AS nice a man as Giovanni van Bronckhorst undoubtedly is, even he surely appreciated the slice of schadenfreude served up to Michael Beale as Saturday's defeat to Aberdeen slammed the final nail into his coffin as Rangers manager.

Beale's conduct in attending a Rangers match against the Dons last season, like a circling vulture lurking on Van Bronkhorst's shoulder, was questionable to say the least. 

There was a certain irony then that it was the same opponent who marked the end of Beale's own tenure at Ibrox. Or some poetic justice, Van Bronckhorst may be thinking with a smirk somewhere, as the vultures now pick away at Beale's own carcass.

To the Rangers board, allowing Beale to limp on into Thursday night’s trip to face Aris Limassol may have been tempting. They have been through a lot together, Beale and the club. But putting him and the Rangers supporters out of their misery was the charitable gesture, and they deserve credit for their decisiveness, if not their original appointment.

READ MORE: Rangers sack Michael Beale as interim boss is announced

There is very little loyalty in football. Beale knows that more than most, having bailed on Queens Park Rangers for Ibrox mere weeks after issuing a passionate speech about ‘integrity and loyalty’ when turning down the Wolves job.

In the end though, he had to go, and he was largely hoisted by his own petard. Here were his words, his mission statement, upon returning to Ibrox last year.

“We need to win 56 as soon as possible, we need to improve our cup record which we slightly improved last year by winning the Scottish Cup, and we need to improve the identity on the pitch,” Beale said.

On point one, the prospect of winning the title appears just as distant as it did when he took the reins, with Rangers falling seven points behind Celtic before September was out.

And the cups? Rangers are of course heavy favourites to lift the League Cup this term with Celtic already eliminated, but it was lost in the final to their city rivals last season, and the Scottish Cup was also lost in meek fashion to the same opponent in the semi-final at Hampden.

And lastly, having been backed heavily in the summer to build a team in his image, it is doubtful that even he could describe just what that identity is meant to be. If you had to ask the fans who have to watch the team every week, it is equally as doubtful that he would like their replies.

They are too easy to score against, particularly from set-plays, as Saturday showed. They have a soft centre. They don’t excite the punters going the other way. Against Aberdeen, they were predictable and ponderous.

The toxicity around Ibrox after the recent defeats to Celtic and Aberdeen was, anecdotally, at the worst levels in living memory. But the thousands upon thousands of empty seats around the stadium - long before the final whistle - spoke just as loudly as the boos of those who remained to witness James Tavernier lead a limp lap of dishonour.

The fans, clearly, had given up on Beale’s team.

That being the case, it probably wasn’t the smartest move by Beale to criticise those supporters in the aftermath of the Aberdeen game for booing the players off at the interval. Or say that any ‘reasonable’ fan would acknowledge that Rangers have injuries.

Yes, Beale has indeed had injuries to key personnel to contend with. But such excuses simply didn’t wash with the support, particularly when Beale’s signings during the summer – Jack Butland excepted – have so far proven not to be up to the task.

READ MORE: Steven Davis made Rangers interim manager after Michael Beale sacking

Beale had been at pains to stress just how involved he has been in the identifying and recruitment of talent since Ross Wilson’s departure. He therefore has to own the fact that so many of his summer signings have failed to show up well in their short Rangers careers to date.

He said in the summer he wanted to sit down with players and ‘look them in the eye’ to make sure they were able to handle the pressure of representing the club. In the cases of Sam Lammers and Cyriel Dessers, he might have been better to have a quick peek at their respective goal records.

Neither has looked remotely capable of delivering goals at the volume required to be a Rangers forward, and the most expensive recruit of them all, Danilo, rather puzzlingly spent the early part of the season on the bench before he picked up the unfortunate facial injury at St Johnstone that put him out of action.

After the Aberdeen defeat, Beale said that it was still early days in the season. That his team were still in four competitions. While technically true - though it can already be debated just how much they are in the hunt in the league – he also acknowledged that he would have to ‘see what happens’ over his future.

That decision ultimately fell on Rangers chairman John Bennett, and the call on whether to back or sack Beale was the first real acid test of his leadership. The majority of the Rangers support wanted a change in the dugout, and it would have been a brave - or foolhardy - move to go against their wishes.

A defeat to Aris this week would surely have taken that decision out of his hands. But a loss could prove hugely damaging to Rangers' hopes of Europa League progression, and had he allowed Beale to limp on into that game, a defeat would surely have damaged Bennett’s credibility with the fans.

“They own the club, they are the lifeblood,” Bennett once said.

He clearly felt it was not worth staking his reputation with those supporters on Beale turning things around. And the evidence would suggest that was the smart move.

In fairness to Beale, he is clearly a highly respected coach in the game, and there must be reason for that. He will, in time, be fondly remembered no doubt as a key part of the coaching team that brought '55' to the club and ended Celtic's hopes of 10 in-a-row.

But while many once felt he was the organ grinder to Steven Gerrard's monkey, it turns out that being the frontman of a club like Rangers and getting an acceptable tune from his players was - at this stage of his career at least - beyond him.