Two defeats in six days at the hands of arch rivals Celtic had Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha likely scrambling to his laptop to cancel his summer holidays. After a month in the role, the Portuguese coach must now realize the size of the task that is in front of him. A complete overhaul of the first team and reserve team squad is needed if he is to build a team that is capable of competing in the Premiership next season. The league table highlights this as Rangers struggle not only to catch Celtic in first but also are slipping further behind Aberdeen in second.
The board has indicated that funds will be made available but are unlikely to be significant. With a limited budget to play with, Caixinha may need to focus on the free transfer market but before he can do so he will need to offload as many duds as possible to create breathing space in the existing wage budget of £11million. Clearing out the squad will not be an easy task in itself. Of the first team squad of 25, almost half are on contracts that run until 2019 or beyond. That rules out terminating contracts as the club would have to buy them out at a hefty cost which it simply cannot afford to do. Finding buyers may be equally hard based on the players current salaries and poor performances this season.
If he hasn’t already, Caixinha will be drawing up a list of players he wants to keep in his squad for next season. Based on current form, that list could be written on a post it note. Kenny Miller has already been signed to a new one year deal whilst current club captain Lee Wallace remains an important figure. Winger Barry McKay has shown enough promise to convince Caixinha of his worth however with German Bundesliga side RB Leipzig rumoured to be interested, he may be sold in order to bring in much needed additional funds. Defenders Danny Wilson and Lee Hodson should also remain along with Jordan Rossiter who despite spending the majority of the season on the injury list is still a talent to build a team around.
Of the remaining players, four are certain to leave – Clint Hill and Philip Senderos due to contract expiry; Jon Toral and Emerson Hyndman due to end of loan deals. Michael O’Halloran’s card is definitely marked after a fall out with the manager so he is likely to leave if a buyer can be found. That leaves decisions to be made about the futures of 12 first team players – Foderingham, Kiernan, Tavernier, Crooks, Halliday, Holt, Forrester, Windass, Kranjcar, Dodoo, Garner and Waghorn but all could leave given the right price.
Caixinha has already shown that he is not afraid to promote youth players into his first team squad with Myles Beerman and David Bates having already started a few games this season. Turning to the youth team may add a freshness needed to what has become a stale squad. That is good news for talented youngsters like Aiden Wilson, Liam Burt, Ryan Hardie and Billy Gilmour who are the future of the club and its long term prospects. In addition to them, he will need to add new faces with a good mix of youthful promise and experienced heads. Potential options include Steven Whittaker, Steven Naismith and John Ruddy who are all set to leave Norwich this summer. Former Scotland captain Darren Fletcher is also out of contract as is Charlie Adam, Graham Dorrans and John Terry although its not a given that any of those players would entertain a move to Rangers.
If money was made available, moves for Aberdeen’s Kenny McLean or Falkirk’s Craig Sibbald could bolster the clubs small home grown contingent. Rotherham’s Will Vaulks is also a name touted as a possible acquisition following his sides relegation from the English Championship which may highlight the current pulling power of Rangers at this time. Either way, Caixinha will need to do his business as early as possible to ensure he has time for his new look side to gel. It could be a long summer for the Portuguese coach as he looks to get Rangers back into the race in Scotland.