So we’re seeing this suggestion online a lot today – is Michael Beale playing mind games with Stavros in the east and is completely bluffing on Rangers’ injury situation?
The big story today was the loss of Scott Arfield, while Ryan Jack, John Lundstram and Malik Tillman were already supposed doubts, not to mention Alex Lowry’s conspicuous absence from the Ibrox matchday squad yesterday.
But is it possible the Rangers manager is playing psychological games to completely throw Stavros off the scent?
Is it conceivable Lunny, Jack and Tillman are all fit, ditto Arfield, and the boss simply saved them at Livingston to keep them fresh for the final?
It’s not impossible. Rangers put out a very strong team nonetheless at the Tony Macaroni, and it did the job well, with particularly strong performances from new signings Todd Cantwell and Nicolas Raskin, but in cold storage Rangers and Beale have absolutely tonnes of quality in abundance, and it’s not inconceivable that he is playing a little game of poker with his opposite number. He could well be fibbing completely about our personnel and their state to provide absolutely no clues to them about what we will field, or even more tellingly, to double bluff them.
Beale is a smart man, and a very good liar – we know this already, given how many utter fabrications he’s told as boss. That’s fine, we’ve never judged him for this, because what matters is results on the pitch, and they’ve been absolutely outstanding.
It is not at all impossible that Jack, Lunny, Tillman and Arfield are all completely available, and Rangers may have close to a full strength squad, the likes of Souttar, Helander and Lawrence notwithstanding.
As we said, the side at Livi itself was very very strong, but add full depth in all those extra players and suddenly our opponents have no idea what they’re up against.
We would be very surprised if any training photos are published this week, and we wouldn’t be surprised if any that are published are very economical with the truth about who’s actually at training.
There’s no question Beale is a clever boy, and he will be determined to use every Rangers trick to throw them off the scent, and launch a starting XI they weren’t prepared for.
We’re all potentially in the dark, and we wouldn’t be at all surprised if he’s playing a very canny hand indeed here.