Pedro Caixinha has yet to restore Rangers as a credible force in Scottish football, but he borrowed from the rugby playbook by naming his team in formation 36 hours before the Ibrox side take on Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
For the record – and the Killie boss, Lee McCulloch will only believe it when he sees it, such are the ingrained suspicions of the round ball game – Caixinha’s starting formation is, in 4-2-3-1 formation: Wes Foderingham; James Tavernier, David Bates, Danny Wilson, Myles Beerman; Andy Halliday, Jason Holt; Emerson Hyndman, Martyn Waghorn, Barrie McKay; Joe Garner.
The other notable feature of Caixinha’s disclosure was that it included two debutants in the former Raith Rovers player, David Bates, and Myles Beerman, the teenage Maltese international who was signed from Manchester City.
“This is the first eleven that will start the game tomorrow,” Caixinha said. “It’s not a question of them being all we have, it’s a question of confidence in the players in the first team as well as youth players who work with us on a regular basis.
“Besides that, even if Lee knows the first eleven he will not be able to change anything about the way he plays. We know it will be a tough game and we will have to adapt and call the game ourselves – this is the reality and this is our first eleven. I don’t care if they think differently knowing our team 24 hours before we play.”
The bad news for Rangers fans is that Lee Wallace has undergone knee surgery, which will rule him out of the double header against Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park on April 22 and the final Old Firm league derby of the season at Ibrox six days later.
Other casualties include Clint Hill and Rob Kiernan, who both have calf problems, Philippe Senderos with a knee injury and Lee Hodson, who has suffered from a fever. There was no place in the starting selection for Kenny Miller, who played in the 1-1 home draw with Motherwell on Saturday.
The striker subsequently revealed that he had not had contract talks with Caixinha and, should he have to leave Ibrox in six weeks’ time, would regret the circumstance deeply. The manager, however, appeared to suggest that Miller’s experience and leadership qualities are assets which would continue to be valued, although Caixinha was ambivbalent about the possibility that a new deal could be on the cards.
“If players’ contracts are either about to end - like Clint Hill or Kenny, by the end of May - or whether they have longer contracts, they all finish under my supervision, so just because I haven’t spoken to Kenny or anyone else, it means nothing regarding their continuation here or having their contracts ended.
“That’s all I can tell you now. Kenny’s doing great and he’s a player I like to have in the squad because I’m not playing and I can’t be on the bench with a remote control so you need to have coaches [on the pitch] as well, players with that experience and understanding of the game.
“It’s important to have people in the squad who are role models for the others. I’m a guy of character with a strong personality and I need to have players with those qualities as well in order for us to get along.
“I am the one who chooses the time. Not him, not you, not anyone. Behind the football player, you have a man - in Kenny’s case, it’s not a young man. It’s a family man, a father who has a whole life behind him.
“When you are taking decisions, you are not just affecting the footballer, you are affecting everything. When I have a decision and that decision is not to continue, they need to know that from me directly.
“This is part of my way of seeing life, being up front, being current and telling people what I think at that exact moment. I don’t want people to feel regret about anything.
“They need to know the decision from me, for better or worse.”