The judges, juries and executioners were all present for Michael Beale in the wake of Rangers’ Old Firm defeat.
The Ibrox boss was placed on death row by his own support and the last meal menu was nailed to the wall in his cell. But now? Perhaps Beale has earned some right to an appeal. Beating Real Betis in the Europa League on Thursday has finally given the boss a bit of breathing space.
Not much though. When managers are given notice for the Green Mile, it takes a heck of a lot of digging to get out of this Shawshank and find redemption. Thursday night was a start though. Beale – and his new-look side – needed that one. Finally, it felt like a meaningful game was negotiated successfully.
As usual, the sideline snipers will try to dismiss the win by suggesting Betis were bang average. But Beale – and his club’s punters – should take no notice. Any team finishing sixth in La Liga last term is firmly in the no mugs section of European football and this kind of victory should be used as a turbo boost to confidence.
Beale hasn’t escaped just yet though. The problem with Death Row is you need to crawl out rather than run. And it’s time for Rangers to get shuffling. Their Europa League group is a land of opportunity, especially with a win already in the bag, and they should get to the knockout stages.
Europe is not going to be the courtroom though. Rangers need to make their case on the home front. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest life may get easier in the coming weeks. Celtic may have won at Ibrox but they have issues of their own and a tough run of fixtures including trips to Motherwell, Hearts and Hibs.
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