After five games in 19 days, Michael Beale now has the novelty of a break between matches for the first time as Rangers manager.

His side bookended their first run of fixtures under his leadership on Monday when a late equaliser prevented maximum points against Celtic. Drawing the Old Firm tie further damages title aspirations but there's plenty of room for optimism. Important personnel continue to return from injury, the transfer market is open and improvement in performance is obvious, if not drastic.

It's clear to see what the 42-year-old wants this team to do and the benefits that clarity is provisionally providing. Even if the product remains some way off of expectation.

Malik Tillman has offered a reliable creative output and been trusted defensively. The manager wants to harness Tillman's qualities all over as a “running No.8” where he believes the American can fulfil his “very high potential”.

Ryan Kent looks to be enjoying football again, playing in a free role behind the strikers. 

There’s no doubt that attacking numbers still require an uplift but Kent’s contribution outside of the penalty box feels more appreciated, as highlighted by the manager this week: “In the final third a lot of the time he draws people to him and someone else might get the final assist or shot.”

In Ben Davies and Connor Goldson, Rangers have the foundations of a dependable centre-back pairing and coming from behind in three separate matches shows the rediscovery of a resilience lost earlier this campaign.

The issues Beale inherited have not all been solved. Alfredo Morelos remains someway off top form alongside captain James Tavernier, questions remain in the goalkeeping department and this squad has holes only the transfer market can plug.

Structurally, Beale’s repeated the need to not turnover the ball “unopposed” and allow the opposition to launch attacks while Rangers are primed to transition forwards. As demonstrated on Monday when Celtic’s Daizen Maeda latched onto a crossfield pass before finishing beyond Allan McGregor.

“It’s leaving us vulnerable. It’s not something I expected so it’s an area I have to work on,” the manager said speaking after a 3-0 win against Motherwell at the end of December. Greater control is required off the ball in order to “own the pitch” and facilitate more quality on it.

READ MORE: Michael Beale didn't get Rangers substitutes wrong against Celtic, here's why

Rangers Review:

Generally, attacking numbers show promise after a small five-game sample size compared to the previous 15 league matches played.

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

Chance creation (xG) has risen slightly but more importantly chance quality is on the up (xG/Shot). Although a jump from 0.10 expected goals per shot to 0.12 might seem small, think of the difference that can prove over the course of a season.

Don’t look at a drop in shots as a negative. The rise in xG/Shot proves that quality is being prioritised over quantity with the Ibrox side more likely to work possession around the attacking third and create an opening. The box cross drop (the number of passes into the box that are crosses) further proves this.

The risk posed at offensive set-pieces is also on the up. Beale’s men have scored twice directly from corners in five matches having notched just once in 15 prior to his arrival. 

Rangers now have a designated set-piece coach in Harry Watling and it’s commonplace to see him barking orders at the edge of the technical area before corners and free-kicks.

As the Rangers Review wrote towards the end of Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s tenure, 90 percent of corners were outswingers and the lack of variation was making it too easy for opponents to defend.

Since Beale arrived that’s changed. Of 14 corners taken from the right, six have been inswingers, seven outswingers and one taken short. Of 15 corners taken from the left, three have been short and 12 inswingers.

Like the marginal rise in shot quality, set-pieces can prove decisive over a season. Averaging 0.49xG per 90 from this area is comfortably the highest in the division over the last five matches and although that should level out, it’s an encouraging sign.

Beale is the first to admit that Rangers are someway off the football team he envisions. He wants more control, continuity and stability but after five games with limited resources, the underlying numbers show a healthy trajectory.