Michael Beale is the man QPR want to take over as manager at Loftus Road.
Beale, 41, looks set to become the 57th full-time manager in the club’s history and be tasked with not only pushing the team towards the play-offs next season, after they fell out of contention in the final two months of the 2021/22 campaign, but also forging closer academy pathways towards the first team.
Like his predecessor Mark Warburton, Beale had an unremarkable playing career but one in coaching that is stepped in youth development, having held senior roles in the academies of both Chelsea and Liverpool.
That fitted the bill of what the QPR board wanted from their new manager.
Beale also spent eight months working in Brazil as an assistant coach at Sao Paolo before taking on his role as Steven Gerrard’s No.2 at Glasgow Rangers then Aston Villa.
Who is Michael Beale?
Injury hampered Beale’s own playing aspirations and he was released at 20 by Charlton, where he came through the same youth team as Scott Parker, Jermain Defoe and Paul Konchesky.
Scarred by what he experienced in the cut-throat world of the professional game, Beale turned his attentions to coaching after failing to pick up a club following his exit from The Valley.
It was while working as a futsal coach with young players at a church hall in Bromley that he came to the attention of Chelsea academy boss Neil Bath.
Bath brought Beale in to work initially with Chelsea’s Under-6 side, which contained the likes of Tammy Abraham, Dominic Solanke and Ovie Ejaria, and he went on to play significant roles in the development of many other players such as Mason Mount and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
After a decade at Chelsea, where he climbed the ranks to become an instrumental figure at the Blues’ much-vaunted academy, Beale was headhunted by Liverpool in 2014 having become disillusioned with lack of progress towards the first team for youngsters at Stamford Bridge.
At Liverpool he worked alongside Steve Cooper, now Nottingham Forest boss, Pep Guardiola’s current assistant at Manchester City Rodolfo Borrell, and Blackpool manager Neil Critchley.
Beale admitted in an interview two years ago that his time at Liverpool had a major influence on his approach to the game.
Unlike at Chelsea, where there was more of an arm’s length relationship between the first-team managers and the academy coaches, the approach of Anfield bosses Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp was more inclusive to those who worked outside of the first-team circle.
Beale has cited that seeing how Klopp operated at close quarters changed how he thought about the game with the German’s man-management of players and staff around the club something that opened his eyes.
“Over the course of my time at Liverpool, I realised something; I’d got there as a good coach but, really, it had very little to do with coaching,” Beale told The Coaches Voice website.
“It had more to do with how I managed people, whether they would take the message from me. How motivated I could get them.”
It was at Liverpool he first came into contact with Gerrard, who was cutting his coaching teeth with the club’s Under-18s team.
Having returned to Anfield from his eight-month stint in Brazil, Beale and the former Reds captain had a cordial but not particularly close relationship.
Beale has subsequently admitted it was a something of a surprise when Gerrard invited him to be his assistant when the job came up at Ibrox.
“We spoke for 30 minutes and it was probably the longest conversation we had in my whole time being around him. I asked him a few questions and liked what he said,” Beale said.
“It was exciting to help him in his first job. I made my decision the moment the conversation ended.”
Despite his glowing reputation from his work at two of the best club academies in Europe, Beale has previously stated his ambition from when he started out at Chelsea was to be a manager by the age of 40.
His work with the first-team squads at Rangers and Villa was highly regarded with former Ibrox players Kyle Lafferty, Andy Halliday and Greg Docherty – among those to publicly laud his talents as a coach.
Beale is also a published author who has written books on coaching, many of which are inspired by Dutch football in the 1970’s
With his former colleagues Cooper and Critchley impressing at Championship level since becoming managers, largely because of their ability to tap into the Premier League loan market, QPR will be hoping for similar from Beale.
But despite boasting such an impressive CV and reputation in the game, he has yet to prove himself as a manager and takes over a club with a demanding fan-base and expectations, but a low-end budget.
Whether he has what it takes to succeed where many others have failed remains to be seen.