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Caixinha confident Rangers can emerge from Celtic shadow

 

By Andy Newport

Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha has been forced to admit his side are living in Celtic's shadow - but he is determined to slash the gap separating the sides.

The new Ibrox manager says he cannot deny the Parkhead men are way out in front after coming up against Brendan Rodgers' rampant Bhoys for the first time last Sunday.

A meek Gers showed their bitter rivals too much respect and were punished as Celtic strolled to a 2-0 win in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden.

But his team will have one last chance to shoot down the Premiership champions when they visit Govan tomorrow.

And Caixinha expects to see the passion he believes was missing last week. He said: "I'm assessing (the gulf between the clubs) and I'm working on a daily basis. It exists and I cannot deny it. But we want to reduce it and we are going to do it.

"It is not a question of time, though. It is a question of work, belief and commitment."

The treble-chasing Hoops have enjoyed the whip hand over their Glasgow foes, winning four of the five derby clashes so far, with the other ending in a draw.

But Caixinha is refusing to write off his side's chances.

"The previous games belong to the past," he said. "The present and the future will be on Saturday. If I didn't have confidence in the squad I would not be here.

"If I didn't believe we could do these things I would not show up. I would resign and go home.

"On Sunday, we didn't have the passion to be committed enough to let the game flow.

"The (breakdown in communication) is what we analysed after the match and everything was clear. Am I confident that will be cleared up for Saturday? I'm always confident.

"After the game, the players were the same as all the Rangers supporters - sad. We have had our setback but we have another match. We need to improve and put passion on the pitch to defend the colours of this club."

Meanwhile, Caixinha - who blanked questions on a reported new deal for striker Kenny Miller and speculation he is about to mount a move for Aberdeen midfielder Kenny McLean - insists there is no discord among his squad over plans for pre-season.

Reports yesterday suggested the 46-year-old is set to extend his players' summer holiday in order to head off a brewing row after originally granting them just a nine-day break.

But Caixinha says his men -who round off their season away to St Johnstone on May 21 - are on board with his training schedule as they plot an early return to action when the Europa League qualifiers kick off on June 29.

Asked if players had expressed concern over the amount of time off, Caixinha replied: "Not at all. They are professionals."

It was claimed Caixinha had told his men to report back on June 1 but the Gers boss insists plans have yet to be finalised.

He said: "That's an internal affair. It's unofficial at the moment.

"It is not me who set up the plan. It's the date of the first competition, which is June 29.

"It's important we have the time to prepare in order to be ready for that first match."

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