FOR many supporters, Michael Beale will always be synonymous with his time at Rangers.

Therefore, it is fitting that his first foray into management comes with a namesake. Beale left Aston Villa earlier this month to join Queens Park Rangers, signing a three-year contract with the London outfit and leaving his role as Steven Gerrard's assistant. 

“I just felt that it was the right time," he says.

“After the huge experience that I had up in Scotland and coming to the Midlands, I felt that I was over-ready, I was over-cooked a bit as an assistant. Now is the time to start on my own.”

“If I wasn’t working with someone who had the stature of Steven Gerrard and enjoyed the relationship I had with him, I would’ve been a manager probably before coming to Rangers. I took the choice to work with Steven and while I was at Rangers had five or six opportunities to move on, one or two in Scotland, back home and around Europe. I always rebuffed them because I was part of the project and plan at Rangers. I didn’t think it was finished. This is slightly different. We were at the start of a new journey [at Aston Villa] and I just felt that this opportunity at QPR was too good to turn down.”

Beale established himself as something of a cult hero during his three-and-a-half-year stint at Rangers, attracting more attention than a second in command would usually earn.

When making his first moves into management, Gerrard wanted to surround himself with expertise and not fall into the trap many other ex-professionals do, presume that a good player will always make a good manager. In Beale, he secured the services of a top-class coach with a reputation for developing players and leading high-quality training sessions. Indeed, the Liverpool legend once said it would take him "20 years" to match the on-pitch coaching expertise of Beale. 

However, despite enjoying a greater level of influence over team tactics and training than most assistants, Beale admits a hunger for responsibility provoked his move from the Premier League to Championship. 

Speaking at his QPR unveiling, he adds: “I’m happy to be back managing, it has been six years since I stopped coaching Liverpool Under-23s, I’ve been a loyal assistant in Brazil and then with Steven. It was important I got back to myself and my pathway, my development, and the things that I want to achieve.

READ MORE: Michael Beale's Rangers tactical philosophy explained

“At Rangers, we had a really well-balanced management team. Steven was extremely smart in the way he put his management team together, it’s probably a lesson for other ex-professionals going into the job that need to round themselves off. Steven was very, very smart in that.

“The people I’ve brought in around me [at QPR] are all older, I’ve gone with some old heads with more grey hair that can temper my energy down sometimes. But I’m still going to be at the front on the pitch because that’s what I love.”

The emotion felt between club and coach during Beale’s stint north of the border was very much mutual and in his London office, any question regarding his former employer is well received. Equally, the topic of last November's departure is emotive which is perhaps partly explained by the rollercoaster 2020/21 season that ended a decade-long wait for the Scottish Premiership title, but also featured cruel cup defeats which left a desire for more. 

“We lived an amazing experience together in 20/21 at Rangers,” he says. “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. 

“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."

Continuing, he adds: “Pressure is a privilege in this game. If you are not under pressure then you are at the wrong level.

“That is the way of Glasgow. I loved it because I love the intensity and the pressure. 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!"

Beale also speaks of his plans at QPR, detailing the attraction of returning home to London and working for a progressive football club with ambition. At Ibrox, the style of play he implemented alongside Gerrard had clear defining principles that are likely to be on show at Loftus Road next season, alongside some “slight differences” that will reflect his move from assistant to the manager and the complete control that comes with it.

READ MORE: How Giovanni van Bronckhorst answered Steven Gerrard’s pre-season variation admission

“I’ve got some loose ideas," he says when questioned on the playing style he'll implement at QPR.

"Obviously the principles of how I want to play won’t change. Certainly out of possession and with width coming from the full-backs in possession, whether that is with a back four or three will depend on the qualities of the players here. Last season Mark Warburton worked very well with a back three and I feel that we have the capabilities to do that already. So, that’s something I’m inheriting and I’ll add my own bits to it.

“It’s important I keep the fluidity in the final third and I think it’s very important I put my own stamp on a team. I had a big influence on Steven [Gerrard] and Gary’s [McAllister] ideas when we worked together, but now this is a Michael Beale team and it’s important that you see slight differences in that. You have to get the best out of the players you have and here in Chris Willock and Ilias Chair we have two fantastic No.10s, so we probably won’t veer away from playing with two No.10s, maybe we will play with three and not two.”

There is also time for hypotheticals before Beale returns to his first summer as a manager and the endless tasks that come with it, will he ever return to Rangers?

“No one turns down Glasgow Rangers," he says with a grin.

"As it stands just now I was a good assistant at Rangers. Where Rangers are now they can secure any manager they want. I’m just a novice manager and I have to do well here at QPR. Do I have a lot of friends at Rangers and am friendly with the Board? Yes, my links are strong. But, when Gio eventually decides to move on they will have a host of people after the job. The club has just played in the Europa League final. I think they will be looking at much bigger fish than Mick Beale.”

Beale is right in one sense, he does have to prove himself as a No.1. But if his spell in London is as successful as most predict and a career trajectory continues in a favourable direction, you wouldn't discount him gracing the Ibrox dugout once more.