Queens Park Rangers’ Head Coach Michael Beale is hot property right now and it’s not difficult to see why.
With the Rs sitting second in the Championship after their ninth win of the season against Wigan last weekend, it’s fair to say that Beale’s stock has risen significantly in recent months.
As a result, he has recently been linked with two Premier League jobs in the space of just seven days, despite having only become a boss in his own right this summer.
Firstly, Wolves made a shock bid to bring him in as a replacement for the sacked Bruno Lage – a role he ultimately turned down – but the links to a Premier League job did not stop there.
And, as Steven Gerrard was sacked by Aston Villa last week, Beale was mentioned as a possible successor to his former boss less than six months after departing the Villans’ backroom staff.
However, the 42-year-old quickly moved to shut down those claims stating: “I gave my commitment here the other day. There’s certainly no interest on my part.”
Little wonder then that R’s fans are pretty happy with life at Loftus Road at the moment.
“The mood at Loftus Road at the moment is fantastic,” Ben from W12 Podcast tells FansBet.
“I’ve got to say, and I’m touching wood here, it’s as good a feeling as it’s been since Neil Warnock’s 2010 promotion side.
“We all feel like, so far, there hasn’t been a team to fear and that is reflected in the table.
“At home, I’d fancy QPR against anyone and away, with our fullbacks and attacking options, we have found ways to get results.
“However, I will say that we’ve been here before and it’s all gone terribly wrong, so we have our feet still firmly on the ground.”
Beale was announced as the new Queens Park Rangers manager at the end of last season – his first managerial position.
Before that, the 41-year-old was a part of Gerrard’s backroom team at both Rangers and Villa – helping to deliver the Ibrox side’s first SPL title in a decade.
But he opted to take on the challenge at Loftus Road as he looks to forge a name for himself as a manager in his own right and so far that decision appears to have been justified.
“I think Beale has all the pieces of the puzzle to give us a real promotion push,” explains Ben.
“He started this, brought in the players, staff and set a culture, so to jump ship after 13 or 14 games would have been hard to do.
“Timing was key here though, the offer came too early, which is to our benefit. He has an amazing self believe in his ability and I don’t think these will be the last clubs linked to him this season.
“I honestly can’t speak highly enough of him in his first 16 games – his communication to fans and the way he articulates and expresses himself has been exceptional.
“He hasn’t been afraid to call out players, give honest assessments and isn’t one to give the same waffle in every post match interview – which I hear every week from some managers.
“This approach is also one he clearly has with his players and him starting like that from the go breeds transparency.”
Despite being one of the quieter sides in the division over the summer – QPR made only eight signings, four of which on permanent deals and none for a fee – Ben has lauded the Beale’s impact on the recruitment.
“On the pitch, he’s brought in a few key players who have been instrumental in our start.
“Leon Balogun, who was playing in a European semi-final in May, has been a colossal figure this season while Ethan Laird, Kenneth Paal and Tyler Roberts have all been very good too.
“One other key call out is that he still learning and, while he will get stuff wrong here and there, he seems to learn quickly to ensure we aren’t seeing the same mistakes over and over.
“Sometimes when you have an older manager they are set in their ways – which can become very one dimensional.”
Beale replaced the outgoing Mark Warburton, whose contract was not renewed in the summer after a three year stint at the club.
After arriving in May 2019, Warburton guided the West Londoners to 13th, ninth and 11th place finishes as he established the club as steady Championship outfit.
Rangers were on the fringes of automatic promotion by the turn of this year but fell out of contention after a miserable run of three wins from 17 matches – eventually finishing nine points below sixth-placed Luton Town.
And Ben feels the difference between Warburton’s approach and his successor’s is there for all to see.
“The first thing Beale has done is to resolve all the struggles that Warburton faced last season,” he says.
“Our fullbacks this season are playing every week and are excellent, while he has reinvigorated Stefan Johansen and Sam Field.
“Both have found real form and he has found a way to win without Chris Willock – who has missed as much as he has played this season.
“We have moved away from 5-3-2 to a 4-3-3, which has seen huge rewards and got the best out of key players.
“None more so than Ilias Chair, who is apparently called the “manager’s son” because of how close they are.
“Beale’s in-game management is, so far, a million miles away from Warburton as substitutions are made which aren’t so obvious but have worked and we have gone on to win the game.”
A 2-1 win over Wigan last time out was their fifth win in six games and sees them sitting top of the Championship table with just over a third of the campaign completed.
This is now QPR’s eighth season in English football’s second tier, having been relegated in 2015 after just one year in the top flight.
But after such an impressive start, how confident are Rangers fans that they can finally climb back into the Premier League?
“So far, the league has been kind and it doesn’t look like there are going to be any pace-setters as everyone is beating everyone,” claims Ben.
“Having said that, we have been very good in 75 percent of our games so far and, apart from a terrible afternoon against Luton, been a goal away from getting something from the few games we have lost.
“When you look at our squad, I think we have the best ‘keeper in Seny Dieng while I wouldn’t swap our fullbacks or centre backs for anyone.
“A fit and firing Stefan Johansen is as good as any midfielder in this division and, along side him, Sam Field is someone you’d want with you in a war.
“We also have, and this isn’t biased, the best number 10s in the league with Ilias Chair and Chris Willock.
“So a top-six finish is more than achievable for this manager and squad and if we can stay away from injuries, keep key players in form and get Chris Willock back as soon as possible, who knows?”
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