Ahead of his arrival at Rangers, much was made of Pedro Caixinha’s fondness for arresting statements, and over his first week at Ibrox he hasn’t disappointed. The other day at Murray Park he was all hand gestures to show how, historically, Rangers were at head height level while Celtic were only as high as the chest area in response to the assertion he would be defined by how he performed against Scottish champions with triple his football budget and an ability – entirely denied him – to sign £4m players.
Yet, even his potty pronouncement that Rangers currently had a better squad than the one Brendan Rodgers has deployed to create the largest-ever points gap between the pair with both operating in the same league, pales against his daring to suggest that Ian Cathro could be Scotland’s answer to Jose Mourinho.
Caixinha knows both men, Cathro having started his coaching career in the Rangers manager’s native Portugal, where Mourinho changed everything through his astonishing Champions League success with Porto.
Caixinha, with his unremarkable playing career but masters degree in sports science (majoring on the methodology of football training), sees himself as owing a debt to Mourinho for demonstrating that coaching could be cerebral not clubby, in all sorts of ways.
Those at Hearts who have pinned their hopes on Cathro do so because they believe that the 30-year-old’s route into the game – framed by creating a football methodology rather than playing it – speaks of a progressive approach. Caixinha would say that the success of a cluster of Portuguese Mourinho-likes is evidence the Tynecastle club can have a trailblazer in the mould of a man who once said he was a “special one”.
“Jose inspired all of the coaches from my generation,” former Sporting assistant Caixinha said, joking he now called him ‘Judas’ because of the incredible spell he had with the Lisbon club’s bitter rivals.
“It was like Mourinho said ‘let’s open his window’ and when he opened the window we all jumped through it. He was the first one and we are the ones that came behind. He gave us the chance to do that.
“You have a lot of coaches coming from that [academic] background. It’s about how you apply it and how to deal with situations. Maybe Scottish football needs its own Mourinho. Let’s hope Ian Cathro can be the guy.
“Mourinho is unique, of course, but we [Portuguese coaches] share the same philosophy. You just have to look at their success. Look at Man City – they were knocked out by Monaco who have Leonardo Jardim in charge.
“We have many coaches who come from the academic side – like [Carlos] Carvalhal at Sheffield Wednesday, Vitor Pereira is the same and also Rui Vitoria at Benfica. And Jose Peseiro, who I worked with for many years, is also from the academic side.”
Mourinho isn’t from the dark side, as he often might appear from his willingness to use the black arts in his professional domain, Caixinha maintained. “He is a very nice guy,” the Rangers manager said. “He is a fantastic guy who is always available to receive you and to talk to you.
“He will always discuss things about football. He is friendly – not as he seems.”