While the master’s stock has fallen, the apprentice’s stock has risen.
It was said that Steven Gerrard and Michael Beale couldn’t live without each other.
But while Gerrard has struggled since his assistant left Aston Villa in the summer, Beale is thriving in his first senior management position at QPR.
After nearly a third of the campaign, the Rs are level with the top two Sheffield United and Norwich and dreaming of a return to the top.
QPR manager Michael Beale is thriving at the club appointed in the summer
The R’s are in third place in the championship but are on par with the top two
That’s despite QPR not even making the championship play-offs since they were relegated from the Premier League seven years ago.
So how did Beale turn things around on Loftus Road?
A LEAP OF FAITH
From the outside it looked like a gamble. Replacing the veteran Mark Warburton with a 42-year-old who had never played professional football and had only coached youth teams or worked as number two.
Likewise for Beale it seemed a risk to leave his relatively comfortable role with Gerrard in the Premier League to move to the Championship and take charge of a club that had had seven managers in as many years.
But as Beale told talkSPORT this week: “I didn’t see it as a gamble, I saw it as fulfilling a dream and an ambition to become a head coach. I’ve had 250 matches as an assistant, so I felt like I was too equipped for the job.”
Beale was previously Steven Gerrard’s assistant at both Rangers and Aston Villa
Aston Villa and Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez praised Beale’s coaching abilities
Ask any player at Rangers or Aston Villa, and they would have told you Beale was ready for the step up.
Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez once said: “It’s the first time in 14 to 15 years of my career that the assistant coach has spoken. He does all the training, he takes all the important meetings.
“He knows so much about football, it’s just incredible. With Michael we felt that he and Stevie G are both the managers.”
Beale overhauled QPR’s squad over the summer without spending a dime. He made seven new signings, all via free transfers or loans, while he sent 14 players from the roster last season.
Two major additions were at full back. Ethan Laird has impressed on Manchester United’s loan spell, while Dutch left-back Kenneth Paal proves to be a real find from PEC Zwolle.
Beale was also able to hold on to QPR’s key men, including forwards Chris Willock and Ilias Chair.
QPR’s selection is full of young talents such as Moroccan attacking midfielder Ilias Chair
Chris Willock also shines, with the former Arsenal youngster netting six times this season
“They had some players that really got me excited from a distance, that I almost felt like I could see some of my own ideas in the team,” Beale said. ‘In the end it is a young group and I am used to working with young player groups.’
That may be the case, but Beale also added experience in the form of 34-year-old centre-back Leon Balogun of his former club Rangers. In the four games he started, QPR kept three clean sheets.
LIKE LOOKING BRAZIL
After Warburton’s approach to security, QPR is much freer under Beale.
He ditched the back three from last year and switched to a 4-3-3 formation, as he started with Gerrard at Rangers and Villa.
Under his system, his frontline is thriving. Willock, who was injured at the end of last season, scored six goals in nine games.
Beale was Gerrard’s right-hand man on the coaching field when they worked together
However, Beale’s attacking philosophy shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, he started his coaching career by teaching kids how to play futsal – a South American game that uses a smaller, harder ball and emphasizes control and creativity.
He later moved to Brazil to become Rogerio Ceni’s assistant in Sao Paulo and he seems to have brought the samba influence to his work in West London.
“It would take me 15 to 20 years to become as good as Michael Beale as a coach on the pitch and give daily sessions,” Gerrard said on The Robbie Fowlers Podcast earlier this year.
“A lot of people will have no idea what Michael Beale is doing on the training ground, but what he does is really special.”
FEEL AT HOME
‘I AM a lad from London so I’m aware of QPR and what Loftus Road can be when it’s at its best,’ said Bromley-born Beale this week.
He even has family ties to the club, as their late former manager Ray Harford is a cousin of his grandmother.
“My grandmother lives in Kent and we are very close,” Beale told Sportsmail last summer. “When I told her I was coming to QPR, she said, ‘Raymond worked there, he will look down on you.'”
Beale has family ties to the club as their late former manager Ray Harford is a cousin of his grandmother as he also grew up in London
Manchester United mercenary Ethan Laird has impressed since moving to the club this summer
Well, things certainly look good for QPR now, but Beale doesn’t want to get carried away. He recalls how last season they were fourth until March before dropping out and finishing 11th.
Still, Beale is ambitious and won’t rest until he takes his old mentor Gerrard into the big league. As he told Sportsmail when he first took charge, “This is the challenge of getting to the Promised Land.”