The appointment of Pedro Caixinha as Rangers’ third foreign manager in 145 years has raised more than a few eyebrows as supporters figure out just who has taken charge of their club, and most importantly, if he’s any good.
The 46-year-old Portuguese had a totally unremarkable playing career bouncing around various lower division clubs in his homeland before making his first steps into coaching at the age of 28 with his local side C.D Beja. After four years with his hometown side Caixinha moved on, taking charge at Clube de Futebol Vasco da Gama for a year before heading to giants Sporting Lisbon.
During his time with Sporting Caixinha would be part of the backroom staff as the Verde e brancos reached the final of the UEFA Cup, which was played in Sporting’s Estádio José Alvalade, only to lose 3-1 to CSKA Moscow. After a poor start to the following season Caixinha, and manager José Peseiro, left Sporting before quickly returning to football with Saudi Arabians Al-Hilal.
Caixinha and Peseiro would remain as a partnership for the next four years covering spells with the Saudi Arabian national team, Rapid Bucharest and Panathinaikos. It was with the Saudi national team that Caixinha would get an opportunity to return to management, first taking charge of the Saudi U23 side as they tried to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
This quickly led to an offer of a return to club football with U. D. Leiria as Head Coach. In his only season at Leiria Caixinha secureda 10th place finish (one worse off than the season before) before being approached to take over at C.D Nacional a few months into the 2011/12 season. Caixinha took up the offer to head to Madeira. After losing their manager Leira would go on to be relegated in consecutive seasons.
On Madeira, Caixinha would lead his new side to a Portuguese Cup semi-final and a 7th place league finish but would make a poor start to the 2012/13 campaign before being sacked as Nacional flirted with relegation.
Despite the poor end to his time with Nacional, the by now well-travelled coach would be sought after on the other side of the Atlantic after an approach from Liga MX’s Santos Laguna. It was in Mexico that Caixinha would lift his first, and so far only, honours as a manager lifting all three of Mexico’s main trophies and taking his side to a CONCACAF Champions League final as well as qualifying for the Copa Libertadores.
During three years in Mexico Caixinha would go on to lift the bulk of Santos’ all-time trophy haul and cement his place as one of, if not the, most successful Santos manager in history. His time in Mexico wouldn’t all be plain sailing though, a number of high-profile incidents would lead to him developing a reputation for being confrontational and hot-headed although (according to people who know much more about Mexican football than we do) he was very well regarded by his players.
After almost three years in Mexico, the Portuguese coach would return to the Arab Peninsula with a big-money move to Al-Gharafa in Qatar in December 2015. After taking over midway through the season, Caixinha sealed a 9th place finish in the Qatar Stars League and has his side currently sat in 5th, seven points off the lead.
He’s maybe not Pep Guardiola or Antonio Conte but in comparison to some of the other names mentioned to take over, he might as well be.