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 acts as the man behind the scenes at Villa Park, working closely with Steven Gerrard in Liverpool’s youth line-up following the midfielder’s retirement.
With a CV as fascinating as it is impressive, Beale began his football career as a left winger in the youth ranks at Charlton Athletic before attempting to pursue his career at FC Twente. At 20, he ended his career as a player but decided to continue as a coach in the football industry.
His dream was to be a football manager and his fascination with South American football led him to set up his own futsal school, where he rented a community hall and gave classes to improve young talented footballers in the art of futsal. As a futsal coach he was able to work individually and acquire the skills needed to develop as an individual.
In mid-2002 and after half a year’s experience as a coach, he was offered a part-time job at Chelsea, where he worked with the same cohorts as his futsal school. The ex-Charlton youngster continued to grow in his role with the Blues, managing at U9 and U7 levels and at the time working alongside future stars Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Dominic Solanke.
Beale worked alongside future stars like Mason Mount at Chelsea
Beale arrived at Chelsea just in time for the now-defunct Roman Abramovich to take over, and so came the development of Chelsea’s renowned Cobham Training Facility and eight managers in Beale’s ten-year tenure 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 before he confirmed his place with another top Premier League team. Liverpool signed him as the new coach for their youth teams and Beale couldn’t be happier to be involved with a club that prides itself on giving children a chance. He left the bright lights of the big city of London for the northern football center of Liverpool, something that would later serve him well. He acted as Under-23s coach but spent a lot of time watching the other teams that featured at Melwood, including an Under-14 side that included Trent Alexander-Arnold in their ranks, which he was eager to note as a potential first-team player in the future.
For Michael Beale, coaching is much more than exercises and tactics. Much of his work at the two youth academies was to help players feel comfortable in their surroundings and allow them to thrive by pushing their limits. Examples of how he connected with players were Beale and his assistant visiting players who had moved to town alone and having a Come Dine With Me experience as they made a three course meal for their coaches cooked.
2017 saw the next opportunity in the form of Brazilian Sao Paulo when he was invited by Rodrigo Ceni to be his assistant coach. The couple took a course together in the UK and he was recommended to Ceni by Roberto Firmino and Lucas Leiva. The role lasted just seven months after results failed to favor Sao Paulo, and Beale returned to Liverpool with a wealth of experience and new language in his repertoire.
He didn’t stay long in England. Gerrard was offered the chance to manage Rangers and the former Liverpool captain discussed the opportunity with Beale over coffee before inviting him to join him as manager of his first-team.
It quickly became clear that he would be a success in Scotland. Gerrard had Beale in charge of the training sessions and the praise soon followed. Then-reserve manager Peter Lovenkrands noted that he “actually wanted to attend training” to copy sessions with his side, and former Rangers forward Kyle Lafferty told Open Goal he was ” the head behind it”. Everyone.”
Alongside the praise came Rangers’ first league title in 10 years and an unbeaten season in which the Blues accumulated 102 points. It wasn’t long before Gerrard and his staff were scalped, and in November 2021 Beale found himself back at Villa Park as Gerrard’s assistant manager.
It’s clear to see that much of the praise for Gerrard Beale can be attributed. Possession-based 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 attacking formations have been fundamental to success at both Villa and Rangers, with strong forwards and versatile midfielders expected to deliver the share offensive demands between them.
The likes of Lyndon Dykes and Ilias Chair will certainly thrive as the two continue their working relationship, but QPR will likely need to ramp up its recruiting efforts to ensure this team serves its purpose.
It will certainly be a test for Beale, but success will propel him into one of the best English managers of 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, and the youngest to take up a post as up-and-coming head coach.