Last week was a huge week for Rangers. A management team gone, players recalled from the cold, results not as good as hoped. Going into Saturday, there was already loads to discuss.
From the game itself, the headline was the inclusion and performance of Miler. Two goals and an assist would more than justify his start, but there are many fans who still have some doubts. As we’ll never truly find out what the issue was between him and Caixinha, those doubts are unlikely to go away for some, but more performances like that will make a huge difference.
Caixinha was justified in dropping Miller from the team. What it looks like, though, is that dropping him out of the squad altogether was a mistake. The players looked happy to see him score, and reacted to his leadership and experience. This was a game that could have went very wrong – I actually expected it to – but it was clear that Miller made a huge difference even outside of his goals.
One of the reasons I worried about the game was down to Graeme Murty. I really like him, but I felt there was an overreaction to his performances as manager last season. We lost games away to Dundee and Inverness, who at that point were in awful form. A lucky goal after throwing away a 2 goal lead against St Johnstone at Ibrox got him a win. I felt we carried some luck in the draw against Celtic, mainly in how poorly they played as compared to every other game against them last season. I got it wrong by not considering the improvement though. Murty signed off last season with a 6-0 cup win against Hamilton. In the lead up to this game, and during the match, he carried himself with an air of confidence that wasn’t there last season. He’s learned loads even just from a handful of games in charge. When you consider the injuries, suspensions and lack of time on the training ground, Saturday was an impressive showing. Murty has to take a lot of credit for that, even if his approach was simply to let the players do their best.
When Caixinha was hired, we were also chasing a Director of Football at the time. Due to some mistakes and a lengthy hiring process, we turned to Caixinha to offer signing targets and bring in players. As such, his dismissal raised the potential issue of players not reacting well. Of his numerous signings, only Candeias and Herrera were involved that would be described as “Caixinha players”. Other new signings were recommended by others, or don’t offer any doubts in terms of attitude. It was pleasing, then, to see how much effort Candeias put in, and how much enjoyment Herrera got from Miller’s second goal. We also had Cardoso tweeting plenty of support for the team. The five players who are here mainly because of Caixinha are all important parts of the squad with plenty to offer. If the next manager can get the most out of them, they’ll be real assets. Saturday suggested they won’t struggle to put in the work, but there’s still more to prove.
One last talking point, and potentially the biggest, was that Dave King was at the game. After being here for the semi-final and Kilmarnock game, it was reported he had went home. His presence suggests that not only is he taking more of a hand in the recruitment of the next manager, he wants this done relatively quickly. If that is the case, it’s a slap in the wrist for those responsible for hiring previous managers at least.
There will be an article tomorrow discussing my preference for the new manager. Give me your opinions on that and anything else by tweeting @rangersnewsuk and we’ll be happy to discuss!