The potential appointment of Pedro Caixinha as Rangers manager has been hailed as an adventurous and forward-thinking move by Alan Stubbs, who took his Uefa Pro Licence course alongside the Portuguese coach.
Caixinha, currently in charge of Qatari side Al-Gharafa, is understood to be the leading candidate to succeed Mark Warburton at Ibrox after impressing in an interview.
Although previously unheralded within British football, Caixinha is respected among the coaching fraternity and received a strong endorsement from former Hibs manager Stubbs who was among his fellow students on the Uefa course held by the SFA in Largs six years ago.
According to Stubbs, the 46-year-old has all the technical and personal attributes needed to cope with the demands of the job at Rangers.
“It would be a bold way for Rangers to go,” Stubbs told The Scotsman. “They could appoint a Scot, who knows about the club and the expectations, or they could go for a foreign coach like Pedro. If it is Pedro, then they have clearly done their homework on him and they are prepared to go in a different direction.
“As soon as I saw his name being linked with it this week, I thought ‘is that the Pedro I met at the course a few years ago?’ We had kept in touch with each other afterwards – he came down to my house in Liverpool once for dinner before we went to watch a game together – although not so much recently.
“But I know he’s done well since then, first of all in Portugal with Uniao Leiria and then in Mexico where he won the title with Santos Laguna.
“You could see right away at the Uefa course down in Largs that he was a very competent coach. He is extremely knowledgeable about the game. He had his own very clear thoughts on it but was also looking to learn and pick up as much information and ideas from others as he could. His English was absolutely fantastic – like a lot of foreign coaches, he put the rest of us to shame a bit with the way he could speak our language. He communicated his ideas really well.
“He would obviously be coming into a very different environment in Scotland, compared to Qatar, especially at Rangers where the pressure is a constant thing because of the status of the club.
“But I honestly don’t think that would faze Pedro whatsoever. He is a really calm and relaxed guy, while at the same time very focused and ambitious. He has a really good demeanour about him and I’m sure that would help him if he got the job.”
Stubbs accepts there would be an element of risk on Rangers’ part in appointing Caixinha but feels it is a move they should be applauded for considering.
“There is never a 100 per cent guarantee of success when you choose a manager,” added Stubbs. “Every appointment is a gamble to some degree. But Rangers have taken their time over this one and it would be a calculated gamble if they go for Pedro. I think he could be very good for Rangers.”
Stubbs does feel Caixinha should not be overburdened by expectations from Rangers chairman Dave King or the club’s supporters to make instant inroads into closing the gulf between them and Celtic which has significantly widened this season.
“They really need to put that on the back-burner for a bit and let the new manager, whoever he is, get his ideas in place and take the team forward,” he said. “They are going down the road of appointing a director of football as well, so they clearly see the need to get the structure of the football department right.
“Rangers are not going to close the gap to Celtic in the short term, it’s going to take time. If a manager like Pedro is given that time, then he will have a proper opportunity to be successful at the club.”