‘OUT OUT OUT’ chanted the Rangers fans outside the Stade Josy Bartthez in Luxembourg last night at the conclusion of their club’s catastrophic European elimination at the hands of Progres Niederkorn.
The target of their ire - Pedro Caixinha - was a crestfallen Manager as he reflected on the disastrous defeat.
The unthinkable has happened. It is something that only happens once in a lifetime. I accept full responsibility for what has happened.
“I don’t have the answers as to why the players didn’t perform. I told them at half-time that we were not respecting the opponent. You cannot afford to do that,” he said.
“We allowed them to start believing and they realised they could harm us. We conceded silly set-pieces which led to both goals.”
Caixinha refused to offer the excuse of missed chances, including striking the crossbar no fewer than three times.
“I’m not going to talk about the chances we had or the times we hit the woodwork,” he said. “They scored two goals and that’s all that counts. I’m not going to talk about the balls on the post or bar, the chances we had because it is goals that count. They scored twice, we didn’t score so we are out.”
The Ibrox Boss denied that complacency had been a factor – and was convinced that his new team would come good given time.
“One thing I’m totally sure of, I strongly believe and even more now because I know the group of players I have,” he said. “I know I can count on them, we are building something that was not counting today. I assume all the responsibility for not qualifying and getting to the group stages that was our main goal but I know this group is going to be on the top again and is going to build very good things for the club.”
The Manager was quick to defend the fans who had travelled to Luxembourg despite the demonstration immediately following the game.
“One word for the fans - they are the only ones that never deserve this sort of thing, they need to be angry at this moment and we understand they are angry but we ask them to keep believing in the team and have loyalty because the team will come good,” said Caixinha.
“If I was not showing strength to move the things forward then I couldn’t be in this chair, so I’m strongly convinced I can do it, I’m strongly convinced I have the group to do it and I believe I need to be here to take the group forward.
“I am the first face they come against and, if you don’t deliver results, you have to expect that. The fans are going to demand from you.
“I know coming to a massive club like this that, when these things happen, I am the one who is going to be on the front line. I respect that, but I will keep doing my job going forward.”
Caixinha acknowledged that this was the worst result in his managerial career.
“We did everything to get the result and it might happen once in a lifetime. It has happened to us, but we have to keep moving forward. This is the message I gave to the players,” he said.
“Normally, I don’t speak with the players straight after a match, but this was an extraordinary situation and I just told them that I have full confidence and trust in them.
“It is totally the worst result of my managerial career. One of things which was said before the game was that defeat was unthinkable and it has really happened.