There’s a moment in the fourth season of The Thick Of It when the perma-raging spin doctor Malcolm Tucker walks into his leader’s office to find her starfished across the desk.
The sight infuriates him, but for once he keeps his emotions in check, in part because anger isn’t the foremost one he’s feeling at that particular moment.
What he feels instead is mounting dread about the person in front of him, and the direction she and the party are going in.
He has come to give her a pep talk (involving hacking off ears and wearing a necklace of them to prove she’s got the stuff for the job) but in that first despairing moment he tells her she looks more like someone who “at any moment might go and get a pillow from the car.”
The exasperation is exactly what I felt watching Ronny Deila yesterday.
I felt real, honest to God sympathy for the Celtic boss during that press conference, and I do not like that feeling, not one bit.
You know, I remember Neil Lennon telling the press once that he had bravely battled with depression for years, but he said that in a clear, calm voice that betrayed none of that. Neil looked anything but a man struggling with such demons.
Yesterday was a unique experience in that it’s the first time I’ve ever heard a Celtic manager talking as if he was being totally overwhelmed by things, as if he was a drowning man, floundering, waving his arms in the hope of being rescued.
And you know something? I don’t want to hear a Celtic manager talking like that, as if he might, at some point, make himself a wee bed and go for a sleep.
It doesn’t inspire confidence, not at all.
It makes doubts swell and grow.
How the Hell are we supposed to believe that this guy has the fortitude for the challenges that are coming?
I might not believe that Sevco will pose a major threat on the pitch next season – should they make it – but they will add to the burden on this guy and we’ll see intimidation, media pressure and Honest Mistakes go through the roof.
And you really do need to be built of strong stuff to stand up to it.
Neil Lennon was the toughest Celtic manager I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, and I often heard him talk about the toll the job took on him, as he stood up against threats, physical assaults and stuff that would make most people crawl into a corner.
Through it all, he kept a determined face on in public.
He never wavered.
I never once listened to him and thought “this is a guy on the verge of chucking it.”
What we got from the Celtic boss yesterday was, as VideoCelts said, a headline writer’s wet dream and for all people will accuse them of stirring it, he handed it to them on a plate. He’s a football boss under pressure and he volunteered that information in front of a hack pack that have the pencils sharpened for every negative they can find.
Sleepless nights and feeling like the police were at his door?
What we should have heard was fierce determination; “My side is ready, my side is confident, we’re going to win this wekeend’s game.”
Instead we got this … like something from Scottish football’s equivalent of Postcards From The Edge.
Honestly, do some Celtic fans think this is not a news story?
Those who’ve been going on about our club being under media attack … today your gripe is with the manager.
He gave this one to them with the engravers markings on it.
We might not like it … but damn, this is news any day of the week and if a Sevco manager had talked like this we’d be all over it, and everybody knows it.
What Ronny Deila did yesterday was either a calculated plea for sympathy – I don’t think it was, but that doesn’t stop me feeling manipulated in some way – or the genuine feelings of a guy who is coming apart at the seams.
Either way, that’s … not good, is it?
Neither for Ronny nor for Celtic.
I’ve said repeatedly that I don’t have any ill feelings towards Ronny Deila The Man, and I want to repeat that before the hysteria starts.
Ronny the Manager scares the bejesus out of me though, and I don’t even know which version that was yesterday but I’d happily live the remainder of my life without ever seeing that one in public again whilst he’s still quartered in the dugout at Celtic Park.