Michael Beale faces his biggest sink or swim test yet in PSV

Michael Beale faces his biggest sink or swim test yet in PSV
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JULY 26: Michael Beale manager of Rangers reacts during the pre-season friendly match between Rangers and Olympiacos at Ibrox Stadium on July 26, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

Rangers have now played nine matches this season, including friendlies, and we’re noticing a massive pattern among the support.

On one side are the ‘give them a chance ffs’ brigade, whether it’s about the manager, the players, or the system – there are sycophants who will blindly back the team/manager and slaughter any supporter who is less than gushing about a performance. They will indeed get downright angry if they see any perceived ‘negativity’ and aggressive smear any they deem guilty of it.

On the other side are those who are seeing that nearly 10 matches into Michael Beale’s Rangers Revolution, and the product and management thus far is absolutely atrocious. They are observing this, and calling it out, Ibrox Noise included. These are the ones the first group are smiting with more than a hint of venom.

And the man at the centre of it all, Michael Beale, was given a mandate – here’s £16M+ to build your own team, in your own image. Michael Beale chucked all of that at three strikers, and one extra million at a midfielder.

He spent nothing on defenders.

Beale is to be judged on results – and on that level it’s hard to overly criticise him on a binary domain. Aside preseason, it’s played 5, won 3. It’s not sensational but the only loss this season was of course Killie.

But if we bring the circumstances of those results into play, only one decent performance all season, the Livi match, and even that took a late goal flurry before it became convincing.

Now, this is fine, we’re not dissing a bad performance – even the Grand Master Walter played plenty of horrible matches. We’ve defended bad football as long as we get the result. Walter did this almost his entire Rangers lifetime.

And we got the result v Morton under Beale. But it was by a bit of fortune, thanks in part to a soft penalty on Kirk Broadfoot. But the record book doesn’t say the penalty was soft, it just says Rangers 2 – 1 Morton.

The issue is the implications of this. Do Rangers fans believe the patchwork results we’re getting will sustain against much tougher opposition?

PSV provide a massive test next week, and this could be where Michael Beale’s Rangers sink or swim.

Any kind of positive result at that level, at more or less Champions League group level, which, let’s face it, PSV are at the quality of, and Beale can consider himself fairly afloat. We’d love to see Joey Veerman’s smug face wiped clean again.

But a bad result at home bodes very badly indeed, for the subsequent visit of Celtic next month, regardless of the intervening two fixtures.

Michael Beale is already under pressure, and so he should be – he’s manager of the biggest club in Scotland, and one of the biggest in the UK. The only other clubs in the UK which have this level of ‘must win’ are Man Utd, City and Arsenal and Liverpool. It is a genuine crisis at these clubs if their team fails to win a match. We reluctantly probably include ‘that lot’ in this as well.

And he will hope that by hook or by crook he keeps winning – because that’s what he’s paid to do.

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