MICHAEL BEALE reckoned Rangers would be aiming to land a bigger fish than him when the time came to replace Giovanni van Bronckhorst. Now he will sink or swim at Ibrox.

That perspective has proven to be wrong. Another statement – one that ‘no one turns down Glasgow Rangers’ - carries extra meaning right now, though.

Just months after being installed as Queens Park Rangers manager and weeks after rejecting a move to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Beale has shown that Rangers cannot be turned down.

The day that he was appointed at Loftus Road was the beginning of the next chapter in Beale’s career, but the stories of the past were still pre-eminent in his mind and he is now preparing to write future tales with an old love.

After completing his media duties in front of a new audience back in June - as endearing words were spoken and pictures were taken – Beale took the time to conduct a Zoom call with a handful of members from the Scottish Press pack.

It would not have been unexpected if Beale had chosen to decline the request completely or politely fudged his way around questions about Rangers. Instead, he was open, honest and intriguing as he addressed his successes and failures with Steven Gerrard and reminisced about the road to Seville while laying out his blueprint for the future now that he was back in his home city.

When asked about a potential return to Ibrox, he said all he could. After all, Van Bronckhorst was just off the back of a European final and Beale was only just in the door at Loftus Road.

“No one turns down Glasgow Rangers,” Beale said during a conversation with the Fourth Estate that he rarely addressed during his time at Ibrox. “As it stands just now I was a good assistant at Rangers.

“Where Rangers are now, they can secure any manager they want. I’m just a novice manager and I have to do well here at QPR.

“Do I have a lot of friends at Rangers and are friendly with the Board? Yes, my links are strong. But, when Gio eventually decides to move on they will have a host of people after the job.

“The club has just played in the Europa League final. I think they will be looking at much bigger fish than Mick Beale.”

It was clear in the way he spoke that day that Rangers as a club and Glasgow as a city – one that is ‘a little bit crazy and a little bit intense at times’ - was not just a home from home for Beale. The family environment in Balfron offered Beale the chance to escape the Old Firm goldfish bowl but the thrill elicited by the pressure to win and lure of medals can be an intoxicating mix.

It was that enticing that it convinced Gerrard to move from Liverpool in 2018 as he got the 'buzz' back. Four years on, it has proven to be too great a pull for Beale to resist once again.

“That is the way of Glasgow,” Beale said. “I loved it because I love the intensity and the pressure. Pressure is a privilege in this game. If you are not under pressure then you are at the wrong level.

“I will always love that pressure we had to win well as a narrow win was never celebrated. I will always have that standard inside me. I have been around clubs where the expectation is to do well.”

Beale has been much travelled throughout his career but the time north of the border seemed to get under his skin in a way that stints at Chelsea, Liverpool, Sao Paulo and Aston Villa didn’t. The spotlight is about to shine on him even more intensely.

The Englishman has never hidden his desire or dreams to return to Rangers one day. Indeed, he was back in Glasgow just a couple of weeks ago as he watched one of Van Bronckhorst’s final matches in charge against Aberdeen.

Beale was there that afternoon as a supporter, but his presence carried extra significance given the situation and the pressure that Van Bronckhorst was under. Posing for photographs in the pub with punters earned him social media kudos but it was a move that more than irked the Van Bronckhorst camp and was seen as disrespectful to the man that was still in a job.

Only Beale and the directors that he greeted that day know if it had any influence on the decisions to remove Van Bronckhorst from office and then replace him with the coach who was cutting his teeth in the cutthroat Championship. What is done is gone, of course, and it is now about the future for both Rangers and Beale.

A theory that Beale was the brains behind the operation was formed first time around and has been perpetuated through the passing of time. His influence was undoubted, but his individual excellence was part of a collective that Gerrard headed with such stature and drive and a return to that way of working is what many believe Rangers require right now.

“I think it was a bit disrespectful to the work that we all did,” Beale said when asked about the idea of him being the key component in the machine that delivered European improvement and a 55th Premiership title. “There are lots of ways to coach football players. The 11 o’clock training on the pitch is a guarantee, that happens every day, but there are different types of coach.

“There is the motivator, the leader type, the manager type, the tactician, the technical coach. We had a really well-balanced management team. Steven was extremely smart in the way he put his management team together, it’s probably a lesson for other ex-professionals going into the job that need to round themselves off. Steven was very, very smart in that.”

Beale certainly has credit in the bank for his part in winning a title as emotional as 55. But he was also on the staff that didn’t deliver a domestic cup in six attempts and that reached just one final in three years as Rangers’ progress on and off the park wasn’t shown in terms of silverware before their Champions League exit to Malmo.

There was no anger towards the 42-year-old when he joined Gerrard at Aston Villa as the fury of the fans was directed at the manager rather than one that had long been touted as a potential Ibrox boss. Having pledged loyalty to QPR not that long ago, the reaction of Rs fans will be telling.

Beale leaves London having won nine of his 21 matches in the Championship. A run of no wins in five has seen QPR slide down the standings and fall ten points adrift of Burnley and supporters have queried whether those credentials are strong enough to have made Beale such a prominent target, and ultimately the chosen one, for an Ibrox board that cannot afford a failure.

He insisted he was ‘over-ready’ to be a boss when he made that move for the first time, but nothing can truly prepare any figure for life at Rangers. As much as fans are appreciative of his past efforts, those moments will count for nothing now and reputations can be tarnished as quickly as they can be enhanced when the lines between success and failure are as defined as they are in Glasgow.

His understanding of the world he is walking back into will undoubtedly be advantageous, but Beale is now the leader in the dressing room, the figurehead of the club. Gerrard was a natural in both guises and Beale must quickly command respect as a gaffer rather than just a coach.

Beale is no longer a big fish in a small pond. Time will tell if he can keep his head above water in the blue sea of Ibrox.