The honeymoon period for Philippe Clement at Rangers is officially over following two disappointing results in succession.
Last weekend saw the Light Blues drop two points against Aberdeen in a game that they really should have won, dominating in large spells throughout.
It took a last-gasp penalty from James Tavernier to save the day and this should have been a wake-up call for the Belgian heading into the Europa League clash against Aris Limassol.
The same mistakes were made, however, as the Cypriots scored from a long ball over the top which seemed to cause disruption among the centre-backs and the poor defending cost Rangers all three points.
The 49-year-old is working with a squad he inherited from Michael Beale and thus can’t be solely blamed for having to utilise the players he has at his disposal.
The poor summer recruitment has really come to the fore recently as several players are so far off the standard required at Ibrox it is worrying.
Cyriel Dessers has managed to score just six goals from 22 appearances and considering he was one of the most expensive arrivals in the summer at £4.5m, these statistics are woeful.
Sam Lammers has also been in dismal form since joining, netting just twice and both he and Dessers may be on the move in January if Clement has his way.
In truth, the Ibrox side haven’t enjoyed the best of times in the transfer market since their promotion back to the Premiership in 2016. Lammers and Dessers are just the two latest names who have arrived for big money before failing to adapt.
Despite the duo severely underperforming, they aren’t quite at the level of Carlos Pena, who is arguably one of the worst signings in the club’s history.
How much Rangers signed Carlos Pena for
The summer of 2017 looked like it could be the busiest in quite a while as Pedro Caixinha aimed to build a team which could finally knock Celtic off their perch and challenge for domestic superiority.
Of course, it didn’t quite work out like that, yet it didn’t stop the Portuguese manager from spending lavishly in order to achieve that goal.
The likes of Alfredo Morelos, Fabio Cardoso and Bruno Alves joined the club, yet eyebrows were raised when striker Eduardo Herrera was signed for a fee in the region of £1.5m before Mexican international Pena joined for a staggering £3.2m, which back in 2017 was a lavish sum for the Gers to spend.
He had represented Mexico at the 2014 World Cup and, on the surface, it looked as though if he hit the ground running, the attacking midfielder could turn out to be a solid piece of transfer business.
Over the next few months, it became clear that Pena wasn’t good enough for the physicality of Scottish football, and he failed to live up to the massive £3.2m fee which was paid to bring him to Scotland.
Carlos Pena’s Rangers statistics
The former Guadalajara gem had enjoyed his best football back in his homeland, scoring 52 goals across 191 games for Club Leon, and while the season prior to him joining the Light Blues wasn’t prolific, Caixinha’s knowledge of Mexican football was looking like it might land the Gers a diamond.
All in all, Pena played just 14 matches for the Glasgow side, struggling with various injury issues and lacking match fitness, while netting five times.
Caixinha tried to justify his poor displays just a few months into his spell, saying: “He has much more to give, believe me. I think he’s at 60 per cent of his capabilities, the way I know him. But I think the first step for everyone to progress is knowing that you need to progress.
“It’s when you’re looking to add something and you say ‘Ok, I agree. Let’s work on it’. We are working. It’s a question of time. In terms of fitness, I can tell you, there is nothing he has to improve.”
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His final appearance for the club was against Celtic in December 2017, and he has spent the last few years enjoying a nomadic lifestyle.
What Carlos Pena did after leaving Rangers
The 5 foot 7 liability joined Cruz Azul in January 2018 on a temporary deal until the end of the season and his contract at the Light Blues was finally terminated in February 2019 as Steven Gerrard looked to free up some space in the wage bill.
The whole transfer was criticised by Rangers Review journalist Derek Clark, who said that the move was a “disastrous transfer in what was an equally disastrous spell for the club” as the ruling by the Court of Arbitration of Sport justified the decision made by Rangers to terminate Pena’s contract early.
Spells in Mexico, Poland, El Salvador, and Honduras failed to ignite a career which has been on the slide since he departed Scotland in 2018, and it proves just how bad a decision to sign him in the first place.
Despite looking like he was going to retire earlier this year, Pena now currently finds himself at Syrian club Hutteen, having joined in October.
Aged 33, this could be Pena’s final club and it’s fair to say his spell at Rangers did not go down well with the supporters at all.
It was a massive waste of money for a player who scored just five times in 14 games, and it has set the precedent for several high-profile signings to follow over the course of the next six years.
Despite the Light Blues returning to prominence by winning a Premiership title and enjoying a stunning run to the final of the Europa League in 2022, they are still guilty of signing the odd expensive dud now and then.
It just so happens that Beale has signed two during the one transfer window, as Lammers and Dessers are destined to leave the club in the near future, having failed to generate any meaningful impact during their short stints in Glasgow thus far.
Let’s hope that once the winter window opens, Clement doesn’t repeat past mistakes.