Scottish football

Rangers boss calls on defenders to improve

Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha has challenged his defenders to get back to basics as they return to action at St Johnstone on Friday following the international break.

Pedro Caixinha calls on Rangers defence to get back to basics

Pedro Caixinha, the manager of Rangers, has called on his defenders to focus on the simple things as they return to action at St Johnstone on Friday following the international break, where Scotland failed to get a play-off place for the World Cup in Russia 2018.

Rangers sloppy at the back

The third-placed Glasgow giants have had no problem putting the ball in the net this season, with the Gers second in the scoring charts on 17 goals. However, the Ibrox side's cause has been hindered by their defence's record of just one clean sheet in their eight Scottish Premiership matches to date.

The Gers take on St Johnstone hoping to move to within three points of league leaders Celtic, who host Dundee on Saturday, if they can claim victory at McDiarmid Park.

And Caixinha says he has spent the international break working on trying to plug the gaps in his team's leaky defence.

"We have been more focused on the details this week because we made the analysis that we cannot concede so many goals in the way we are conceding them," the Portuguese manager said.

"We need to get back to the basics, especially in defending.

"I think we are much more solid as a team if we defend better and if (we) concede less goals, because the difference in the goals we have scored is almost nothing to the teams that are leading the league.

"We need to keep going as we were in attack but we want to improve our defending, so that's the point we've been working on."

Caixinha under scrutiny

Caixinha, 46, has come under close scrutiny this season following his side's indifferent start to the campaign which has seen the Ibrox side drop 10 points in their opening eight matches.

A fall-out with striker Kenny Miller after another derby-day defeat to fierce rivals Celtic led to the veteran being banished to the club's under-20s squad.

A 4-1 win over Hamilton in their last run-out eased the pressure on Caixinha, who this week publicly welcomed Miller back into the fold following 'clear the air' talks.

But Tommy Wright, whose St Johnstone side could leapfrog Rangers into third with a win on Friday, has little sympathy for the Portuguese boss and said that kind of pressure is part and parcel of managing the Glasgow giants.

"The size and stature of Rangers means they are always under scrutiny, in every game," Wright said.

"Nothing has changed down the years in that respect. Anyone employed by Rangers just has to deal with it.

"They are such a big club so they are always under constant media attention. Every little thing is highlighted but there's nothing new about that. It goes with the job."

Elsewhere, champions Celtic will look to get back to winning ways following their 2-2 draw with Hibernian before the break when they take on Dundee at Parkhead.

The Hoops ran out 4-0 winners in their League Cup quarter-final clash last month but Neil McCann's side are unbeaten in their past three league matches and will head to Glasgow hoping to take inspiration from Hibs' performance at Celtic Park.

Scottish fixtures


St Johnstone v Rangers (20:45 CEST)

Saturday (games at 16:00 CEST)

Celtic v Dundee

Hamilton v Motherwell

Hibernian v Aberdeen

Partick Thistle v Kilmarnock

Ross County v Hearts