Michael Beale to Rangers smacks of Ibrox board not knowing where else to turn

If the expected moves to install Michael Beale as Rangers manager come to fruition, it can be taken as read how the club will present the appointment.

Beale will be trumpeted as a known and successful quantity. A man whose universally-lauded coaching strategies as right-hand man to Steven Gerrard were integral to Rangers’ remarkable – in all sorts of ways – 2020-21 title success. Accomplished without the loss of a single league game.

The motivation that lies behind the desire to afford the 42-year-old a dramatic elevation in the game can be viewed through a different prism, though. In truth, it smacks of the Ibrox board not really knowing where else to turn as they seek success in arresting the slump that cost Giovanni van Bronckhorst his job.

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Beale, at this point in his career, hardly seems exactly a snug fit for a truly onerous role. The former Liverpool academy coach, too, knows all about slumps. Since Queens Park Rangers handed him his first managerial post last June, he has taken charge of 22 games. In the past eight of those outings, there have been five defeats and only two wins. The London club have netted once in five games.

Michael Beale is leading the race to become the next manager of Rangers. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
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Beale dissolved his partnership with Gerrard to become his own man after the situation for the pair had begun to turn decidedly sour at Aston Villa, the club they jettisoned Rangers for in November 2021. The Birmingham side posted only two wins across their closing 11 games in the English Premier League last season; suffering defeats in six of these. It may have been unavoidable for van Bronckhorst to be relieved of his duties following only a year in charge. He had ceased to be able to rouse his players. However, Beale knows precisely what that feels like in an Ibrox context. When the global pandemic struck in March 2020, to pause football and indeed all normal life, Rangers had haemorraged 13 league points from a possible 27. For context, the Dutchman’s travails in Glasgow amounted to his side dribbling away seven points from his final nine cinch Premiership encounters. Indeed, Rangers had coughed up six points from the same sequence before Gerrard and Beale were spirited away a year ago.

There can be no disputing that Covid-19 saved their bacon back in 2020, even as it assured a second trophyless season for them at Ibrox. The freakish, empty-stadium, sometimes-baffling health-protocol circumstances that it necessitated for the next campaign, makes the 2020-21 season an outlier. Not that this explains away the brilliance of Beale and Gerrard in fashioning a system that made Rangers unbeatable in the top flight. Crucial to it was the ability the pair developed across their tenure to stifle Celtic, even before they then imploded. A six-game unbeaten run in derbies is testament to the wiles of Beale, considered to be the architect of Rangers’ measured playing style. Yet, care should be taken not to underplay the importance of Gerrard in their partnership. His practically unrivalled stature in British football, and bullish personality, made him a frontman Beale needed to make good on his talents, as much as the former Liverpool captain needed him. Liam Gallagher didn’t write a note or lyric across the golden age of Oasis, his brother Noel the brains behind them. Yet, without the harnessing of their abilities in tandem, there is no way they would have gone supersonic.

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Fairly or otherwise, in aggregating all of the above factors, the same question keeps bubbling up when assessing Beale’s credentials to be Rangers manager in the here and now: is he truly the best candidate that the Ibrox board can conjure up?

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