Rangers fans should be familiar with the feelings of disappointment by now. We've not won three games in a row for god knows how long and just as you think the team is progressing another frustrating defeat opens the floodgates for another surge of criticism and hysteria. It genuinely is the case that in this Rangers era you can change your mind about a particular player or manager over the course of 90mins never mind a whole season.
Take the last few weeks for example. After another humbling by Celtic at Ibrox, Pedro's team recovered from the subsequent criticism by going onto win their next two games by three goals away from home. Although these performances weren't perfect, there were enough signs to suggest we could go to Hampden against Motherwell and beat them as well. And, for 50mins, that looked probable as we dominated play and created several chances whilst various Motherwell players seemed to lose their discipline. Fast forward to the 75th minute and the game was gone - two goals from Louis Moult out of nothing really amidst more missed chances from us meant that once again many fans were questioning the manager. And rightly so, surely?
First and foremost as Pedro himself concedes, of course he has to be criticised. Yes, he's only had one transfer window but so far his work there looks to be average at best. Three signings (Jack, Candeias and Morelos) have done pretty well but the rest - including the bulk of his cash on Pena and Herrera have been inconsistent at best. Now, I doubt there are many managers who can proclaim a greater than 50% success record in the transfer market but there's no doubt that Caixinha has been let down by his key signings. Even his senior pros such as Dorrans and Alves can't lay claim to standing out often enough. As such, for every fan that says the manager has only had one transfer window, there will be another saying why should we give him another?
Related to that is his man management of players. There's absolutely no doubt new signings deserve time to find their feet at a new club - especially if coming from countries like Mexico and Portugal. However, we're now into late October so that excuse is now wearing thin. Quite simply all his players should be fit and bursting a gut to get into this team. How long do we have to wait for Pena to obtain full sharpness? And why sign Herrera for close to £1m if he's not going to actually feature more than five minutes here and there? Would Moult have not been a better, cheaper option? Worst of all, failing to sign a first choice left midfielder has left us well short on that flank.
That takes us nicely to performances. In his press conference yesterday the manager was right to say the players are not delivering and appear mentally weak. In fact, I've said many times that one of the biggest things we've lost since the administration of the club isn't hard cash or player A or B but a winning mentality. It now appears our club don't know - or at least lack the belief - of winning regularly. That was evident again on Sunday. When we went 0-1 down, we didn't do what we did against Hamilton and get back into it, we seemed to panic and retreat into our shells. Pedro talks about leaders. His annoyance at the officials was completely understandable but we needed him in the dugout not in the stands in the creme puff. Meanwhile our captain tried his best to get sent off and his deputy disappeared from the game completely. Is it any wonder we basically surrendered for the last 15mins?
In that sense, the fans were embarrassed after the game. Not with the performance for the first hour or the missed chances but with the meek reaction to a few physical challenges and the loss of two goals. The aggression from a few Motherwell players certainly went well beyond what should be acceptable within the laws of the game but it won't be the first or last time we have to deal with that. And deal with it we must. To that end, it's a struggle to make a case for Pedro's future at the club. [Article continues below poll]
But, and it isn't a cop out to ask, would it be the right decision to remove the manager as it stands? Sure, we now have a Director of Football structure in place to supposedly make such a process smoother but who exactly do we replace Pedro with? More importantly do we give him longer than the 6-8 months both Warburton and Caixinha have received in the top league? What happens if the new man can't get the existing players performing well enough either ahead of January? Do we throw £10m at him as well? Where does that cash come from? Once again, who is this man?
I think I've seen a few of the same names crop up: Derek McInnes and Tommy Wright from our own league as well as names such as Sam Allardyce, Frank de Boer and Michael O'Neill from elsewhere. Of those five names do any of them really make you confident they'll bring substantial improvement on what we have now? All have their positives but, as ever, there are no certainties. Because of that some suggest a comfort blanket of the erstwhile retired Walter Smith but are we that unimaginative and insecure? The problem we have is that the appointment of Pedro was somewhat bold and certainly a gamble. As it stands that bet certainly hasn't paid off but there's still a small part of me thinks it's not time to fold on it yet.
With that in mind tomorrow night's game at Ibrox will be an interesting one. Killie have struggled this season but their new manager Stevie Clarke is a fairly impressive (or at least under-rated) capture. We've often struggled at home to break teams down and Clarke isn't renowned for his expansive, attacking football so it will most likely be another evening where patience is required amid frustration. And it remains to be seen just how long it would be before such dissatisfaction spilled from the stands towards the Portuguese manager standing in the technical area. After all, as much as the players aren't doing the business, it is the responsibility of the manager to wield them suitably if and when this happens. Moreover, given we keep failing any of the genuine tests placed upon us, then the buck stops with him. Will we see changes to his team and system tomorrow?
In conclusion, there's certainly some debate to be had about the man in charge. It is becoming increasingly difficult to defend Pedro Caixinha and, as much as he talks a good game, there has to come a point where actions speak louder than words. That has now been reached and whether we stick or twist, no further excuses can be accepted. Wins over Kilmarnock and Hearts must be forthcoming ahead of the next international break. If not, Pedro's hand is a losing one. But we must remember there's no guarantees we'll be dealt any aces in the next one.
Possible team (4-2-3-1):
Discuss this article
Enjoyed this analysis? Disagree entirely? Found a spelling mistake? Whatever your opinion, it's welcome on our popular and friendly message-board.