This is the basis of the present day art of “military intelligence”, and its offshoot, which some in the services call Enemy Intentions, a specialist unit whose name is usually clipped to only the second word.
In Intentions they study the enemy 24 hours a day, theorising on future events by studying their own predictions from the past and how they panned out. In Intentions they believe in learning from experience. They don’t make the same mistake twice.
How about watching your opponents making the same mistake three times? How about watching a strategy unfold which appears to make no sense whatsoever? What if you were peering through the haze at an enemy who’d already been completely routed once, and who’s response to it seemed to be little better than the one that saw them defeated so comprehensively last time around?
You’d conclude you were either facing an enemy of almost galactic cunning, or one so stupid he shouldn’t be allowed to command troops in the field.
Which are we facing, as we look across the city at the moment?
I would stipulate that the Royal War College won’t be handing Ally and the board at Ibrox any strategic planning awards in the near future.
What in God’s name are they doing?
They’ve allowed talented young players, like Andy Little and Charlie Telfer, to waltz off into the sunset, so they could find the money to re-sign a thirty-four year old trying to earn one last wage packet out of the game. It is illogical. It is nonsensical. Yet it’s happening, right in front of our eyes. What are we to make of it?
Sevco fans are no wiser than we are, even those who believe Miller might actually be a good signing., albeit for the short term. They all acknowledge that he won’t be around for their club’s first foray into Europe or probably beyond this season. This is not “one for the future.” This is a club surviving hand to mouth, trying to cobble together the resources to get from one day to the next in a state that looks halfway organised.
But it only looks organised if you’re standing really far away … with your eyes shut.
The absolute absence of any kind of strategy at all is encapsulated in this signing. In it is locked every form of myopia and lack of imagination which bedevils the club. These days when I think of Sevco Rangers I find it instructive to think of Ibrox as the Amityville Horror House. There’s a different family in the house now, but the ghosts of the one before it still whisper in the hallways at night. The same malefic spirits that drove the previous inhabitants mad are weaving evil spells around the new tenants.
That madness has led to the wholesale repeating of every mistake that sunk the OldCo like a stone. Pursuing glory with a chequebook is not an original idea in sport, far less in football, but ordinarily the chequebook actually belongs to the club in question, and there’s not usually much chance of the cheques bouncing. At Ibrox now, anything could happen. Even the shareholders find it hard to get verification on how much money is left in the kitty, and in particular those who’ve loaned the club what it needs to keep the lights on thus far.
The Miller signing has been spun in some quarters as a response to what ails them, instead of a symptom of the disease. It’s been labelled a necessity, to keep the forward momentum going. Those of us with a modicum of sense know this is sheer nonsense. This is not about forward momentum. For a club in the financial chaos of this one, forward momentum is best served by staying alive, not speeding towards the grave. Hearts fans know they had to go down in order to rise up again. Hibs fans are coming to realise that what’s just happened to their own club might be a blessing in disguise. They need root and branch transformation, and that can only come with a period away from the top flight.
Those clubs will develop their forward momentum the right way. They will reinvent themselves, putting the pieces in place one at a time, with the objective of returning to the top flight in a better state than they were in the years before they went down. Those clubs will improve for what’s befallen them.
Sevco Rangers, in their rush to get into the spotlight, are trying to make the journey in a boat that’s got more holes in it than the plot of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, and this is only the beginning of their peculiar insanity, because if they make it to the SPL next season it will not matter what state the books are in, because some deluded halfwits in their support and in the media will still insist they try to “catch Celtic.”
There was much hilarity on the Sevco websites – and on RangersMedia in particular – about Celtic’s apparent pursuit of Roy Keane. They argued – and I agreed with them, by the way, as our last article demonstrates clearly – that it would have been a risky and potentially hugely destabilising move. I went much further on Facebook than I was willing to go in the piece, but not only did I not believe Keane would be appointed manager because of the huge contradictions between his way of doing things and “the strategy”, but no matter my feelings on the failures of that strategy, I didn’t want to see the whole thing thrown over the side for a manager with a reputation for being hard to work with.
The mooted appointment of Ronny Deila is much more like it from the club. It fits into the strategy in many ways, but in others it is a break from the “comfort zone” of appointing people who have some emotional tie to Celtic. In other words, it’s daring, ambitious, thinking outside the box … the kind of appointment that could take Celtic over the hills and far away, leaving Sevco trailing in our wake for a decade or more.
It is thinking beyond the horizon. It is the kind of appointment only a board of directors who see the bigger picture could have, and would have, made.
It’s the polar opposite of what is going at Sevco. At the very moment we’re showing our hand and moving into the future, Sevco are reaching back into the past to sign an overpaid has-been. Whilst we are building for the long term, they are abandoning strategic planning entirely and going for the quick fix … and that always ends in tears.
Few outside Ibrox see the Miller signing as anything other than one born of desperation and lack of imagination. I suspect many inside Ibrox see it the same way.
What can you do, though? Peering through the fog on the battlefield I don’t only see an opponent without a plan, I see one bereft of leadership, a headless, disorganised rabble.
Everything I’ve heard about Deila thus far suggests he’s a long-term thinker, a planner, a tactician. If he is, he has more in his locker than in the whole of Ibrox Stadium. I hope tomorrow’s piece welcomes him to Celtic Park.
If it does, then it’s “welcome to the future.”
Doesn’t it look an awful lot like the past in some ways?
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