⭐️ ⭐️— Roker Report (@RokerReport) December 1, 2023
WE ARE OFF AND RUNNING! Can you help us to help feed the most hungry and vulnerable people in Sunderland this December?
DONATE TODAY: https://t.co/6avG1Vl9DR
RETWEET THIS POST!#SoupKitchen23 // #SAFC ❤️
So - Michael Beale looks set to become the new Head Coach of Sunderland. What was your initial reaction when you saw the news?
I’m not surprised. One of the other candidates for the QPR job last summer, when he heard Beale had been interviewed for it, told a friend of a friend “well, I won’t be getting that one then.” Beale’s ridiculously confident in his own ability, he’s got miles of chat, and once he gets you in the room he can basically talk you into anything. QPR, execs and players alike, were absolutely wowed by him initially.
Sunderland have a young and ambitious owner, they’ve got a very young team with a development model, Beale’s record at academy level and self-assuredness meant he was always going to be able to sell himself as the man for that job and as soon as I heard he was being interviewed I knew he’d get it. Whether it’s all chat and bravado, or he is actually well suited to this, we’ll find out in time I guess.
From afar it appears he was doing a decent enough job at QPR. I remember in the game at the SOL when your keeper scored that you were right at the top end of the table - so from that perspective and going back to that time, what was he doing right?
Well, it’s interesting. That game at The Stadium of Light is an excellent test case because I thought for 88 minutes there we were complete crap, distinctly second best, easily beaten, and we ended up escaping with our first goal from a direct free kick since the Cretaceous Period, and the first goal from a goalkeeper in the history of the club. That was part of an August in which we won one game, and messed up at home against Blackpool and Rotherham. In his last five games at QPR we scored one goal and took one point and, again, there were games in there (Coventry A, West Brom H) where we total garbage.
In between, we had an amazing September and October where we stuck eight wins on the board and topped the table briefly. Amongst that, at Millwall, Bristol City and Sheff Utd in particular, were some of the best QPR performances in recent times. We absolutely took Cardiff apart at ours. There were, however, some freaky events. Long range goals from the likes of Chair and Willock, odd refereeing decisions in our favour (Cardiff had a penalty and a red card awarded against them in the first half and it wasn’t even a foul).
The season subsequently crashed and burned to such an extent that everybody pined for the great times under Mick Beale, but they forget that the start and end of his brief time with us was poor, the players he brought in during the summer almost all became massive problem children for us, and things had already started to go badly awry before he left. Even when it was going well the xG evangelists were saying it would never last to that extent because you don’t score from 30 yards every week even if you do have Willock and Chair to pick from.
He’s either a miracle worker that got one of the worst QPR teams we’ve ever seen to the top of the league, or a charlatan who was responsible for putting that dreadful group together and got really lucky that all of them hit form and fitness at the same time early in the season. Obviously he wasn’t here long enough for us to be able to tell which it was, but his subsequent spell finishing third in a two-horse race in Scotland might be instructive.
It wasn’t long after that he was linked with the job at Wolves - it seemed to turn his head. What actually happened?
What Mick would like you to believe is that Premier League Jorge Mendes FC decided, completely of their own volition and without prompting, that Mick Beale was going to be their new manager despite his career as a number one, at this point, consisting of a dozen Championship games with Queens Park Rangers.
They did this without ever speaking to his agent or representative, who he does not have, nor interviewing Mick personally, and were somehow still so confident he was their man that they went around briefing journalists at The Athletic, Telegraph etc that it was all done and dusted and they were just waiting for our midweek game with Cardiff to finish before getting it all tied up in time for their weekend game with Leicester. When an official approach followed, Mick turned them down immediately because he felt it was the right and honourable thing to do for the club that gave him his managerial break, and important to do without meeting them because how would it look if he’d asked everybody to buy into his QPR project if he was the first to jump ship? He hadn’t, however, felt the need to communicate this steadfast desire to stay with QPR and turn Wolves down at any point during a fevered week of speculation, despite suggestions from the QPR media team that it might help, because… well just because. And if you believe any of that then please take a friend with you when you go to buy a used car.
