Is Michael Beale REALLY the right man for Rangers? Steven Gerrard’s former assistant had huge influence during their title romp but it may still be too early for the big step up from QPR
- Michael Beale is in the frame to takeover as the new manager at Rangers
- Beale, 42, helped Rangers to an historic 55th title under Steven Gerrard
- The English coach is highly regarded in the game and has teased a return
- Here, Sportsmail weighs up the arguments for and against his appointment
Michael Beale’s name is once again linked with a managerial vacancy, with the up-and-coming QPR boss understood to be the subject of an approach from Scottish giants Rangers.
Beale, 42, has fond memories of Ibrox, having helped the Gers to a long-awaited Scottish Premiership title while serving as an assistant to Steven Gerrard.
He rejected a move from Premier League side Wolves earlier this season, pledging his loyalty to QPR, but an approach from Rangers may be too tempting to refuse.
Sportsmail weighs up the arguments for and against a return to Ibrox for Michael Beale, with Brian Majoribanks in favour, while John McGarry is reluctant.
Michael Beale is a leading contender to return to Rangers as their first team manager
YES – BRIAN MAJORIBANKS
It began with a short kick by goalkeeper Allan McGregor to Connor Goldson. The ball was then played out to James Tavernier who scampered up the right before picking out Alfredo Morelos on the halfway line.
The Colombian turned it back to Ianis Hagi, who found Glen Kamara and, as play moved rapidly across to the left of the pitch, the ball went to Ryan Kent, Kamara again and then Borna Barisic.
A thrilling move ended with Barisic sending over a deep cross to the back post where his opposite full-back Tavernier was waiting to head home.
It took just 26 seconds of this wonderful eight-man passage of play for the ball to travel from the Rangers six-yard box to the back of the Galatasaray net in October 2020.
Beale (left) played a huge role in Steven Gerrard’s success at Ibrox over three years
The stunning goal helped seal a 19th European qualifying match without defeat for the Ibrox club and secured them a £10million golden ticket into the Europa League group stages.
For any Rangers fans watching that clip back this week, it would provide an aching reminder of the kind of cutting edge football Michael Beale helped coach into a Rangers team — and could do so again if he succeeds Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
It could not be further from the turgid, tame play served up by the doomed Dutchman in the dog days of his reign in Govan.
Hiring Beale as a manager in his own right after just 21 league matches as a boss with Queens Park Rangers would be a risk, of course. All managerial appointments are a gamble.
But the 42-year-old Englishman’s influence on the style of play under Steven Gerrard was no secret, and it could help get the Ibrox club moving in the right direction again.
A serious and respected coach, he possesses tactical nous and, clearly, an outstanding rapport with his players.
Amongst those former Rangers stars who have praised his abilities, he has been hailed as a ‘genius’ by Jermain Defoe, ‘the brains’ behind the success under Gerrard by Kyle Lafferty, and ‘probably the best coach I’ve worked under’ by Andy Halliday.
He helped Rangers produce swashbuckling football that was crucial in dethroning Celtic
At Aston Villa, where he moved as an assistant with Gerrard from Ibrox, that theme continued.
‘It’s the first time in 14 to 15 years of my career that the assistant coach does all the talking,’ said Argentinian goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
‘He does all the training sessions, he takes all the important meetings. He knows so much about football, it’s just incredible. With Michael, we felt him and Stevie G are both the managers.’
Beale’s relationship with the Rangers squad would surely be more tested as a manager in his own right, but he is confident and eloquent and carries himself well.
He would also be a good fit in front of the cameras for a club whose media strategy appears to be finally opening up again.
Beale is also fully versed in everything he needs to know about the club from back to front
And he would be walking into a club environment that would be providing no surprises after his spell there under Gerrard from June 2018 to November 2021.
Fully versed in the intense demands at Rangers, he was infamously shown a red card in an Old Firm clash in December 2019 after accusing referee Kevin Clancy of ‘cheating’ during a 2-1 win for the Ibrox club at Parkhead.
‘It is a fantastic football city,’ Beale said recently.
