Some say life begins at that age, but if they believe that they couldn’t have enjoyed their 20’s the way I enjoyed mine.
Still, I don’t consider myself to be “getting old”. To me, age is a number, and one that doesn’t really mean much until you qualify for the free bus pass.
Then it hits me. Ronny Deila is only a year older than me. Does that, actually, make me old? Or does it make him young? I don’t know the answer to that one. I’ll leave it for others to say. I don’t feel old, but I’m never going to don a white t-shirt and PT a bunch of professional footballers around Lennoxtown until they throw up. That tells its own story.
Remember when Ally was “young”? Remember when he took over and they compared him to Neil Lennon and said this was a battle between “two young up and coming managers”? They were half right anyway. One of them was certainly young, and certainly going places. The other was ten years older than I am right now, and if you think he was going grey and looking his age then, you haven’t seen him lately. He’s 52 now, and he’ll be getting that bus pass soon enough.
Neil Lennon, as we all know, has just taken the job at Bolton Wanderers. It’s his first foray into management south of the border, the first job he’s had since he left Celtic Park. Lenny is 43 now, after four turbulent years at Parkhead, four years in which he won trophies and suffered things that would make McCoist hide under the bed.
Neil just won his first game in charge, the first of many. I expect him to do well at Bolton, or as well as you can do at a provincial English club in one of the toughest leagues in world football. He didn’t get the recognition he deserved upon leaving Parkhead, but he’s operating on a difficult proving ground now, and I expect him to come on leaps and bounds and it’ll be a stepping stone job to something bigger, something in the EPL.
Ally, on the other hand, has publicly mused on whether he’ll ever manage another club after he leaves Ibrox behind. I would say the chances of it are somewhere between slim and none.
I never expect him to manage a top flight game again in his career.
He’s not going to get his club to the SPL, and that’ll mean his jotters. When clubs in England examine what he “achieved” they will not be impressed as much as aghast at how he went about it.
McCoist gets an easy ride here in Scotland. You only have to look at the nonsense Deila is being asked to swallow, a guy who’s literally just in the door at his club, a guy who’s trying to change not tactics or personnel but honest-to-god fundamentals, to compare and contrast with the way the media fawns all over everything “Coisty” says.
This isn’t just about having mates in the media, although that’s definitely part of it. Ally’s easy time feeds into the general desire the press has to paint everything that that happens at Sevco in the best possible light. The current “takeover talks” are a case in point.
Everyone who’s been following the Sevco story, either on this site or elsewhere, knows that the King over the water isn’t going to take the keys at Ibrox. The obstacles in the way would be too great even for a guy who didn’t simply like having his picture in the paper.
He wants to buy 51% of Sevco, say the papers. Oh yeah? Has no-one told him that if he does then he’s legally obligated to make a bid for the other 49%? Or did he miss class they day they were teaching that one at business school?
Does he realise that his plans would require 75% backing from the existing shareholders? Does he know Ashley himself owns 10% and can call on the same again from the Easdales? Does he realise that every single one of the shareholders would have to see their own share diluted – to no gain whatsoever – in order to make his pipedream a reality?
Does he know it would require a business plan? That it would require something more substantial than the “back of a napkin” nonsense he came up with the last time?
What was that again? Oh aye, give Ally a transfer war chest and pray they get into Europe.
Has no-one told him that if expenditure outstrips earnings by too much that the club will be skint again in short order, Europe or not? Did anyone think to remind him that UEFA financial fair play regulations are in force now, and they wouldn’t be allowed in under those circumstances? Has any of this been discussed? Even thought about?
I suspect not. I suspect that these are questions that strike too close to reality, the one thing Sevco Rangers fans, and those backing the King “bid”, would rather not come face to face with.
The club is a bottomless pit. Even if King wasn’t full of it, spending £30 million on the team would be a sticking plaster over what’s really wrong there.
The stadium is coming apart, needing an eight figure sum spent on it to bring it up to snuff, or there’s a very real risk of a safety certificate being refused somewhere down the line.
Don’t even kid yourself that this won’t happen … HSE regulations are written in stone. It’s a criminal offence to ignore them, and if the inspectors find faults they will shut the place down. Money will have to be spent on that, and a lot of money at that.
