“Dougiegate” is a prime example of such a conspiracy. We have clear evidence that the referee lied and then attempted to compound his deceit by attempting to bully lesser officials so as to cover up his dishonesty and incompetence. All of this means nothing to Gordon Strachan, a little man so sure of his own certainty in life that mere facts or tangible evidence play no part. Then there is Strachan’s bizarre and offensive defence of the bigoted behaviour of Hugh Dallas. No sane Celtic supporter could conclude that through his actions and words down the years, that Dallas is anything other than a foe of Celtic. Gordon Strachan begs to differ and in so doing condemns himself to the label of idiot.
There were some generous minded Celtic supporters who up until recently sought to fight Strachan’s corner, citing his league triumphs as evidence of his commitment to the Celtic cause. Even they have had to concede that mini-mouth has gone too far in his latest obsequious attempt to court the Rangers media. After his disastrous spell at Middlesborough, the discredited manager is again on the lookout for a new challenge. Since his sacking in England, he has popped up with alarming regularity in the newspapers and on television in Scotland.
There has been an unspoken agreement that former Celtic employees do not comment upon the club, until at least a decent period of time has transpired since their departure. Strachan has no such inhibitions. After propelling ‘Boro to the relegation zone with alarming speed resulting in his sacking, you would have thought that he would have kept a very low profile. Some hope.
Following Celtic’s brilliant victory at Ibrox in the New Year, Strachan couldn’t resist informing all who would listen, that his pre-match advice to Neil Lennon regarding the selection and deployment of Samaras was pivotal in Celtic securing victory. The conclusion was simple; Strachan the old fox had guided young Lenny to success.
Samaras role was indeed vital, but the balance that Lennon achieved that day with a depleted squad would seem to suggest that the man from Lurgan managed to get quite a few of his own decisions right.
But modesty has never been Strachan’s trademark, neither has his inability to keep his big mouth shut especially when silence was the best and only option. Strachan has never restricted himself to solely football matters. He has ventured into areas where he really should not have gone. I can’t recall Jock Stein or Martin O’Neill venture opinions about society at large, lecturing others about their personal failings. By so doing, Strachan gives the impression of being impeccable and beyond reproach.
His sense of self-righteousness began to irritate a large section of the Celtic support especially towards the end of his tenure, just at the point when his managerial frailties were becoming all too apparent. It was no surprise that his arrogant and petulant demeanour alienated several Celtic players, most notably Aiden McGeady.
McGeady may have said and done a few daft things, but handled properly with the right man-management skills, Aiden has shown that he will knuckle down and be a team player. Under the soulless, pseudo-scientific approach characterized by the ubiquitous clipboard and copious note taking, Strachan sucked the life and soul out of Celtic. His tenure may have delivered a certain amount of fortuitous success (given Ranger’s parlous state under Le Guen and others), but in the process it ceased to be fun watching Celtic. Inflexible, predictable and boring, it was inevitable therefore that the master of this particular genre of football, Walter Smith, saw off his protégée with consummate ease at the first time of asking.
Last Sunday I had the privilege of watching a vibrant Celtic dismember the Smith/Strachan style of football. Neil Lennon understands the Celtic fans intuitively in a way that Strachan never could. The mind numbing percentage game of side passing, slow build up has given way to what is euphemistically known as the “Celtic way’.
Under Neil Lennon, there is pace, passion and movement, there is also evidence of a young manager who is ready to learn and be flexible, admit he has made mistakes and move on. These are the very traits that Strachan never had.
Despite his claim to be open to all and broad minded, Strachan is trapped by his background. He set his faith in what he regarded as tried and tested Scottish players; McManus, Robson, MacDonald and yes Kevin Thompson and Kris Boyd.
These signings at Middlesborough sum him up perfectly, over cautious and afraid.
Under a Strachan regime Hondurans and Israelis simply would never have featured. Youth was also abandoned as Strachan persisted with older players coming to the end of their careers. There is now clear evidence that John Park and the scouting system is being put to full use, something which did not happen under Strachan.
Celtic are back on the rails after a tricky period, we have seen enough to suggest that Lennon is learning on the job and should be encouraged to continue in the same manner. Whenever Strachan picks up the phone to give Neil some of his pearls of wisdom, Neil should simply put in the earplugs and smile. After all Gordon Strachan knows everything.