Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha has revealed that, even though he has been in charge of the club for only four matches, he is already compiling a list of potential signings from his Premiership rivals.
A debut victory over Hamilton was followed by draws against Motherwell and Kilmarnock before last weekend’s 3-0 victory at Aberdeen briefly dispelled the storm clouds which have been gathering over Ibrox.
The Takeover Panel yesterday requested that the Court of Session force Dave King, the chairman of Rangers International Football Club PLC, to comply with their directive that he must offer to buy all the remaining shares not held by the members of his concert party.
With the South Africa-based entrepreneur – who claimed earlier this week that funds would be made available to the Portuguese to strengthen his squad – now facing the cold shoulder from the UK financial sector, that is likely to impact negatively on his ability to wheel and deal in the transfer market.
Nonetheless, Caixinha will be monitoring the performances of opposing players as well as his own between now and the end of the season.
“We have identified some players in other teams, some opponents more than others,” said the 46-year-old. “But all the teams are adding players to my data base. It doesn’t mean they will be coming to Rangers – maybe they will stay there like that.
“I started doing this with Sporting Lisbon in 2004-05 and maybe some of those players in there are grandfathers now.”
Caixinha, though, stressed that having a core of Scottish players at Rangers (as Celtic and Aberdeen, the two clubs above them in the table, have) is not a priority for him.
“I’m still assessing our youth system, Scottish players and international players,” he said. “I think football is worldwide. When I worked in Mexico they were a little wary of foreigners because it was all about their culture.
“But, for me, in football you don’t have ages, you don’t have ID, you don’t have a name and you don’t have a nationality.
“You only have players who either fit or don’t fit into a massive club like Rangers. If I found Scottish players who can do this I would definitely go for them. But this is not a question of nationality.
“I didn’t say I would look at Scottish players in Scotland but Scottish players in the UK. One of the things I do is, after watching a player in four or five games, if we find him interesting then I put him in our data base.
“One guy, for example, could be an interesting midfield player and he could fill a gap in my squad regarding the way I see the game and my needs for that position.
“So he goes into the data base and one day, when I am looking for that kind of player, I know where to go to find them. Then I can say ‘This one is my first option, this one is my second choice’ and so on.”
One local hero whose services Caixinha would prefer to retain is winger Barrie McKay. The 22-year-old has reportedly rejected the offer of a new contract from the club but the mention of this produced a gnomic response. “We know what we have,” said the manager. “It’s the same situation with the assessment. Barrie is included in that assessment and I am not going to respond to any sort of comment in the newspapers. I know what is going on.
“I like all my players. Do you remember my statement when I arrived? Best players, best squad. I can speak about Barrie’s talent – we have no doubt that he is a fantastic player, with his qualities and his skills.
“But I want more than just a skilful player. I want him to be more aggressive, to see the game differently, to be more pro-active and to give more to the collective side.
“Those are the things we are working on with him and the fact he is a fantastic player makes that easier to add more tools to what he already has.
“Barrie could reach European and international team level – that’s what I want to happen. Of course, if he helps us here first then that is what we want.”
Caixinha has made a point up until now of either naming his own starting XI or predicting that of his opponents on the eve of their meetings but he admits that he has no idea which players or tactics Partick Thistle manager Alan Archibald will deploy at Ibrox tomorrow.
“They change their team all the time,” he said. “The major doubt for me is about the three guys up front because they are always changing. We couldn’t find one pattern with that so we may expect one team but it could be another. Only when I see the teamsheet at 2:30 will I know!
“For me, the most important word in football is consistency. Consistency about results and performances. If you are consistent with regards to performance, the outcome is that results will come more often.”