Rangers have started the new Ladbrokes Premiership season with seven points out of a possible 12. Not a complete disaster for Pedro Caixinha who has now seen nearly six months in charge at Ibrox.
The previous season ended with a whimper for the ‘Gers following the 5-1 defeat at home to Celtic. Despite a positive away victory to St Johnstone on the final day, plenty of work was ahead for the manager.
The squad needed refreshing. A third-placed finish, nine points behind Aberdeen in second and 39 behind Celtic highlighted how poor the season had been.
Before the European adventure that lasted for just two legs, Rangers’ summer signings were of a higher standard than the squad which completed last season.
Ryan Jack, Bruno Alves, Fabio Cardoso, Carlos Pena, Daniel Candeias, Eduardo Herrera, Alfredo Morelos and Dalcio all signed up to lead Rangers into a more successful season. Since the embarrassing Europa League exit to Progres Niedercorn, Graham Dorrans and Aaron Nemane have also been recruited.
Andy Halliday, Michael O’Halloran, Harry Forrester, Martyn Waghorn, Joe Garner, Clint Hill, Phillipe Senderos, Matt Crooks, Barrie McKay and Rob Kiernan were all moved on by Caixinha – the first three out on loan.
It was a positive friendly campaign for Rangers in the preparation for the new league season. A draw at home with French giants Marseille, and wins away to Watford and Sheffield Wednesday provided optimism.
Switching to a 4-4-2 formation with a much sturdier spine in the team, Rangers looked much more capable of getting results in tighter games this season.
The opening day 2-1 victory over Motherwell which saw the debut double for Graham Dorrans was an important result. Even more so as Motherwell had threatened to take the points at various moments in the game. Seeing out a result away from home with a new look team was encouraging. Josh Windass played the game on the left of midfield and some of his play was as if he were a new signing too.
The 6-0 hammering of Dunfermline in the Betfred Cup continued the fine run of form within the team. The most pleasing aspect of the game, however, was the goals from Alfredo Morelos. He scored two on the night. If his scoring record in Finland was anything to go by he can keep them coming.
The 3-2 defeat to Hibs at Ibrox asked a lot of questions about the defending of the team yet again. Losing Ryan Jack to a questionable red card early in the game, coupled with some very controversial refereeing decisions meant that the day turned sour for a Rangers support who had packed out Ibrox for the first home league game. Another goal for Alfredo Morelos and two in two games for James Tavernier did get the fans off their seats.
The following week’s goalless draw with Hearts at Ibrox was almost like a return to the days of Mark Warburton. The previous Rangers manager’s stubborn passing style required patience from the support as many teams sat in and made it difficult to break them down. Hearts sat very deep throughout the game and creativity from the Light Blues was lacking from the early stages.
August’s fixtures ended for Rangers on Sunday at Ross County. Another pleasing away victory, the first EVER at Victoria Park, meant that the season started quite well for the new look ‘Gers side. Morelos once again scored two, one of which was gifted to him by County goalkeeper Scott Fox. Eduardo Herrera also marked his first goal for the club which can only help his confidence.
Getting all the new signings to gel does not seem to have been much of a problem for Pedro Caixinha. Getting the winning results he needs to back up his words pre-match, however, must come quickly.
Caixinha has displayed the right qualities for a Rangers manager in his first six months. His passion and desire shines through on the touchline every week. One can only hope that the results do keep coming and his time in charge becomes successful.
YouTube: REACTION | Pedro Caixinha | Ross County 1-3 Rangers 27 Aug 2017
His home form in big games as Rangers manager is so far unimpressive. The best of his results have come away from Edmiston Drive. Making Ibrox a fortress will surely contribute to a successful season. If the team can show their strengths from away matches under Caixinha in the home fixtures going forward that 39-point gap might be much tighter come May.
After the international break, Rangers host Dundee and Celtic in September with back-to-back away matches at Partick Thistle in between. Rangers might have two new additions in the squad by then. Declan John from Cardiff and Jamie Walker from Hearts are targets before this week’s deadline.