It's that piece of office stationery in the corner overflowing with unresolved issues that contributed to Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s departure. They will need to be faced sooner rather than later if Beale, who was confirmed as the Ibrox club's 18th manager on Monday evening, is to avoid a similarly short tenure. Beale's first league match is against Hibs at Ibrox on Thursday, December 15. Before that comes a home friendly against Bayer Leverkusen on December 10, when he will be re-introduced to the Ibrox crowd. We take a look at some of the issues facing the 42-year-old on his return to Rangers.
That shriek of despair echoing around the Rangers Training Centre on Monday was just the physios assessing the Ibrox striker's cardio readings on the squad's first day back at training after two weeks away. Morelos has been posting images on Instagram of him and his wife sipping drinks on a beach back home in Colombia but then some would suggest he has been on holiday all season. Morelos was given a rare start in the 1-1 draw with St Mirren that proved to be Van Bronckhorst’s last game in charge. The Dutchman might regret this decision because Morelos turned in the kind of performance that gets managers the sack – which is what duly happened. Beale will have to work out where Morelos’s head is at. Van Bronckhorst thought he had done so earlier this season when he revealed that he and the striker had managed to have a clear-the-air talk. Morelos had declared he was all in. However, there's been precious little subsequent evidence of this being the case. He can now leave for free in the summer and strike a deal with another club as early as January. If he’s to remain at Ibrox for the last six months of his current deal, Beale must find a way to get him fit and firing again. Morelos has clearly enjoyed himself on his break. However, more inactivity is the last thing he needs in an ongoing battle to regain his old sharpness.
Van Bronckhorst may well rue failing to deal with this issue during the summer. It did not help that with Rangers progressing towards the Europa League final, Allan McGregor put off making a decision on whether to continue playing until the end of the season. It led to major uncertainty. His cameo in the Scottish Cup final win over Hearts seemed to signal McGregor had decided to retire but then came the announcement to say the veteran had signed another 12-month deal. This might have made sense in terms of providing cover, but it just meant McGregor was a looming presence when Jon McLaughlin endured a few shaky moments after stepping up to be No 1, most notably against Celtic at the start of September. McGregor was brought back in and while he has enjoyed some very good outings – against Liverpool at Anfield in particular – he’s not quite the goalkeeper he once was. McLaughlin, meanwhile, has proved suspect and has probably blown his bid to be considered as a long-term first choice. Robby McCrorie is waiting in the wings. Beale may prefer to look at this problem afresh by bringing in someone new. Perhaps the highly rated Queens Park Rangers keeper Seny Dieng, currently at the World Cup with Senegal, can be prised away from London?
Farewell then Giovanni, we hardly knew ye. The departed Rangers manager was a victim of the Ibrox club’s policy, on-going when he was appointed last year, of speaking only to club-approved media. These dispiriting shackles have fallen off recently and it was pleasing to get to know Van Bronckhorst a little better in recent weeks as he engaged with reporters from more outlets in what were often difficult circumstances. It’s a regret to think there wasn’t more opportunity to learn what makes Van Bronckhorst tick. However, it’s clear he’s not cut from the same cloth as someone like Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou. While they got on well, the rival managers were very different personalities. Postecoglou has developed a deeper relationship with Celtic fans than Van Bronckhorst managed to foster with the Ibrox support, even given his credentials as a former player and then leading Rangers to only their third-ever European final. This is Beale’s challenge. He’s starting from a very strong position. Not many Rangers managers have been photographed drinking in the Louden Tavern a matter of weeks before taking the job. Beale’s well in front in the public relations battle already. All well and good providing results can follow.
Aging and misfiring midfield
It feels as if Rangers have been sleep-walking on the player recruitment front. Even during this World Cup-enforced break it’s notable that Celtic have already been busy re-strengthening, with Japanese central defender Yuki Kobayashi agreeing a five-year deal. Beale has a good relationship with Ross Wilson, the Rangers sporting director. It’s not fanciful to imagine they have already been working in tandem together regarding signings. One of the first places to start will be midfield, where Rangers have looked plodding and lacking creativity. Injuries have not helped, of course. Fans are still waiting for Malik Tillman to truly ignite but he’s just 20-year-old and only on loan in any case. At the other end of the scale, it seems absurd that Rangers are still relying on someone like Steven Davis to anchor the midfield in Champions League games. The 37-year-old has been immense for the club over two spells but must surely be surprised himself to have featured so regularly. Likewise, Scott Arfield, who turned 34 at the start of this month. Then there's Glen Kamara, whose Ibrox career has drifted lately but who was such a consistent performer when Beale was last at the club as first-team coach under Steven Gerrard.