“Blunder From Down Under” Brings Back The Thunder!
I warned you all at the weekend that I planned to have this as the title of my article about us winning the league! And I’ve used it mainly as a comment on those loudmouth types in the press during Ange’s first three months here in particular,those who had indeed written the man off in those terms and worse.
The likes of that font of knowledge,Kris Boyd. Or Tom English,Jackson,Keevins and the entire who’s who of what passes for football journalism in Scotland. Indeed,it was eerily reminiscent of a certain genuine superstar joining us as a player over twenty years before,one who soon made it clear to us all why he was known in his homeland as “Gift From God”
Ange might not be a gift from God,but he has certainly delivered one. His achievements this season have been little short of a miracle,achievements which few of us,looking back on the wreckage of last season thought possible. He inherited a side which included too many want-away and disinterested players,along with far too many who simply weren’t up to the job.
Of the regular players from this season,only Greg Taylor at left back,CalMac and Tom Rogic in midfield,were regulars last season! That is a simply stunning statistic in itself. It demonstrates the huge task he faced to rebuild the squad,the mammoth effort needed to gel these new players from disparate parts of the globe. There were doubtless language problems to overcome as well as cultural ones,not to mention having to shape all these players into a unit which played in his image.
We. Don’t. Stop.
And neither did Ange. Even though we stuttered badly at the beginning-in fairness,the only really poor display domestically was the early one against Livingston-he held to his beliefs,drilled those beliefs into his players and got them believing themselves. And believing in themselves too. Because that’s half the battle in management,to have your team going onto the pitch at the start of every game believing that victory is theirs. And that they don’t stop until it’s time to celebrate!
But that is only the psychological side to Ange’s strategy. There is so much more than that,and the main factor in it all has been something that had been woefully absent at our club for far too long. That simple work ethic. Ange has worked his butt off to achieve what he has done,whether that be previously in life or over the last season. He has passed that work ethic on to his players,impressed on them its importance. And the difference from those last two years to this has been clear for all to see.
The players know they have a manager who will work them hard in training and ask them to perform just that bit higher than,faster than,possibly they themselves thought they had in them. A manager who works out how to improve every player as an individual while consolidating that improvement in them all as a unit. A manager who believes in them and inspires belief. Who wouldn’t want to walk through brick walls for someone like that,especially if you had got used to just turning up and kicking a ball about for an hour before going home?
So the players reacted in the only way that professionals at this level should. They listened,they bought into the message-and they too worked their butts off,improving themselves as players even as the results and performances began to speak for themselves. Make no mistake,2021-22 will play a huge part in our club’s legend in years to come,and if we didn’t do it by playing pure,magnificent football all the time,we made up for it in sheer hard graft.
I can’t leave out the back room staff either,whose improvement I believe comes from being given an identified role by Ange. For once,they looked as though they knew what they had to do,and were there to assist-as their job titles imply. Dominic McKay supported the manager in his signings,and even after his abrupt and unexplained departure,it was clear from our January window that Michael Nicholson would continue that.
One or two of the signings have clearly been for the future,but I cannot think of one that has made us cringe when he took his place in the side-an all too common feature since,probably,Henri Kamara nearly twenty years ago. (Signed on loan as a replacement for Henrik,in case you’ve forgotten!) Most of the signings have simply been an outstanding success,although one or two maybe took a few games to get their act together. Another example,of course,of Ange’s management skills,that players were not simply cast aside!
Look at the improvement in Ralston and Taylor at full back,or at Rogic in midfield. The latter even looks like a ninety minute player now,for perhaps the first time since he joined us-and this in probably the most high-intensity regime he has had? Or Joe Hart in goal,a man with the world at his feet until he was callously tossed aside by Pep six years ago and had struggled for game time since?
Or the relentless running of Kyogo and Maeda,the stop me if you can battering ram and finishing skills of G-Mak. The fruition of a tiny teenage winger-Abada,not Dembele!-into one of our top scorers. Or just putting a smile on the face of a wonderkid like Jota,who had previously lost his way. This isn’t just a mark of Ange’s skills as a football manager,but also as a man. It simply doesn’t happen unless the players have total belief in their manager,and in every respect.
We have found the real deal here,and it is time now to sit down with him and offer a real deal to him in return. He is on that ludicrous 12-month rolling contract,something that should be filed forever in the bin. Ask him what he wants and give him it. Because he sure as hell deserves it!
Above article by BMCUWP