Rangers full-back Declan John claims that he and his team-mates owe manager Pedro Caixinha a performance and a result when they face Hamilton Academical at the SuperSeal Stadium tonight.
The Portugese manager has had his own credentials called into question after a start to his Ibrox career which could, if one was being generous, be best described as “mixed”.
Following their latest defeat at the hands of derby rivals Celtic at home last weekend, Caixinha tore into his players during a meeting at their training ground on Monday, during which he accused the British contingent of failing to make him or his eight foreign signings feel welcome.
John may have been exempt from that criticism, having only arrived on loan from Cardiff City late last month, and a thigh injury meant he took no part in the capitulation to the champions.
Even so, he stressed that the team he selects for tonight’s match must justify Caixinha’s confidence in them.
“Of course we owe him one,” said the 22-year-old. “At the end of the day, we have [a huge] number of fans coming to watch every game we play, whether it’s home or away and you just want to repay them, the manager and the club. We can get a few wins now, hopefully.”
John has returned to full training and hopes to return to the fray for what would be only his second start for Rangers.
However, John has quickly discovered what the expectation levels are at Ibrox and that they are not currently being met.
“I was really gutted to miss the Celtic game because it’s the biggest one up here,” he said. “I felt a slight niggle in my quad in our previous game against Partick Thistle and I came off so that I could be fit for that game but it wasn’t meant to be.
“The boys did really well in the first half against Celtic; second half, it was a bit off from our point of view. We’ve had a look at that and we will take the stuff we’ve had in the meetings into Friday’s match.”
John was not as forthcoming as some of his team-mates when it came to the content of those meetings but he claimed that he had been impressed by the passion Caixinha had displayed during them. The twice-capped Welsh international added: “The manager is going to show his feelings,” he said. “The meetings we have had have been about the games. We are just looking forward to Friday.
“In football, you’ve got to talk as a team and play as a team. It is always good to give a bit of something on the pitch, whether you’re telling them to do this or that they’ve done something wrong. That can only be good for the team, especially going forward this season.”
Hamilton will be without first-choice goalkeeper Gary Woods through injury and influential midfielder Darian MacKinnon due to suspension but central defender Alex Gogic believes that the hosts still have enough about them to take all three points. I’ve watched them [Rangers] on TV and we have also analysed them with the gaffer,” he said. “Like every team, they leave spaces which we can use to our advantage to hit them.
“Our pitch might also benefit us. I’m sure they will train on Astroturf but we are more used to it because we work on it every day. Every advantage helps.
“We need to look out for the whole team but Alfredo Moreles is probably their star. It’s about one v one and everyone trying to win their individual battles.”