As Pedro Caixinha sinks deep into the morass of latent sectarianism that, sooner or later, always seems to get the incumbent of the manager’s office over there, a number of players under contract to the club are bedding in for the long haul.
Andy Halliday is one of them.
He’s out on loan, but he has reportedly told his fellow players he expects to be back at Ibrox someday soon. He’s also suggested that he doesn’t expect Pedro Caixinha to be there when he does. He is but one of a number over there who is prepared to wait this one out.
They don’t expect it to take long.
They think their manager is living on borrowed time.
Caixinha is clearly cracking under the pressure of this job.
He sounds like a desperate man, already pleading for time, already pandering to the worst elements in the stand as he scrambles to keep his “project” on track. He has reversed himself on the strength of the squad, he has alienated entire swathes of his dressing room and is determined to silence all dissent and clear out any malcontents no matter how much value they bring to the club.
This weekend’s explosion of insanity, his pandering to the sectarian element, is the mark of someone who’s totally lost it already.
But worse is the treatment of his own players, many of whom are furious about the way they are treated.
The ban on green boots treats them like children. The imposition of a ludicrous code of conduct, filled with things that make not one iota’s difference to how a team performs on the park, has built an already simmering resentment inside a dressing room now divided into two factions, which themselves have the capacity to splinter into many more.
Caixinha has already lost most of these guys, and over the course of a season he’s going to need some of them.
The club is also being damaged by his antics.
The position of Barrie McKay is a case in point.
He was the most highly rated player at the club last season, and the club is now preparing to sell him for under £1 million. There is no doubt that he possesses a certain level of talent, and as they cannot command big money for him it’s equally clear that if he departs it will not be for financial reasons or because he’s not good enough; he is clearly capable of playing a role at the club into the future. The simple truth is that he is one of a number of players who is not convinced by the manager and is highly resistant to some of his ideas.
McKay is being moved on because he does not believe in Caixinha or what he is trying to do, and the manager has not even tried to bridge the divide between him and the players who feel the same way. His decision to put the player in the reserves is only one of the reasons McKay’s value has collapsed, and that will hurt the club financially.
Caixinha is an arrogant sod.
It would be all well and good if he had arrived at Ibrox with a pedigree to match that, but these players aren’t in the slightest bit convinced by his CV. They aren’t convinced that a guy who came to the club from Qatar and who has never managed a top class European club has the authority to come in and make so many changes, some of which the players don’t see as serving any benefit, such as extending training hours and cutting short the close season.
Some have even looked across the city at the deft way Rodgers has handled players who are out of favour at Celtic – such as the compassion and decency he showed towards Efe Ambrose – and have come to the conclusion that their own manager comes up way short of that standard, on a human level as well as being a leader.
A story about that emerged only this weekend, with the news that Brendan had got the family members of those playing in the cup final team to record some personal messages for them which Brendan had put in their locker before the game.
It’s little things like that, little moments of excellence, of class, that set him apart.
And players talk to each other.
They are not as insular as Caixinha and those in the club above him are.
Some of the footballers at Ibrox are mightily impressed by the way our manager goes about his business, and the compassion and concern he shows for his players. That is not in evidence, anywhere, at Ibrox where instead they have a “disciplinarian” in charge.
And of course, it gets even more complicated when one considers that Kenny Miller is already setting himself to step into the boss’s shoes when they prove too big for Caixinha’s feet. He’s already said to be helping with the formation of the in-house resistance, as one of the architects of the “WhatsApp conspiracy” I wrote about last month.
All of this is why the focus has switched, in recent weeks, from selling players – for whom there are no buyers to be had – to letting them go out on loan. These footballers would otherwise sit in the Sevco reserves and suck resources out of the club whilst undermining the manager’s efforts day in day out. If they can be gotten out the door, at least, and with their host clubs paying part of their wages that’s seen as a half-victory at least.
But who’s it a victory for? These guys believe they’ll be going back. They believe they’ll take up their Sevco shirts and places in that dressing room all over again, and they don’t think it will take long. They are banking on this thing ending quickly.
When you consider the whiff of madness which wafts off Caixinha at the moment it’s easy to see why. They know this has all the hallmarks of a catastrophe … and they are lining up to take full advantage when it does.
Caixinha has made some serious enemies already.
Far too many of them are still on the Sevco wage bill.
I think they’ll outlast him. And so do they.