‘A little bit crazy and a little bit intense at times. I loved it because I love the intensity and the pressure. I loved my time in Scotland and the one or two moments when I got hot-headed was me turning into one of you (local Glaswegian) guys. I was forgetting I come from Kent…’
Beale will doubtless be older and wiser for that spell at Ibrox.
He would also walk into a warm welcome from Rangers fans eternally grateful for his role in delivering title number 55 — stopping Celtic reaching an historic ten-in-a-row — while helping the club grow into a European force once more.
Jermaine Defoe described Beale as a tactical genius and he is highly regarded by players
Should he get the job, it will no doubt be mentioned that Rangers did not win a domestic cup during his time as No2 to Gerrard.
However, Beale will doubtless still be looking back and wondering how Celtic captured the 2019 League Cup through a disputed Christopher Jullien goal in a Hampden showdown utterly dominated by the Ibrox side.
Beale would later brand it ‘the most one-sided final, maybe in history’. After that match, Rangers would not lose in the next seven Old Firm matches.
The last thing Rangers need right now is to gamble on another Paul le Guen or Pedro Caixinha.
Beale would arrive with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Scottish and British game, and has good contacts within it.
A speedy appointment would give him some much-needed time on the grass with the squad before the season resumes with a home match against Hibs on December 15.
There will likely not be much money available in January, but Beale spent nothing on transfers in the summer and still managed to overhaul his QPR squad with loans and free signings.
His return would certainly provide a much-needed confidence boost for the Ibrox side
His team stormed to the top of the Championship table before results began to tail off in recent weeks with four losses and a draw. A team that finished 11th last season currently sits in seventh.
In October, Beale turned down the chance to speak to Wolves, but it’s believed he is keen for an Ibrox return.
If he can live up to his stellar coaching reputation he has the potential to provide Rangers with what they badly need; a prolific player-trading model.
However, that would require the club to cash in on stars while they are hot in a way that they did not do with Morelos when Lille wanted him for £16million or when Leeds United were on the trail of £15m-rated Kent.
And, as that goal against Galatasaray should remind Rangers fans, a team coached by Beale could also generate money via runs deep into European competition.
After Van Bronckhorst presided over the worst-ever Champions League group stage campaign in history — zero points and a goal difference of minus 20 — how the Ibrox club badly need the kind of return to continental respectability that Beale and Gerrard provided previously.
NO – JOHN MCGARRY
If Michael Beale’s name is indeed the last one to be spared the red pen of Stewart Robertson and Ross Wilson in the coming days, then those tasked with identifying the next Rangers manager can consider their job just about done.
Notwithstanding the £1.5million compensation QPR will be due, and the final approval required by the Ibrox board, the 42-year-old will assuredly not be hard to deal with when it comes to personal terms.
He wouldn’t quite walk from Loftus Road to Glasgow to take his seat in the Blue Room, and nor will he come for less money than he’s currently earning. But you suspect he would be sacrificing a great deal to return to Rangers.
Beale’s emotional connection with the club where he served as first-team coach for three years under Steven Gerrard seems entirely genuine. Even as he began to take his first strides in management this season in west London, he didn’t hide his desire to ‘one day’ return to Rangers as a boss in his own right.
Beale’s appointment would be risky as he does not have vast experience at the top level
In October, he even took advantage of a free weekend to attend a home game with Aberdeen.
Not for him a vantage point at the back of the Sandy Jardine Stand under the cover of a baseball cap. Beale accepted the offer of a seat in the directors’ box after chewing the fat with fans in a well-known Rangers pub. Both instances were splashed over social media, as he well knew they would be.
One month on, Giovanni van Bronckhorst is out and Beale’s chances of succeeding him have clearly been done no harm by his recent words and deeds.
Unlike when Van Bronckhorst was appointed a year ago, Beale would be by no means the unanimous choice of fans yet he would still be popular largely on account of his passion for the cause.
But while his love of the club and enthusiasm can’t be questioned, his suitability for the post should be.
