Rangers loan star Michael O'Halloran aims dig at Ibrox boss

For the first time in six years, Rangers have provided Scottish football's top-flight Player of the Month.

Michael O'Halloran receives the Ladbrokes Premiership Player of the Month award for August after scoring four goals in St Johnstone's unbeaten league run. Picture: SNS

That they have done so by loaning the fully deserving recipient of the award, Michael O’Halloran, back to 
St Johnstone makes it a source of consternation rather than celebration for supporters of the Ibrox club.

O’Halloran yesterday received the Ladbrokes Premiership Player of the Month prize for August in recognition of the four goals he has scored in Saints’ first four unbeaten league games of the campaign.

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He is the first Rangers employee since Steven Davis, back in September 2011, to earn such recognition.

O’Halloran has done so in a month in which he was publicly trashed by Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha who declared: “He’s not my type of player. He’s not the type of player Rangers need. He does not have [what you need] to play for Rangers”.

As it stands, O’Halloran is due to return to Rangers in January, remaining under contract at Ibrox until 2020.

The 26-year-old has revealed the first he knew of being written out of Caixinha’s plans was when he read the Portuguese coach’s comments in the media. The mild-mannered O’Halloran was typically measured in his response to them yesterday but could hardly have made it clearer that he reciprocates the low regard in which he is held by his parent club’s boss.

O’Halloran has questioned the effectiveness of Caixinha’s training regime at Rangers and is also critical of his communication and man-management skills.

“Obviously I heard about his comments,” said O’Halloran. “I got it from the newspaper. I’ve not heard anything from him or Rangers for that matter. It was news to me, as well as everyone else.

“I didn’t take much interest in it. I know my position there now. It’s clear. I’m just concentrating on being at St Johnstone. That’s not my concern now. Obviously I go back there in January and I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I’m still contracted to Rangers at the minute so I can’t say anything on that. It’ll be interesting come January.

“A few people texted me [about the comments]. As I say, I try not to look too much into that. I am happy right now where I am. I’m thriving playing for a manager who appreciates me and for a team who appreciates me.

“Could I still have a future at Rangers? I would never say never. I don’t know the situation. Things can change in football very quickly. I wouldn’t rule it out.”

Signed by Caixinha’s predecessor Mark Warburton in January 2016 for £500,000, O’Halloran has scored only three goals in 37 appearances – 17 of those off the subs’ bench – for Rangers. He made only one appearance following Caixinha’s arrival in March, as a half-time replacement in the 1-1 draw against Motherwell at Ibrox on 1 April.

Asked how he found Caixinha’s methods, O’Halloran replied: “Different, to say the least.

“I felt I was needing to do a lot of extra training to keep myself fit. I maybe wasn’t getting a lot out of the sessions, they weren’t very demanding to be honest. I felt I was having to go and do extra myself. I wasn’t playing at the time and obviously other boys are playing, but I felt I had to do extra to keep myself ticking over. I certainly didn’t keep myself fit through the training.

“He spoke to a few boys one to one, but I didn’t really get much out of him in terms of what he was thinking. He was quite hard to understand sometimes. I didn’t know what he was thinking.”

Caixinha’s approach to O’Halloran’s situation is also a source of bemusement for 
St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright. The Northern Irishman made it a double for the Perth club yesterday when he received the Premiership Manager of the Month award for August.

“You would have to ask Pedro Caixinha why he said what he did about Michael,” said Wright. “It’s beyond me. Michael is an asset for Rangers and he [Caixinha] basically ruled him out going back. I find that difficult.

“I don’t really want to get into a ‘he said, they said’ but football is football and the pitch is the same, the rules are the same.

“Sometimes people have their mind made up on certain players. Pedro wanted to bring in eight, nine, ten, 11 new players... I lost count.

“Michael was surplus to that but it’s easy when you’re at a big club not to have a look at what you’ve got and say ‘he’s not exactly what I want but I’ll work and get the best out of him’.

“It’s easy to dismiss him and bring in other players when you’ve got the money. Whatever has happened, I’m delighted I’ve got Michael and it was a no-brainer to bring him back.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and Pedro had a clear vision of what he wanted when he came in and quite a lot of Rangers players weren’t part of that vision.

“I would hope to be able to extend Michael’s loan but a lot of things can happen between now and then.

“Our plan would be to extend it or maybe if I can get the chairman to release a few quid we might even buy him.

“We did ask about buying him in the summer but that didn’t happen. The loan was the next best option but let’s hope we can hold on to him for some time. The worry is that his value increases but I’ve gone into it as a manager knowing that, worst-case scenario, I will have him until 
January.”