Pedro Caixinha rises to the challenge of his first Old Firm clash as Rangers manager

Roddy Forsyth
The Telegraph
Pedro Caixinha has been arriving at the training ground at first light in preparation - PA
Pedro Caixinha has been arriving at the training ground at first light in preparation - PA

Pedro Caixinha will be at the heart of bedlam in his first Old Firm derby as Rangers manager on Sunday but his inspiration has been the dawn chorus.

As the Portuguese coach plots to overcome Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park, he disclosed that he had been at the training ground at first light.

“I just work. Sometimes I bring my pillow and I sleep! No, it’s about work,” he said. “When I need to clarify my ideas, early in the morning, when I have no one down there, is when I try to do it. I don’t take work home. I used to do it before, but not any more. If I have to get up early in the morning and come here, that’s what I do.

“I’m a guy who works from a to-do list. When the list is complete, I go. Yesterday, for example, was the earliest day I left since I arrived here. I arrived at 5.30 in the morning and I left at six in the afternoon.

“This is going to be a semi-final, a very important stage. It’s going to be my first Old Firm match but I cannot think about that. I think about the game to live it, to enjoy it, but to prepare it the same way we prepare all the others, with the exception that this is a semi-final and it gives you a ticket to get to the final and fight for a trophy.

<span>Pedro Caixinha has made an impressive start at Ibrox</span> <span>Credit: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images </span>
Pedro Caixinha has made an impressive start at Ibrox Credit: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

“Those things take time to think about. It’s not only about arriving here at 9am and having breakfast, and then going to the training session at 10am or allow your coaches to do the training for you. I’m not that sort of guy.

“I’m a guy who needs to have everything under control and things need to be under my leadership and, after that, I will share that leadership with the guys who are performing with me on the pitch, the coaches and the players.

“Sometimes, I’m the first one in, but the other guys are coming here very early, too. I don’t have my own keys but Stevie the doorman is always here.”

Caixinha’s confession of his self-imposed regime invited an explanation of how he dispersed the incessant pressure of being in charge of one half of the Old Firm, with the constant scrutiny that comes with the job. The simplest escape, it seems, is a family visit to a city 45 miles to the east.

“I had two days off before we started training this week. We went to Edinburgh and I switched off completely. When I need to work, it is from 5am to 5pm, 8pm or 10pm – whatever I need – but when I need to switch off, I switch off. I try to do that on a daily basis, because we are all creatures of habit. That’s my habit.

<span>Clint Hill, shown here scoring the 87th minute equaliser last month, is in a race to be fit</span> <span>Credit: Russell Cheyne/REUTERS </span>
Clint Hill, shown here scoring the 87th minute equaliser last month, is in a race to be fit Credit: Russell Cheyne/REUTERS

“I’ve always done this, since I arrived at Sporting Lisbon in 2003. I’m not changing anything now. I’m not doing this just because I’m at Rangers. Wherever I have been, it was exactly the same.

“You have two types of stress. The good stress, and distress. I feel good. I’m not anxious about the game. I just focus on doing my job.

“To do my job for the game is not just all about arriving at the match meeting and saying, ‘We are going to play this way’. We test things throughout the week and there is a lot of work to prepare. That’s why I need to spend so much time at the training ground.

“You need to analyse, you need to take decisions, but I’m always one who believes that the more information you have, the better decisions you are able to take. That’s why I’m always looking to be so detail-orientated.”

Celtic’s decision to appeal the red card shown to Scott Brown at the end of their 2-2 draw with Ross County means that the combative and inspirational captain will face Rangers at Hampden. 

Caixinha, though, welcomed Brown’s presence and said that he would have exploited a loophole as Celtic had done, had the circumstances been reversed.

“We are glad that Brown can play because we want the opponents’ squad to be at full strength with all their best players. When someone breaks the rules, you have other rules to test those rules,” he said.

“We all do it. If I speed and I cannot afford to receive the ticket I will do something to avoid receiving it. Why not? It’s the human side. If we were in the same situation, we would do the same thing, clearly.”

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