It is said he was the mastermind at Rangers but Gerrard was able to bear the brunt of criticism
He is just 21 games into his managerial career. It started so spectacularly for him at QPR that Wolves offered him a rapid promotion to the Premier League. However, his team haven’t won in five games and have now dropped down from first to seventh.
The pressure that comes with such a sticky spell is nothing compared to that heaped upon the shoulders of struggling managers at Ibrox.
Gerrard bore the brunt of that as his Rangers side failed to win any of the first seven domestic trophies available to them. A career spent in the unforgiving environments of Liverpool and England steeled him for the flak that flew his way.
Beale’s coaching career has never demanded him being front and centre stage in such moments. That’s precisely why Ally McCoist this week questioned if he yet has the requisite miles on the clock.
Those trumpeting Beale’s credentials are fond of stating he was the real brains behind Gerrard’s Ibrox regime.
Gerrard was also the major reason that players like Connor Goldson moved north to Rangers
While you’d search long and hard to find a player who wasn’t struck by his tactical nous and ability to impart key information on the training field, the inference that Gerrard’s leadership skills were somehow irrelevant does him a huge disservice.
It was Gerrard’s name that gave Rangers back its ‘big club’ feel in 2018. He was the principal reason why players like Connor Goldson and Ryan Kent came to Glasgow in the first place. Bluntly, it’s hard to see Beale having quite the same magnetic attraction.
The importance of shrewd recruitment for the new man cannot be understated. Between loan players and those who are out of contact, Rangers could be ten players down in the summer.
Beale could reduce that number by two by getting Kent and Alfredo Morelos performing again and persuading them to sign new deals. Yet the job he and sporting director Wilson have on their hands would still be considerable.
He will have extensive knowledge of the English market but it’s one where few gems remain unhidden for long and where prices are inflated by the number of would-be suitors.
To beat Celtic, they need to be astute with their transfers and Kevin Muscat has expert knowledge of Asian football
To stand a chance of catching Celtic any time soon, Rangers need to find players of similar quality on a budget.
Without appointing someone like Kevin Muscat, a man who could provide such answers through his time in Japan, that means fishing in unfamiliar territory.
Beale’s first summer at the club saw the likes of Eros Grezda, Matt Polster and Umar Sadiq landed. Those failures were on Gerrard and then director of football Mark Allen but Beale, presumably, had some kind of input.
What is it about where Beale has subsequently worked, and the recent track record of Wilson, that suggests the poor strike rate in the transfer market would magically improve?
You’d be surprised if Beale couldn’t get more out of the players he stands to inherit in the short-term. He knows the majority of them and their respect for him as a coach and an individual is apparent.
Being a manager requires a different skillset, though. You won’t find authority and presence on a clipboard.
Intelligent and articulate, Beale could well go on to the very top of the game. But is he the leader the club is currently crying out for in the mould of Sean Dyche or Ange Postecoglou?
Beale does not have the stature of leaders like Ange Postecoglou who can galvanise a club
His recent charm offensive and profile hasn’t won over everyone of the Light Blue persuasion and you’d be surprised if Robertson and Wilson aren’t having moments of doubt.
Beale may have been an integral part of the management team that won title No 55 while unbeaten in 2021 but anyone recalling those three years in Glasgow as some kind of vintage era should remove their blue-tinted spectacles.
For all the strides made in Europe, Rangers failed to win a domestic cup in six attempts and only reached one final. They finished nine and 13 points behind Celtic in those first two seasons before Covid arrived and the game went behind closed doors.
The title win in that third season was emphatic and will always be fondly remembered by fans, yet should also be viewed in context. For any Rangers regime, one trophy from nine is not a record to boast about.
Six months later, Gerrard and his entourage couldn’t get out of Ibrox quickly enough when Aston Villa came calling.
Although top of the Premiership at that point, Malmo had knocked them out of the Champions League and the team was clearly regressing.
No one was blocking the exit door to prevent Beale leaving then. It seems curious that so many are now preparing to roll out the red carpet for his anticipated return.
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