It seems Rangers have had to embark on a whole new era far too often in recent years. There were the promotion years under Ally McCoist that ultimately ended in Championship failure, the promise of a winning Mark Warburton side that ultimately struggled in the top-flight and most recently the prospect of Pedro Caixinha opening the club up to new player markets and bringing back the quality needed to rise to the top in Scottish football once again.
This time though, there is no room for error. After an expensive summer during which the club decided to back Caixinha heavily, resources are as tight as ever at Ibrox and the incoming manager, whoever it may be, has a serious task on his hand to rebuild Rangers into the force that fans expect.
That expectation though can be a millstone around a manager’s neck Ibrox. Just ask Warburton and Caixinha, who were tasked with catching up to one of the most consistent and imperious sides in Scottish football history, something unrealistic in the time span they were given before their sacking. Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic are a force well beyond anything else in Scotland right now and while that may be tough for some Rangers fans to take, it’s a reality that must be accepted if the club are ever going to move forward and eventually get to their level.
While the PR in football dictates that new managers coming into clubs are bullish and ambitious, Warburton and Caixinha both leaned into the prospect of catching Celtic, wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air if the incoming boss arrived and was honest with the Rangers supporters, setting realistic goals, achievable milestones and reaching them?
Though the hope that fills some Rangers fans will scoff at the suggestion they can’t win the league this season, it’s not a goal that the new manager should be laboured with. Just six points behind, it may not be an insurmountable gap, but the truth is Celtic have rotated heavily in the league this season and are still unbeaten. When the distraction of Europe is no longer there, the expectation would be that they’ll only be better still in the top-flight. They need to give up the Celtic chase, or at least put it on hold.
For Rangers this season, it’s all about finishing second and letting Aberdeen know they are not the second force in Scottish football anymore. Reaching the final in the Scottish Cup would also be a significant bonus, as would finally getting some sort of victory in the derby against Celtic.
Even those are lofty goals however. First and foremost, just finding consistency would be a great start. Pedro Caixinha failed to win more than two matches in a row in his seven months in charge of the club and Mark Warburton had his own problems with results, especially away from home. Stringing together five or six wins would bring massive optimism to the club that they can build on heading into the new year.
It may feel like a compromise of the ethos of the club, it is of course important to always strive for success, but the chase to reach the top has come far too soon. Instead of attempting to take one step forward, the club have tried to take a giant leap each time and failed miserably. It cannot happen again.
The Pedro Caixinha experiment was one that had great promise on paper, but was always a risk. Scottish football is a unique beast and bringing in someone with no knowledge of it to guide one of its biggest clubs proved to be the disaster that many predicted from the outset. It was fanciful, but not pragmatic enough for Rangers’ needs.
The bookies favourite, as shown by OddsChecker, to become the next Rangers manager is Derek McInnes. He is a man who has often been humble about Aberdeen’s place in Scottish football while quiet building a team that, on its day, can compete with Celtic and at the very least has shown the kind of consistency in the Scottish Premiership over the last few years that the Light Blues can only dream of right now.
He is a man who can come in, understand the situation at Rangers immediately, not lead the supporters on a nonsense wild goose chase and deliver tangible success at the club, even if it does not directly result in silverware immediately.
It’s time for Rangers to deal with the realities ahead of them, rather than have their head in the clouds and whether it’s McInnes or another, they need a leader who is honest and clear in achieving his objectives.