudrup and Ronald de Boer. Now the famous light blue jersey is filled with a squad comprised of journeymen, has-beens and never-will-bes.

From household names to journeymen

Where once the Ibrox club cherry-picked England internationals from south of the Border (Terry Butcher, Chris Woods, Mark Hateley, Gascoigne), their most recent acquisitions from England have included Jordan Rossiter, James Tavernier, Josh Windass and Harry Forrester. There were so many cries of ‘who?’ when this quartet turned up at Ibrox that one might have thought there was an Owl Convention taking place in Glasgow.

Consequently, Rangers’ hotchpotch first-team squad has become almost irrelevant on a domestic basis (at the time of writing Rangers trail six-in-a-row champions Celtic by 36 points, and second-placed Aberdeen by nine, with four games remaining), and it is the gap with the former club that has had a profound effect on the anticipated impact (or lack of therein) of Caixinha’s squad in terms of challenging for the Championship.

At present, any sort of silverware seems beyond Rangers. In October of last year, long before Caixinha’s arrival, Celtic put Rangers out of the League Cup at the semi-final stage, but on April 23, it was Celtic it was who inflicted Caixinha’s first defeat in beating them 2-0 in the Scottish Cup, also at the semi-final stage, in a spectacularly one-sided game.

From a thrashing to humiliation in just six days

Six days later, this time on league business, Celtic went to Ibrox and humiliated Caixinha’s side 5-1.

To suggest Caixinha has picked up a poisoned chalice in taking the Rangers job seems something of an understatement at present – they are years away from competing with their most bitter rivals, and perhaps Aberdeen also. Would that this was Caixinha’s only hurdle, but there’s more – much more.

So for the Portuguese media, there’s less interest in Caixinha’s appointment because he’s inherited a squad which is not likely to be challenging Celtic’s domestic dominance any time soon, or even finish as runners-up this season. People like to read about winners; Caixinha’s Rangers don’t fit that bill.

The underlying reason for Celtic’s domination is because Rangers are penniless, and Celtic are not. In order for Rangers to match and overtake their cross-town rivals they are going to have to spend money, €60m euro would be my estimate, all over the park – I’d venture that there isn’t a single Rangers player who would get into the Celtic squad, let alone the team – and this is money that the Ibrox outfit just don’t have, or seem likely to acquire any time soon, for a variety of reasons too extensive to list here.

Little hope of European respite

Despite only having a single European honour to their name (the now-defunct Cup Winners’ Cup which they won in 1972), Rangers have enjoyed a reasonably extensive (albeit only superficially successful) record in Europe, including a run to the semi-finals of the European Cup in 1992-93 and also the final of the UEFA Cup in 2008.

Rangers have not played in Europe since 2011, having not been in the top division (nor won a major trophy) following the original club’s liquidation and subsequent admission as a new entity to the fourth tier of the Scottish League the following season. Not being in the top flight nor in Europe has not only impacted finances, but also lessened the club’s attractiveness to a better standard of player.

Assuming Rangers do finish this season in third, then they will find themselves in a Europa League qualification spot for season 2017-18. Perhaps Caixinha might find some redemption there, but Rangers’ recent history in Europe suggests otherwise; in the few years preceding liquidation they had been dumped out of Europe by the likes of FBK Kaunas (who are now defunct), Malmo, Maribor and Viktoria Ziskov, as well as being hammered 4-1 at Ibrox in a Champions League group game by Romanians Unirea Urziceni, a team many people had never heard of – myself included.

An unheralded appointment

Caixinha is suffering from the same issue as many of the players within his squad – before his arrival at Rangers, many people had no idea who he was. After a modest 10-year playing career as a goalkeeper with Desportivo Beja, Penedo Gordo, Serpa, Favaios and Ourique, he began his coaching career in his late 20s as youth coach of Desportivo Beja and then led a very peripatetic existence until turning up at União Leiria as head coach in 2010. A year later, he was on the move again, this time to Nacional of Madeira, again lasting a year.

