The Genius Behind Gerrard: Who Is QPR's Potential New Manager Michael Beale?

The former Liverpool and Chelsea coach is set to take over at QPR this week.
13:00, 31 May 2022

Reports this morning have confirmed QPR’s advanced interest in Aston Villa assistant manager Michael Beale, with the Rs ‘close’ to confirming a deal with the 41-year-old.

Beale operates as the man behind the scenes at Villa Park, working closely with Steven Gerrard in Liverpool’s youth setup following the midfielder's retirement. 

Boasting a CV that is as intriguing as it is impressive, Beale began his career in football as a left winger in the youth ranks of Charlton Athletic, before attempting to continue his career at FC Twente. He called time on a playing career aged 20, but decided to continue on in the football industry as a coach. 

His dream was to become a football manager and his fascination with South American football saw him make his own futsal school, where he hired out a church hall and put on lessons to improve young talented footballers with the art of futsal. Being a coach for futsal meant that he was able to work on an individual basis and learn the skills required to create development on an individual basis. 

By mid-2002 and with half a year of experience into coaching, he was offered a part-time role at Chelsea, working with the same year groups he had with his futsal school. The ex-Charlton youth prospect continued to grow in his role at the Blues, managing at under-9s and under-7s level, working with future stars Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Dominic Solanke at the time. 

Beale worked with future stars like Mason Mount while at Chelsea
Beale worked with future stars like Mason Mount while at Chelsea

Beale arrived at Chelsea just in time for the takeover by the now-deposed Roman Abramovich, and so came the development of Chelsea’s renowned Cobham Training Facility and eight managers in Beale’s decade at the club. He worked under the likes of Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Guus Hiddink at the club, all managers with different ideologies but Chelsea’s youth ranks remained the same.

It wasn’t long until he confirmed his spot at another top Premier League side. Liverpool signed him as a new coach for their youth teams, and Beale couldn’t be happier to be involved in a club that prides itself on giving kids a chance. He abandoned the bright lights of the big city of London for the northern football hub of Liverpool, something that would help him further down the line. He operated as the U23s coach but spent a lot of his time monitoring the other teams on show at Melwood, including an under-14s side with Trent Alexander-Arnold in its ranks, who he made sure to note down as a potential first-team player in the future. 

To Michael Beale, coaching is much more than drills and tactics. A lot of his work within the two youth academies came down to making players comfortable in their surroundings, allowing them to flourish by pushing their boundaries. Examples of him making a connection with players included Beale and his assistant visiting players who had moved to the city alone and getting a Come Dine With Me experience as they cooked a three-course dinner for their coaches. 

In 2017, the next opportunity arose in the form of Brazil’s Sao Paulo when he was invited by Rodrigo Ceni to be his assistant coach. The pair took a course together in the UK and he was recommended to Ceni by Roberto Firmino and Lucas Leiva. The role only lasted seven months, after results didn’t favour Sao Paulo, and Beale returned to Liverpool with a wealth of experience and a new language in his repertoire. 

He didn’t remain in England for long. Gerrard had been offered the chance of managing Rangers and the former Liverpool captain discussed the opportunity with Beale over coffee, before inviting him to join him as his first-team coach. 

It was quick to see he would be a success in Scotland. Gerrard let Beale run the training sessions and the praise soon followed. Reserve team manager at the time Peter Lovenkrands remarked that he “actually wanted to take part in the training” to copy the sessions with his side, and former Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty, when speaking to Open Goal, said he was "the brains behind it all." 

Alongside the praise came Rangers’ first league title in 10 years and an unbeaten season where the Blues racked up 102 points. It wasn’t long until Gerrard and his staff would be scalped and in November 2021, Beale found himself at Villa Park as Gerrard’s assistant manager again.

Michael Beale
Michael Beale

It’s clear to see that a lot of the praise towards Gerrard can be attributed to Beale. The possession-based attacking 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 lineups were fundamental to success at both Villa and Rangers, with powerful strikers and versatile midfielders expected to share the attacking demands between them. 

The likes of Lyndon Dykes and Ilias Chair are sure to flourish as the pair continue their working relationship, but QPR will likely need to ramp-up their recruitment efforts to make sure this team is fit for purpose. 

It’s sure to be a test for Beale but success will put him among the best group of English managers in a generation. Eddie Howe, Graham Potter and Steve Cooper have all now reached the promised land of the Premier League, with Beale following in the footsteps of former coaches Kieran McKenna, Neil Critchley and Neil Wood in becoming the latest to take up a berth as an up-and-coming head coach.

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