THE appointment of Arrigo Sacchi, a former shoe salesman who had never played football at a professional level, as AC Milan manager in 1987 did not go down particularly well with many of their fans or members of the media at the time.

The persistent questions about his credibility and suitability for such a high-profile job during his early days at the San Siro prompted the Italian to utter an immortal line. "I never realised that in order to become a jockey you have to have been a horse first,” he said.

Sacchi would go on to prove his detractors wrong in spectacular fashion; he won the Serie A title in his debut season, masterminded back-to-back European Cup triumphs in the following two campaigns and is today regarded as one of the greatest coaches of all-time.

The success that Sacchi and others exactly like him – and Roy Hodgson, Gerard Houllier, Carlos Alberta Parriera, Guy Roux and his legendary predecessor Bill Struth all had identical backgrounds – have enjoyed is an inspiration to Michael Beale.

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The Rangers manager was unable to make the grade in the paid ranks as a youngster during spells with Charlton Athletic in his native England, Twente in the Netherlands and clubs in the United States. He decided to hang up his boots and don a tracksuit when he was just 21.

But whenever anyone has a dig about his underwhelming playing days  – and former Celtic striker turned pundit Chris Sutton, who he had branded “the worst Chelsea player ever”, this week stated that he had been unable to find out anything about them after typing his name into Google this week – he is unaffected.

Beale believes he is well placed to lead the Ibrox club into battle against their Parkhead rivals in the Viaplay Cup final at Hampden tomorrow afternoon precisely because he has spent so many years working with footballers on the training ground and overseeing matches from the technical area.

“I’ve experienced a lot,” he said. “I’ve been around a lot of very, very good managers and a lot of very, very good players. It is the clarity of your work over a number of days, months and years that enables your team to perform.

“It (the level a manager played at) is generally raised by ex-professionals. But there are a number of excellent coaches who have not had the most distinguished playing careers. It’s hard for an ex-player to come straight from hanging up his boots to having all the tools to be a world class manager.

“Listen, there was a famous quote from Arrigo Sacchi. He said that he never realised that to become a jockey you had have to have been a horse first. Coaching and playing are two different things. 

“Being able to execute something is different to being able to describe to someone how to do it. I have done a hell of a lot of studying to get to this position here. It’s a very privileged position. It took a long time to get in the room if you like.” 

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Beale added: “I was a gifted youth player, didn’t make the breakthrough to first team football and dropped into non-league. Why? Ability. I had to make a decision really. I had to make a choice. Whether to continue to play amateur football at a good level in England or go down the coaching route.

“It’s the best decision I have made. I haven’t looked back. I am a much better coach than I was a player, I can assure you of that.

“People think ‘you have just arrived’ when you haven‘t. There was a lot of time and effort put in and I think I came here the best route. From starting with the under-six side at Chelsea to working at first team level and being a first team coach. I have needed every step of that. 

“It has helped me a lot. I have a lot of processes and ways of coaching and ideas that are not as easy for an ex-player to get. What they have is, when they are in the changing room, a unique eye for that moment, the things that are said and the experience of being there.

“The ideal blend would be both (former player and experienced coach). I probably experienced that working with Rogerio Ceni and Steven Gerrard, both players that played for clubs, icons at Sao Paolo and Liverpool for a number of years. I thought he blend was fantastic. We really, really helped each other.”

Beale will have no inferiority complex when he steps into the technical area before kick-off at Hampden tomorrow for what will be his first cup final as a manager.

Still, he appreciates that he has the opportunity to take charge of Rangers on such an occasion and is determined to show those who appointed him made the right call by leading his team to a victory. 

“For me, it’s a huge privilege to be involved in this game,” he said. “It’s a huge expectation and responsibility to be manager of a club this size. Whoever manages either one of these clubs is a very, very fortunate person in terms of where their career has taken them.

“It was long overdue making the step to being a manager. People wonder is he just a coach or can he manage? My aim was to one day be a manager. In my first year of management, still inside 40 games, I am manager of Rangers and we are playing in a final like this.

“It has been a fantastic journey. But it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s important that you enjoy it. There has been a lot of belief and faith shown in me and I’m trying every day to pay that back to the people who have given me this opportunity.

“It means a lot to a lot of people. You can’t overlook this game or do anything special for it but one day, when you have a few more grey hairs and more experience, you will look back and be thankful for having these opportunities.”