THE end of a manager’s reign at an underperforming club can often be protracted and painful.

However, there are definite signs that a coach’s time is finally up and Pedro Caixinha’s public criticism of his Rangers players yesterday was one of them.

The Portuguese insisted his training sessions in the build-up to the Betfred Cup semi-final against Motherwell on Sunday had prepared his players perfectly for the challenge in front of them - and they had failed to deliver.

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He was also adamant that his game plan for the Hampden match was the right one and his charges had been unable to execute it.

The 2-0 defeat, he told them at a team meeting yesterday, had been “embarrassing” for him, the club and the supporters and he was “ashamed”.

It was the worst possible reaction to the difficult predicament which he finds himself in and would appear to make his chances of salvaging the situation and surviving in his role nigh on impossible.

Are the individuals he has hung out to dry following such a bad result, even the ones who he knew before and brought to Ibrox during a summer of lavish spending, going to run through brick walls for him now?

Attempting to deflect the blame for the loss to Stephen Robinson’s side onto them is just one of a catalogue of mistakes which Caixinha has made during his seven months in this country.

The errors the former Uniao Leiria, Nacional, Santos Laguna and Al-Gharafa manager has been responsible for since succeeding Mark Warburton back in March were plain for anyone who witnessed the game at the weekend - and one of those in attendance was chairman and major shareholder Dave King - to see.

Picking Carlos Pena - who looks, despite the goals which he has scored against Partick Thistle and St. Johnstone in recent weeks, to be a waste of a £2.2 million transfer fee and hefty weekly wage - ahead of Kenny Miller cost him and his team.

Pena once again looked unfit and disinterested. He barely touched the ball during the hour which he spent on the park before being replaced. Miller would have offered his team far more energy and guile. He was wasted sitting in the stand next to his injured team mate Lee Wallace.

Eduardo Herrera, another expensive foreign import who has been unable to justify the hefty outlay which it took to secure his services, came on for the last 15 minutes of the game with his team trailing 2-0.

It would probably have cost half of what Herrera set the club back to prise Louis Moult, whose second-half double won the game for Motherwell, away from Fir Park during the summer and the English forward would not have demanded the same sizeable salary either.

Moult, who took his tally for the 2017/18 campaign to 11 with his brace, was one of those who Caixinha considered signing. It is a bad decision which has come back to haunt him.

Elsewhere, was preferring Jak Alnwick to his first choice goalkeeper Wes Foderingham wise? The Englishman had only played in two games all season. It would have made more sense to keep faith with his regular stopper.

Even his suggestion that his tactics were correct was spurious. It was no great secret how Motherwell would approach the game. They failed to deal with it.

Leaving his pre-match press conference yesterday you were left with the distinct impression that this is a man who is unable to articulate his message to his players or inspire them to perform.

King may well decide, having sanctioned over £8 million of transfers during the close season, to keep faith with Caixinha for longer in the hope that both he and his new recruits come good in time.

But it is inconceivable the 46-year-old will last very much longer. When he does finally depart Rangers will be left with an expensive and mediocre squad and high-earning personnel they will struggle to offload. His successor may not have much money to strengthen as a result and will have a difficult task halting the slide.

The Glasgow club have only themselves to blame for bringing the unheralded manager on board in the first place and then compounding their blunder by backing him with significant funds when the smart move would have been to cut their losses.