Rangers manager admits to ‘throwing toys out of pram’ in Sao Paolo

But enough about Saturday’s derby, what has Michael Beale learned from his short but eventful stint in South America? One who expected the unexpected. And two, most importantly, never knock out an attacking player, under any circumstances.

The current Rangers manager had never had any first-team football experience when he accepted an offer to work under Brazilian legend Rogerio Ceni in Sao Paolo and, until then, in his role as academy manager in the quieter corners of Liverpool visited the training base. From Melwood to the Morumbi and its 67,000 capacity, you can never fault Beale for refusing to step out of his comfort zone.

It was only supposed to last six months, but the memories will last a lifetime.

“My big memory from that time was when we played Santos away,” Beale recalled. It was the day my family arrived in Brazil and Pelé played so much of his legendary football in Santos.

“It’s also a legendary club and we won 3-1. That was a particularly good day. It was February 15, 2017. My first game was actually in Tampa Bay against River Plate.

“You’re English. You’re with Sao Paulo and you play River Plate. It’s a bit unique. Three days later we played Corinthians in Florida.

“There was a mass brawl and three players were sent off in the first seven minutes. Passion is everywhere, not just here in Glasgow.

“At my first home game, 25,000 fans were waiting for us. Coming from academy football so it was an eye opener for me.

“And it was similar to the scenes I saw in Glasgow. For me it was a fantastic experience. Learn another culture. I mean you can’t do a reverse sub for example.

“If you’re three to zero and you take off the No. 10, they moan like hell. It’s all about scoring and being creative and it’s a nice way to look at the game.”

Beale was a longtime supporter of South American football, but it undoubtedly remains a serious culture shock when watching from across the world means it’s lived every day. That he handed in his retirement after less than a year points to an experience he doesn’t like to look back on, but that couldn’t be further from the matter.

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With a rueful smile, he admits he may have “thrown his toys out of the stroller” over decisions made over his head to monetize some of his favorites. Rogerio followed him out the door a week later, and Beale made a brief return to Liverpool before the call from Steven Gerrard and Ibrox arrived.

The 42-year-old firmly believes he’s a better coach because he’s tried something completely different.

“It was the first time I’d worked regularly at the first level of the team,” Beale said. “I had worked at two major academies in Chelsea and Liverpool for 15 years. There was obviously a lot of structure in there.

“But you go to South America and the clubs are not owned. You are elected, it is very similar to the Barcelona model.

“The clubs are considered amateurs when they are not and that is just because of how they vote for a president. They realize that clubs have to sell, so there was a lot of top young talent.

“Eder Militao came out of the academy and came to Porto. He’s obviously at Real Madrid now. There are many others out there playing, so it was a very special time for me.

“I probably threw my toys out of the stroller because we sold a player or two that I really enjoyed working with. I resigned. A week later the manager left, but he’s back to work there now.

“Rogerio Ceni is very famous in Brazil, similar to Steven (Gerrard). He played for a club for 20 years. He went away and won the league with Flamengo and now he’s back in Sao Paulo.

“It was a wonderful experience and I think it encouraged me.”

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A feature of Brazilian football that has since followed it to the west coast of Scotland is the away team’s lockout, which is currently a bitter bone of contention between Rangers and Celtic. Safety concerns were raised when the decision to keep traveling fans away was announced last month, but the main factor is a disagreement between the two clubs. In Brazil, however, it was all about avoiding pure chaos.

“It affects that because it’s very hostile when you leave,” Beale said. “I think the referees are under a lot of pressure. Even having a few fans is better than none I would say.

“But in Brazil there were reasons for that. Before I went there, there was a lot of crowd violence at the Sao Paulo derbies.

“There was a game when Santos and Sao Paulo parked the buses and a Santos player sat next to a Sao Paulo player. They drove in together.

“I don’t see that happening anywhere else in the world. You would always prefer a few fans, even if it was just a small crowd.

“I just think it adds to the flavor of the game and in turn the pressure it puts on the referee when a large crowd is in favor of a team.”

Did Beale immediately reminisce and hint at what awaits his team at Celtic Park on Saturday? I couldn’t possibly speculate. His Rangers side will play Celtic three times before the end of the season and while the likelihood of reining in Ange Postecoglou’s leaders fades after the games are over, the encounters carry greater significance ahead of Beale’s first full season in charge.

Knocking Celtic out of the Scottish Cup would tell Rangers’ increasingly dominant rivals that they can’t have everything they want on the domestic scene and taking points from them in the league could only open their way to the title feel like less of a formality.

Beale has been unbeaten in the Premiership since taking office in November but to assuage the frustration of Rangers fans, Glasgow football’s all-or-nothing nature has forced Celtic to lose ground. Her steadfast refusal to do so means Beale stays right where he started in terms of the title. Internally, however, he insists progress is being made every day.

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“I have to take every game as it comes,” he said. “The three games [against Celtic] will be different. From no away fans to a 50-50 split at Hampden. That will make a difference in everything.

“It’s been a long time for us as a team since I came in. The last time we lost in the league was the first week of November.

“We are now in April. It’s been a long time, 20 weeks in good form in the league.

“We just have to keep repeating it. I don’t care if we don’t get praise from the outside, I need to see the progress on the inside.

“I’ll judge us at the next game, but listen, I know this group will be completely different in 11 games. But I can’t deal with preseason until this season is over.”

https://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/23435105.rangers-manager-beale-lifts-lid-eye-opening-spell-sao-paolo/?ref=rss Rangers manager admits to ‘throwing toys out of pram’ in Sao Paolo

Russell Falcon

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