However for far too long the board as well as the supposedly more grounded members of our following have beat us to the point of apathy with that stick. To be honest I’m sick of hearing it. Yes Rangers are an example of how not to run a football club etc, etc, yada, yada , yada. But at the end of the day we are not Rangers. We are Celtic. Let’s keep our own house in order and concentrate on what we’re doing for a change.
And here my friends lies the problem. For too long now the board have blatantly and point blank refused to take any responsibility for the disaster which has been snow balling at Celtic over the last 2 seasons. In that time we have died on our arse in Europe time and time again. Okay getting put out of the Champs League qualifiers by Arsenal is no disgrace but the campaigns in last seasons Champs League and this season’s Europa league have been almost carbon copies of each other. We haven’t exactly collapsed and ended up as the group laughing stock ala Rangers this term but it’s been poor and more disturbingly amongst increasingly lesser opposition. Finishing behind that European super power Hapoel Tel Aviv in particular is a sore one.
Added to that there have been the pathetic exits to St Mirren in last years Scottish cup quarter final, Hearts at home in this season’s League cup and in an ‘ordeal’ that requires no introduction last Saturday’s rather disgusting exit to Ross County….from Dingwall……in the Highlands.
Every so often shocking results will happen to big clubs (lest we forget this season Man U got knocked out of the FA cup by a club playing around 44 positions below them in the English leagues and at their own midden to boot) but for my money such results have been happening to us with a little too much regularity.
We all know it’s been a disastrous season. Some people still feel the need (which is getting beyond tired in my opinion) to somehow still attribute some blame to Strachan whilst still trying to partially admonish Mowbray for his part in…..well….his own downfall. Personally I never thought he was up to it. Easy to say after the event I know and rather mute now anyway but my own belief was that getting in a manager who’d spent a season rooted to the eternally overrated English Premiership was not what was required. From the off Mowbray contradicted himself, continuously used the term ‘take it on the chin’ until we were all lining up to satisfy this whim and brought in, for the best part, a load of pish while selling up hardly great but dependable and steady performers. N’Guemo, Thompson, Fortune, Braafheid, Zi, Kamara, Ki and Fox were all to say the least found wanting. To be honest they’re all duds. Young, inexperienced, work in progress duds with potential to be not as bad duds I’ll grant you but duds none the less. It also pretty bad batting average. I mean not one consistent, dependable or impressive singing out of over half a team’s worth of signings not surprisingly contributed heavily to us sitting 13 points behind Rangers and being out of 3 competitions before he got his jotters. I have no sympathy for Tony. He talked about long term thinking yet populated the team with loan signings and didn’t relocate his young family to the location of this ‘long term project’. He leaves us with his reputation in tatters but his bank balance swollen and I have little doubt that he would have plenty of Championship based suitors come the summer. In that I wish him all the best and hope he takes away something valuable and helpful from such a harsh lesson.
Of course Mowbray’s failings aside the only reason he was at the club was because the board chose him. It was he they in their wisdom deemed to be the man capable of maintaining the status-quo of winning trophies while adding a more exciting brand of football. In that they got it wrong. Badly wrong. And have they rectified it? No they have not. Instead they have dithered. They have thrown Neil Lennon to the wolves as he attempts to merge non existent top level management experience with the shower of duds he’s been lumbered with in an already shaky , to say the least, attempt at salvaging something from our worst season in over a decade. I refuse to believe for one minute that up until the St.Mirren capitulation which sealed Mowbray’s fate that the board had not only considered but had in deed actively investigated a possible replacement for him if indeed things should get so bad that the already shaky peg his jacket he was on fell off and indeed brought down the dressing room wall it had been stuck to, with it.
From what I’ve heard and what I just feel deep down based on my observations of the ‘Big 3’ on the Celtic board such investigations were implemented but ultimately the cheap option reared it’s ugly head again and messrs Desmonds, Reid and Lawwell just could not say no. For some people Lennon was the obvious choice to ‘steady the ship’ but for me a great opportunity was lost to bring in someone who could not only use their experience to secure 2nd place, win the final Old Firm game and bag a trophy but also assess the squad in a competitive environment not permitted in pre-season and know exactly what was required for the season ahead. Barring an unforeseeable turn around in the fans fortunes via an unprecedented level of drive and ambition by our board, such an opportunity looks lost and instead Lenny will be left to fight against the overwhelming atmosphere of indifference and misplaced ego he no doubt encounters on the training pitch and in the dressing room.
But this is just the latest gaff in a series of other’s perpetrated by the Celtic PLC since the departure of Martin O’Neil. Some would say it began with the arrival of Gordon Strachan as Martin’s replacement (something I have little time for myself) though the most obvious early examples were the 2 blatant ‘board’ signings made in Gordon’s first 2 seasons. Firstly Roy Keane, who had just enough left to get away with it on the field. What I do remember vividly about that signing though was Lawwell’s nonsense about how this wasn’t just a retirement party thrown on by Dermot Desmond for a crocked player long deemed surplus to requirements by Alex Ferguson. No Keane was here for 18 months with the possibility of an extension. So it’s fair to say that 5 months later after a limited contribution to us winning the 05/06 championship my eye brow was raised when Keane announced his retirement because he didn’t want to sell us short. Lawwell was unavailable for comment.
Then came Thomas Gravesen. Cast out due to serious emotional problems at Real Madrid where he had taken to sporadically attacking his team mates at training the board decided that he was the man to bolster the 2006 Champions league campaign. The rest of course is history. Gravesen was paid a fortune to sell the knickers at Old Trafford, run around like a headless chicken in the final old firm game of the season at Ibrox while Strachan looked on with his head nodding in disgust, generally not follow any instructions he was given and disappear into reserve team obscurity before retiring somewhat unnoticed.
Finally the tour-de-force came in the January transfer window of 2009 when with the Celtic team overly reliant on an unfit Scott McDonald for goals while Samaras, JVOH and Killen couldn’t hit a barn door, decided to remedy the situation by singing Dundee Utd’s on loan midfield general Willo Flood for the paltry sum of £250,000 while Stephen Fletcher sat tearing what ever hair out he has left over in Leith praying that Mr Lawwell might make a follow up call.
Sitting beside him during all of this was John Reid. Despite the sanity of any man being called into question who actually bought George W. Bush’s bullshit of WMD’s in Iraq, Mr Reid with his abrasive, some might say petulant attitude to criticism was deemed to be the right choice to be voice piece for the club. Exactly what he has brought to the club can be described in one simple term…..’nothing’. Whilst his predecessor Brian Quinn would make valid and reasoned arguments for the clubs position on things both on and off the pitch , Reid decided to adopt a different tact and instead went for the jugular of any mere common Celtic fan and shareholder who dare question the at times obvious mismanagement of the board. His treatment of Jeanette Finlay at the last AGM was pitiful while remaining typical and his statement about the financial plight of Rangers was embarrassing drivel when he had a perfect play form just put the boot in.
Unless a strong manager is brought in, money is spent and the team is improved ten fold, resulting in us looking capable in Europe and leading the league over the financially crippled lot from Govan by the next time the time the next AGM arrives then enough is enough and it’s time for the Lawwell / Reid double act to walk, or preferably get punted, and for someone with a clear, concise and optimistic vision to be brought in.