As Brendan Rodgers’ satisfaction ratings are sky-high amongst Celtic fans and the team are romping towards the title, the Scottish manager merry-go-round is well and truly spinning elsewhere and if you have any interest in the welfare of Scottish football in general I’m afraid it’s not very good news.
Some of the recent headlines from the traditional news media outlets linking managers to vacant jobs in Scotland, particularly at Ibrox have been nothing but a total farce. Barry Ferguson to Sevco after being let go by Clyde? Really? I’m amazed anybody can even stomach that level of tripe!
If this was a move that was to happen I think most Scottish football fans, apart from some of the Celtic faithful would be right to despair. Henrik Larsson, a true Celtic legend, has been far more successful in management than Barry Ferguson has and if in a similar position there is no way Celtic would have really considered him, because, unlike Rangers, Celtic have the wherewithal to not just appoint any old “Celtic Man”. Thankfully the possibility of Ferguson even being in the running seems to be only a fantasy of some of the more Orange-minded Scottish journalists and written down using a novelty Sevco pen.
Over the course of the last ten years the Premier League, the wealthiest league in the world but by no means the best, had Scottish managers like Moyes, Ferguson, Coyle, Lambert and Dalglish. It even had people like Ricky Sbragia and Alec Neil whose stay in the English top flight were not particularly long or fruitful, but at least Scottish managers were making an impact in a league which attracts managers from all over the world. Nowadays, only David Moyes remains and he’s holding on for dear life at the helm of a Sunderland side who look like they may make their long overdue exit from the Premier League. Scottish managers simply aren’t as good as they used to be!
It’s been a long period of deterioration of quality from the days of Stein, Busby and Shankly from whom you could almost draw up a family tree of players who worked under them who went on to become managers. Stein for instance had a massive impact on future managers like Kenny Dalglish, the great Billy McNeill and his young managerial protégé with Scotland, Alex Ferguson.
Scotland has got managerial talent, but unfortunately arguably one of the brightest lights decided to take the plunge to League One football with MK Dons. Robbie Neilson for such a young manager did a truly fantastic job at Tynecastle and proved to the Hearts board that hiring a young manager is a worthwhile venture, something which may have influenced their decision to hire Ian Cathro.
Whatever about their fans, Hearts have shown a bit of courage and conviction in appointing Cathro and the fact that the conservative football writers in Scotland slammed their decision to appoint him is a damning condemnation of how backwards and uninventive Scottish football can be.
Celtic are the only team who can actually attract talent from down south, and not end up with some plonker with a magic hat, but with one of the best managers in Britain. Celtic haven’t had a massive allegiance to hiring Scottish managers either, since arguably as far back the 1990’s. Since Liam Brady, our first Irish manager since Willie Maley, Celtic have had Burns and Strachan as their only Scottish managers in that time period and have had a Dutchman, a Slovakian, an Englishman born in Jamaica, three Irishmen and a Norwegian in the rest of the period. Mowbray and Lennon are the only men to manage the club who actually played for Celtic since 2000, although we have had many fans who became managers, like Mr Rodgers. Perhaps the “Rangers Man” fascination is only an Ibrox problem when it comes to hiring managers and serves to blinker their board. Only the recently mentioned Pedro Caixinha didn’t play for the club amongst the long list of possible managers. He’s also one of the few non Scotsmen. Their list of current candidates makes even Warbiola look exciting.
The favourite is Alex McLeish, an absolute dinosaur of manager, who will not only make Sevco worse to watch but will only serve to make “the dark and muddy SPL” as Billy Connolly once referred to it, even darker.
“But Celtic need Rangers!”
Nah mate, we’ll keep on shining the light for Scottish football whilst you appoint sub-par managers and try desperately to close the chasm in class that exists in Scottish football.
C’mon the Hoops and Long Live the Rodgers Revolution!
Kevin John Thomson