There are some football environments where a man can get away with almost everything. He can sit at a press conference and dispense wisdom like M&M’s. He can criticise refs and tap up players at other clubs. He can rail against supporters and critics alike.
There are football environments where this is possible because there’s very little light on them, or the stakes are low. Lower league managers are sometimes a strange breed, because they have the luxury of being able to go off the deep end every once in a while in a way top bosses can’t.
There are cultural elements which can excuse the more bizarre behaviours of managers. In a lot of Latin countries, like in South and Central America you see things that don’t generally happen on the more sedate football fields of Europe. Mass brawls are frequent. If you’ve ever bet on games in those leagues you’ll know there’s a high red card quotient. Crowd trouble is virtually guaranteed whenever rival clubs meet, and games are occasionally abandoned.
In such a maelstrom it is not surprising that a lot of managers get carried away in the madness.
I watched a game this very week where the officials had to virtually clear out an entire dugout after a late penalty decision. The way things work in that environment, this stuff is seen as being perfectly normal. No-one gets in a strop about it.
There are managers who’ve achieved enough in the game that they can go off the reservation from time to time. Jose Mourinho does it frequently. Alex Ferguson was able to bully officials, the media, even the FA from time to time.
They get away with this stuff, and with their occasional eruptions, because they can call back on careers of success.
Mourinho, of course, is Portuguese and that is the curse of every manager who hails from that country. All, no matter how pitifully inept, are compared to him. All who show promise are dubbed “the new Mourinho”, not on their own merits but because a lazy scrote in a press room has gone down a lame checklist and found points of commonality with the Special One. And it’s worse than that, because every manager who ever “masterminded” a victory against him when he was head coach at Porto is assumed to have some level of knowledge that enabled it.
But to quote a favourite moment from Breaking Bad, “Just because you shot Jessie James, it don’t make you Jessie James.”
Caixinha is part of the Portuguese managerial diaspora, currently leaking out into the rest of football as everyone tries to find the next guru in the mould of Mourinho. He is on the low end of a scale which includes Marco Silva at Hull, Villas-Boas who is now in China and Paulo Sousa who is now at Fiorentina. Every one of them has been compared to Mourinho and come up well short.
Caixinha combines the traits of the worst of the Mourinho wannabes with the most negative aspects of having managed in South America. He is arrogant. He is wilful. He believes he is special. He has hyped his relationship with the Manchester United boss as Warburton once talked of how he could pick up the phone and get Arsene Wegner and others on the line.
In truth, it’s doubtful that Caixinha and Mourinho know each other beyond the occasional seminar when they are thrown together. With Caixinha at Ibrox, it is certainly doubtful they’ll ever meet in a competitive sense.
What creates the impression that there’s more to it than that is that The Special One doesn’t mind when people drop his name into conversations, and imply a closeness. Mourinho is not unhappy at the rash of stories that he has played the guru to every manager who comes out of his nation of birth; if one of them succeeds he can bathe in their reflected glory. If they fail, well too bad so sad, they just didn’t meet the standards he set for them.
It does him no harm. It grows his legend.
But it poses immeasurable difficulties for those who try to appropriate his name as an enhancement of their own abilities. When they fail – as all have done to one degree or another – the spotlight shines harshly on them.
Villas-Boas is the sterling example; it’s not for nothing, and not only for money, that he has taken himself off to the Far East.
His reputation in Europe is largely shot. It didn’t help than when his tenure at Chelsea came to a premature – and disastrous – end that his short term replacement Di Matteo went on to win the Champions League.
On top of that, the South American experience has amplified Caixinha’s own hot-headed tendencies and self-styled tough-guy attitude. Earlier in the week, one newspaper ran some stories about his many flare-ups with rival managers in Mexico; this wasn’t news to those of us who did our research on him when his name first appeared. He is a head-case and this was an established fact long before he landed up here. His ranting and raving to the media is a product of his Latin temperament, his exposure to South American football and his desire to be seen on a par with his fellow Portuguese.
But all that mouth doesn’t make you a star.
The qualities needed to be a top football manager aren’t found in talking a good game to the press, and the tough guy attitude might have scared the residents of the Doha suburb where he put down roots in Qatar, but this is Scotland, this is Glasgow, and we’ve seen old ladies in the street with more aggression.
Those kind of histrionics won’t cut any ice here. If he tries to intimidate rival bosses here he’s more likely to get a smack in the teeth than he ever would have been in Mexico. The local temperament might not be of the Latin variety but we have an even lower tolerance for his kind of nonsense. When even Craig Brown got into a fist-fight it’s clearly not a good idea to wind up some of the more excitable elements; imagine he pulled his aggressive nonsense with Big Hughes or Lenny?
And his own players, especially those from around these parts, won’t take too kindly to it either.
Kenny Miller already appears to undermine him at every turn.
With the manager and his coaches essentially abandoning the dressing room after games, Miller is the de facto head of that room already.
Caixinha is beginning to enjoy being in the papers and the centre of attention, but he’s not cut out for criticism any more than Warburton was. He flies off the handle too easily. His disciplinarian side is a little too manic, and hysterical.
This is a guy who’s already worried that he’s talked himself into a job where the expectations are way too high for him.
When he arrived at Ibrox he said he had the best team in the country; now he wants to tear it up and bring in twelve players, all the while telling the media – apparently in all seriousness – that he has actually done well and that the team has done well since he’s been here; note his statements, last week, on the creation of their “own league” where they had narrowed the gap to a single point.
He is barking. His statements are becoming harder to take seriously, full of contradictions and even outright reversals. I would have been seriously concerned about this guy – about any manager – who had come in and stated the bald fact to the fans that the work of building a team to compete at the top of the table was going to take years, and a lot of resources.
That would have worried me more than this blowhard, who hasn’t realised he’s in a place where talk is cheap and where big talk only gets you into trouble.
He will learn though.
The Glasgow way.
The hard way.