At this point (2013) we enter what has so far been the ‘golden age’ of Caixinha, where in two years at Mexican side Santos Laguna he picked up three major honours (a ‘season-opening’ title (Apertura), a ‘season-closing’ title (Clausura) and a ‘Champion of Champions’ title where the Apertura and Clausura winners play off).

Caixinha’s departure from Santos was somewhat enigmatic: “After carrying out an analysis, I've decided to separate myself from the team,” Caxinha said. “The motives are secondary.” If you can decipher this, feel free to write in.

Four months after leaving Santos, Caixinha’s next port of call was Al-Gharafa in the Qatar Stars League (QSL). Many commentators have made note of Caixinha’s Qatari sojourn, but said nothing about the league itself, presumably because they’ve never seen the product.

A league without merit

Well, at the risk of sounding like a smart arse, I used to live and work in Qatar and I am familiar with the QSL. In terms of standard, it’s extremely poor. In the main, it’s where a few players and managers from Europe go for a lot of sun, a lot of money and a little bit of football while their careers peter out alongside a team of inept locals and 3rd-raters from Africa and South America. Nothing of merit can be achieved there.

So, Caixinha’s Al-Gharafa finished ninth (from 14) last season and now he’s manager of Rangers. I’m sorry, but I just don’t get it. Since when did this level of achievement become the benchmark for managing Rangers? Can I have a go next?

Caixinha certainly had nothing to lose (quite the opposite in fact) in swapping the backwater QSL for a club the size of Rangers, even if the Ibrox outfit are in a bad way on and off the pitch. Rangers are out of the cup and their season is effectively over. This is actually good news for Caixinha. The season was a write-off long before he arrived in Glasgow.

What he needs to do between now and the start of next season is create and mould the squad into one that can, if not immediately challenge Aberdeen and Celtic, at least show signs of improvement. He was handed a three-year deal, so it looks as if his employers have faith in him being able to do so.

Caixinha can forget about challenging Celtic within the next few years, maybe more. The Parkhead outfit are light years ahead of Rangers in squad quality, available transfer funds, sponsorship, merchandising, stadium, European recognition, and so on.

Money’s too tight to mention

If Caixinha is to make any headway into the chasm that exists between the two clubs then he’s going to need to get very, very creative in the transfer market, with little or no money to spend. I sincerely doubt he’s going to return to Qatar for any new players, but there are two markets in which he will have contacts and knowledge – Portugal and Mexico.

For me, Caixinha is going to have to pull numerous rabbits out of the hat from the market of his home country. A mix of youth with potential, loanees, free transfers and maybe a couple of veterans with some gas left in the tank. Then there’s the small matter of getting them to play to their potential – and these two factors will define the length and success or otherwise of Caixinha’s Ibrox tenure.

What’s the likely outcome? Well, as previously mentioned, I don’t think we’re going to have much empirical evidence available by the end of this season to give us any tangible idea. Caixinha hasn’t said much thus far and knows that the real talking begins when he finds out what sort of budget he’s going to get and what sort of team he can fashion between now and the start of the 2017-18 season.

Decaphobia – the fear of the number 10

Both Celtic and Rangers have, in their histories, won the Championship nine years in-a-row. Celtic’s obsession (and Rangers’ for that matter) is to go one better and win ten-in-a-row. They have just won their sixth championship and Rangers are desperate for Celtic not to make it 10 titles without reply. Caixinha is the latest manager brought in to try and stop this happening.

Will Caixinha be the man to stop Celtic from achieving their dream? I’ll lay my cards out early and say: no, not a chance. He’s got a poor (at best) squad which is more like an albatross around his neck, and the slimmest of chances of accessing the large amounts of money needed to get the required standard of player through the doors at Ibrox. One cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and even if Caixinha had the managerial pedigree of an Alex Ferguson or a José Mourinho, there’s never a Championship-winning side in this squad.

