Rangers to take time over appointing successor to Pedro Caixinha
RANGERS have vowed to take "as much time as necessary" in appointing a new boss after finally calling an end to Pedro Caixinha's seven-month reign.
The beleaguered Portuguese coach was told his time was up on Thursday afternoon after chairman Dave King called an emergency board meeting to discuss the side's alarming slide.
Caixinha was only in charge for 227 days but presided over several poor defeats in that time, including two of the club's worst ever results – last season's 5-1 home drubbing by Celtic and this term's humiliating Europa League exit at the hands of Luxembourg minnows Progres Niederkorn.
The final straw for the Rangers board came after Caixinha's side followed up Sunday's Betfred Cup semi-final exit to Motherwell with a 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock.
Caixinha, who will be followed out the Ibrox exit by coaches Helder Baptista, Pedro Malta and Jose Belman, leaves with Rangers sitting fourth in the Ladbrokes Premiership, seven points behind arch-rivals Celtic.
U20s boss Graeme Murty has been put in temporary charge for this weekend's trip to Hearts and Ibrox chiefs say they will consider all their options before appointing the club's 16th permanent boss.
A club statement read: "The priority is to appoint a new manager as quickly as possible.
"But the board will take as much time as is necessary to secure the right person capable of representing Rangers and providing the brand of football supporters rightly expect."
Caixinha was the surprise choice to replace Mark Warburton in March but the little-known former Santos Laguna and Al-Gharafa boss never looked cut out for the job.
He was certainly backed by the board having being handed around £10million to spend but many of his 11 summer recruits have flopped.
And the Ibrox board suggested this was chief among their reasons for parting company with the 46-year-old, claiming "results have not been commensurate with the level of investment made available".
Caixinha's days looked numbered as soon as Louis Moult struck twice to hand Motherwell victory in Sunday's Hampden showdown.
Victory over Kilmarnock on Wednesday would have bought him time but King - back in Scotland for a rare visit - decided enough was enough when Caixinha's team threw away their 1-0 lead in a shambolic finale.
The result summed up the Portuguese's spell in charge of Gers, which has teetered from one mishap to another.
In total he presided over 27 games, managing only 14 wins.
The hammering dished out by Celtic in last season's final Old Firm clash was the club's worst ever derby performance at Ibrox while Caixinha also presided over Gers' first home defeat to Aberdeen in a quarter of a century.
Some were surprised to see him survive his first two games of this season when the Glasgow giants were dumped out of Europe by part-timers Progres.
His judgement on transfer matters was also called into question. He allowed highly-rated Scotland international Barrie McKay to join Warburton at Nottingham Forrest for a meagre £500,000 sum, before shelling out £2.5million on Carlos Pena.
The Mexico international was expected to provide Caixinha's new-look Light Blues with a cutting edge but has rarely appeared to be money well spent.
Caixinha's recent row with veteran hitman Kenny Miller has also pointed to splits in the dressing room.
The onus of guiding Gers past a tricky trip to face Hearts at Murrayfield will once again fall on Murty. He was in charge for six games last term in the wake of Warburton's exit and even secured a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park.
WHERE IT WENT WRONG FOR CAIXINHA AT RANGERS
Caixinha was given some leeway after finishing nine points adrift of runners-up Aberdeen last season two months after taking charge, but much more was expected of him after an expensive summer overhaul. Directors found funds to back their manager in the transfer market and will now be counting the cost following an early Europa League exit and a Betfred Cup semi-final defeat by Motherwell. Caixinha focused on players he knew. Eduardo Herrera, Carlos Pena and Dalcio have failed to impress; the jury is out on Fabio Cardoso while Bruno Alves showed a rash streak against Motherwell. Daniel Candeias has been better but the biggest success, Alfredo Morelos, came in on the recommendation of coach Jonatan Johansson. Ryan Jack and Graham Dorrans were obvious buys but the former has been sent off three times and the pair have arguably been badly utilised in the same area of midfield.
Caixinha was not given enough slack for his English skills at times but his understanding of the language was good and he could make his point heard, especially when he was angry. But his tactical analysis meandered at times in public and it was difficult to imagine players always getting a clear idea of what was expected. He was also prone to erratic outbursts - most recently slating his players for "embarrassing" the club 24 hours after accepting responsibility for the Betfred Cup semi-final loss.
Caixinha was given the blueprint for combating Celtic when he watched Graeme Murty guide Rangers to a draw at Parkhead 24 hours after being appointed. But he changed Kenny Miller from a central to a wide position for the next derby at Hampden and Rangers got nowhere near their rivals, while the vulnerable James Tavernier returned to right-back from midfield and conceded a penalty in a 2-0 defeat. Celtic ran round the sides of his midfield diamond in a 5-1 win at Ibrox six days later. This season Pena was given the task of marking Scott Brown in a complete mismatch as Celtic won 2-0 in Govan.
Caixinha exhibited a major failure in relations by ostracising Barrie McKay and Michael O'Halloran and latterly exiling Kenny Miller from his first-team squad. Others were also made to train with the youth team in a bid to speed their departure in the summer but Miller's treatment especially showed Caixinha was not afraid to cut his nose off to spite his face. The 37-year-old striker was a major miss as Rangers toiled in the last two games of Caixinha's reign and his absence was never explained. Days after the former Scotland international was filmed chatting amiably to chairman Dave King and managing director Stewart Robertson at Hampden, Caixinha reportedly told Miller and his skipper, Lee Wallace, to stay away from Ibrox for Wednesday's game against Kilmarnock along with other injured first-team players.
