Last night, as Celtic was moving forward, and with us Scottish football, Chick Young got into a bizarre debate on Radio Scotland over the respective merits of Ronny Deila and Derek McInnes.
Chick, who’s mouth often boldly goes where his brain has never gone before, told the studio audience and the listening public – when people wanted to concentrate on the achievements of Ronny and this Celtic team – that McInnes is the best manager in Scotland.
This behaviour is baffling and could only have come from someone not fully engaged with reality, or worse; someone who was flagrantly denying reality to arrive at a set conclusion.
Chick is a strange dude.
For years he’s been the one member of the BBC Sports team (at least since Traynor left) who has falsely claimed to be a supporter of one of the “wee teams.”
Quite why he bothered I don’t know, as it is utterly obvious to anyone who listens to him for longer than five minutes that he’s complete infatuated with all things Ibrox.
At times he has gone so far, so blind in his devotion, that other members of the panel have openly mocked him for it, and that includes the aforementioned Traynor who was famous for his own equally ludicrous insistence that he supported Airdrie.
(Which, of course, is why he devoted the final column of his career to batting for the club that helped put them out of business, and then went to work for their resurrected corpse.)
Chick’s opinions are occasionally of the barmy variety, but there’s something about his expressing this view at this moment in time that needles me.
It is indicitive of a wider contempt for Ronny that runs through the Scottish press like red through a stick of Blackpool rock.
Today Graham Spiers has penned an article saying that our manager has still not proved himself, and that his “real test” will be getting us through the next round of qualifiers.
Last week another of the hacks said that losing to Qarabag would be “a sacking offense” as if it was us, not them, who’d spent £30 million last season.
All this questioning of our manager and his credentials … his ability … it’s tiresome and in light of the love being poured on a guy across town, a guy in his fifties with no achievements in the game and precisely eighteen months coaching experience, it is loathsome.
I don’t expect these guys to pander to our club and our manager.
The club on the other side of town do enough of that for ten clubs, even banning hacks who don’t toe the line.
What I do expect is some consistency, some intellectually honesty.
I’ll say this for Chick, although I disagree profoundly with what he’s saying he at least has some moderate basis for which to do so.
McInnes is clearly a good coach, a very talented guy who is going to do well in the game.
He has a Championship trophy to his name and a League Cup.
He’s won things. He’s achieved.
I just don’t think he’s close to Ronny’s level, and I say this because not just because of what he’s achieved in Scotland but because Deila has won a title with an unfancied club.
I would be willing to forgive Chick for his view if I actually thought he believed it himself, instead of simply letting his prejudices run riot.
He was ranting, like a nutjob, during the last Champions League round as well, all told, saying the team were “rank rotten” and that Deila had gone backwards.
His colleagues didn’t agree. Some of them are able to see what Ronny has got.
They thought the Champions League performances so far were the signs of a maturing coach, who was more understanding of the unique demands of that competition, and that stage.
They praised Ronny whilst Young flayed him alive.
That just comes across as bitter and bitchy and biased.
Chick is a raving loon of a commentator.
The guy doesn’t have enough brains in his head to start a game of marbles.
Even his fellow anchors don’t take him seriously, but it grates somewhat that the taxpayer is funding his barmy behaviour.
Spiers isn’t so annoying, but you often get the impression that he’s a little too in love with himself to see things clearly.
His assertion that Ronny has still not proved that he’s got the stuff is frankly mad, and the fact he actually went out and found someone from Norway to echo his doubts proves that he was looking for evidence to support his own case rather than building a complete picture.
See Spiers doesn’t get off here the way Young does.
Cause I’ve been reading him for a long time and he’s definitely not a halfwit.
He writes very well, and on occasion quite brilliantly.
His book on Paul LeGuen, for example, was journalistic excellence and so I know he’s fully capable of giving a balanced, and complete, picture of a manager.
He could have spoken to a number of the top journalists over there, for example, many of whom would have praised Ronny to the heavens.
He could have spoken to some of the future leaders Ronny addressed in his spectacular motivational speech, the one I recommend that everyone track down and watch on YouTube, before coming to Celtic Park.
He could have spoken to some of those players – like Johansen – who have had their careers monumentally enhanced by his impact.
Ronny was an abysmal (and so far still unexplained) refereeing decision away from the Scottish Cup Final last season.
If he’d reached that the chances are very good indeed that he’d be a first season treble winner.
When he led the team into the European campaign last season he did it when he was in the door five minutes, with players he didn’t know and who’s skills he wasn’t sure of.
No manager – no manager anywhere – could have led our club through those games securely with so much uncertainty and change behind the scenes.
The media assumes we’re stupid; that we blame Ronny for that.
Most of us understand what happened.
Furthermore, some of us look at the present squad and, although largely satisfied with the progress he’s made in building his team, see the profound lack of ambition above him at the club.
When Nadir Ciftci is “Plan A” for getting you to the Champions League group stages then you know they’re not exactly bending over backwards to give him what he needs.
Being blunt, if we fail to get through to the Champions League groups I will certainly apportion a large part of the blame to other people at Celtic Park.
People are going to say I’m paranoid, that these are the words of a guy who doesn’t like any opinion that conflicts with his own.
But I’ve already acknowledged the undisputed talents of McInnes; that man has earned the respect of the comparison, at least.
But the depth of their bias shines through when you consider the same media that has been casting aspersions on the skills of a man who was a league and cup winning manager at Strømsgodset before he won a double at Parkhead are the same people wetting their pants over Mark Warburton, who is the very definition of an unknown quality, having been in management for less than 24 months and who is already in his fifties.
This guy, by the way, didn’t arrive in Scotland via AC Milan.
He came from Brentford, and his relative “success” at that club has to be viewed in the context of what is the craziest and most unpredictable league in Europe, and one which throws up a new hero every year. It should also be noted that they got shot of him and there was no queue of clubs at the door to offer him work.
We should know how volatile the English Championship is, and how even winning that league does not a top manager make.
We appointed a guy who did that, and that little experiment ended disastrously at St Mirren.
Their double standards are shocking.
For years Ally got a free ride, now Warburton sweeps into the place with no scrutiny whatsoever.
In the meantime, Deila has to bleed for every morsel of praise.
And they question his ability?
They’d do better pondering on their own.