Herald and Times Senior Rangers Writer Chris Jack published his first book - 'Going for 55' - to mark the Premiership title win last year.

Here, we publish an exclusive extract looking at Michael Beale's role in that success and why he was such an important part of Steven Gerrard's staff at Ibrox.

THE task of managing an institution like Rangers is not one that can be taken on alone and the burden must be shared with those you trust. Smith fulfilled that role as assistant to Graeme Souness during his Revolution in the ‘80s before he assumed the position and went on to finish what had been started as a ninth successive league title was won in 1997.

On his return to Ibrox ten years later, Smith was joined by Ally McCoist, Kenny McDowall and Ian Durrant in the dugout. European glory may have ultimately evaded them in 2008, but it was a period of cherished domestic glories that would prove to be the final ones that supporters could savour before the collapse that saw Rangers embark on a fight for survival rather than silverware.

The appointment of Gerrard was a moment where Rangers came out swinging, where they had the look of heavyweight contenders once again. The Liverpool legend was the figurehead, but this was never going to be a one man job and, like Smith, Gerrard would surround himself with sound football minds. More importantly, they were good men.

Gerrard would speak of the importance of his backroom staff on the day that he was unveiled in May 2018 and he has regularly thanked them and praised them for their efforts in the years since. The deal for Gerrard was the most important one that Rangers secured, but none of the progress made in the first two seasons or the triumphs enjoyed in the third would have been possible without those that he has surrounded himself with.

“I’m a human being so I’m going to make mistakes going forward,” Gerrard said on the day he was unveiled. “I’ve made plenty in my playing career and I’ve made many this season as a coach. But I see mistakes as opportunities to grow and learn from. I believe in the staff I’m going to be bringing to share this journey with me.

“I’m not perfect but I will put people around me to support me, to complement where I need a bit of help and guidance. As a team of people, we will park the egos up and front it together. We believe we are the best people to take this opportunity forward.”

That was a key consideration for Mark Allen. His job was to appoint a manager, but the former director of football knew Gerrard had to be part of a team and the first names – those of Gary McAllister and Michael Beale – were obvious ones to come on board.

McAllister had shone in the twilight of his career alongside Gerrard in the Liverpool midfield. It was a partnership that would yield five medals in England and Europe and the friendship formed then would lead McAllister to Ibrox many years later.

He would be joined by Beale. His route to Rangers has been unconventional but fascinating. His playing career was over before it started after he failed to make the grade at Charlton, where Jermain Defoe, Scott Parker and Paul Konchesky were his contemporaries. But Beale has long been top of the class when it came to coaching and his methods on the training field and philosophy in how football should be played have marked him out as one of the brightest minds in the game. He is an obsessive about football, a coach who takes as much satisfaction out of improving a veteran as a protégé.

A decade at Chelsea saw Beale work under the likes of Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Guus Hiddink and he can take credit for nurturing the talents of Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham. A move to Liverpool saw him help Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harry Wilson along the road to stardom and his own stock was rising as quickly as those under his tutelage.

Beale had started out as a coach charging kids a couple of quid to play a version of Futsal in his local church hall and he would find himself immersed in a new world as he travelled from South London to South America. An eight-month spell at Sao Paulo alongside Rogerio Ceni - football's highest-scoring goalkeeper with more than 130 goals to his credit – followed before he returned to Anfield. The rest, they say, is history and Gerrard would make the call to Beale as the then Under-18s boss at Liverpool accepted the position of Rangers manager.

“Gary McAllister has a wealth of experience having played the game on both sides of the border,” Allen said. “He was an international with a proven pedigree, he had a real knowledge of Scottish football and knew what it was all about and he was someone that could help Steven settle in Scotland and become accustomed to the Scottish football environment. Gary was perfect for that role.

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“Michael was perfect in terms of the technical part of the session and he can aid Steven in so many ways when it comes to preparing the team for, for example, coming up against a low block and if the team would have to overload in certain areas.

“He had the technical know-how to design the sessions and plan the sessions that Steven would want for a certain day. That would allow Steven to take a backseat, in that regard, and analyse what was going on to really decide what he was looking for and how he wanted the session to shape up. Michael is capable of designing that session and taking that session and he has got a terrific way of working with the players and other coaches.”

Gerrard had the former team-mate in McAllister and a coach in Beale whose reputation went before him. When it comes to Tom Culshaw, the relationship went even further back and two childhood mates are now champions with Rangers.

Culshaw’s grandparents lived on the same street as the Gerrard family home in Huyton and a friendship was formed, partly through their love of football, at Cardinal Heenan High School. Gerrard and Culshaw shared the same dream, but only one would get to live it with Liverpool.

Culshaw was also a contemporary of Jamie Carragher and Michael Owen but he would fail to make the grade with the Reds. Disillusioned with the game, he worked for a friend’s tarmacking firm before embarking on a coaching career that would lead him back to Liverpool.

Gerrard would promote his old friend to the Under-18s and there was no doubt that a move to Ibrox would follow. His title of Technical Coach sounds wide-ranging but his remit is simply to improve players and that has been achieved, most notably this season in terms of Rangers’ defensive record, but his work on set-pieces at both ends of the park has also been integral to the successes.

One part of the Gerrard jigsaw was already in place at Auchenhowie and he would retain the services of goalkeeping coach Colin Stewart. The final one that he brought with him from Liverpool was Jordan Milsom. Gerrard had identified Rangers’ deficiencies in terms of pace and power even before he was approached to become manager and the work of Milsom has allowed Rangers to be fitter and stronger than the opposition as they have advanced physically as well as mentally, technically and tactically over the last three years.

“We then looked at set-pieces and one-to-one coaching for those players who wanted to work on technique or free-kicks, for example, and we needed a specialist in that regard,” Allen said. “And that is why Tom Culshaw was brought in. So there was a logic and a reasoning to the team that came in with Steven and he could then really excel in the management of the whole thing, which is the management and organisation of the team.

“A very important factor, if we wanted to play the kind of game that we wanted to play at Rangers – in terms of being attractive, exciting, playing out from the back and through the thirds with lots of possession – then we needed the athletic performance to be at a certain level. We had to have the right levels of training and match that style of football to the training sessions so that is why Jordan Milsom was brought in.”

There was an obvious lure of the Gerrard name for the Rangers board and the Rangers fans ahead of his arrival but the appointment would have been doomed to failure had the appropriate blend of skills and experiences not joined him at Ibrox. That backroom team have been with Gerrard every step of the way and, quite simply, he and Rangers would not be where they are today if it was not for their efforts alongside the man who carries the ultimate responsibility but who shares the workload and the praise equally.

When Gerrard was named as the William Hill Scottish Football Writers Association Manager of the Year later in the campaign, he was quick to thank and praise the work of those around him. There was a clear pride in the pictures of him with his prize, but one of the entire coaching staff together spoke volumes. From day one to trophy day, it has been a team effort.

“I’m delighted to receive the award,” Gerrard said. “I receive it collectively with my staff. I think that goes without saying because we are very much a team here.

“I think we have achieved the success we have this season as a team of staff and I thank all of you guys in the Press for voting for me and I certainly cherish the award.”

*Going for 55 is published by Polaris Publishing. RRP £17.99.


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