5 MATCHES WHICH LED TO PEDRO CAIXINHA'S DOWNFALL AS RANGERS BOSS
RANGERS 1 CELTIC 5 (April 29)
Caixinha actually finished his first five matches unbeaten and secured a 3-0 win at Aberdeen, although draws with struggling Motherwell and Kilmarnock raised question marks. But an Old Firm double-header sparked alarm bells. Rangers lost 2-0 at Hampden in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals but the scoreline flattered them with the first half being particularly one-sided. Caixinha later tried to outline his tactics to journalists using empty glasses in the Hampden media room, but it appeared he had struggled to get his message across to his players. Worse was to follow six days later as Celtic ran riot around Caixinha's midfield diamond to secure their record victory at Ibrox.
PROGRES NIEDERKORN 2 RANGERS 0 (July 4)
Caixinha brought his players back for pre-season in early June and invested heavily in his squad over the summer but the season got off to the worst possible start with a humiliating Europa League exit at the hands of part-timers from Luxembourg, who had only scored once in 13 previous European ties. The Portuguese was photographed standing in shrubbery pointing a finger at angry fans outside the stadium.
RANGERS 0 CELTIC 2 (September 23)
The league season did not get off to a particularly smooth start either with 10-man Rangers losing at home to Hibernian and dropping points against Hearts and Partick Thistle in their first six games. And the first meeting with the champions showed they had made little, if any, progress. Again the scoreline could have been much worse and Rangers only mustered one shot on target and two corners. There was further illustration of the hapless nature of Caixinha's reign when he was felled by the sliding Josh Windass.
RANGERS 0 MOTHERWELL 2 (October 22)
Caixinha heaped more pressure on himself by declaring before the Betfred Cup semi-finals that they had two options: "win or win". Motherwell delivered an alternative with the help of a double from Louis Moult. The striker had been on Caixinha's list of potential summer signings but the much more expensive Eduardo Herrera came in instead. Moult took his tally for the season to 11 while the Mexican failed to add to his two goals in an uninspiring substitute's appearance.
RANGERS 1 KILMARNOCK 1 (October 25)
Caixinha's reign came crumbling down in a crazy period of stoppage time at Ibrox as he watched from the stand after picking up a touchline ban following a clash with Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson. Rangers saw Ryan Jack sent off while Daniel Candeias waited to take a penalty, which he missed, before Killie went straight up the park to level. Victory might have at least earned Caixinha a stay of execution but Killie had created a string of chances in the final quarter and Rangers lacked the experience to see out the game with Kenny Miller exiled from the squad following an unexplained issue with his manager.
CONTENDERS TO REPLACE CAIXINHA
The Aberdeen manager is the stand-out domestic candidate after leading the Dons to three consecutive runners-up finishes, a League Cup trophy and two cup finals last season. But he signed a three-year contract in the summer after rejecting Sunderland's advances and Rangers would have difficulty finding the cash and persuasive powers to prise him away from Pittodrie.
The former Gers boss was overlooked in favour of Caixinha in March but the Light Blues might think again. His previous five-year stint in charge at Ibrox spanned 2001 to 2006 and twice saw him guide the Glasgow outfit to dramatic last-day title wins as well as a pair of Scottish Cup triumphs and a hat-trick of League Cup successes. He also became the first manager to lead a Scottish side to the last 16 of the Champions League. However, McLeish admitted reservations about certain aspects of his talks with Rangers earlier this year.
A former Rangers player, Davies would relish the task of rebuilding the side and has emerged as an early favourite. The former Motherwell boss took Derby to the Premier League and both Preston and Nottingham Forest to the Championship play-offs but has now been out of work for three years because of what he alleges is a smear campaign against him. The 53-year-old claimed he was close to getting the Hearts job recently but the club could not accept his plans for a backroom reshuffle.
The under-20s coach proved a popular caretaker in February and March and achieved what both Mark Warburton and Caixinha failed in avoiding defeat against Brendan Rodgers' Celtic. Murty showed a level of tactical awareness to get a point at Celtic Park 24 hours after Caixinha arrived in Glasgow. Although he lost his first two league games in charge, he then guided Rangers to victories over St Johnstone and Hamilton and impressed with his honesty. He has the benefit of having the chance to impress in the job again in his second stint in interim charge.
FRANK DE BOER
The former Rangers defender will no doubt have been chastened by his four-match spell in charge of Crystal Palace and be looking for a more stable job than a club with the financial question marks that remain over Ibrox. The Rangers board might also decide to look closer to home but the Dutchman is much more of a known quantity that Caixinha. Capturing De Boer would send out a signal but it looks unlikely he would go into a squad in need of overhaul at this stage of the season.
The Rangers board might decide a manager with a proven track record in Scotland is exactly what they need after an eye-catching but risky foreign appointment. Wright has led Saints to a Scottish Cup triumph, top-six finishes in each of his four full seasons in charge plus several European adventures after cutting his managerial teeth in the Irish League. After exactly 200 games in charge, the 54-year-old could do little more to earn himself a crack at a major job. The former Northern Ireland goalkeeper has repeatedly proven he can confound major budgetary constraints - something the next Rangers manager will have to do to compete with Celtic.