Jacqui Oatley and other Wolves-based media report that he met with the club twice (there’s that ‘getting them in the room’ thing again). We understand it wasn’t the first club he’d done so with either, despite him only being at QPR a few months. Ultimately he turned them down either because QPR were completely out of hand and top of the league at that stage and he thought he had a chance of getting a promotion to the Prem on his CV, or more likely his mate Ross Wilson up at Ibrox had tipped him the nod Giovanni Van Bronckhorst was on his last legs and the Rangers job would be coming up shortly. QPR fans took a flag with his face on saying “loyalty will always be rewarded” to a Friday night defeat against Birmingham, and the day after that he Instagrammed his big day out in the director’s box at Ibrox – “showing support to Gio and the boys”.
I thought he might have wanted to maybe go and watch one of the teams we had coming up, but I’m hopelessly idealistic like that.
He then ended up at Rangers in Scotland and I can remember your fans weren’t overly pleased by the way he conducted himself - why was that?
I think QPR fans are fairly well aware of our place in the modern footballing world, much as it pains those of us who remember us being fifth in the Premier League and getting top cup finals in the 80s and what have you. We’ve largely been left behind by the modern sport, mainly through our own incompetence and poor decisions over the years.
If we have a player (Ebere Eze, Charlie Austin) doing bits here we know he’s going to attract interest and will want to further his career somewhere else. In fact, the way FFP is for non-parachute payment clubs, we need that to happen quite regularly to finance our squad building. Eze is loved and revered at Loftus Road still, even though he’s playing for Palace, and when Austin scored on his Southampton debut at Man Utd the Crown and Sceptre went nuts.
We obviously take the piss out of the four fixtures a year with Ross County, and oh my God if we miss the 12 noon Old Firm derby we might have to wait until the 12.15 Old Firm derby, but Rangers are a big club with enormous support and European football. If Beale had stayed and lost another three or four games on top of the five he’d already bollocksed up we’d probably have been talking about sacking him anyway. But there are ways of going about these things.
To come out and give it all that chat about “loyalty and integrity”, trotting out fanciful lines about how he’d felt it important to turn Wolves down without even meeting them, and then walk out a month later anyway… Well, how would you guys have taken it?
In terms of style of play, what can we expect?
I actually think it could potentially be a good fit, annoyingly. You’ve got the sort of players who would fit really well into the style that was working briefly when we were doing well last September and October. I’ve seen a good deal of angst from your fans online and I understand that, but I begrudgingly do wonder whether this could go pretty well.
He’s got it all laid out for him there, the base work has been done, it’s annoying to see him fall on his feet like this to be honest. He likes the ball on the deck, he likes to attack, it’s always a back four, it’s usually 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. Nothing revolutionary but attractive enough. Not at all dissimilar from what you’ve already been playing when I’ve seen you.
Some harbingers of doom to watch out for…
- Do not let him anywhere near the recruitment. He basically came into QPR and insisted on bringing all his own boys in, lumbered us with a crock of injury prone shite, all of whom he’d very conveniently worked with before, and they all downed tools the moment he left. If he’s lucky enough to get another big job like this, he should be doing so under the proviso he works with the players he’s given.
- Players arriving with great long stories about how he first coached them when they were eight-years-old, or went to school with their mum, or attended their Christening, or knows from the local youth club or some such horse shit.
- Leon Balogun. If that guy shows up, turn off all the lights, close all the curtains, hunker down low and pretend Sunderland FC never even existed, until he fucks off far enough away for it to be deemed safe for you all to come out again. Like planting your garden up with Japanese knot weed.
- “Set piece coach Harry Watling”. Not a conspicuous success, Seny Dieng equalisers not withstanding.
What’s he like as a character?
He’s basically this generation’s Harry Redknapp.
For the Sunderland fans reading this who might not be sure about this appointment, what would you say to them?
Don’t get too attached.