A Special approach
RANGERS By Nick Rodger New boss believes ‘academic’ influence of fellow countryman Jose Mourinho and other Portuguese coaches can work at Ibrox
GIVEN that he’s enjoyed the kind of here, there and everywhere sojourns that used to be the reserve of Judith Chalmers in her pomp, Pedro Caixinha probably doesn’t have much bother acclimatising to new surroundings.
Taking up a job with either side of the Old Firm should come with a ‘yellow, be aware’ warning from the Met Office due to the inherent pressures and expectations but Caixinha’s sunny disposition makes for a positive outlook.
It was a typically changeable Glasgow day of blustery showers and sunshine when the new Rangers manager sat down for a blether after taking his first series of training sessions. It must have been a queer old difference from the warmth of Al-Gharafa in Qatar. Before that, it was the pleasant Mexican climes of Santos Laguna. At least the Paisley Lagoon Centre is not too far way.
Having seen more clubs than Frank McAvennie on a night out, the well-travelled Caixinha, who has a dozen ports of call to his name ranging from his native Portugal to Romania, Saudi Arabia and others in between, is certainly intrepid.
The 46-year-old will be under the microscope like never before at Rangers but he is certainly ready for the challenge and exudes a confidence and a charm that quickly won over those waiting to speak to him. In this capricious game, of course, that could change after a few ropey results but Caixinha is not pondering any of that.
He is Rangers’ chosen one but it is the Special One who has helped to mould his footballing philosophy. Jose Mourinho, the current boss at Manchester United, has blazed a trail for Portuguese managers in the European theatre and Caixinha is among the disciples trying to follow his lead.
“Jose inspired all of the coaches from my generation,” said the new man at the Ibrox helm. “He was the first one and we are the ones that came behind. He gave us the chance to do that. He is unique, of course, but we share the same philosophy. He is a very nice guy. The last time I saw him was in Lisbon at a post-graduation event. He is a fantastic guy who is always available to receive you and to talk to you. He is friendly.”
While the old fashioned manager may been more visceral, Caixinha adopts a more cerebral approach. Whether he can conjure up some E=mc2 formula for success at Rangers remains to be seen but this student of the beautiful game is eager to impart his knowledge and reap the rewards like some of his other chin-stroking compatriots. “You just have to look at the success of Portuguese coaches,” he added. “Look at Manchester City (in the Champions League)? They were knocked out by Monaco who have Leonardo Jardim in charge. We have many coaches who come from the academic side. Carvahal at Sheffield Wednesday, Vitor Pereira is the same and also Rui Vitoria at Benfica. There is also Jose Peseiro, who I worked with for many years. There are a lot of coaches coming from that same academic background.”
The rough and tumble of the Scottish game often means that incomers with their new-fangled ways are greeted with the kind of sneering, narrow-eyed suspicion that used to be the reserve of the Luddites. Either that, or they are hailed from the roof tops as progressive thinkers who are going to drag Scottish football out of the mire of mediocrity. Well, until results start going against them. The fluctuating fortunes experienced by Ian Cathro in his short time at Hearts has illustrated the furiously fickle nature of the beast. “Maybe Scottish football needs its own Mourinho and let’s hope Ian Cathro can be the guy,” said Caixinha, as he championed the Dundee-born managerial rookie.
Caixinha is getting stuck into his new role and the international break this coming week will allow him to accelerate the getting-to-know-you process. “When you’re starting with a new group it’s always preferable to have longer weeks,” he said.
“Next week is going to be important because the work will go from Tuesday to Sunday. They will get used to our philosophy of how we work. We will get more time to work with the players. For us to pass our ideas and for them to be convinced of the ideas, we need time. I cannot run away from the weather conditions, the long balls or the importance of the second balls (in the Scottish game). I need to know a lot about Scottish football – everything.”
New Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha leads by example at