Their scouting network is non-existent. When Celtic has to sell players to stay in profit (Hell, even to break even, in a Champions League year) the fantasy that Sevco will be able to continue spending on signings ad infinitum is ridiculous.
They will have to copy the so-called strategy at Celtic Park … except that this strategy misses as often as it hits, and in order to get our success ratio where it’s at right now, the costs were in the tens of millions and the timescale was measured in years.
This is reality. This is not the fantasy the media likes to indulge in.
Even if there was a mood amongst shareholders to dilute their own holdings, the cost of getting involved will run into the tens of millions easily, and will brush the outer limits of a nine figure commitment, lasting at least a decade, with the most unforgiving, selfish supporters in the world baying in his ear the whole time.
Ashley is in the driving seat. He can block King’s grandiose scheme, knowing he’ll take a little flack but there’s nothing anyone can do about it. If the club wants to survive, it will have to go to him with the begging bowl, and essentially give him whatever he wants. That bill is liable to be sky high. Ashley is going to give a first class demonstration of how you don’t need to be the majority shareholder to make everyone around the table dance to your tune.
All of this, the hardship this club is going to face over the next few years, is known to those of us who keep our eyes on what’s happening and don’t trust the media spin.
But you have to want to know.
You know who doesn’t know anything? Our friend Ally.
He was asked today about the King talks, and he pled utter ignorance. He was asked about Ashley and said he didn’t know. On the surface of it, he doesn’t want to dig too far, or delve too deep. He would, it seems, rather sit on the side-lines and wait to be handed money.
Yet, I suspect that’s not the full picture. I wonder how much those above him care about keeping him in the loop these days.
If I were his bosses I wouldn’t be in a great hurry to share anything with him, because the last few months have proved, yet again, that Ally is very adroit at looking out for number one, and he doesn’t mind the occasional flash of disloyalty to his employers if it keeps him in the good graces of the media, and in the eyes of some of the fans.
See, the media is Ally’s Praetorian Guard. If they gave him the same treatment they’re giving Deila, he would have been gone a long time before now.
Two weeks ago, when Ashley was calling for the heads of the Chief Executive and the Finance Officer (I don’t want to say we told you so, but we did kinda tell you so), McCoist was asked about Ashley’s plans for the club. He went on record to say he supported the idea of Ashley investing. He repeated that last week, with the ridiculous notion thrown in that he and King should get together.
Now maybe it’s just me, but where was the statement in support of the CEO? His board of directors has been undermined at every turn in the past year, and McCoist has, on nearly every occasion, supported those who were doing it.
He’s been one of the chief spokesmen for King all the way through, and in the week that Ashley wanted heads to roll above him, there was Ally, talking about how nice his money would be.
This is why today’s bout of head-scratching and “I don’t know anything” was unsurprising. McCoist, in trying to ride both sides of the fence last week with his notion of King and Ashley coming together (and neither camp seems to want Graham Wallace and Phil Nash), has pissed off everyone. If he was being kept informed, he now no longer is.
He’s not in the dog house as much as in the dark house.
Regular readers will know how little I think of him, as a manager and as a man. When he is not spinning conspiracy theories about everyone hating his club, when he isn’t making demands for the naming of names or for criminal investigations into guys in green hoody’s, when he’s not slithering about on the issue of his recompense even as he questions others for taking money out of Ibrox, he’s indulging in little battles against the people who are covering his back.
He is a slippery chancer who is in the final stages of his final job in football.
This time next year, when I’m “celebrating” being 39, he will no longer be working in the sport. I believe that implicitly. I would bet on it.
In the meantime, I suspect he’s living in the growing awareness of assassins in the shadows, of being all alone in that stadium, with few real friends.
A man in hard times needs to know who he can count on. A man who’s behaved as selfishly as he has can only really rely on one person. The man in the mirror.
Even if I was of a mind to show some sympathy for his position – which I am not – I only have to read the statement from the Cowdenbeath chairman last week, when he said McCoist’s ludicrous and cowardly, decision to postpone the match between the sides – and the SPFL’s corrupt endorsement of it even when it no longer had validity –had cost them £20,000 they could ill afford.
That’s chump change to Ally, so what does he care?
His time is running out, and I think he probably knows it.
Today, as I’m one year closer to 40 (and 50, and 60) I strongly suspect that I’m not alone in hearing that rather loud ticking in the background.
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