Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha has been under a good deal of pressure recently. A reported fall-out with Kenny Miller led to the experienced forward being ostracised from the team, while a home defeat to Celtic didn’t help matters.
However, it is arguable that – thanks to the Portuguese – the club are in a better position than they were this time last season.
Rangers’ net spend in 2016/17 was £1.82million; this term it has so far amounted to £5.98million. Caixinha’s first full campaign in charge has coincided with spending over three times as much as last season. With this in mind, improvement on the pitch would be expected.
In addition, the manager has not had to deal with such high player turnover. Last summer saw 11 new players arrive at Ibrox, while 19 departed, whereas this summer 11 have joined and 11 have left. Again, theoretically this benefits the incumbent coach.
However, Caixinha’s spending has brought some under-the-radar benefits. The average age of players signed permanently has dropped, albeit only very slightly, from 27.4 to 27.3 years old, while the percentage of additions made over the age of 30 has decreased from 45.5 per cent to 25 per cent.
While the effects of this subtle shift in transfer policy may not have been felt yet, in the long-term this should aid Rangers, with the new signings having greater potential to fulfil with the club and, in theory, sell-on value should they exit down the line.
On the pitch, the situation is also better than it was at the same time last term. After eight Scottish Premiership fixtures in 2016/17, the Ibrox men had won three, drawn three and lost two, picking up a total of 12 points. Currently, they have won four, drawn two and lost two, earning a total of 14 points.
Under Caixinha’s watch, this campaign the team’s points per game rate has gone up from 1.5 to 1.75. Thus, while their current win percentage would indicate they are on course to finish with the same points tally as last season (67), the fact they have started faster suggests they may also pick up comparatively more wins in the months to come.
As well as an improved competitiveness in the first Old Firm derby of the campaign – they lost 2-0 to Celtic, whereas in 2016/17 they lost 5-0, the most obvious progression has been seen in the team’s scoring potential.
Caixinha’s side have hit 17 goals in eight league games so far in 2017/18, which averages out at 2.1 per game. At the same stage last season they had scored ten, which averaged out at 1.3 per game.
Their goals against tally may be the same, and they may have kept one less clean sheet, but they have scored more than one goal more frequently this term.
In six of their eight Scottish Premiership fixtures they have hit a minimum of two goals; this only happened three times by the same point last season.
As long as Rangers sit behind Celtic in the league table there is likely to be pressure on the man in charge. But, on the basis of the numbers thus far, Caixinha is improving things at Ibrox.