PortuGOAL will, of course, watch how Caixinha conducts his business over the summer, and see how Rangers start next season, but in answer to the question atop this article: Caixinha may not turn out to be a puppet, but a prophet he is unlikely to be either.

Celtic have just handed Caixinha his second defeat in a week, this one an all-time victory for the Hoops at Ibrox. It suggests strongly that there is very little chance he will fulfil the duration of his three-year deal. For now, we shall just have to wait and see – I feel the ride might be quite bumpy…

by John Hunt (@johnhunt1892) your social media marketing partner

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4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • I find this piece both interesting and bizarre but mostly bizarre.

    Not sure what to make of this. He has been coach for less than 10 games. Also the article never answers or gives evidence to prove or disprove the title. Is he a prophet or a puppet. A puppet for whom exactly? I am very confused.

    This is the strangest article on Portugoal, ever.:D

    from Burlington, ON, Canada
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  • Guest - Santos

    It seems to me that Rangers management is not very good, so if Caixinha ends up being fired that would say more about who hired him than about him.

    Portuguese managers are probably the best in the world (Conceição, Silva, Jardim, Fonseca...), so it makes a lot of sense to go down that path, but not every single portuguese manager is really good. That's not to say Caixinha is completely inept, but

    I assume the wage budget for next season will be at least 50% bigger than what Braga spends (13 million euros), which is enough to sign a much better manager, like José Couceiro, Luís Castro, Rui Jorge (maybe Petit). All of them have spent many years inside big clubs, unlike Caixinha, and can help improve how Rangers work at almost every level.

    How good is the scouting network? What plans do they have for the youth academy? If, as is the case with Rangers, you can't simply crush your opponents by signing checks, you have to play the long game. Look at Seville, Monaco, Leicester, look at Roma which has just signed Monchi. Until this season Braga was ahead of Celtic in the UEFA ranking. Besides signing Caixinha, what's going on at the club?

    Everyone knows Rangers has great potential, but the management has to be able to develop a 21th century club in order to beat Celtic before they win 10 in a row.

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  • Guest - John Hunt

    Matthew - in European terms, I'm talking from the Leeds game to date, while mentioning the ECWC win. Quarter and semi-final appearnaces aren't really worthy of note. As to Celtiic-leaning cmment: for the record, I am from the north of England and support a team from that region. I find it very easy to be objective about Scottish football as I don't really care who wins the league. I'm reporting that Rangers are in a mess and Caixinha will not be able to fix it - I don't think that's a particularly controversial position!

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  • Guest - John McHale

    Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    Val - a puppet for the board to deflect criticism is what I took the author to be getting at? The number of games he's been in charge for isn't relevant (just as well, given the last two!) as the writer again says that the jury will be out until what aixinha can do with whatever budget he's given and if he can improve a side that were lucky not to ship double figures on Saturday. I honestly don't find the article bizarre in the least. If nothing else, least it's nicely written, which is more than can be said for a lot of the stuff in the Scottish Sun and Daily Retard.

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  • In principle, I don't mind the assumptions of this article. It makes sense that a new manager would face some very real challenges moving to a historical team such as Rangers.

    I even enjoyed learning new things, such as the obsession with 10 titles in a row (which is ludicrous, that's just greedy!), and the great English players that Rangers swept up in the past.

    However, I have to say, the title and the last line are sensationalist stuff. So Caixinha has only two options as to how his career goes? And this will be determined through watching his work on less than 2 months on the job?

    Also, how do you asses whether someone has become a successful puppet or a successful prophet? I'm not trying to be overly critical. I think the general message of this article is relevant and parts of it make sense, however, the conclusions made are a bit impulsive and baseless.

    I feel it would be dishonest and disrespectful to the author to say this was a perfect article. It was very good in some parts. But it loses some of it's merit by reaching very quickly and undermining the work of a manager who had only just gotten started. This is after all a club that was liquidated, sent to the 4th tier of Scottish football and is already back at the top in 2016-17 and in 3rd place to boot. That's a pretty amazing comeback.

