‘Vampire’ Pedro Caixinha wants blood in Betfred Cup semi final

Pedro Caixinha knows Rangers face a physical challenge. Photograph: Getty Images
Pedro Caixinha knows Rangers face a physical challenge. Photograph: Getty Images
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There is little doubt that the effusiveness of Pedro Caixinha and his sometimes off-beat analogies have been a welcome addition to the colour of the Scottish game.

And the Portuguese has not let us down with his latest soundbites ahead of arguably the most important game of his tenure at Rangers.

As he prepares to face Motherwell today for a place in the Betfred Cup Final, he has described his addiction to winning as the same as a vampire’s lust for blood.

He previously informed the media of an old Portuguese expression about when “the dogs bark the caravan keeps moving”, trying to portray his team’s momentum despite distractions.

He was ridiculed by some and praised by others. The same may happen in this instance but Caixinha is deadly serious as he seeks to win three games in succession for the first time since replacing Mark Warburton last spring.

Caixinha said: “The vampires taste the flavour of the blood and they want more, they need it.

“It’s the same with the competitive teams and clubs, competitive players and competitive managers. They like the way the blood tastes.

“It’s like a sort of addiction, you know. People are addicted to smoking or eating good or playing sport, I am an addict to winning, that’s why I work so hard because that’s my focus to win.

“I was addicted to winning when I started with the Under-14s, it was on the inside of me.

“After that, I went to the Under-17s, the Under-19s. Then I went to an amateur team and I went to Sporting of Lisbon as an assistant and I wanted to win,

“I went to a lower team in the Portuguese league and my desire was about winning. That’s my essence. It doesn’t change anything.

“That’s the way I am and I do believe that all the managers are progressing in their careers are exactly the same.”

Caixinha expects Motherwell to be direct and aggressive today but he says Rangers have to be cute and impose their own game to make sure they get through to the November 26 Final.

He got a taste of what Stephen Robinson’s side are like in the opening weekend of the Premiership season when Rangers managed to hold them off to secure a 2-1 win.

And he insists Rangers will not be drawn into a battle with the Steelmen but will impose their own style.

He said: “We need to be clever, I don’t think we will be fighting fire with fire or sword with sword, exactly the opposite.

“If they are strong, we need to avoid giving them the chance to be. They are only strong when they have the initiative in the game and when they have the ball.

“We know they are going to perform like that, so we have to make sure that we use our movement, our identity and our style.

“We have of course learned too from that first match. More than energy, we require cleverness.

“If you use energy to combat energy, it’s the same as fighting fire with fire.

“You just have to be clever, smell the game and understand the game, and make the right decisions. That’s what we have been working on as part of our identity, how to compete against those teams.

“They are an aggressive team and they are a physical team, but I like the way they are aggressive and I like the way they are physical.

“It is not something I say as a criticism, no, they play very well that way and they know that they are very good playing that way.

“So, you need to find solutions to counteract the way they play.”

Caixinha has had mixed fortunes in semi-finals having suffered heartache in Portugal, success in Mexico and, of course, disappointment last season when Rangers were comfortably beaten 2-0 by Celtic in the Scottish Cup.

He said: “We went to the Alvalade Stadium [in Lisbon] and by the end, if the injury time wasn’t 10 or 15 minutes we would have won 2-0.

“It would have been my first final but life teaches you how when you get in those situations again to try look forward and do it better the next time.

“But being now in this chair, all I think about is winning. I don’t feel that responsibility other than loving winning.

“I had success in Mexico with Santos Laguna and these were good moments because it was very competitive over there as 14 teams are trying to win which makes it very different.”

Caixinha knows winning a major trophy would he massive for Rangers but he says it only encourages him to strive for more.

He added: “I will tell you, one trophy is one trophy. All the trophies are important for me. It means it is only the first one.”

The players know that achieving the first major success since 2011 will be a watershed moment.

As far as James Tavernier is concerned Rangers need brave hearts as well as quality to see off Motherwell today to get one step closer to achieving that aim.

He feels there is a brutish physicality about Motherwell that Rangers will have to counter and he accepts that this will be a challenge.

However, he feels if they can get their own game going then he will end a miserable recent run at the national stadium to make it through to the final.

The full-back said: “We can’t have any cowards in the team – we just need to go out there with a good mentality and take the game to them. You can’t go into a game and expect to be kicked, no matter who you’re playing.

“Teams are aggressive against 
us so we have to match it in the 
right way. We’ll bring the fight to them.

“It’s obviously difficult if they’re making it physical but we know we like to play the ball on the ground and move it around, and sometimes no matter what height the opposition is, quality will overcome a lot of aspects of the game.

“We did it in the first game of the season, Josh Windass showed signs of breaking them down with his pace, so there a lot of ways we can break down teams and I’m sure their height will only be an issue if we let it from set pieces.

Tavernier’s first two visits to Hampden were hugely enjoyable. He scored in the obviously less prestigious Challenge Cup Final against Peterhead in 2016 then was part of the side that beat Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final.

Rangers agonisingly lost the final 3-2 after Hibs scored two late goals and he lost to Celtic in the semi-finals of both cups last season.

He said: ‘That is in the past. It was obviously disappointing and hard to take to lose the 2016 Cup Final being the last game of the season with the summer break giving you a lot of time to reflect on it.

‘It’s been and gone. I hope and expect to be in a lot more finals and be picking up a trophy, so that is one final lost. We expect to be in more finals.

“If you win a trophy, it always lifts morale. Even if the morale might not be down, it always gives you that extra percentage – knowing in the back of your head that you’ve won a trophy.”