The blunt truth about Pedro Caixinha’s Rangers is that they can not win the matches that matter.
During his 25 games in charge since replacing Mark Warburton, he has lost to Celtic three times – including the worst home defeat in Rangers’ history – been knocked out of Europe by the fourth-best team in Luxembourg, lost a 26-year unbeaten home record against Aberdeen, been beaten at home by Hibernian and now vanquished in a semi-final by Motherwell.
In this sequence, his team have never managed to win three matches in succession and he believes it has become a mentality issue.
The question is whether the Rangers board will concur with his assertion that he needs more time and money to get things right, despite spending around £8million last summer and bringing in 11 new players.
Effectively, he is accusing the players of not having the bottle to win the big games but, conversely, says that he continues to believe they will overcome their phobia.
“It’s a fact that we don’t win big games,” said Caixinha in a lengthy press conference yesterday.
“We have spoken before about not being able to win three games in a row and we found that the pattern is there.
“The pattern is that when the third game comes along – and normally it is a key game or a very important game like the Old Firm or a cup semi-final – the team doesn’t give you a strong response.
“So we have to decide what we need to change in our work on a weekly basis.
“Motherwell performed exactly as we knew they were going to perform. We didn’t.
“We chose exactly the right contents to place on the training sessions so the players were ready to know what they were facing, although we had already played Motherwell in the first game of the season.
“We chose the right footage to show them how they play, in all aspects. We worked more than usual on defending set-pieces.
“So we feel we prepared in the right way to show the players what we wanted from the game.
“But from having our team meeting at the training ground and then getting to Hampden and going out on the pitch there was a huge difference from what we had been working on to the way the team played.
“I cannot control that huge difference. I can make them better tactically, I can make them more aware of the game and I can make them better physically in terms of the way we want to play the game.
“But they are not reaching that last level, the final stage of being a Rangers player and we have to keep looking forward to find that level of transfer.
“That’s why we didn’t play our game. We tried to play out from the back once and when it didn’t work we didn’t try it again.
“I have a word for that and I discussed it with the players. We cannot be afraid of winning.
“However, in the last part of the analysis, I said to the players ‘I believe in you’ because I am the one who has brought many of them here and extended the contracts of existing players.
“So I told them that this belief and conviction I have in them must lead to the standard and character of playing for Rangers knowing that we are going to be under scrutiny, or what other people call pressure.”
To that end the team that lost to Motherwell – apart from broken nose victim Fabio Cardoso, pictured, and possibly Ryan Jack who sustained a knock at Hampden – will be given the chance to redeem themselves tomorrow night against Kilmarnock.
Caixinha also had another dig at Stephen Robinson’s side and the match officials, whom he feels could have sent off Ryan Bowman, pictured above, early in the game never mind after his second elbow attack on Cardoso, pictured right.
He said: “If Bowman is sent off after 12 minutes after he elbows Fabio and then he kicks Declan John from the back then things change in a game with 80 minutes still to play. I have reviewed the game and I am shocked. Have you seen Fabio’s face today? It’s even worse.
“If you call that football and if nothing happens as a consequence then I don’t know what might happen in the future.
“Motherwell will play the final and I wish them all the very best. They will play the same way and I know that they will not finish the game with 11 players if the officials make the right decisions, which they didn’t do on Sunday.”