Micky Beale’s joyful return to Ibrox might not be the all in celebration that some are wishing for with doubts emerging over the dressing room reaction of the ‘new’ Ibrox boss.
From the carefully arranged visit to watch last month’s match against Aberdeen which included visits to The Louden Tavern and Grapes Bar to Beale’s constant Ibrox references everything has been given a rosey glow, stepped up by Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s sacking on Monday.
Whatever qualities Beale has he isn’t going to turnaround the attitude of cynical players in the Murray Park dressing room. Hardened professionals who have seen and heard it all before.
If Beale returns the dressing room will consist of almost all of the players he walked out on 12 months ago, loyally following his master to Birmingham.
The bulk of the players were assembled in 2018 when Gerrard took over, there are even a few survivors from previous bosses such as James Tavernier, Ryan Jack and Alfredo Morelos.
One third of the first tea squad are out of contract in May, another third are injured with the others wondering about what they walked into in the summer when they joined a European finalist under a progressive young manager.
The hefty pay-packets of Kemar Roofe and John Lundstram are known to the other players and their agents with Keith Jackson giving a detailed insight into the issues that Beale could be about to encounter.
In the Daily Record he writes:
The widely held assumption behind all of this is surely that the players he left behind will be grateful to see him back. That they had found it too much of a change to accept Giovanni van Bronckhorst as Gerrard’s replacement and they will universally welcome a return to the training ground methods which won them a league title in the first place.
But this may be yet another dangerous miscalculation made by a sporting director whose track record in recruitment has been littered with costly mistakes. If Wilson is not aware that there are players inside that dressing room who were perfectly content to see the back of Gerrard and his entire coaching crew, then he’s not done his due diligence.
Because there were plenty of them. And if he’s banking on Beale instantly reuniting a squad which appeared so divided and disharmonious under Van Bronckhorst, then he could be in for a nasty surprise. If there are some festering sores still inside the camp, Beale’s return could cause those faultlines to run even deeper and become even more destabilising than they were under the Dutchman.
And if that happens then Beale can’t even be guaranteed the much sought after ‘new manager bounce’ which Rangers appear to have based this entire decision upon. But, more concerning still, the issues Beale is about to confront won’t be contained within the walls of his dressing room. Because Rangers are blighted by far more fundamental problems and they extend way beyond the parameters of the club’s plush training HQ.
A chairman who refuses to communicate with a fractured, rebellious support. A player trading model which appears to be nothing more strategic than a car boot sale of the club’s only saleable assets. And an overarching culture of poor decision-making running from the boardroom all the way down to the youth academy.
Beale should at least know about most of that, given that Gerrard became so frustrated by it all that he was prepared to put his own blossoming reputation on the line by jumping ship to Birmingham. In retrospect, that hastily arranged escape route to Aston Villa has backfired spectacularly while taking a wrecking ball to his hopes of a direct career path into his dream job at Liverpool.
Beale bailed out before the end by grabbing a lifeline at Queens Park Rangers and many suspected Gerrard’s days would soon be up at Villa from the moment his lieutenant headed south. There were other very prominent characters inside the club’s training ground who were, let’s say, a great deal less upset to see him go it alone.
These differences of opinion occur in almost every working environment and personal disagreements or grudges should not be considered as offering any kind of cast iron proof. The wider consensus is that Beale was the tactical brain behind Gerrard’s entire operation which, of course, is why this rather misty-eyed approach has been made to rush him back across the border as van Bronckhorst’s replacement.
Who knows? It may turn out to be a stroke of genius. In time, Beale might prove himself to be the real deal after all. But right now it all feels like a rather desperate, high tariff gamble made by a board which is perhaps entering its own end of days. For his own sake, Beale had better not be going back into all of this with eyes wide shut.
Aberdeen away on December 20 and Ross County three days later will certainly test the prospects of a new manager bounce with Celtic first footing soon afterwards.