Pedro Caixinha: I still believe Rangers have best squad in Scotland

Pedro Caixinha has repeated his claim he is managing the best squad in Scotland - and says nothing will change his mind.

Pedro Caixinha, left, with ex-Rangers striker Nacho Novo. Picture: SNS
Pedro Caixinha, left, with ex-Rangers striker Nacho Novo. Picture: SNS

The new Gers boss left himself open to ridicule back in March when he declared at his Ibrox unveiling his belief that he had inherited the strongest group of players in the country.

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Those words came back to bite the Portuguese coach as the Light Blues limped through the final weeks of the season to finish in third place - a massive 39 points behind runaway leaders Celtic.

Defeat to Luxembourg minnows Progres Niederkorn in his new-look line-up’s first public outing this term did little to suggest Rangers will be any closer to toppling their Old Firm rivals this term.

But Caixinha is standing by his bold declaration and believes that show of faith is necessary if Gers are to make strides this season.

“I keep my word,” said Caixinha. “I always think that when I’m working at a club my players are the best, my squad is the best and my club is the best.

“I need to represent it like that and I need to spread that feeling from bottom to top and top to bottom.

“If I don’t think like that representing Rangers today then I’m a guy just sitting in my chair letting time pass me by.”

Gers looked as underdone as ever as they tumbled out of the Europa League to their part-time opponents last month.

Caixinha admitted that shock defeat hurt his squad deeply.

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But the former Santos Laguna coach believes last week’s friendly draw with Marseille and warm-up victories over Watford and Sheffield Wednesday are clear signs the shoots of recovery are beginning to sprout.

Now he is targeting a full bloom when Rangers open their Ladbrokes Premiership campaign against Motherwell on Sunday.

He said: “This is the best moment ever since I arrived. That shows the improvement and how pleased I am with the boys.

“The team that you may call the first XI has only been together for three weeks so I have to be happy.

“In the last two and a half weeks we’ve had the best moments since I arrived as a squad, as a team and as a working group.

“I know how massive and deep this club is. We know what it means to represent Rangers. Winning is the only option.

“It was a long hangover [after the European defeat] but it was a tremendous effort to look forward.

“The words we said to the players were very easy - ‘We’re all disappointed about what happened but you cannot change the course of the past. You can change the course of the future, though, and that’s what we need to do’.”

Caixinha refused to discuss whether Jamie Walker would play a part in that future after claims from Hearts interim boss Jon Daly that the continued transfer speculation surrounding the winger was beginning to affect his mental state.

But he did reveal defender Rob Kiernan and forward Harry Forrester’s days at Ibrox were numbered.

“They are not with us since the very beginning and they knew that from me from the end of the last season,” said Caixinha as he confirmed both players were training with the club’s Under-20s.

“Rob’s situation is about to be solved but Harry may take a little bit longer.

“The processes are going on but so far as I know we are about to have an agreement with Rob. That’s all I can tell you.”