Barry Ferguson says Michael Beale can't be Rangers 'yes man'
Let me start by saying how disappointed I am to see an old team mate of mine losing his job at Ibrox. OK, maybe the writing had been on the wall for Giovanni van Bronckhorst but it was still difficult to see the axe come down when it did on Monday morning.
I feel for him because I know how badly he wanted to succeed at Rangers - and there’s no denying he gave the club some hugely memorable moments throughout his 12 months in charge. But even I must admit, the speed with which the whole thing began to unravel made the end feel almost inevitable.
He’ll know himself, the results leading up to the World Cup break weren’t anywhere near good enough and, in football’s cut throat world, that only ever ends one way. With the manager’s head on a platter. But things move quickly in this game and it seems almost certain now that the new man’s appointment will be done and dusted very shortly. Michael Beale is certainly in pole position in what feels very much like a one man race so if - or when - his position is confirmed he has quite a challenge on his hands with the team already nine points off the pace at the top of the table. Here’s the one bit of advice I would give him. If you’re going to go down, then make sure you go down fighting.
Because Rangers fans simply won’t accept anything less or any more excuses. Look, I realise winning the title this season is already a serious long shot. But if you don’t believe you can do it, then what’s the point in even taking the job in the first place? At the very least, he has to show the hunger and belief to try to claw that back between now and the turn of the year.
I realise most people have already written off the league this season but that can’t be in the new man’s thinking. Rattle off four wins against Hibs, Aberdeen, Ross County and Motherwell - then beat Celtic at Ibrox on January 2 and it could be a very different picture. I’m sure that’s the way he’ll be looking at it because he knows how this club works.
He has seen for himself what is required to be a successful Rangers manager and that includes the demands that have to be made of the board. He won’t be coming in as some ‘yes man’ who’s just happy to be there and who won’t rock the boat. If it’s his head on the block then I’m sure he’ll already have made stipulations with regards to what he expects to be done over the next two or three transfer windows. Otherwise, he doesn’t stand a chance.
Look, there’s going to be a lot of debate over whether or not he’s the right man to oversee this massive task. He’s only been in charge of QPR for around six months and only has 20-odd games under his belt as a manager. So, yes, obviously the first concern is over his lack of experience. But is there a manager out there right now who Rangers could get that ticks every single box? That’s simply not going to happen.
So yes, while Beale has only been a manager for a matter of months, there are also a lot of upsides to his appointment. At the top of that list is the fact that, after spending three years working under Steven Gerrard, he knows the club inside out and he is perfectly well aware of the demands of the job. He knows the magnitude of the club and the scale of the expectations which will be placed on his shoulders.
And that obviously hasn’t scared him. I can’t help but wonder if there’s a part of him that feels like this is unfinished business. He saw what it meant to the fans and the club when they won 55. But that was during Covid restrictions and the celebrations had to take place inside an empty stadium.
Had that been me, I’d have been looking around at the madness in the streets and outside Auchenhowie and thinking to myself, ‘How good would this be if life was back to normal?’. And I’d carry that regret around with me for a very long time. So maybe that’s part of the motivation where Michael is concerned. He’s had a little taste of what bringing success to Rangers feels like. And now he’s got the chance to experience so much more. As manager.
It’s no wonder he couldn’t say ‘no’ even though he did turn down Wolves just a few weeks ago. As I’ve said often in these pages, when Rangers come calling there’s only one answer. And that tells me a lot about how the guy is thinking. Like it has done to so many of us, the club has got under his skin. That’s a good starting point because he doesn’t have time to get a feel for what this club means to people. He knows he’ll have to start producing from day one.
And let’s be fair, almost everyone you hear speaking about the guy rates him as a fantastic coach. He did the vast majority of the coaching and tactical stuff during his time under Gerrard so, yes, I can see why Rangers would see the attraction in bringing him back. As much as I was a supporter of Gio, I have to admit there have been times over the last couple of months when I’ve struggled to see any kind of identity or clear way of playing.
And that’s a complete contrast to the way things were when Michael and Stevie G were in charge. In that team, every single player knew their role and responsibilities. Two full-backs, high and wide. Two wide players dropping into areas to pick up the ball. Two dominant midfield players sitting behind it. There was a clearly defined style and structure to the way the team played. And Beale was a huge part of putting that together.
Do I think he can handle the step up to becoming the main man? Yes, I do for what it’s worth. He certainly strikes me as a guy who is going to roll his sleeves up and work really hard to deliver. Only time will tell for sure. And I wish him all the best because, as my old mate Gio has just found out, that’s in short supply in this city.