PEDRO Caixinha could be forgiven for resting up this morning, following the most-significant week of his tenure at Ibrox.
The Portuguese showed he was no shrinking violet when taking over the post of Rangers manager in the summer by boldly announcing he had just inherited the best squad in Scotland.
Even by his standards, though, the last few days have been extraordinary.
We had the Old Firm derby defeat and the confrontation he initiated with Celtic skipper Scott Brown.
It was quickly followed by revelations of a heated, clear-the-air meeting at Murray Park at which he allegedly accused the Scottish players of not doing enough to make the foreigners – himself included – welcome.
Next came the hunt for the perpetrator of the leak, and Caixinha’s statement that he felt more confident, having identified the mole.
He didn’t name who that was, but the decision to drop Kenny Miller for the game against Hamilton and send him with the Under-20s to Brentford prompted many to draw their own conclusions.
Taking on one of the biggest characters in the dressing room is a huge gamble for any manager to take.
I can tell you from personal experience that often players opt to back their pal over their boss.
When Rangers went a goal down to Hamilton Accies after less than a minute on Friday night, I feared that was what had happened.
Instead, they showed great character to fight back and establish a winning lead, and then hold on to it after losing Ryan Jack for the bulk of the second half.
That Daniel Candeias celebrated his goal by running to the dugout to hug his manager – a gesture he was joined in by his team-mates – spoke volumes for the backing Caixinha has from the team.
Arguably even more important was the part Graeme Dorrans played in teeing up the Portuguese for the goal.
Dorrans had reportedly been criticised in Monday’s team meeting for showing a lack of respect when handing over the captain’s armband in the Old Firm game to Kenny Miller without first seeking the manager’s say so.
Having waited for so many years to get to Rangers, the club he has supported since he was a boy, Dorrans clearly was not about to give up his opportunity.
That is what siding with Miller would have meant. I don’t believe we will see Kenny in a Light Blues jersey again, and a move away in the January window looks the likeliest outcome.
For me the Hamilton win was the second big break that went Caixinha’s way over the week.
The first came, surprisingly enough, from Celtic.
Their 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in the Champions League cast the derby defeat in a more favourable light.
Fans will have looked at that and figured their own 2-0 loss to the Hoops wasn’t actually all that bad.
Had Celtic lost heavily in Brussels, the reverse would have been true, especially because they themselves were comprehensively beaten at home by Paris Saint-Germain.
As it is, Caixinha can look ahead to the international break from a position of renewed strength.
The trip to Canada to play Benfica in a friendly could even help the squad bond and heal any recent rifts.
The key, as always though, is to keep winning matches.
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