PEDRO CAIXINHA has now suffered his third successive defeat to Celtic from his three games in charge. A 2-0 defeat at Hampden in the Scottish Cup semi-final was quickly followed by a 5-1 humiliation at Ibrox. Yet the Portuguese boss could put forward a convincing please in mitigation – this was not his side but the players brought to the club by former manager Mark Warburton.
Yesterday though after a very busy summer in the transfer market Pedro put out his own side. Celtic won comfortably. The 2-0 scoreline could have been more and remarkably when trailing by two goals his Rangers side seemed to be settling for 2-0 and didn’t try to put pressure on Celtic for a goal that could bring them back into the match.
Celtic were two ahead at Dundee in midweek then ‘game managed’ the second half before nicking two more goals near the end.
The Rangers players yesterday seemed more concerned about losing a few more goals rather than get a couple themselves to even up the scoreline.
And this morning both Brendan Rodgers and Leigh Griffiths are quoted in the press saying that they knew that Celtic’s superior fitness would tell as the game developed so 0-0 at half time wasn’t a concern for the visitors.
So the questions that Rangers fans will be asking today all revolve around their Portuguese manager Pedro Caixinha.
Has he improved the team?
Are his new players better than the the ones he cleared out?
Why are his players not as fit as Celtic’s?
Can he improve the players he has brought to the club to mount a challenge to Celtic, who they trail by 8 points after yesterday’s defeat?
Here is the view of one Rangers supporter who surveys the wreckage and concludes that Pedro is close to be a dead man walking as far as his time at Ibrox is concerned. Here is what he has to say…has Pedro improved Rangers?
Sorry to say it but no. We’ve improved, but not to the point where it makes a dent.
We have some good players but not enough, and most of them have come from teams where winning 50% of the time is seen as an achievement.
They all have at least two obvious flaws in their game which is why they aren’t playing in a better league.
Problem looking at the two teams is they (Celtic) have more of everything.
They’re a little bit ahead on technical ability.
They’re a little more pacy across the board.
They’re miles ahead on aggression and size (and scared referees make that advantage even more decisive).
They’ve got oodles more depth – we were struggling to find 11 guys, they were worrying about who to leave out the 18.
They have a more settled set up and a tactical plan they believe in.
They have way more confidence – so even sh*t players like Forrest think they are world beaters.
They are used to winning and that matters. It gives them more mental toughness.
They have more money and massively more income through Champions League revenue for the foreseeable future, so if they invest wisely, whilst we should pull ahead of Aberdeen, in real terms the Hacking and Kicking wing should be pulling further ahead every year.
Today was horrible. It wasn’t shocking, disgusting or catastrophic. It was just depressing.
Objectively, we weren’t terrible and they weren’t great, but they were always comfortable. It never looked like we’d get hammered but it never looked like we’d get a result either. Everyone could see at some point we’d make a critical mistake and at some point they’d take advantage. It was mid nineties OF games in reverse. You can’t criticise players for losing to a better team and just now that is what they are.
As it was, we probably won more individual duels than we’d expect on paper and we still got beaten. There isn’t a managerial trick that Pedro can pull to offset that. We’d lose a battle and we’d lose an open high tempo football match if we tried to play Warburton Plan A.
The only way we can break the cycle to my mind is one massive injection of cold, hard cash and a complete squad re-vamp in one transfer cycle. We are talking £50M to my mind for wages and fees. (maybe less if better players coming in raise the performance of those here).
Even then we’d still probably take time to gel and I’d expect they’d be favourites for at least one season more. But it’s the only way I can see to level the board. We need one…huge share subscription, and we need it soon.
Any other progressive solution isn’t going to get time from the sections of the support who are demanding heads should roll after today’s performance.