If there is one thing almost every single Rangers fan is in agreement over following Monday’s Old Firm draw with the other team, it’s that manager Michael Beale screwed up completely with the substitutions.
In particular, the omission of Scott Arfield.
Not only did Ibrox Noise advocate the starting of our fantastic midfielder, but at the very least, his introduction later in the match was an absolute must.
And Beale absolutely point-blank refused to choose him either in the XI or to bring on later.
Instead, bewilderingly, he brought Ryan Jack in from the cold to replace injured John Lundstram, then followed it up with James Sands and Scott Wright, none of whom had any impact at all.
Beale’s case would be that he was trying to shore up defence, protect what we had by bringing on Sands, but it was a dire move that played into Celtic’s hands and saw substandard players introduced where quality like Arfield would have been infinitely better.
There’s nothing we can do to justify or defend that decision, nothing at all. Scotty had never failed to start a single Old Firm since he joined in 2018, that’s five years of Old Firm experience. Instead his namesake Wright and the out of his depth Sands got the call, and Rangers conceded a messy equaliser.
So what happened?
Why did Beale overlook Arfield? Indeed, it wasn’t just Arfield ignored, it was Kemar Roofe and Antonio Colak as well. These are all players who would have improved Rangers’ quality on the pitch for sure, but they all remained sidelined.
Instead players who could only reduce our quality and indeed chances of winning the match came on and it’s the kind of blunder we really, REALLY hope Beale learns from.
In terms of what happened, we believe Beale got scared. We believe he became too desperate to cling onto the lead that he retreated and prayed we could hold out. He said before the match that his selection of Sakala was due to using his pace to run in behind – bringing Wright on we reckon was his attempt at extending that tactic, believing fresh quick legs could hurt tiring defenders. He got that call completely wrong as Diana Vickers swatted Wright away without any difficulty at all.
Why not Arfield? Because he’s not quick. He would have been the perfect man to solidify the last third and cement the ball up there, but Beale instead went for pace, believing Wright could hit them.
In simple terms, the manager got the call wildly wrong, and died on that sword.
He left out Arfield and he paid the price for that gamble. Did it cost 56?