By Daniel Lewis

15th Sep, 2023 | 2:10pm

'Top coach' Michael Beale defended by former Rangers player ahead of crunch St Johnstone clash

St Johnstone manager Steven MacLean has described Rangers this season as a “work in progress” and believes Michael Beale needs time to turn things around.

MacLean, who made four appearances for the Gers at the start of his playing career, has the chance to pile even more pressure on Beale when the sides meet at McDiarmid Park on Saturday [16 September].

Beale has struggled to settle on a favoured formation and line-up this season, which MacLean feels is the key to resolving the Light Blues’ disappointing form.

“They lost against Celtic and a game at Kilmarnock on the astro [turf], which is a very different first game for some of their players who wouldn’t have played on that in their life,” he is quoted as saying by the Daily Record [15 September].

“Rangers have been different this season – different players, different shape, at times – and there’s been a lot of good things.

“They cause teams problems. You can see his team is really well coached. He’s a top coach, a top manager. He’s just got a new group together and is bedding in his ideas with them.

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“It’s a work in progress. He’s probably chopping and changing and probably not sure of his best team yet either.”

Must-win game

Even the most ardent of Beale’s critics will accept he is a good coach, but the Englishman now has to show he is also a good manager – and there is a difference – by picking up some wins.

On the back of defeats to Kilmarnock and Celtic in the opening four Scottish Premiership games, as well as a crushing loss to PSV in the Champions League qualifiers, many will be surprised Beale is even still in a job.

But with Graham Potter supposedly turning down the Gers’ advances [The Sun], he has a second chance of sorts to prove he is capable of turning things around.

Another defeat this weekend, and probably even a draw, and that will surely spell the end for Beale, even if a replacement has not already been lined up.

As MacLean pointed out, Beale now has to find a starting line-up he is happy with. That is not to say changes cannot be made between matches, but a preferred XI for the big games – and this is very much a big game – is needed.

With this the first of seven games in the space of just 19 days, you get the sense Beale’s future will become a lot clearer one way or the other very soon.

In other Rangers news, another former Gers player has offered Beale some advice.