YOU don’t have to do much digging to unearth numerous ringing endorsements of Michael Beale’s coaching credentials.

"He is widely regarded as one of the brightest young coaches in the game and has amassed a great deal of experience both at home and abroad.”

“I found a genius.”

“He’s a genius, and I mean that word.”

“People said he was a very good coach with great potential.”

Except these aren’t testimonials about Beale at all. These are the words of Ann Budge, Nuno Espirito Santo, Dundee United director Stevie Campbell and Steve McClaren respectively about Ian Cathro.

They very easily could have been quotes plucked from the bountiful gushing appraisals of Beale as a coach though, and while there is no way of knowing if his potential appointment as Rangers manager would be as disastrous as Cathro’s spell as the main man at Tynecastle, the parallel is drawn to illustrate that a world-class coach does not a world-class manager make.

Where Beale does differ from Cathro of course is that he is already now a manager in his own right, and recently turned down an approach from English Premier League outfit Wolverhampton Wanderers to continue the largely positive start to life he has made as ‘head coach’ – as he insists on being called – at Queens Park Rangers.

It is a curious thing that now, just weeks later, he seems on the brink of accepting the manager’s job at Ibrox, given what he said at the time of rebuffing those overtures from Molineux.

"It was a real privilege to be asked to go to speak to them but I didn't think it was the right moment because I entered into an agreement here,” Beale told the QPR website.

"Integrity is a real big thing for me, and loyalty. You don't give it to receive it back but I think if they're the values you live by then at times when you're put in a position then you have to be strong by them."

Hmm. The big difference this time around is that he has worked at Ibrox before of course as assistant to Steven Gerrard, and the standing of Rangers alone makes it a difficult job to turn down.

While the period he previously spent at the club was not the unequivocal success as it is sometimes retrospectively painted, having won just one trophy out of nine available, had you given Rangers fans the choice of the one they wanted to win above all others, then that was it.

Their 55th league title stopped Celtic winning a tenth Premiership in a row, and as a result, Gerrard, his coaching team and that group of players will forever have their own place in Ibrox folklore.

The way that Gerrard left the club has caused a tarnishing of his standing though among Rangers supporters in a way that it hasn’t necessarily with Beale, who followed him out of the door to Aston Villa. Instead, the belief has taken hold that Beale was in fact the brains behind the whole operation, with that narrative further bolstered by the way it fell apart spectacularly for Gerrard at Villa Park once Beale had struck out on his own at Loftus Road.

HeraldScotland: Michael Beale made a controversial visit to Ibrox recently as pressure mounted on then Rangers manager Giovanni Van Bronckhorst.Michael Beale made a controversial visit to Ibrox recently as pressure mounted on then Rangers manager Giovanni Van Bronckhorst. (Image: Rangers Review)

A further reinforcing of that viewpoint came when Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez made a revealing insight into the dynamic between Gerrard and Beale when they were in the dugout together in the Midlands.

“It’s the first time in 14 to 15 years of my career that the assistant coach does all the talking, Michael Beale,” Martinez said.

“He knows so much about football, it’s just incredible. He does all the training sessions, he takes all the important meetings, obviously Stevie G talks too.

“In every club, the manager does all the talking and the assistant helps. With Michael, we felt him and Stevie G are both the managers.”

As much as these comments were taken as something as a slight on Gerrard’s ability to manage without the puppet master Beale in the background, it might be just as legitimate to query how Beale will cope with being the top man at a club such as Rangers without the presence of Gerrard beside him.

Beale’s star has risen quickly, but a promising start at QPR has now given way to a poor run of form. They haven’t won in their last five matches, losing four, and sit seventh in the English Championship.

All of this is not to say that Beale – clearly an elite level coach – would not go on to be a hugely successful Rangers manager. But it seems something of a gamble to assume that a man of such limited experience on the frontline of football management will be able to handle such a massive job, and the unrelenting pressure that comes with it.

Time will tell. Perhaps the last word should go to the man who, at least professionally, knows him best.

"What I'll never do is try to do someone else's job when they are better than me at doing it,” said former Rangers manager Gerrard earlier this year.

“A lot of people won't have a clue what Michael Beale does on the training pitch, but what he does is really quite special.

“I haven’t had the luxury of retiring early from the game or not being a player, in terms of having that pitch time to really become a coach for the past 20 years like a Brendan Rodgers, a [Jose] Mourinho or a Michael Beale.”

Rangers fans will hope that it is those lofty comparisons, rather than ones to Cathro, that end up ringing true.


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