Alex Rae says Rangers’ defeat by Luxembourg outfit Progres Niederkorn is likely to make Scottish football “a laughing stock”.
The Ibrox club were ejected from the first qualifying round of the Europa League by a team that finished fourth in their domestic league last season.
“It’s an embarrassing result, given the investment (in the squad),” said Rae of his former club’s 2-1 aggregate defeat.
“I have never seen them lose to a team of this calibre.”
Rae, now 48, told BBC Scotland that he felt Pedro Caixinha’s new-look team lacked the drive he would have expected to see as Rangers returned to European football for the first time in six years.
They had won the Ibrox leg 1-0 and in the starting XI in Luxembourg fielded four of their summer signings – Fabio Cardoso, Ryan Jack, Daniel Candeias and Alfredo Morelos, with a further two, Dalcio and Eduardo Herrera, making substitute appearances.
“They are only three or four weeks into their pre-season but with the quality that Rangers have allegedly brought in you would expect them to go through in a tie like this,” said Rae, who played in the Champions League and Uefa Cup with Rangers in 2004 and 2005.
Rangers lost to a club in Luxembourg. Not Luxembourg but a club in Luxembourg. Not the best team in Luxembourg, the 4th best in Luxembourg.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) July 4, 2017
“It’s OK if it’s a one-off, you can lose cup games, but over two games you would expect them to get through.
“I was disappointed with the manner in which they played. They never got any combinations, there was no tempo or intensity and you could actually see it coming.
“It’s as bad a performance and result as you’re going to get.
“They just didn’t create enough good chances. They had a couple of headers that you would have expected them to score, with (Niko) Kranjcar and (Josh) Windass and Kenny Miller hitting the bar.
“It would have to be up there with one of their worst performances and results in Europe. I think everybody is in shock.
“The way Scottish football is going, we’re going to be a laughing stock.”
Rangers beaten by 4th best Luxembourg team is real watershed. How could you hope for weaker opposition? Nolan Sisters? Cast of Love Island?
— Danny Baker (@prodnose) July 4, 2017
Rae predicted that the Portuguese manager would come in for scrutiny in the coming weeks but he did not think Caixinha would resign or be sacked.
“He seems quite a confident guy in his ability and what he’s trying to do,” he said.
“The board have backed him to the hilt. I would expect them to back him and give him time to turn it around.
“The eight signings are just in the door. The season starts in four weeks. This will give Caixinha time to work with them. They will need to hit the ground running.”
Caixinha says he will take the blame for Rangers’ humiliating Europa League exit.
Gers were ropey at best during last week’s opener at Ibrox and were even less convincing as they toiled amid a balmy evening in the Grand Duchy.
Having presided over May’s nightmare 5-1 drubbing by the Hoops, there are many among the Light Blues support who believe his four-month reign is already doomed.
Caixinha, though, is refusing to panic and says he will continue with the plans he has put in place for the new season.
The Portuguese coach told RangersTV: “I’m just disappointed. I assume all the responsibility.
“We could not do what we were here to do – win the game.
“What happened to us today is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. That’s part of football of course.
“I’m always a positive guy and never give up. We believe in this process.
“It is a strong moment we are living in now and we need to face it with all our personality, character and strength.
“And that is what we are going to do because I believe in this process, I believe in these players and I believe in the work we are going to do.
“This is a strong lesson we need to learn from.”
Gers arrived in Luxembourg with only a Kenny Miller goal from the first leg in their luggage.
They failed to build on that lead, however, and paid the price as first Francoise tucked home from close range after 66 minutes.
Thill then saw a free-kick slip through a ruck of bodies before nestling in the corner of Wes Foderingham’s net.
Gers had hit the crossbar when James Tavernier got his head to a Lee Wallace delivery just before Niederkorn pounced for their first goal.
And they struck the woodwork twice more after the hosts’ second but neither substitute Josh Windass or Miller’s late efforts bounced the right way as Rangers’ return to European action after six years in the continental wilderness ended in fresh shame.
And Caixinha confessed his side only had themselves to blame.
“The corner they scored from came from one silly loss of possession,” he said.
“After that, we knew we could not commit unnecessary fouls but that’s what we did.
“We need to apologise to our fans as they were showing this support, this loyalty to the club.
“They do not deserve this.
“What we need to do now is to keep working, to work harder and keep looking forward.”