Michael Beale’s comment about Rangers’ attacker Malik Tillman recently comparing him to a young Michael Ballack was a deliberate and calculated statement demonstrating:
1: Tillman’s potential, 2: the importance with which Beale holds the position Tillman plays.
Tillman has a LONG way to go before anyone could even hint at a Ballack comparison, who was an absolutely world class top dollar playmaking midfielder who scored like it was going out of fashion, and assisted tonnes too, and in fairness the style of the USA international is not a million miles away.
The same deft touch, the same cleverness, the same shrewd use of the ball, and the same ability to score.
Obviously the comparison is aided by the fact Tillman is a Bayern product, and Ballack eventually made his way to the same club where he had the best period of his career, but Beale’s invoking of the German legend was designed to demonstrate how important Tillman and especially that position is to our manager.
The 20-year old ‘trequartista’ (as the Italians would put it) is too young to pretty much know who Ballack really is, but he does know of his reputation, and was pleased to hear the likening from his manager, but we will urge caution at anyone trying to say Tillman is the new Ballack.
The styles are similar, but our lad has a long way to go, and Beale knows that – Ballack was Kaiserslautern, Leverkusen, Bayern then Chelsea – Tillman probably won’t hit those heights, but where Rangers presently are, he’s a good fit for sure.
Why did Beale say this? Because he wants to put a little bit of pressure on Tillman, to mould the lad into the player he believes he can be, and because he wants to emphasise the number 10 in his system at Rangers – the position, be it Tillman, Hagi or Lowry.
And while Tillman appreciated the direct scaling with the Bavarian legend, nevertheless he has a fair bit to go before he’s even a 10th as good as him. But hey, you don’t need to be Ballack to succeed in the Scottish Premiership.