Pedro Caixinha has admitted the size of the task facing him as Rangers manager is bigger than he initially believed when he accepted the job two months ago.
Despite experiencing comprehensive back-to-back defeats in his first two Old Firm games, however, the Portuguese coach insists the Ibrox club can mount a serious challenge to Celtic for the Premiership title as soon as next season.
Caixinha has drawn up a wish list of summer signing targets he says will form the “core” of a revamped first team squad. He expressed complete satisfaction at the level of funds he has been promised by the Rangers board and is confident he will be able to offload any current players he does not want to keep, regardless of the number of them who remain under contract.
Speaking at length for the first time since last Saturday’s record 5-1 defeat against Celtic at Ibrox, Caixinha was keen to underline his determination to turn around Rangers’ fortunes.
“I need to be strong to accept this massive challenge,” he said. “I know what brings me here. I know that what happened last weekend can happen. But I came to work to prevent this happening in the future. That was the reason why we came early, knowing that these things could happen. But I know it’s a massive job I have at this club and I’m not going to turn away from it.
“You only get to know things deeply when you have worked on the pitch, when you are here and seated in the job. But to be honest, yes [it is a bigger challenge than I first thought]. But I am a guy of challenges. I am on the way to the task so I have no problem with it.
“We know that we have identified the core of the team to be here next season. It is on our mind. The board knows, the board agrees and we are working on it. I’m being supported 100 per cent [by the board]. We are doing the things in order to get the core of the players playing that I presented. We have been doing things for almost the past month. It’s about bringing in players who are at international level, with international experience. Players which this club is used to having in the recent past. That is what we are bringing next season.
“You have to move players in, you need to move players out. That is the way that things work in football. We would need to get one sort of agreement [with current players under contract]. Do you think that you are going to work with someone who doesn’t want to work with you, that things are going to be nice or going to be the right way? I don’t think so. It is a question of principles and values.
“Nobody said that you need to pay the players to go. Nobody said also that you need to pay players to come in. We need to spend money now for sure, but I cannot tell you how much we are going to spend.
“We can challenge Celtic next season if we bring in these players. I’m not going to just say the things that the fans want to hear, I only say things that I feel and that I’m confident about saying. I want to be realistic.
“If we get in the right core of players then things will be different, for sure.”
Third-placed Rangers are currently 36 points behind six-in-a-row champions Celtic in the Premiership but Caixinha claims he is comfortable with the benchmark that sets.
“We want to be compared with Celtic,” he added. “That’s fine. It’s totally fine. Scottish football is about Rangers and Celtic and I’m not going to run away from that fight or war or whatever. I like it. Celtic are up there. We know where they are, we know where we want to be and we need to work to get there.
“How many years have Celtic still to go [for ten in a row]? Well, we still have four years, right?”