By Thomas Hanlon
In March 2016 I was invited to meet Peter Lawwell at Celtic Park, this had followed a series of correspondence going back to November the previous year.
Celtic had suffered back to back European defeats v Molde and I had emailed the Fans Liaison Officer to express my view that even though it was obvious that Ronny’s appointment was not working out on field performances were not good enough, the powers that be were happy enough with how things were going.
I was assured by John Paul Taylor that the board did indeed care and that if I had any further comments that I should email them to him and he would in turn pass them on. Aside from the on field stuff, this was the time where there was much discussion about Ian Livingston (a member of the board and Tory Peer) and how the policies of his parties conflicted with the Founding principles of Celtic.
As I got on my high horse, I made a great deal about my membership of The Society of St Vincent De Paul (an organization linked to the foundation of the club)
Mr Lawwell was very courteous and civil with me in the discussion, which lasted around 45 minutes. He explained, justifiably, that as a club open to all, all employees of every political persuasion would leave their allegiances at the door.
Following on from the meeting (I stress, that I take no credit or influence) the Celtic Foundation has taken on a greater and more high profile role within the club, I would add that it the one area of the club that remains free from any criticism. Regarding Ronny Deila, Peter Lawwell spoke of what appeared to be a sound strategy. Deila was a highly rated (in coaching circles) young manager with a reputation for developing talent.
We couldn’t compete with England and would focus on developing players.
There are different viewpoints whether Ronny laid the groundwork for the last 3 years or if Rodgers (boo hiss) turned around a ship that was off course. Regardless, I accepted that there was a strategy, Deila might not have been the right appointment, but he was the right sort of appointment.
Fast-forward to now and where is our Strategy?
It appears to me win 9 and 10 in a row and to sacrifice any progress in Europe. And do it on the cheap. I think just being the best time in Scotland stopped being the summit for our support a long time ago. With the greatest of respect to our competition, being the best in Scotland is not ambitious and it does not require us to be “World class in what we do”, it is very much small time.
Harry and Mark Cooper in particular have spoken about having a proper recruitment policy and modern structure.
I suggest that Mr Lawwell only seeks to work with individuals he knows, as he aims to secure his legacy. To run the club for the benefit of one man is not forward thinking in my view, it is small time. To limit our scouting players in England is small time. To allow confidential documents to be leaked online is small time. To appoint a manager “who knows the City” (appoint a tour guide then) is small time. To admit publicly to having no proper recruitment process is small time. To make low ball offers for young talent like McGinn and Turnbull (and to rightly turn your nose up if such an offer was made to us) is small time.
I will wait to see what next season brings, but this phrase comes to mind
“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it.”