With just over two weeks until Rangers’ first Scottish Premier League game under Mick Beale, Kris Boyd analyzes the new Ibrox boss’ priorities.
Beale left QPR to return to Govan – where he spent three years coaching under Steven Gerrard – and faces a huge challenge in regaining a nine-point gap to Celtic in the league.
First up on his side Hibernian at home on 15 December, live on Sky Sportswith a League Cup semi-final and Scottish Cup defense to follow.
With tough games ahead, more players able to talk to other clubs in January and the winter transfer window fast approaching, Chris Boyd analyzes what should be in the 42-year-old’s inbox…
Before we get to matters off the pitch, the first thing Mick Beale needs to look at is Rangers’ style of play on it.
During the final weeks of Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s reign, fans made it clear they were not happy with what they were seeing.
The players were booed off at half-time and full-time, the results did not go as they should and some players looked dejected.
When you look back to Beale’s time at Rangers under Steven Gerrard, it was a system the supporters could identify with and enjoyed watching.
I think you will see a similar style coming back with the backs pushing, runners in midfield getting past the forward line and the striker dropping deep to connect that play.
A lot has changed since he left Rangers in terms of how the players are used and some players may not suit the way he wants to play football.
Ryan Kent, for example, was at his best when playing as a reverse winger, getting on the ball and linking up with the number nine. I expect to see more of that and by coming in off the touchline it will also create space for the overlapping full-back.
Beale will need proper support to make changes to the squad if he is to implement a style that not only wins but produces performances that the supporters once again enjoy seeing,
I think Beale needs to go into the transfer market in January and find another striker who fits the system he wants to implement.
Antonio Colak has had a very good start to his career at Ibrox but I don’t think his strength drops deep to link up play.
It is tough and maybe hard for the player. He has shown his ability in front of goal and will have a place in the squad, but I don’t think he will be a natural starter under Beale.
With Alfredo Morelos, it could be two or three months before he is back to his best, so his time may be up with his contract expiring in the summer.
There is also a vacancy on the right wing that he will look at.
The likes of Scott Wright, Fashion Sakala, Ianis Hagi and Rabbi Matondo have all been given chances, but none have made that position their own, and it’s an area of the field that is crucial to ensuring the team is set up the way Beale wants.
It’s a squad a year older than when he left and arguably not as strong, which is partly what led to Giovanni’s sacking.
Although there were glimpses of progress with the run to the Europa League final plus Scottish Cup win, Rangers haven’t kicked on since winning the league when Beale was there.
The club had the chance to capitalize on Celtic having to rebuild, and they didn’t.
The next two transfer windows are two of the biggest in Rangers history. There is a decisive period ahead, and it is important that those involved learn from what has happened.
The answer is not to strengthen the squad anymore, additions must be made that will make the starting XI better.
There are some monumental calls to be made and absolutely no margin for error. There also needs to be some serious planning for next season too, given the number of players in the last six months of their current deals.
I have mentioned the likes of Kent and Morelos who are in the group of players who are out of contract in the summer.
Although the end of Morelo’s Rangers career may be nearing, I believe Beale’s arrival will strengthen the case to keep Kent at the club.
Beale knows the player very well and was one of the reasons he signed at Ibrox in the first place.
I think it’s fair if the players’ representatives want to see what else is out there in January, but I think Beale can get the best out of Kent, who has shown in recent weeks that he can get back to the levels we all know he can is. able to.
Many talked about the likes of Allan McGregor, Scott Arfield and Steven Davis as they signed new deals until the summer, and while going for another season may be a step too far for some, there are big decisions to be made.
It is important for the players to prove they deserve to be in Beale’s plans because some have not performed at the levels they should.
It’s a clean slate for those who may not have seen eye-to-eye with Van Bronckhorst, and it’s now up to them to show why they deserve to be part of this club for years to come.
I’ve been there before when things get stuck in the background and a negative vibe takes over, but it’s a new start for everyone and time for Beale to decide who he wants to stay at Rangers.
The number of injuries the Rangers have had this season is something that cannot be ignored.
Heading into the final game before the World Cup, a draw against St Mirren, Rangers were without the likes of Ridvan Yilmaz, Ben Davies and Antonio Colak.
Then there are long-term absences such as Filip Helander, Connor Goldson, John Souttar, Ianis Hagi, Nnamdi Ofoborh, Alex Lowry, Tom Lawrence, Fashion Sakala and Kemar Roofe.
There are a large number of first team players missing and something Beale will have to look at.
Exercise can also be a problem. I remember some players saying that last season’s pre-season was the toughest they had ever been through, but it paid off when you look at the number of games they played.
If you compare it to this season, some players haven’t looked as sharp, so does that add to the problem?
There’s no getting away from the fact that winning one trophy out of nine wasn’t good enough for Rangers when Beale was last at Ibrox.
He knows the pressure and demands of delivering domestic trophies – it’s a must and the minimum fans will expect.
Van Bronckhorst landed the Scottish Cup, but there is a long way to go if Rangers are to dominate Scottish football again.
The Rangers cannot give up in the title race. Yes, it’s a long way back for Celtic, but there are three new Old Firm games to come and the team must do everything they can to close the gap.
It starts with wins over the other 10 teams, week in, week out. If they can start doing it again, the platform is there to build confidence and see where it takes them.
Apart from that, there is a semi-final against Aberdeen in the League Cup to come, and then the defense of the Scottish Cup begins next year as well.
There are still three trophies to be won and Beale knows the fans will demand success on home front this season after a terrible run of results in the Champions League.
To achieve success, Beale and his backroom team must give their full commitment to the Rangers. He was one of those who moved his family to Scotland last time at the club and proved that he was ‘all in’.
I’m sure he’ll do it again, and it’s crucial that those around him do the same. I tried it myself when I commuted to clubs and didn’t move, but it’s tough and even if your family life suffers, it’s the sacrifice you make to succeed.
If the players see that everyone is fully engaged, you can demand the same from them, but if that’s not the case, it’s tough.
The composition of his backroom team is also crucial if the Rangers are to succeed under Beale.
Damian Matthew, Harry Watling and Neil Banfield have joined and with more additions to be made, he will need the right assistant to be the link between the manager and the dressing room.
Everyone knows what he can do, but the right characters around Beale are just as important if this move is to be the right one for all parties.
Rangers next five games
December 15: Hibernian (h), Scottish Premier League, kick-off at 20.00, live on Sky Sports
December 20: Aberdeen (a), Scottish Premier League, kick-off at 20.00, live on Sky Sports
December 23: Ross County (a), Scottish Premier League, kick-off 7.30pm, live on Sky Sports
December 28: Motherwell (h), Scottish Premier League, kick-off 19.45
January 2: Celtic (h), Scottish Premier League, kick-off 12.30, live on Sky Sports
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