PEDRO Caixinha won’t be bringing in another striker before the transfer window closes and has backed youngsters Ryan Hardie and Zak Rudden to step up in the event of injuries to the club’s trio of senior strikers Kenny Miller, Alfredo Morelos and Eduardo Herrera.
Rangers are still thought to be pursuing two signing targets, and Caixinha’s comments chime with the idea they could be Hearts‘ Jamie Walker and Aberdeen‘s Kenny McLean, both of whom operate in midfield rather than attack. It wasn’t so long ago that top clubs insisted on having four out-and-out forward players, but Rangers’ approach is echoed by Celtic, who have run thus far with just Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths.
“No, we can have different options up there,” said Caixinha. “We have three strikers for two positions if we play with two up front, and we have Ryan Hardie there who was on the bench in midweek. We have Zak Rudden who is 17 but I trust him as well. If I have to go back to the youth team to get some players for one or two matches we should have no problems with that. We have to go with the squad we have.”
While Caixinha is an admirer of Hardie, he said he regarded some of the phases of the youngster’s play as “lazy” and wants him to work harder. “Ryan will definitely be staying with us until January, I think he will improve much more just being with us training sometimes than just going and playing a game,” said Caixinha of the 20-year-old who spent last season on loan spells at St Mirren and Raith Rovers. “He needs to leave his comfort zone. He is a goalscorer, but sometimes he is very lazy.
“He is an interesting player but I want much more from him than just being a goalscorer. It is good to have managers who give a chance to young players but the young players need to fight to deserve those chances. I am that kind of manager who when I have a squad in front of me I am not looking to the ID, I am not looking to the age, if they give me the confidence that they can get on the park and do the job then good. All the time there has to be an option where they are raising their hands and saying I am ready, give me minutes. That is what I need from all the players.”
Caixinha has proven flexible with aspects of his management, including apparently settling on a variation of 4-4-2 rather than 4-3-3 as his default template. “The most important thing is that the players feel confident with the kind of play,” he says.
He said he has never doubted his ability to make a success of this job, not even at the worst moments, such as the European exit against Progres Niederkorn or the humbling 5-1 home Old Firm defeat last season.
“The doubts were always from the outside world, not from us,” he said. “But we know we still have a long way to go. We need to be more detail orientated, because there are some areas where we really still have to be better.”