Clear The Air Talks Suggest Serious Problems In Paradise

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Few moments in the unfolding drama at Celtic Park have scared me as profoundly as the news, today, that Ronny Deila held “clear the air” talks with his players at Lennoxtown this afternoon, and already some in the media are suggesting those talks were not exactly all sweetness and light.

Clear the air talks between the manager and the players are rarely a sign of anything good.

Their very nature suggests either that the boss is laying down the law and reminding people who is in charge – which presupposes that’s being questioned – or are him essentially giving in to dissenting voices and allowing for some flexibility in his approach.

Most of us would welcome a change in approach, but that ought to come from a manager in full control of his own vision. It can’t be forced on him by other agencies, otherwise his authority is completely shot.

As bad as things are, that makes them worse.

I guess we’ll know soon enough which it is.

If the players won’t play for a manager then it’s all over.

If they are pushing him around then it’s close to being over because once his authority has been undermined, and then surrendered, the result isn’t a better team but one that plays without a structure or guidance and just as the players themselves please.

His comments were horrible, suggestive of more than just a failure to communicate. He talked of players “being in their own cages” and of confidence being low and about people needing to be on the same page going forward.

I would have thought the destination and the requirements for getting there would be pretty clear to every single person inside Celtic Park at this point. If they’re not, and his words do not inspire you to believing they are, then … well, that’s pretty bad, right?

Let’s face it, these stories aren’t exactly new.

We’ve all heard whispers and rumours and in October of last year we were treated to the incredible sight of Kris Commons having a very public meltdown in Norway after being substituted during the 3-1 defeat at the hands of Molde, a result and a performance which saw previously silent fury at the direction of the club erupt full scale.

As much as many sympathised with Commons and agreed with his scorching verdict that night – telling Collins to “listen to the fans” – a lot of us were of the opinion that his actions were so unprofessional that he should never pull on a Celtic shirt again.

Ronny’s decision to leave things with a “talking to” was a worrying sign that he didn’t feel strong enough to assert his dominance in that situation and that might even have been a contributory factor in the events that have led to today’s training ground showdown.

At the time I actually felt Commons’ behaviour was grossly irresponsible.

Now I wonder if perhaps they weren’t the actions of someone thinking of more than just himself and being prepared to take one for the team. He had to know that was a potential Celtic career ending moment; I wonder now if he didn’t think of that as a risk he was willing to take.

Today is one of those days you kind of feel is a turning point.

It must have been a searing experience for everyone in attendance at that meeting, and if the board didn’t have at least one representative in that room – a non management team one – it will be an abrogation of their responsibilities so stark it defies rationale.

They will know what the mood in the dressing room is like, and if they trust their source and value his advice they’ll know whether it’s recoverable or not.

They already know how the fans feel.

The empty seats tell one story. The reaction of those who turned up last night to sit in theirs tells another, and their verdict may well end up being the most important in clarifying the thinking of people inside Parkhead.

We needed a day like this like a guy needs the dentist’s drill without anaesthetic.

The fans were always going to be expressing grave doubts today (and rarely have I seen such near unanimity amongst our supporters) but few of us had expected that it would include a full-scale summit between manager and players to sort out differences there.

We are in a Hell of a spot right now.

Never, ever, ever has this club been more in need of real leadership at the top.

To read the earlier article on the only man who can provide that click here.

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