Michael Beale reflects on Rangers journey, his Ibrox exit and lessons learned ahead of QPR promotion push

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Michael Beale
Michael Beale

MICHAEL BEALE is now back in familiar territory on the latest stop in a career that has taken him from London to Sao Paolo, from Glasgow to Birmingham, and back to where it all began.

He has called many places home from home on that coaching journey. When he speaks about Ibrox, there is an affection that stretches far beyond just football achievement.

Life at Rangers is unique, the experience one of stress and success, of pressure and peril. It is an existence that Beale relished every day and one that he will cherish the memories and lessons from.

On Monday, Beale took another step into the unknown as he was unveiled as the new manager of Queens Park Rangers. After four seasons working under Steven Gerrard, it is time for the 41-year-old to go it alone, to be his own man and own boss.

This time last year, Beale was preparing for another campaign at Ibrox. His stint at Aston Villa would prove to be short-lived and now he is embarking on a project that will inspire him and challenge him in equal measure.

Every session coached or game won shapes Beale on and off the park. There were lows at Rangers, but the highs - and title 55 in particular - remain a huge part of who he is as a man and who he will be as a manager.

“We lived an amazing experience together in 20/21," Beale said. “To play 56 games and lose just two - we lost a third on penalties - left me frustrated.

“I know people were running around, singing and dancing in the streets. But, I wasn't.

"I was like a bear with a sore head because I felt we should have won more.

“We brought that into this season with us. You saw the outpouring of emotion from the fans once Covid was over.

“I moved the family up there and lived for three-and-a-half years in Balfron.

“I really enjoyed my time there and it was difficult to move on. You are leaving a massive club and an institution.

“I have left big clubs before - Chelsea, Liverpool and Sao Paulo - I seem to run away from everywhere after a few years!"

When Beale opted to leave Anfield in May 2018, he knew he could only do so for an opportunity that may not come around again. Like Gerrard, moving to Rangers just felt right.

The lifting of the Premiership trophy will stand as Beale's legacy, an achievement that will forever be enshrined in the rich history of a club that he grew to adore and that holds a special place in his heart.

“It was as big as any of them," Beale said when asked how Rangers compared to his times at the English giants and one of the powerhouses of South American football. “You only have to look at the 48,000 season tickets and the fans around the world. Rangers are as big as any club I have worked for.

“It is a fantastic football city. A little bit crazy and a little bit intense at times.

“I think sometimes the glass is half full rather than half empty and we tend to bash ourselves on the head rather than celebrate the good things that are happening.

“For the last three or four years there has been two great teams in the country doing well in the league, developing players and doing fantastic in Europe. I don't think that is promoted enough.

“That is the way of Glasgow. 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.

“I loved my time in Scotland and the one or two moments when I got hot-headed was me turning into one of you guys. I was forgetting I come from Kent!"

Those moments proved how easily Rangers can get under the skin of those who are not brought up in the history and traditions of the club and Beale's influence was as great as any in ensuring that standards and reputations were restored at Ibrox.

His own stock would rise and rise during those unforgettable seasons. It is now QPR who will hope to reap the benefits of a highly-rated coach that is older and wiser for his time north of the border.

"Listen, Glasgow Rangers are an absolutely huge football club," Beale said. "I loved my time there and it was fantastic, especially the last 12-18 months.

"But this was a fantastic opportunity for me. I am back home, it is the first time I have been home in ten years and back to London.

"It is a club that has got a really young, vibrant squad and one or two of the players remind me of one or two that I have worked with previously. I am sure you can surmise who they are.

"The teams have got similar types of players to what we had up in Glasgow and at Aston Villa in terms of the No. 10 position. I am really looking forward to getting working."

It was muted on more than one occasion that Beale could eventually be the man to succeed Gerrard at Ibrox. History, of course, tells a different story.

It is at a different Rangers that Beale now begins his own journey as a manager but his time in Glasgow will be put to good use now that the Premier League is in sight.

Beale said: "I think expectation, people talk about pressure, but I talk about expectation. That is what it is.

"It is the expectation that people have in you to do well and the expectation of the club. I see pressure as a privilege.

"I have missed the intensity. I have wanted to step out on my own to feel that intensity and pressure myself and that demand to be a headline number one.

"Now I have that opportunity. I turned down many chances before because I felt that where I was at and the people that I was with were right. This felt right from the beginning."

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