Pedro Caixinha’s position as Rangers manager is under increasing pressure after his team suffered a first League Cup defeat against Motherwell for 58 years.
Louis Moult’s double secured a stirring semi-final victory for the Fir Park club who will return to Hampden to face holders Celtic in the final on 26 November.
As Motherwell and their supporters basked in the glow of a success which underlined their improvement under Stephen Robinson this season, Caixinha was left to confront the consequences of the latest painful setback of his seven months in charge.
It was watched first hand by Rangers chairman Dave King, the South Africa-based businessman understood to be in Scotland for a pre-planned series of meetings.
They are likely to include discussions with Caixinha over the level of progress made on the pitch since the Portuguese coach replaced Mark Warburton in March.
Caixinha, sent to the stand along with his Motherwell counterpart Robinson during the match as he complained about a series of decisions by referee Steven McLean, cut a more subdued and even contrite figure afterwards.
He accepted full culpability for Rangers’ failure to reach the final. While insisting he does not feel under any pressure in terms of his job security, Caixinha admitted to failings in the preparation of his team. “I need to assume all the responsibility for our team because of the way the team presented themselves today,” said Caixinha.
“They were a shade of the team they needed to be. The opponent played better, they played their own game and we allowed them to play their own game. We couldn’t play our game, we couldn’t find a way to play it and that is the main reason why the opponent won the game. Maybe I had created a lot of expectation and a lot of anxiety. I am a little bit like that. We have players who weren’t at their levels, I can’t say why they weren’t. Collectively, it was a very poor performance.
“We conceded the first goal after 52 minutes, but before that we had two or three clear chances. I said to myself that arriving at those conditions of the game without scoring, maybe some bad things might come.
“They were twice on our goal in the
second half and they scored twice. But it is not hiding what was our poor
performance and the shade of team we were.
“It’s up to me. I’m the one who needs to lead them in the right direction. I told the boys at half time, there was only one team on the pitch that looks like they are there to win the match. We were not doing what we needed to do and that’s the only thing I’m asking.
“I assume all responsibility and maybe I didn’t prepare them so good in that direction. I’m just really disappointed. I’m disappointed not to deliver what this massive football club is chasing. I’m disappointed to lose another chance to get into a final.
“I’m not under pressure or under stress or whatever. It’s something which is not part of my vocabulary. But of course at this moment, I’m certainly disappointed.”
Asked if expected to hold talks with King over the next few days, Caixinha added: “Totally. We are pleased he is here today but we are not pleased because we wanted to deliver a win for him and for this fanbase. They are fantastic all the time, supporting us. It was not possible. Once again, I’m responsible for that.
“Now we need to put the players in the right direction and focus on Wednesday’s game against Kilmarnock.”
Robinson was left gratified and vindicated by his club’s decision to resist summer bids from both Rangers and Aberdeen for striker Moult, whose double yesterday took his tally for the season to 11. “The money people put in didn’t justify us selling him,” said Robinson. “We spoke to Louis and he’s an honest boy.
“We spoke to him and explained the situation and he’s 100 per cent committed and brings quality. I have to praise the board for standing firm. We knew his value and we got our just rewards today.
“I’m delighted for everyone at the club. There have been dark days and it’s nice to repay the faith they had in me and I’m chuffed to bits to be involved with that team. We battled today and I thought as the first half wore on we got stronger. We said at half-time that we knew we were fitter and stronger than them and I think we got what we deserved.”