    Of course, the author could be right, and Caixinha could be out the door by next season. But only time will tell. I look forward to more of your articles Mr Hunt. I just hope any future ones will be a bit more fair to the person or club you are writing about.

    As always, love this site for content like this.

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  • Guest - Eddie Munster

    Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars

    Caixinha was once told by Jose Mourinho that by moving to Scotland he would become a better boss. 6 years later he's now managing the historical team at the Ibrox. Just because he had a bad week with arch rivals doesn't mean he's going to be a bad manager.. Give this guy the time and he'll bring this team back to where it was !

    Let's look at his time in Santos Laguna. In his first half of the season he was able to clinch a spot in the liguilla and reaching the finals of the concacaf champions league. The following year is where people like myself began to question his managing capability after losing six games in a row.. but he managed to stay barley clinching the last spot to the liguilla where he defeated first place team Tigres, then humiliating historical team Chivas in the semis and and in the first leg of the finals Santos won 5-0 in which helped earning thier fifth title in Liga Mx. He won three top flight titles within a year but within the first half of the new season he left the club because he wasn't happy with his over all statistics.
    In my eyes, Caixinha is a beast and will forever have my respect with his short stay in Santos. Give the man time and get over the Celtic lost and move forward!

    from Ontario, CA, USA
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  • Guest - escocês

    You also missed the cup winners cup final defeats in 1961 and 1967. Also Ibrox is a 5 star Uefa rated stadium while celtic park is 4 star, so not really light years ahead in this regard.

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  • Guest - Gerard Pike

    escocês - the writer has replied here that he was talking about Europe from the 'Battle of Britain' league game in 1992 onwards. Pay attention.

    Also, it's common knowledge that three of the Ibrox stands are in desperate need of repair. Celtic Park is a bigger, 20 years newer and SAFER stadium (and also has standing). That's not matter of opinion, it's a fact.

    from Glasgow, UK
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  • Guest - Rui

    I know I am a little late to this discussion but here are my thoughts. First, I think the author is either a Celtic fan or a self-hating Rangers supporter. The article, although well-written and full of knowledge, is as bleak as Donald Trump's view of America. Caixinha, who I admit I don't really know well enough to judge his pedigree, is not the most inspired choice, but he was appointed for a reason. And it is just too early to judge him. It takes a manager a year to a year and a half to really implement a system.

    Second, in terms of where Rangers are as a club, think of what they have been through over the last few years. There was never going to be a quick fix. Great clubs like Fiorentina, Napoli and Juventus that have been relegated this century struggled mightily to get back to where they were. My point, it's unfair to right them off for years based on what you have seen this season.

    Lastly, this author seems to elevate Celtic as if its this shining example. The club has declined significantly relative to the big clubs in Europe. They're just in a weak competition. With all due respect, Celtic's manager Brendan Rodgers is indicative of where Celtic is now in the football universe. He failed in the Premier League and is now in Scottish exile. Th same way Caixinhas tells us something about where Rangers is. And I don't want to put down the league because I respect it, in fact one of my football life goals is to go to a Rangers-Celtic match. But it's the truth. These teams have lost grown because Scotland just doesn't produce enough good homegrown players like Portugal does.

    I'll add that many appointments in Portugal in recent years like Vitor Pereira, Rui Vitoria, Andre Villas-Boas and even Fernando Santos were met with some shrugs. And those worked out well. So, let's give Caixinha a chance.

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  • Guest - Odidnac

    From a portuguese fan:

    His appointment was a big surprise here in Portugal. His managing record at the portuguese league was quite decent to be honest (even though he had a good squad at Nacional), and he had relative success at Mexico, but if I had to guess a logical appointment by Rangers on the portuguese managers market, I woul have guessed Pedro Martins, Carlos Carvalhal, José Couceiro, Paulo Fonseca, Vitor Pereira (who flopped at TSV Munich because he was trying to make them play possession football :) ) or Luis Castro. Those are managers with great experience and started from the bottom.

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