There is absolutely no question Michael Beale underestimated the Rangers job. The guy thought he could swan into Ibrox and coast it, let’s face it. Remember all the ‘let’s take the handbrake off’ rhetoric, a dig at ex-manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s more defensive play towards the end of his Rangers reign, and how this boss was going to sort things out?
See, the biggest issue Beale has is he isn’t Walter Smith.
Walter, the great Walter, was an anomaly, a brilliant, brilliant genius of a manager who went from assistant, having learned his trade under the great Jim McClean, who is one of the most underrated managers in Scottish history.
Under him, Walter learned how to be a winner, and they secured the-then First Division title for Utd together, before he moved onto Ibrox to be assistant manager under Graeme Souness.
Once Souness left for Liverpool, Walter was ready, but he remains an anomaly. Very few assistant coaches have ever gone on to become colossal managers themselves. Jose of course is one such, and Steve Clarke probably think he’s doing ok as well, but generally, assistants who become greats on their own are rare.
Walter was one, and we’ll never see his likes again.
Michael Beale spent years in football, in coaching, before the big promotion to assistant under Steven Gerrard in 2018 at Ibrox. He loved it, and is credited with much of the success of 55.
But the catch is simple – Michael Beale was under absolutely no pressure, he simply offered Gerrard all the options and tactics and personnel, gave him some guidance, and didn’t take any flak when it went wrong.
It was, not quite easy street, but a much more ‘leisurely’ job.
Now as manager, it’s not so easy. He is the one who takes the flak for mistakes, his head is now on the chopping board, and he’s clearly struggling with it. It wasn’t the case at low-pressure QPR where he wasn’t expected to work miracles. The fact he had them top of the league was against expectations, not fulfilling them.
At Rangers, he’s not Walter Smith nor is he trying to be, but every manager at Ibrox is measured against our great, our beloved Walter, who was beyond compare in this club’s history, aside a select few. In the modern era, the past 40 or so years, Walter is the benchmark.
And Beale is finding the transition between assistant at this club to manager in his own right much harder than he expected.
Part of him really thought he’d come here, smoothly guide us to victories, and close in on Celtic, nabbing a cup or two.
The harsh reality is he’s lost as many as Giovanni did this season, drawing two less. We’ve explained the stats, there’s no improvement, and actually, fractional decline particularly in the goals department.
Ibrox Noise ended up being abused by a fan who wasn’t interested in facts, just that he ‘saw Rangers being attacking’.
And he was right to an extent – but attack attack attack means nothing without goals goals goals and points points points points. Or progression.
It matters not how you win, only that you do. We’d take ‘boring’ Walter winning football over inconsistent and attacking Beale football any day. One works, one doesn’t.
But of course we are being a little harsh, perhaps, Michael Beale has a full transfer window and 4 months to basically prepare for next season with a completely rebuilt squad and a whole load of change.
We also have a much better board now behind the club, so that is also good.
Beale gets to ship out the players he wants to ship out, sign the ones he wants, and then next season he will be judged properly.
Yes, we have our doubts, we really do, but the best thing in the world is for him to prove them unfounded.
Beale has potential, but at the moment he’s finding being manager at Rangers much harder than he probably imagined.
Hopefully this ‘apprenticeship’ will properly prepare him for what is expected of him next season.