Pedro Caixinha has revealed that he thought very seriously about making Louis Moult a Rangers player as he tries to prevent the striker from blocking his path to the Betfred Cup final.
Moult was one of the names on Caixinha’s wish list as he rebuilt the Ibrox side in the summer, but no business was done for the Motherwell star, who becomes a free agent at the end of this season.
Instead, he recruited Alfredo Morelos and Eduardo Herrera – along with attacking midfielder Carlos Pena – but he accepts that Moult will be a serious threat tomorrow to Rangers reaching their first League Cup final since 2011.
The Rangers manager said: “I can tell you he was on our database, on our list. He was not the first one on it otherwise he would be here with us, but he was definitely a player we looked at from the previous season to the start of this one.
“Moult is a great striker, a great threat and when there are set pieces and offensive transitions they are very good on the counter.
“He’s a goal-scorer and definitely we need to be aware of him. We have analysed normally his positions and movements, the places he feels more comfortable when he’s in the box.
“So we know the player and he’s a very, very good and strong player for Motherwell.
“To be honest, they are one of the toughest opponents we have faced so far. The match we won against them we were in a very good moment, like we are now, but we face a very strong team.
“They are just one point below in the league and so they are one of our rivals.”
Ironically, Caixinha would not discuss one of his own strikers, Kenny Miller, which would suggest that the 37-year-old will not be involved tomorrow.
Rangers have not faced Motherwell since the opening weekend of the Premiership season when they won 2-1 at Fir Park and Caixinha feels both sides have improved since then.
Rangers have recovered from losing the first Old Firm game of the season by scoring seven goals in their last two matches in a 4-1 win at Hamilton and a 3-0 success in Perth.
Ryan Jack will most likely return to partner Graham Dorrans in the centre of midfield after serving a one-match suspension in what has become a settled team and formation.
And Caixinha feels there is a togetherness and strength about his side now that they have played a concerted number of games.
He said: “We know it is not going to be easy, we know the type of opponent we are going to play. But we have two thoughts – to win or win.
“We are working really hard to get there. Once we get to the final, finals are made to win, so let’s go, but first we need to get the qualification. The team is in a good moment. We’ve been working hard to get to this moment. We’ve had several situations along the season, especially at the start, when we played with more pace, but now I think we are much more organised and can control games better.
“The progression is there as a group, team and a unit.
“I remember one detail last Friday against St Johnstone. When Dorrans received a yellow card, it started with a 1v1 situation in the middle and finished with eight Rangers players to two.
“So when you attack one player you attack the others. That is only something that happens when the team are together, when they are united and fighting for the same thing and the same goal.
“That’s one of the things that has really grown over the last three weeks, along with our organisation.”
Two key stats are that Motherwell have never beaten Rangers in a semi-final and that Caixinha has yet to win three successive matches since taking over at Ibrox so something has to give at Hampden.
The Portuguese tried to brush them aside but he knows the importance of the occasion, especially as it will virtually be like a home game with 35,000 Rangers fans expected.
He added: “We need to win this one and break that data. I don’t like to speak in advance, but I know we could have 35,000 at Hampden, 50,000 in midweek against Kilmarnock and then have around 15,000 away to Hearts.
“So, 100,000 fans in six days. That’s how massive this club is. We need to show passion to make these fans happy.”