When asked about Michael Beale’s coaching philosophy in a recent interview with the Rangers Review, Neil Banfield spoke about what happens off the ball just as much as the activity on it.

“His teams are very attractive on the eye, tactically really strong. But it’s steel with style, that’s what Mick says and that’s what he wants his team to look like,” the first-team coach said.

“When you haven’t got the ball he sees that as a vital part of being a top team.

“I’ve been very fortunate to play with and against really top teams. When you play against the good teams, you know what they’re going to do with the ball. It’s when they don’t have it and you think ‘Wow’. That gives you your foundations to then attack teams.”

That helps to contextualise why Beale, entering the Ibrox press room after his side’s 5-2 win over St Mirren, was so visibly frustrated.

“I think once we scored the first goal we were seduced by the football. And we need to show the same hunger when we lose it to come back in terms of our distances and the mentality that I want to see,” he said.

“I'm still looking for more when we haven't got the ball because I know that when we have to go against the level of opponent that's going to cause us more problems, it's our out-of-possession organisation that's really important to get the ball back.”

Beale wants his side to play with style. He’s clearly a manager who values creative football and favours creative players. In theory, that’s facilitated by the energy and organisation provided when the opponent is in possession.

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To use a quote from a coaching presentation he delivered in 2021, “If you’re more organised you’ll run less, you’ll play with less stress and be ready to attack”.

Cast your mind back to a recent 4-1 win over Hibs at Easter Road, Rangers’ best performance since regime change last November.

Arriving in the press room that evening, Beale was far more content. Tellingly, he chose to focus firstly on his side’s activity out of possession which facilitated their attacking play throughout the 90 minutes. 

“We had some fantastic play and the energy was good. That all comes from the out-of-possession stuff, really,” he admitted.

“As impressive as we were with the ball it all came off the work ethic of the whole team, the whole 10 outfield players pressing, running and moving together.”

Before Beale joined Steven Gerrard’s coaching staff and prior to his spell in Brazil, he managed the Liverpool Under-23s. That involved shadowing Jurgen Klopp’s style of play and learning the German’s philosophy to offer his young prospects the best possible chance of making the jump to first-team level.

“We have this period with the Under-18s and Under-21s that will take on the ideas of the new manager and sort of combine the academy programme for developing players,” he said in a club interview back in 2015, following Klopp’s arrival at Liverpool.

That spell has undoubtedly impacted the manager's own philosophy. Klopp's principles are evident in the way Beale talks about defence as a team-wide initiative. 

With a high line and compact shape, Beale’s set-up features similarities to Liverpool’s approach. Defending starts at the front while aggression and protection from the attacking unit is imperative.

That’s why when the manager criticised his team’s defending for Mark O’Hara’s first goal on Saturday, he traced his analysis right back to Rangers' disjointed shape at the top of the pitch after failing to capitalise on an attacking transition. After Todd Cantwell's shot was saved by Trevor Carson Rangers' shape disappeared, allowing the visitors to venture up the park unopposed.

“We're very wasteful in that moment, and our reaction was dreadful. Everybody from Todd after shooting from the reaction of people running back. There's a cross-field ball. We don't get out to it. Another cross and it's a horror show for us,” Beale said.

Mistakes made by both John Souttar and Ben Davies in recent weeks have provoked discussions about who starts next to Connor Goldson when he returns from injury. Both were at fault in the recent Old Firm defeat and had shaky moments against St Mirren.

It’s telling, however, that Beale’s critique at the weekend did not focus single-handily on isolated moments but team-wide actions.

“Whenever this club has done well for the last few years, it's been because of the team effort when we're defending,” he added.

“We lost a big game last week to two errors that we could do better in and this week we let in two more goals through poor moments, it's not a good look on us as a team in terms of the work that we're doing. It's something that the staff pride themselves in, our defensive organisation and our pressing.”

It would be foolish to suggest that the form and ability of individual centre-back does not make a tangible difference to defensive solidity. And, following costly mistakes in the Old Firm, criticism is merited. If that game taught us anything it’s that these games are decided in both boxes.

But Beale’s admission that Rangers’ recent success has “been because of the team effort when we're defending” sums up his approach.

Defending for him, as it is for Klopp, is proactive and informs attacks. Therefore criticism of the defence must focus on the collective as well as the individual.