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Who is Michael Beale? The ex-Chelsea and Liverpool coach playing a key role in Gerrard's managerial career

08:07 GMT 05/12/2021
Gary McAllister Steven Gerrard Michael Beale Rangers
The new Aston Villa boss is delighted to have Beale in his backroom team as he admits that it would take him years to reach his assistant's level

Alongside Aston Villa's glossy website announcement that they had hired Steven Gerrard to replace Dean Smith as manager was a much smaller note.

In a 42-word statement, they revealed five members of staff would join the former Rangers boss in Birmingham, including Scotland legend Gary McAllister and the lesser-known Michael Beale.

Both assistants had met former Liverpool captain Gerrard at Anfield when he was completing his coaching badges at the tail end of a trophy-laden spell at his boyhood club.

Having previously represented the Reds between 2000 and 2002, even regularly playing alongside Gerrard in midfield, McAllister returned to the club as a first-team coach under Brendan Rodgers.

Meanwhile, Beale, who had taken up coaching after being forced to cut short his playing career at just 21, ran a number of academy teams at Liverpool, becoming one of the key figures in the production of talented youngsters such as Trent Alexander-Arnold.

After bringing an end to his playing days at LA Galaxy, Gerrard was then guided by Beale as he took his first steps in coaching at Liverpool, where he took charge of the club's Under-18s.

As one of the finest players of his generation, Gerrard already had an excellent understanding of the game and everything that comes with it, in terms of dressing-room politics and media work.

However, in Beale he saw a tactical brain that could help him immensely on the training pitch.

"What I’ll never do is try to do someone else’s job when they are better than me at doing it," the admirably humble Gerrard has previously stated.

“It would take me 15-20 years to become as good as Michael Beale as an on-pitch coach, delivering sessions daily, so I let Mick be Mick because he’s the expert.”

Having idolised both Netherlands icon Johan Cruyff and the well-travelled former Barcelona coach Sir Bobby Robson, Beale began his coaching career looking away from English football for inspiration and he started out in the late-90s giving futsal lessons to kids in Bromley.

His beginnings may have been humble but his work caught the attention of Chelsea academy boss Neil Bath.

Beale excelled at Cobham, helping to turn the likes of Mason Mount, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek into first-team players as he worked his way up the coaching ladder.

He still remains close to Mount and indeed Declan Rice, who came through the youth-team ranks at Chelsea.

Both players continue to pick Beale's brain at regular intervals, which only serves to underline how highly his sensitive and stimulating approach to developing players is respected within the game.

"People think coaching is just when you get out on the grass but it is actually how you manage people every day, how you make them feel, how you open their minds to the realities of life," Beale told GOAL in July.

"Everyone's pathway is unique, so I believe it is about you versus yourself. I like to promote that mentality to them, that life is about impressing yourself."

In an era before academy players were given first-team opportunities at Chelsea, Beale grew frustrated and decided to leave for Liverpool after a chance meeting with the Reds' academy director Alex Inglethorpe while on holiday.

The Merseysiders offered him the chance to work with Pep Guardiola's current assistant, Rodolfo Borrell, and Steve Cooper, who is now Nottingham Forest's boss, thus allowing Beale to further his own coaching education.

"The first-team influence I got at Chelsea, dripping down from Mourinho’s and Ancelotti’s people, was good, but I was closer to Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp as the reserve team manager at Liverpool," he told GOAL.

It was at Anfield as Under-23s coach that he got a first-hand look at Klopp's thrilling take on counter-pressing, the very modern approach which was revolutionising the game.

At Melwood, Beale also met Brazil's legendary goalscoring goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni, who had embarked on a European tour as he prepared to make his own move into management, and he ended up leaving Liverpool, just as Gerrard was returning, to become an assistant coach at Sao Paulo.

Beale returned a year later, though, and then travelled north to Scotland, after Gerrard was given the Rangers job in 2018.

The pair knew each out professionally but hadn't been that close. Gerrard, though, needed little time to persuade Beale to join him 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 explained.

"It was exciting to help him in his first job. I made my decision the moment the conversation ended.

"I told him I would ask my family first and tell him the next day but I was trying to pretend to be cool, trying to look like I had to think about it!"

It may have been a hasty decision but it was certainly the right one.

Gerrard, Beale and McAllister combined brilliantly in Glasgow as Rangers denied city rivals Celtic a 10th consecutive title last season with a club-record 102 points.

Now, they are all back in the Premier League, at Aston Villa, planning to reawaken a sleeping giant. With Beale on board, you wouldn't rule it out.