Rangers manager hunt: Assessing Monk, McLeish and other top candidates

Rangers-FC

Following the departure of Mark Warburton in early February, Rangers are yet again in a state of flux. The Light Blues have been under the stewardship of their Under-20s coach Graeme Murty since, and results haven’t been too impressive under the 42-year-old.

Last evening’s last-gasp win over St Johnstone was the Gers’ first in the league under Murty.

Names have been bandied around for the vacant managerial post at the Ibrox outfit, and while most of the noise is just speculation, there are quite a few who would fit the bill as Warburton’s successor.

From well-known names such as Frank De Boer to obscure ones like Pedro Caixinha, various managers have been linked with the Gers. The odds are in favour of the left-field Caixinha, while Murty and former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp are also in the mix.

Here is an assessment of the five best candidates for the Ibrox hot seat.

1. Pedro Caixinha: The Portuguese’s name has sprung up from almost nowhere, but he has history with the Gers. Back in 2015, Caixinha was set to join the club as Vitor Pereira’s assistant but Rangers’ failure to win promotion to the Premiership after losing in the playoffs meant that move did not materialise.

Caixinha’s managerial record is neither too inspiring nor too shabby. The 46-year-old has worked in three continents and had the most success in Mexico with Santos Laguna, whom he led to the CONCACAF Champions League final in 2013.

With the likes of José Mourinho, Leonardo Jardim, Paulo Sousa and Fernando Santos flying the Portuguese flag high in the world’s biggest stages, appointing Caixinha could turn out to be a masterstroke on the Gers’ part.

2. Alex McLeish: The Scot has been the favourite ever since Warburton departed, but the delay in the new manager appointment might well be a sign that the Gers are not greatly interested in the 58-year-old.

Alex-McLeish

McLeish has managed the Light Blues in the past, having been in charge at Ibrox in the early 2000s and winning two league titles. He also won the Scottish Cup twice and the League Cup thrice during his four-and-a-half-year stay in the blue half of Glasgow.

The former Birmingham City boss has been out of work since leaving Egyptian club Zamalek in May 2016. Despite that, McLeish’s experience and know-how of the pressures surrounding the Rangers job stand him in good stead should he be appointed.

3. Alex Neil: Neil’s Norwich City have underperformed in the English Championship this season, leading to calls for the Scotsman’s head. However, Neil is among the most highly-rated young British managers around, and rebuilding the faltering Gers with him could reap rich dividends at a later date.

Neil has previously managed in Scotland, having been in charge of Hamilton Academical for a brief period during which he led the Accies to the Scottish top-flight. He also led Norwich to the Premier League but suffered relegation at the end of the 2015/16 season.

Still only 35, Neil could be the perfect fit for the Light Blues who intend to challenge the dominance of Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic for the top honours in Scotland.

4. Garry Monk: Monk is flying high with English Championship outfit Leeds United, and it seems unlikely the Whites will part ways with the ex-Swansea boss at this juncture.

However, taking charge of Rangers brings with it a different kind of challenge, plus the advantage of playing European football on a regular basis, even the Champions League.

Recent reports suggest Monk has emerged as a candidate for the Ibrox job, with the 37-year-old’s contract set to run out this summer. Monk has been non-committal about his future at Leeds which could boost the Gers’ hopes of landing a high-profile manager. Like Neil, Monk’s experience in the Premier League might make him out of reach of the Light Blues.

5. Derek McInnes: McInnes’ current spell at the helm of Aberdeen has been impressive, and it is not against Rangers’ interests to poach the best players and managers from smaller clubs in the country.

The 45-year-old has been in charge at Pittodrie since 2013 and boasts an impressive 1.86 points per game average with the Dons. McInnes played for the Gers in the late nineties and was part of the side that clinched a ninth league title in a row in 1999.

McInnes’ Aberdeen are currently six points ahead of Rangers in the Premiership. He took them to the Scottish League Cup win in 2013/14 and lost this season’s final to Celtic. Having made Aberdeen one of the more successful Scottish clubs behind Celtic in the recent past, McInnes attracting interest from the powers that be at Ibrox comes as no surprise. However, it remains to be seen whether that speculation turns into something concrete.

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