Why Mick Beale must prioritise resolving contract issues, address a mounting list of injuries and challenge for domestic silverware this season at Rangers; watch his first Scottish Premiership game as Rangers manager live on Sky Sports against Hibernian on December 15
Tuesday 3 January 2023 14:52, UK
With Mick Beale now in charge at Rangers, Kris Boyd analyses his priorities, including resolving contract issues, making signings and delivering domestic success.
Beale left QPR to return to Govan - where he spent three years as a coach under Steven Gerrard - and faces a huge challenge to claw back a nine-point gap to Celtic in the league.
First up his side face Hibernian at home on Thursday, live on Sky Sports, with a League Cup semi-final and Scottish Cup defence to follow.
With tricky fixtures to come, several players free to speak to other clubs in January and the winter transfer window fast approaching, Kris Boyd analyses what will be in the in-tray for the 42-year-old...
Before we get to matters off the field, 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, the fans made it clear they were not happy with what they were seeing.
Players were booed off at half-time and full-time, results were not going their way and some players looked dejected.
When you look back to Beale's time at Rangers under Steven Gerrard, there was a system the supporters could identify with and enjoyed watching.
I think you'll see a similar style return with the full-backs pushing on, runners in midfield getting beyond the front line and the striker dropping deep to link up that play.
A lot has changed since he left Rangers in terms of how the players are used and certain players might not suit the way he wants to play football.
Ryan Kent for example was at his best playing as an inverted winger, getting on the ball and linking up with the number nine. I'd expect to see more of that and by coming in off the touchline that will also create space for the overlapping full-back.
Beale will need proper backing to make changes to the squad if he's to implement a style that not only gets wins but produces performances the supporters once again enjoy watching,
I think Beale will need to go into the transfer market in January and find another striker who suits 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 strengths are dropping in deep to link up play.
It is a tough one and perhaps harsh on the player. He's shown his ability in front of goal and will have a place in the squad, however, I don't think he'll be a natural starter under Beale.
With Alfredo Morelos, it could take two or three months until he's back to his best, so his time is perhaps up with his contract coming to an end in the summer.
There is also a vacant position on the right wing that he will want to 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 in ensuring the team set up the way Beale wants.
It is a squad that is a year older than when he left and arguably not as strong, something that partly led to Giovanni being sacked.
Although there were glimpses of progress with the run to the Europa League final plus Scottish Cup win, Rangers have not kicked on since winning the league when Beale was there.
The club had the chance to capitalise on Celtic having to rebuild and they didn't.
The next two transfer windows are two of the biggest in Rangers' history. It is a crucial period coming up and it is vital those involved learn from what has happened.
The answer isn't bolstering the squad anymore, additions need to 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 forward planning for next season as well, given the number of players in the last six months of their present deals.
I've mentioned the likes of Kent and Morelos who are in that group of players that are out of contract in the summer.
While the end of Morelos' Rangers career could be nearing, I think Beale's arrival will strengthen the case to keep Kent at the club.
Beale knows the player really 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 could get the best out of Kent, who in recent weeks has shown he could be getting back to the levels we all know he is capable of.
A lot of people spoke about the likes of Allan McGregor, Scott Arfield and Steven Davis when they got new deals until the summer and while going another season might 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 been performing at the levels they should.
It is a clean slate for those who perhaps didn't see eye-to-eye with Van Bronckhorst and it's now down to them to show why they deserve to be a part of this club for years to come.
I've been there before when things fester away in the background and a negative vibe takes over but it's a fresh start for everyone and time for Beale to decide who he wants to stay at Rangers.
The number of injuries Rangers have had this season is something that can't be ignored.
Heading into the final match 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 those long-term absentees such as Filip Helander, Connor Goldson, John Souttar, Ianis Hagi, Nnamdi Ofoborh, Alex Lowry, Tom Lawrence, Fashion Sakala and Kemar Roofe.
That is a huge number of first-team players missing and something Beale needs to look at.
Fitness could be an issue too. I remember some players said last season's pre-season was the hardest they'd ever gone through but it paid off when you look at the number of games they played.
If you compare that to this season, some players have not looked as sharp, so is that contributing to the problem?
There's no getting away from the fact that winning one trophy from nine wasn't good enough for Rangers when Beale was last at Ibrox.
He knows the pressure and demands of delivering domestic trophies - it is 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.
Rangers can't give up in the title race. Yes, it is a long way back to Celtic, but there are three more Old Firm games to come and the team need to do all they can to close that gap.
It starts with wins over the other 10 teams, week in, week out. If they can start to do that again, the platform is there to build confidence and see where it takes them.
Aside from that, there's a semi-final against Aberdeen in the League Cup coming up, and then the defence of that Scottish Cup begins next year too.
There are still three trophies up for grabs and Beale knows the fans will be demanding success on a domestic front this season after an awful run of results in the Champions League.
To achieve success Beale and his backroom team will need to give their full commitment to Rangers. He was one of those who moved his family to Scotland when last at the club and proved he was 'all in'.
I'm sure he'll do that again and it is crucial those around him do the same. I tried it myself when I commuted to clubs and didn't relocate, but it is tough and although your family life suffers it is the sacrifice you make to be successful.
If the players see everyone is fully committed then you can demand the same from them but if that's not the case, it's tough.
The make-up of his backroom team is crucial too if Rangers are to be successful under Beale.
Damian Matthew, Harry Watling and Neil Banfield have joined and with more additions to be made, he'll need the right assistant to be that connection 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.
December 15: Hibernian (h), Scottish Premiership, kick off 8pm, live on Sky Sports
December 20: Aberdeen (a), Scottish Premiership, kick off 8pm, live on Sky Sports
December 23: Ross County (a), Scottish Premiership, kick off 7.30pm, live on Sky Sports
December 28: Motherwell (h), Scottish Premiership, kick off 7.45pm
January 2: Celtic (h), Scottish Premiership, kick off 12.30pm, live on Sky Sports
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