“Hope is a dangerous thing - hope can drive a man insane”. A famed quote from the Shawshank Redemption is the backdrop of Rangers’ start to the 2023/24 season and Michael Beale’s dismissal before the clocks have gone back in October - hope unfulfilled.

It justifies why, despite Beale’s opposition, supporters booed their team off at half time on Saturday against Aberdeen. It gives reason to the reality that after building so much optimism despite being on the wrong side of a treble last season, the manager faced such levels of dissatisfaction within the Ibrox support. It offers context as to why, with the club seven points behind in the league after seven matches, palpable anger, and perhaps even more dangerously apathy, submerged Ibrox once again this weekend. There comes a point at a club like Rangers where turning fan opinion back onto the manager’s side requires, not a minor, but a major miracle.

Even the more optimistic of viewers would’ve reasoned that Beale needed a perfect run to start reconvincing many who’d turned following an Old Firm defeat this time last month. Last night, the 43-year-old was dismissed as Rangers’ 18th permanent manager after a little over 300 days in the job.

How did we get here? Was it not only a matter of months ago that summer was painted with broad strokes of opportunity and excitement, a much-longed revamp of the playing squad was in full swing and a new era appeared to be bounding in at Ibrox?

Instead, the hunt for a new manager will ensue while Steven Davis acts as interim. Assisted by Alex Rae, Steven Smith, Brian Gilmour and Colin Stewart - sources insist that, as John Bennett made clear in a brief statement last night, the focus is on making the right appointment rather than a quick one. As has been the case this season and last, Rangers cannot work into a cycle of firing managers before winter has set in. The opportunity to set a new course is critical.

READ MORE: Rangers sack manager Michael Beale after disastrous Ibrox run - Chris Jack 

The beginning of the end for Beale can be traced back to Rugby Park on August 5, when his side suffered a 1-0 league defeat at the hands of Kilmarnock. All of the feel-good factor from summer months evaporated and the nature of a deciding week at the end of that month, where Beale’s side lost heavily to PSV in Eindhoven and suffered such a costly Old Firm defeat at Ibrox, threatened to make this situation irretrievable unless a perfect run was to follow. 

Beale was the figurehead of this rebuild and that provided a clear point of blame, unlike last year when Ross Wilson deflected some of the heat off of Giovanni van Bronckhorst on the basis of recruitment. Despite the fact that he’s undoubtedly brought a number of good players to the club, with so much change underway, a better start was required from most. Cyriel Dessers has become a lightning rod of criticism for the money spent acquiring him and his performance on a day where it all fell apart against Aberdeen proved metaphorical.

Having admitted that “the team’s taken longer to click” than he’d anticipated recently and referencing the material impact a complete overhaul of the attacking areas was having on his team just last week, you sense that Beale knew that too. His side have underperformed their league xG by 2.62, 21 percent of their 10 league goals, and had they taken some of the opportunities presented before the break on Saturday, he could still well be in a job. Given the context outside of that, it looks like a result that would’ve only delayed the inevitable.

Inconsistency extended to the manager and elements of his decision-making. Beale spoke repeatedly of the need for relationships to build and connections to form without ever settling upon the resemblance of a strongest team. We only saw the trio of Danilo, Dessers and Sam Lammers start together twice. So much of the summer budget was spent recruiting forwards who have not delivered at time of writing. In big games, whether it be the approach against Celtic at Ibrox or Todd Cantwell’s role on the bench against Kilmarnock, a number of decisions looked to be the wrong ones. 

Revisionism is rife in football, but Gerrard’s former assistant was able to build optimism for a reason even after losing all three of last season’s trophies to Celtic after entering the title race nine points behind. Without a playing career behind him, Beale's reached this point on the basis of an outstanding coaching reputation. He quickly established a domestic recipe that earned eight consecutive away wins and it was generally agreed upon that if able to get his players in the final third over the summer, those small margins that decided Old Firm games last season could be overturned. There was no time to waste in 2023/24 however - this was when Beale needed to deliver on his promises.

There were no excuses come the first Old Firm game of the season when a weakened Celtic left Ibrox with all three points and without much trouble, all told. Beale had used up his goodwill last season and there was none left for three league defeats in his first seven matches, leaving the club seven points off the top of the table. You need to buy time with results at Rangers, even when so much upheaval has taken place and teething problems are to be anticipated.

Supporters always need a roadmap to believe in. You may survive for a period of time as a manager without results, even in a unique environment like Glasgow, but only upon the promise of things to come. Beale himself conceded in a sitdown Sky Sports interview prior to a recent win away at St Johnstone that: "The team's got a new look to it. The fans are trying to see what that actually is and with 9 games in the first month of the season, there's not been much time between to improve some areas. We've had two weeks now, the excuses have got to be removed.”

READ MORE: Steven Davis made Rangers interim manager after Michael Beale sacking

The time to settle last season and build this summer was a trade-off with the support. Short-term failures, such as not winning either cup last season, are only permissible upon the guarantee of a brighter future and speaking at the start of October, there is not much light around Ibrox. Reactions of visceral anger after the Old Firm, Motherwell and Aberdeen matches were not only directed at the performance in isolation but the feeling that far from improving, things were getting worse. Words were Beale’s friend when he first arrived, allowing him to speak what supporters wanted to hear and galvanise, but in the end, they’d lost their power.

The man who joined from QPR could point to mitigating factors such as the VAR decision against Celtic, his forward’s missed chances on Saturday, the overall situation that the club found itself in. In equal measure, he was handed what few get at Ibrox - relative time to build and something resembling a clean slate at Rangers.

Where now? Davis is a clever short-term appointment because you’d struggle to find a more popular figure in the stands. This is the UK’s most-capped international player and an individual who commands respect. There’s a reason that Beale was so keen to keep him in the building this season despite a serious injury suffered as a player last season. The next appointment, which coincides with the undoubted need for a Director of Football, comes at a tricky juncture. Beale's knowledge of Scottish football helped stabilise the club last year and hit the ground running domestically, something whoever replaces him may not possess. Unlike with the previous two appointments, there is no obvious candidate and that presents an opportunity. 

Beale was never able to give the Rangers support the team he promised, and likely the team he envisioned. Not able in the short term to build on the promise of last season. Change by the end was a necessity because hope had been drained.