Last night, Michael Beale was finally relieved of his duties as Rangers manager.
Let’s be honest, the shock wasn’t that he was let go. It was the fact that the board made the move to do it so quickly.
Beale’s P45 had been weeks in the making, as any good will he had with the support had steadily evaporated ever since the timid 1-0 home defeat to Celtic a month ago.
This was a man who only just under a year ago, was deemed as the tactical guru the club had been craving for so long.
So many knowledgeable folk out there has given Beale the big pat on the back as the genius behind the evolution of Steven Gerrard’s side from pretenders to title winners once again.
He played a crucial role in developing the set up of that team from playing with out and out wingers, to making the wide players more as inverted number 10s.
It was a philosophy that Beale clearly still had belief in, as he’d often talk up having more than one striker on the pitch at one time and overloading the squad with strikers and playing who could play just behind them.
But during the 55 winning season, Rangers were able to effectively get width from peak form James Tavernier and Borna Barisic. Fast forward to this season, and we were still relying on these same players, now in their 30s, to do the same job. Instead of pushing the likes of Ridvan Yilmaz regularly to do this role in a better capacity, it seemed the old boys club from Beale’s first tenure was still running the show.
The arrivals of Nico Raskin and Todd Cantwell in January gave us a glimpse into what we thought Beale could deliver in the transfer market, and the board gave him the freedom of Govan to do as he pleased in this regard – something even Gerrard wasn’t allowed.
And let’s be honest, before that first ball was kicked at Rugby Park in July, the majority out there believed he’d got it right. But when it became prevalent early on that the aforementioned full backs couldn’t do what they once did so well, the set up he liked to want to use was thrown out of the window.
It was this that summarised Beale’s lack of experience for a job this size. Much like Mark Warburton many years ago, there was no Plan B. We’d failed to replace the out-and-out wingers we let go in the summer, which really resulted in lack of any tactical flexible.
Signings were placed like square pegs in round holes wherever the manager seen fit. It resulted in the likes of Jose Cifuentes and Sam Lammers, both clearly process some technical ability, seeming lost as they tried to bed into a new environment.
As Beale continue sliding down that slippery slope, the so-called ‘Beale Ball’ with the handbrake off style that we thought we were going to see, simply moulded into a set up done not to lose a game. We’d became a long ball team who fed off scraps – in games at Ibrox.
When it became evident that Beale had clearly bitten off more than he could chew, he had to be put out his misery.
He’s not the first good coach to fail to live up to the hype when given a top job, and he won’t be the last.
But for the here and now, Rangers can’t be going down the experimental route again. For too long now, arguably since Walter Smith, the club have chosen the project route over someone tried and tested.
In order to prevent Celtic streaking away from us once again, we need to bring in a manager who knows what it takes to do the job at a higher level. Not only that, but we need someone who is able to implement a fluid, tactical style on the side to get them playing in a way that wins games. Not someone who focuses on the result and that alone.