Fashion Sakala ended this season with 19 goal contributions in the league and 18 of those came following the arrival of Michael Beale.

On the final day against St Mirren, the Zambian scored two excellent goals. A new tactical approach from Beale, designed to maximise his vertical running from the left, helped catalyse two brilliant moves that originated out wide.

Sakala has his fair share of frustrating moments in blue and likely isn’t a player Beale will build his new Rangers around. Two glaring misses in both Old Firm cup encounters at Hampden can be pointed out in mitigation against those overarching numbers.

However, over the course of the second half of this season, it’s difficult to dispute that, in Beale’s words, he’s been a “hugely effective” player. So has he done enough to be part of the rebuild now underway ahead of next season?

Rather than arguing about the weaknesses in his game, it’s better to look at why Sakala has played so much under Beale. Because although the manager’s resources have been limited by injury ever since he took the job in November, the player who arrived at Ibrox in the summer of 2021 has been one of his favourites.

In the league under Beale, Sakala failed to start in just four of 23 league matches with only James Tavernier, John Lundstram and Ben Davies playing more minutes than the 26-year-old.

The reason for that? Sakala is something of a hybrid player with the ability to score and create, possessing a direct running ability no other forward at the club can boast. Although rough edges often frustrate, Sakala can point to a goal contribution number few in the squad match.

Last season, only Alfredo Morelos recorded a higher league goal contribution (goals and assists) average per 90 (0.73) than Sakala (0.68).

This season, only Antonio Colak has a higher league goal contribution (0.9) average than Sakala (0.89).

Note, neither of these stats includes penalties.

Over the past number of years, this side have had too many players capable box-to-box and not enough able to make a real difference in the final third domestically.

And while Sakala’s end product can vary wildly in quality, again with those aforementioned big misses in big moments against Celtic standing out, his return outside of those fixtures has been healthy.

“Fashion has had to play more as a striker where there’s more focus on him when he’s more of a wide player. He’s been hugely effective in my time here as well,” Beale explained post-match on Saturday.

“I had a meeting with the manager when he came in when he told me the role he wants me to play in the squad. It’s exactly what he said and that’s what has been happening. I think he has added value and confidence to me,” Sakala said back in February, having moved from a squad player to key member following change in the dugout late last year.

READ MORE: Michael Beale's new Rangers tactical plan that informs summer transfer window

Six of his 11 goals under Beale have come when Rangers have been drawing. Against Hearts in a 2-2 draw, the opener against Aberdeen in a 3-2 win, against St Mirren at the weekend, Dundee United at Tannadice, an early second-half goal against Motherwell at Fir Park and strike versus St Mirren at Ibrox last month.

And four of his six assists have come when Rangers haven’t been in the lead. Setting up a leveller for Morelos at Rugby Park and Ryan Kent in the new year Old Firm, as well as helping his side go ahead by assisting John Lundstram in Dingwall and Antonio Colak at Easter Road.

All this to show, his interventions have often come at important times – Sakala hasn’t been stat-packing in the final few minutes of games.

It’s this share between conversion and creation that will appeal to his manager.

Generally, the attacker is a more consistent creative outlet from the right and a stronger goal-threat on the left, when able to push inside on his stronger foot.

Take a look at his key passes and assists under Beale in the league this season.

In settled spells of possession, Sakala can move to the right and offer a one-v-one threat out wide, often cutting the ball back to the edge of the box. Hence that cluster activity towards the bottom right of the box.

Why does that matter? Take this clip from the recent Old Firm win. A pass into Lundstram only opens up because Celtic double up on the attacker, leaving space elsewhere. 

In transition, he can be an effective outlet down either side.

Whereas the large majority of Sakala’s goals have come from the left. Only three of 11 were struck from the right side of the box, one of which was his opener on Saturday which came off the back of a strong driving run from the left.


Beale, as he explained in a recent interview with the Sunday newspapers, wants his forwards, to be involved outside of the penalty box and active in various parts of the game.

“When we play in Europe or big games then every player must take part in every minute of the game. I like the forwards not to be one position but interchange and move around and have a lot of freedom," he said.

“Whenever we have done well in Europe, every player takes part in all aspects of the game and that is the big thing.

“We want energy, we want speed, we want personality.”

This helps to explain why he’s favoured the Zambian so frequently in recent months.

Sakala's range of pace, creativity and pure effect on the game's outcome has made him one of Beale's most important men since November. Now, it remains to be seen if he can carry that on after the summer.