Pedro Caixinha Has Already Improved Rangers… But Can He Sustain Progress?

Rangers fans stated that former boss Mark Warburton failed to provide a tactical ‘Plan B’, that he couldn’t find an important away win when it really mattered and that he failed to get the best out of his defence.

Within his successors first four games in charge of the Ibrox outfit, new Gers manager Pedro Caixinha has already shown the Rangers faithful he has some answers to those issues that seemed to continually floor Warburton.

On Sunday the Portuguese gaffer watched on as his side swept aside second placed Aberdeen at Pittodrie, the 3-0 scoreline showed the Scottish footballing public that Rangers could beat rivals away from home and do so by keeping a cleansheet.

But it shouldn’t go unsaid that Rangers struck late on up at Aberdeen, their first goal didn’t register until the 79th minute. They would then punish Aberdeen two more times in the next five minutes as they strolled on to their now famous away triumph.

But the Dons could have easily been a goal or two in front by that time themselves. Aberdeen had moments where they looked the more dangerous side, especially during the opening period of the second half. At the end of the match the stats showed that it was a pretty even encounter.

Pedro noted himself that his side had to dig deep at times to stop Aberdeen from getting past an inspirational Wes Foderingham.

He even suggested it was a tactic to allow his opponents to take more chances:

“When it was needed to suffer, the team knew when to suffer, especially in the first 15 or 20 minutes in the second half.”

“We needed to make decisions at that moment because Aberdeen were taking risks and exposing their two full-backs and we knew the time to exploit the space they were conceding.”

If it was indeed a tactic then it was an extremely bold one from the Gers boss. When it works, like it did against Derek McInnes’ side then it looks great. It’s much like a boxer withstanding an early onslaught before digging deep and finding a knockout punch in the later rounds. But, as in boxing, you give the opponent an opportunity to find your own chin and if they connect then that could totally upset your whole game strategy.

Sunday’s result meant that Rangers have now kept three cleansheets since Pedro’s arrival.

Many of the plaudits will fall at the goalkeeper’s door, Foderingham was very much in fine form at Pittodrie. But a special mention needs to be given to Danny Wilson. The Scottish centre-back often looked vulnerable under Mark Warburton’s regime but he already looks more assured with Caixinha in charge. In the last two games he’s had to play alongside youngsters Myles Beerman and David Bates, but Wilson seems to have grown with the responsibility of helping these lads and their transition into the first team.

Gers fans will be hoping that the return of more established defensive personnel can see this improvement continue.

In all of his four games at the helm of the club, Pedro Caixinha has used his full quota of substitutes. In the vast majority of those occasions he’s brought on attack-minded players and went on to attack games.

Tactically he’s also not stubbornly set on a specific mindset like Warburton was during much of his tenure, Pedro certainly seems more flexible. A passing style is interspersed with a more direct approach.

I’d encourage the Gers manager to sign up Kenny Miller for one more year. The veteran striker still has what it takes to make a big difference in important games and knows what it’s like to win things at Ibrox.  He could prove vital in helping the development of younger pros and new recruits.

Obviously there are still flaws and weaknesses within the squad. As previously mentioned the defence still needs to prove itself in the long-term and the strikers still need to score more goals.

The results under the forty-six year old coach have been mixed, he’ll be smarting at the two draws that have been sandwiched in between two impressive victories.

Pedro will also understand that the two games against fierce Old Firm rivals and Scottish Premiership champions Celtic will be the ones that people will judge him on this term.

A  big plus for Caixinha is that the players to a man seem to have belief in him and his philosophies. They’ve all looked better as individuals under his guidance and they’ve also played better as a team. Under Warburton they often looked nervous and disjointed and that doesn’t appear to be case now.

But in reality, it won’t be until the end of August before we can truly gauge on whether or not Pedro is going to cut the mustard at Rangers.

The board need to bring in a new Director of Football and they then need to back that appointment and the manager in the transfer market. Pedro then has to mould a squad, that’s an improvement on this one, into a force that can do something positive in Europe and make more of a fist of it with Celtic and Aberdeen in the league championship.

Pedro Caixinha tactical style resembles that of a matador, another profession he knows well. He doesn’t seem phased by his surroundings, he’s willing to take calculated risks and against Aberdeen when his side saw blood they hammered home their advantage.

The big challenge next term will be to harness that spirit and provide the tools for Rangers to go out there and produce match winning displays each and every week!

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