Pedro Caixinha has been sacked as Rangers manager after just over seven months in charge at Ibrox.
The Portuguese departs with the Gers in fourth place in the Scottish Premiership after a late equaliser saw Kilmarnock earn a share of the points in a 1-1 draw in Glasgow on Wednesday. That result followed a 2-0 Betfred Cup semi-final defeat to Motherwell at Hampden on Sunday.
Rangers are eight points behind league leaders Celtic and five behind second-placed Aberdeen.
Midfielder Ryan Jack was sent off in a chaotic match at Ibrox as Rangers drew 1-1 with Kilmarnock
The Rangers board held an unscheduled meeting on Thursday where Caixinha’s future as manager was discussed.
Caixinha was at Rangers’ training ground at 6am on Thursday morning, but left Auchenhowie shortly before 1pm and, when asked if he was still Rangers manager, he said: “Of course I am.”
However, the 46-year-old has now left the club and a statement revealed that Graeme Murty will be in charge of the squad for the trip to Murrayfield to face Hearts this weekend, live on Sky Sports.
“Rangers Football Club announce today that Pedro Caixinha has left the club,” a statement said. “The decision to part company with Pedro was taken after careful consideration and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.
“Pedro was appointed in March this year but results have been disappointing and not commensurate with the level of investment that was made available.
“Graeme Murty, head development squad coach, will take charge of the first team in the interim, just as he did earlier this year.
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October 28, 2017, 12:00pm
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“The priority is to appoint a new manager as quickly as possible, but the board will take as much time as is necessary to secure the right person capable of representing Rangers and providing the brand of football supporters rightly expect.
“We, the board, appreciate this is a difficult time for all Rangers supporters and we thank you for your patience and know Graeme and the players will receive your full backing in the days ahead.
“We thank Pedro and his backroom staff for their efforts and commitment and wish them well for the future.”
Caixinha’s assistant manager Helder Baptista, goalkeeping coach Jose Belman and fitness coach Pedro Malta have also left the club, while assistant coach Jonatan Johansson will remain and assist Graeme Murty.
No timescale will be put on the search for Caixinha’s replacement but Sky Sports News has been told that the next appointment “must be spot-on”.
Caixinha, who was serving a touchline ban against Kilmarnock after being sent to the stands versus Motherwell, was appointed in March after Mark Warburton left the club.
He led the club to a third-place finish in the league last season after a disappointing end to the campaign which saw Rangers lose 5-1 to Celtic at Ibrox in the league and 2-0 to Brendan Rodgers’ side in the Scottish Cup semi-final.
They also lost to Aberdeen at Ibrox for the first time since 1991.
Rangers recruited heavily in the summer, with Portugal’s Euro 2016 winner Bruno Alves leading a number of new signings which also included Alfredo Morelos, Ryan Jack, Graham Dorrans and Mexicans Eduardo Herrera and Carlos Pena.
However, the new season got off to the worst possible start as Rangers were eliminated in the opening qualifying round of the Europa League by Luxembourg minnows Progres Niederkorn.
One point from two home fixtures against Hibernian and Hearts in August saw an inconsistent start to the domestic campaign continue before a 2-0 defeat to Celtic the following month piled further pressure on Caixinha.
Rangers reacted positively to that result with wins over Hamilton and St Johnstone but the League Cup semi-final loss to Motherwell denied Caixinha the chance to win three games in a row for the first time in Govan.
The final straw for the Gers hierarchy came on Wednesday when a farcical finish saw Rangers miss a penalty in the closing stages against Kilmarnock, have Jack sent off after an incident with Kirk Broadfoot and concede late on as former player Chris Burke secured a point for the visitors.
Caixinha leaves having never lost an away league fixture as Rangers boss but the Ibrox side have taken just five points from home games so far this season.