Barak Bakhar has been confirmed as the new manager of Red Star Belgrade some six months after Rangers had identified him as a potential replacement for Giovanni van Bronckhorst in the Ibrox dugout.
Now, Mick Beale may not have returned to Glasgow with Barak Bakhar’s vast experience or his enviable trophy collection, but Rangers certainly appear to be in very same hands under the stewardship of Steven Gerrard’s old assistant.
Beale’s 81 per cent win percentage currently makes him the most successful permanent manager in Rangers’ history, albeit a statistic skewed by short-termism and a lack of European football. There remains a sense – one backed up by last week’s 3-0 thumping of an admittedly experimental Celtic side – that the right backing from above could turn a one-team canter into a two-horse title race again in 2023/24.
Rangers showed a great deal of faith in the former QPR coach when they hired him to replace Van Bronckhorst in November, especially with far more experienced options like Peter Bosz and the aforementioned Bakhar also under consideration at the time.
Rangers looked at Barak Bakhar before Mick Beale return
Bakhar, Sport5 say, was contacted by the Gers around six months ago. But, with another Israeli Premier League title up for grabs, the then-Maccabi Haifa boss was in no mood to let any speculation cloud his focus.
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“It’s flattering,” Bakhar said when quizzed about those Rangers links at the time.
“I don’t care (the rumours of Rangers’ interest) are true or not. In any case, right now it’s not relevant.”
Bakhar leaves Maccabi Haifa, half a year on, as a modern day club icon. The latest league title he picked up just last week was the 43-year-old’s third in a row in charge of The Greens. In fact, during spells at Maccabi, Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Bakhar has accumulated no fewer than 11 pieces of silverware.
A record which would have stood him in good stead to do battle with Ange Postecoglou in the Old Firm. And a record which obviously appealed to his new employers; the most successful side in the history of the Serbian SuperLiga.
“Red Star Belgrade announces that the new coach of our club is an Israeli who has signed a three-year contract,” writes a statement on behalf of a side now-alternatively known as Crvena Zvezda.
“There is no doubt that (Bakhar) is one of the most promising coaches in Europe, who has already coached in the Champions League and advocates attacking football. We congratulate Barak and believe that in the coming years he will become a star.”
A Red Star, perhaps.