I am getting this headline down before someone in the media beats me to it. They will use it at some point. They’ll not be able to resist. One friendly defeat, one reversal in however minor a game, and they’ll slap that one on the top of their papers without hesitation.
Well, second best to the bloggers as usual. We got here first.
(Thanks to Katt Turner for this one, as I was grateful to The Huddleboarders for their wee contribution to yesterdays!)
Why am I using it now? Because I don’t want this guy to make the first major mistake of his time at the club before his feet are even warm under his desk.
When you make an appointment like this, you want it to mean certain things. You want it to mean the club is charting a new path. The strategy we’ve pursued yes, probably the same, but the means of pursuing it, the method … different.
Different tactics ,different ideas, different ways of looking at and doing things. You want to see that, and you want the guy to demonstrate those intentions, and his independence, from the first day.
What you don’t want to see, what you never want to see, are key decisions being made for him … by people with no business doing so.
When Roy Keane was being touted for this job, I said that every reason I liked the idea and every reason I disliked it were the same. One of the things I liked best was that Keane would not accept any interference at all in how he did the job. I never believed he would be appointed because he and Lawwell would never have been able to work together in a million years, cause Keane would never let him poke his nose in and Lawwell would never be able to resist. I would rather someone put the Chief Executive back in his box, and told him to butt out … but the Keane Method would have started World War III within the walls, and I didn’t want that.
But Ronny Deila has just had his first taste of what Lawwell’s long nose is like, poking into corners where it plainly does not belong. We have a goalkeeper being put through his paces who was signed with no manager in the dressing room, and who is essentially being foisted onto this guy as “his first signing.” It’s nothing of the sort, for God’s sakes, and no matter how much they tried to drill Ronny Deila on how to answer that one, he didn’t convince me or anyone else when the question came up. Even our press pack, which is useless when it’s on its game and contemptible when it’s not, were about their business enough to suss this one out.
Everyone in the room knew that Ronny Deila wasn’t consulted about that “signing” and doesn’t have anything to do with it. He may be happy to go along with it, but that’s not the same thing and we all know it. It’s not his fault, but it should open his eyes.
Far more worrying, and far more blatant, is Lawwell’s attempt to pick the assistant manager. It is a step into territory on which he has no business, and no right. Deila has come in with his own ideas and his own plans. I would presume he’s worked with people he likes and respects, and if he chooses to appoint one of them as his number two – someone he trusts, instead of someone he hardly knows – then that’s his business, and his affair.
I hope to God he does not tolerate this blatant encroachment onto his turf.
Lawwell said “I think it needs someone who knows what Inverness is like and the trip up there at 12:15 on a Sunday … that I think, would be a big requirement of a number two. We need to really start the process.”
What business does he have to utter those words?
Why does our number two need to understand the complexities of a trip to Inverness on a Sunday? Isn’t it the same as a trip to Rosenborg on a Sunday? Is there some mythical quality to Scottish football that requires someone with “local knowledge”? John Collins is a part-time pundit who last managed a game here seven years ago … since then he’s spent some time in Belgium, was a Director of Football at Livingston and is now in a role at the SFA, as some kind of youth coach.
He has been away from the sharp end for a long time. What special quality does he possess that he should be shoehorned into this job?
His current role is part of what bothers me. At Livingston he had a job that is basically designed to oversee that of the man in the manager’s office. Now he’s going to be the number two man in the football department? I think not. Would Collins be the manager’s man, or would he be the de-facto point man for the board? He has no prior relationship with Deila, and a new manager in a new country would certainly be forgiven for wanting to import his own praetorian guard. I think he should be allowed to get on with it.
Frankly, Lawwell’s comments are a disgrace because they are an effort to shoe-horn the manager into choosing someone from a list he had no part in drawing up, for reasons that I cannot fathom. Deila’s biggest challenge will come in Europe, not in Scotland. Neither Collins nor whoever else is on Lawwell’s magic list will be any better qualified to assist in that task than Ronny’s own people from Norway, and they trust him and he trusts them and I trust that more than I trust the idea that two men who’ve just met can form that kind of bond in five weeks.
The manager-assistant bond is fundamental, and sacred. The minute Mjallby decided to leave our club you knew there was a chance that Lennon would not be far behind him. When manager’s leave clubs it is no coincidence that their assistants tend to go too, because their services are rarely, if ever, retained by those who follow them.
No-one but the man in the manager’s office should be allowed to interfere with making that choice. Lawwell can coerce his way to the top of the SFA in his spare time as he likes. He can make his wee alliances with other clubs, court friends in the media that hates us and handpick his friends amongst the supporters to come over for tea and biscuits and sell them on the strategy all day and all night. He can make sly jokes about the shambles at Ibrox, whilst presiding over a strategy that has the achievements of the football club funding the business instead of the other way around … and he can do all of this, as he sees fit, and my only protest will be to stay away from Celtic Park until he’s packed up his pencils and gone.
Not a single one of us should accept his constant interference in the football side. When the manager wants a player to stay, it is the responsibility of the Chief Executive to offer that player a new deal. That Samaras was wanted by Lennon but refused a contract renegotiation by the Chief Executive is a shocker, and an indication of something I’ve been banging on about for a long, long time … and it’s this; Peter Lawwell’s job has grown beyond its parameters and it is high time someone reminded him what he’s actually meant to be doing.
We could all cite examples I’m sure. Signings that never were. Targets the manager identified that were never pursued. Players the managers wanted to keep, who were allowed to go or told they had to. We could spend all day and all night on the subject, but it’s all in the past and a new man is at the helm of the club – and the manager is the guy who runs the show.
That’s how it should be, and Lawwell has been allowed to ignore that for way too long.
I have applauded this appointment. I am delighted by it. Yet on the first day I am already disquieted because already the manager is being undermined and second guessed and forced into compromises that he should never have to make.
Why, Why, Why, Deila?
Do your first great service to this club, the first of many, and make it clear to the guy who sometimes thinks his office and yours are one in the same, that you are in charge of everything football related.
Pick your own number two. Take control of your own destiny.
Because mark my words … if you succeed, this guy will think it entitles him to half the credit. But if you fail, under conditions he’s set … brother, you will take the blame.
This is one of the biggest jobs in world football, and you are now a key player at the very top of the game.
Act like it from Day One. Take command.
We, the supporters, will be behind you all the way.
(Remember, On Fields of Green needs your support if we’re to grow. You can make a donation at the link, which is either at the top of the page or the bottom, depending on the smart gadget you’re using! Everyone who does so will get something back … we’re working on it at the moment!)
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