Michael Beale has been appointed the new head coach of Championship side Sunderland after the Black Cats sacked Tony Mowbray earlier this month.
Here we look at what the former Rangers boss may bring to the Stadium of Light and analyse their prospects for the remainder of the season.
Michael Beale was born on 4th September 1980 and turned to football coaching after failing to make the grade as a player at Charlton, FC Twente in the Netherlands and a number of clubs based in the USA.
Here is his managerial record:
|1st June 2022 - 7th November 2022
|8th November 2022 - 2nd October 2023
Beale joined the Chelsea academy as an assistant coach for their under-7s and under-9s teams in 2002 before becoming frustrated by the lack of progress young players were making at the club as Roman Abramovich spent big after buying the London outfit in 2003.
But by then Beale’s reputation was enough to earn him a job at Liverpool’s academy, where he rose up the ranks and coached the under-21s while Steven Gerrard was in charge of the club’s under-18s team.
Beale coached for a short time in Brazil but returned to Melwood and when Gerrard was offered the opportunity to take the manager’s job at Rangers, he accompanied the former England midfielder as one of his assistants.
The Gers won the Scottish title and Beale moved again with Gerrard to Aston Villa before being provided the opportunity of his first managerial job at QPR.
He was in London for just five months before returning to Ibrox as Giovanni van Bronckhorst's successor. Just weeks prior, he said he was not prepared to leave QPR after being approached by Wolves.
Beale won the Scottish League Cup in his time at the Rangers helm, but he was sacked in October after three defeats in their opening seven Scottish Premiership matches.
Beale’s football philosophy is centered on strong defensive organisation which should allow his team to enjoy more of the ball and then look to be proactive in the final third.
The priority is to ensure that being in the right place should ensure a lack of headless-chicken running around in search of the ball, preserving energy to utilise in attacking areas. In his own words, he looks for his team to ‘own the game.’
When possession is gained, his teams will look to push forward at pace and another pivotal feature will be putting as much pressure as possible on their opponents when they are looking to bring the ball out from the back.
Winning the ball high up the pitch is seen as key to success and rather than rely on individual talent, there will be a strong emphasis on the collective effort, so it may take time for his ideas to come to the fore at Sunderland.
Nevertheless, Beale has beem recognised as a talented coach who was key to Gerrard’s success at Ibrox and now he has a contract for three years at the Stadium of Light, he should relish the opportunity to develop his ideas.
What helps Beale as he takes the Black Cats helm is that the sacking of his predecessor Mowbray was a bit of a surprise and the team are not doing too badly.
The team have won four of their last five home matches and are seventh in the Championship, which leaves them firmly in the hunt for a play-off place.
Sunderland are 14/1 to gain promotion this season and to finish in the top six.
That race is likely to become intense, particularly if the top two Leicester and Ipswich continue to pull away, and for Sunderland to make sure they can extend their season, they have to get their house in order when they are out on the road.
They won successive matches at QPR, Blackburn Rovers and Sheffield Wednesday in September, but the Mackems have not tasted victory in six away games and have scored just twice in that dismal run, so Beale will have to get a grip on that situation immediately.
There are big pluses though as former Leeds midfielder Jack Clarke - a 10/1 shot to be the Championship’s top goalscorer - has already eclipsed his total of nine goals last season, while there are high hopes that teenager Jobe Bellingham, the brother of Real Madrid star Jude, can continue his progress following his winning goal in the 1-0 win over Leeds.
A young, receptive squad could invest in Beale’s ideas and the new head coach will relish the chance to prove himself after a disappointing stint in Glasgow.
The potential has been recognised and now he has to show that he can make the next step.
Any odds displayed were correct at the time of writing and are subject to fluctuation.