The Great Reset.
I reckon the title of today’s article might have had one or two of you choking on your cornflakes this morning. Surely Mick hasn’t joined the QAnon,covid-conspiracist,anti-vaxxer brigade? He’s not about to warn us of The Rise Of The Lizard King? Or mass microchipping of the population at the behest of Bill Gates? Panic not,folks. That is fantasyland,the province of the tinfoil-chapeau. What I want to discuss is much more serious,and I advise you to finish your cornflakes before reading it.
Celtic FC is our common bond,and has been for as long as we have been alive and sentient. And it has not been in such peril since the bad old days of “The Families” who led us to the brink of insolvency in 1994. Back then,few of us would have laid the blame at their door on the grounds of malice,but simply on the grounds of incompetence. How refreshing it was to have them replaced by a series of competent and professional people with a successful business background,even if we sometimes bemoaned a lack of what we viewed as necessary immediate investment on the pitch in favour of reinforcing the financial strength of the company for the medium to long term.
Looking back,it is difficult to pick out any instances when Fergus McCann denied funds to Tommy Burns when he asked for new players. The problems tended to arise with Fergus when those players requested an improvement in their contract. We saw too many players during his tenure demand a move as a result,too many decide to sit tight,see out their contract and leave for nothing. Realising that he might not be entirely suited to play all the roles that he had been doing,he employed a General Manager-who would in modern parlance be a Director of Football-to deal with the things that he knew he had proven incapable of.
The decision to make that appointment was the correct one,made with the benefit of the club in mind,regardless of how it might affect his overall level of control. Sadly for Fergus,the appointee Jock Brown proved to be an even more polarising figure,and the experiment itself was proven to be a disaster. The removal of Brown saw the team return to form immediately,and the General Manager shirt was retired.
The twenty-plus years since have seen times when a general manager probably wasn’t needed-such as the Martin O’Neill era and the beginning of the Brendan Rodgers one. These guys knew what they wanted,and why they wanted it. Even the early days of Gordon Strachan saw his requests being met,but far too often since the last years of O’Neill,the ultimate decision was being left to one man,just as in the early days of Fergus. With the notable difference that this one man wasn’t the Fergus type who could be persuaded of the wisdom of a signing,and who would move heaven and earth to make it so. This was a new breed of Chief Executive,the type who provided the tools to the minions regardless of whether they were the right ones.
“I employ people to do a job,and I give them the tools to do it. If the tools are useless,not the ones they expected,that’s tough. I know best”
It would be churlish to deny the evidence of these methods working-the list of honours won during this period is there for all to see. And it would be bloody idiotic not to notice that any time there is a challenge,the club is unable to meet it,our CEO unable to react to it. This is not a man who can think on his feet,or analyse current situations and challenges which have arisen contrary to his modelling. This is a man who writes his commandments on tablets of stone,the type who rides the high fashion stakes and who,when his plans are no longer fashionable or workable,puts them back in the cupboard and hopes for that cycle to come round again.
No-one is brave enough to tell him to make a decision,and he hasn’t got it in him to make one for himself. “Those grandfather shirts will be back in fashion some day,and I’ll have the last laugh when I dust off my old ones while you lot have to pay through the nose for new ones!” And so it is that we still have our own grandfather shirt in the cupboard marked Manager,while the rest of the game takes turns at ripping the piss out of us at every turn.
There is little doubt then that our CEO has long outlived his usefulness,that his days of innovation are long a thing of the past. Not so much autocratic as dictatorial,he brooks no dissent whatsoever-indeed any input from others is actively discouraged to the point of dismissal. He has brought about his own Downfall,and his recent appearance on Celtic TV saw a man who was struggling with the very idea that his methods were even being questioned. His apology that day was clearly a new concept for him,an ill-thought out and incoherently delivered mishmash of nothing. A bit like his promise to have a review of the club this month,which we are now told will be acted upon at the end of the season. Maybe he is auditioning for the Denis Nordern role in a new It’ll Be Alright On The Night.
Which means that he stays in place,and so does our manager. That’s the man with seven wins from twentytwo matches since the end of the summer transfer window. But it is also the man who has delivered five titles as a manager,and won the same number as a player. A bona-fide legend in the eyes of most of us,a player who played football in a way which few of us had seen before.
Neil Lennon played The Makalele Role long before Claude Makalele did. And he stepped in after the disaster of Tony Mowbray. Should those three titles first time around have been four? Aye,probably. Given what he was up against,I’m willing to forego that as a learning curve for a new manager. And he was available to get us over the line when Rodgers abruptly left us two years ago,completing The Rebel Treble Treble. Right man at the right time for those few months,and no doubt about it. But as the long-term replacement? Surely not.
For what had Neil learned,how had the learning curve progressed,in the nine years since he first became a manager? Certainly nothing new,you only had to hear his comments about new technology. He clearly hadn’t learned much about how to utilise set-pieces to our advantage-and worse,nothing about how to defend them. But worst of all,he had nothing at all,new or otherwise,about how to coach players to bring out the best in them. All he had to offer was his motivational skills.
Since then,we have seen the team going backwards quite simply because they aren’t being coached. Not a single player has been shown how to bring about improvement in their game,and even worse is that none has shown the slightest desire to sign a new contract while he has been in charge. The players know that their careers are in a cul-de-sac,and cannot wait to get away-and due to those poor performances and diminishing lengths left on their contracts,the club is going to receive a fraction of their worth two years ago. Looks like his much-vaunted motivational skills aren’t much bloody use,to be honest.
The titles won during the tenures of Lawwell and Lennon are undeniable,let me make that plain. The cost to the club of their disastrous reigns are equally undeniable. Fergus and Tommy Burns faced a huge rebuilding job in 1994-but it was from a position of weakness brought about by their predecessors. The rebuilding job facing the successors to Lawwell and Lennon in the summer-because to keep either of them in position would be an act of supreme folly-is probably much greater.
What a legacy that is for them to leave behind.
Above article by BMCUWP