Of all the various portrayals of historical figures I’ve watched on TV and in movies down through the years, one of my clear favourites is that of Tobias Menzies’ Brutus in the astonishing HBO production Rome. His character is tremendously realised; a young man torn between his commitment to democracy and order and his loyalty to the man he regards as his second father, Julius Caesar. Menzies plays it with tremendous gravity and depth; he really is anguished over the choice he is finally forced to make, and never fully reconciles himself to it, even after the deed is done. In real life, as in the show, Brutus does eventually pick a side; history records the tragic, and game-changing, consequences of his decision.
I believe Keith Jackson feels such anguish this morning, as the state of Sevco becomes apparent even to him.
When Port Vale are telling the club they don’t trust them to pay £250,000 in instalments for their second string goalkeeper because they worry the club might not be around to settle the bill in full, then the scales have to fall off everyone’s eyes and reality faced up to at last.
In any crisis of this sort, one of the inevitable consequences is a certain amount of infighting. Earlier this month I suggested that we’ve seen the first cracks opening up on the Sevco board, but the divisions between the boardroom and the dressing room have always been much deeper and harder to bridge, and they are real in spite of the media’s attempts to ignore them. Warburton almost walked away in the summer. I’ve long thought it would have been better for him if he had. It’s too late now. He has truly crossed the Rubicon. His fate and that of the club are now intertwined. If he’s overwhelmed they will be, and vice versa.
Jackson wrote this morning about a growing rift inside the club, between the manager and the chairman.
He’s talked up the virtues of both in the past. He’s also pointed out their limitations. If two factions really are forming here, Keith is going to have to pick one of them to promote … his paper will want to be on the winning side.
Much as he and others would like to pretend otherwise, a reckoning has been coming here for a while now.
Jackson is one of a number of people in the Scottish media who will be fully aware of the summer’s flare up and how it almost ended. In fact, Jackson himself did as much as anyone to lay down the smoke which obscured the picture, allowing the club and the manager to bicker in private, whilst the fans were oblivious and bought season tickets. Jackson made sure that nobody was questioning Warburton’s lack of a post-Scottish Cup interview; everyone was focussed where the Sevco PR machine wanted them; on the aftermath of the game itself.
But as the summer wore on that kind of obfuscation got harder to sustain, and Warburton was bounced into making a decision he otherwise might have put off a little longer. When he demanded a couple of top earners King’s board spent a huge portion of the club’s money on bringing them in; they’ve been a disaster, of course. At the same time, King laid down the marker in the media for what the minimum requirement for the season was; a competitive second place.
Nobody can really believe Warburton has accomplished that goal.
Comparisons with Brendan are, of course, ludicrous. Jackson mentioned Warburton’s remuneration in his column today; that’s laughable, and only a desperate Scottish hack would have attempted to find some equivalence.
Warburton has no right to demand anywhere near Brendan’s salary and not simply because of the club’s respective league positions.
Brendan himself is a top drawer boss, an A-List manager who could walk into a job in the EPL if he decided to go. Warburton, for all the smoke the media here blows up his arse, is arguably only a third tier manager. He has never accomplished anything significant in the sport, has never been in charge of a top drawer side, has never demonstrated any tactical nous or ability to improve players. He is feted by the hacks here for reasons I’ve never been able to understand; even his much vaunted skills in working with youth players … are you serious? Where is the proof that he understands how to do it? He’s been at Ibrox for two years and signed over 20 players … so much for giving the kids who were there already a chance to shine.
In short, Warburton has done nothing to justify a higher salary than he is currently on.
If he asked for even a modest pay bump right now King would be perfectly entitled to laugh him out of the room. He certainly has no right to expect wage parity with Brendan Rodgers, and it’s just nonsensical to think otherwise. If he really is angry about the disparity between their respective salaries then, with all respect to him, he’s as delusional as Kris Boyd would be expecting to be paid at the same rate as someone like Sergio Aguero.
Jackson appears conflicted when it comes to Warburton. He knows the manager isn’t up to par; it’s not just the poor performances, it’s the signings, the tactics, the approach, the short term thinking, the lack of improvements in those he inherited … and that’s where the comparisons to Brendan really are a millstone around the guy’s neck. Jackson insists on trying anyway, although the limitations are obvious even to him,
Jackson is also conflicted over King, who’s cause he trumpeted, who’s arrival he heralded and who’s promises he faithfully pushed on a gullible fan-base who wanted, desperately, to believe. Jackson allowed himself and the paper he worked for to be used in elevating a charlatan without a plan. He feels angry about that, I’m sure, and probably a little dumb as well but that’s his own hard lines for being taken in in the first place. These people should have been on the lookout for trouble after what happened with Whyte and Green; how could they been so lax, so lazy, so stupid as to choose to believe the words of a “glib and shameless liar”?
It’s all in the past now, of course. The future is what has to be sorted out, and whilst people like me will be sniping from the side-lines and having fun come what may, others, like Jackson, will have to pick sides. He can’t sit on the fence between Warburton and King for much longer.
Jackson knows King is a busted flush; he and others in the media are too scared of what the Ibrox PR machine will do to them if they break ranks on that.
But he also knows that Warburton isn’t making things better.
He can kid on all he likes that money will solve that; give this guy money though and watch the dreck he spends it on.
Barton and Garner are Exhibits A and B.
Jackson has written articles critical of both men lately.
Now there’s a rift between them, and the club looks as if it might be swallowed in in-fighting.
Who’s to blame? King for not keeping his promises or Warburton for not doing his job better? If Jackson backs King then he’s essentially wedding himself to that man’s policies at the club. If he backs Warburton he’s essentially saying that King has sold the manager down the river. Either way, Keith might not find himself any more welcome at his favourite ground than he currently is in the East End.
I know why he doesn’t want to take that decision. I know why he’s torn. Even when one – or both – of those men have gone there’s no guarantee things will turn out well for the club in the aftermath. My money would be on even more chaos and turmoil.
Marcus Junius Brutus eventually joined the conspiracy against his “second father” Caesar and on 15 March 44 BC he and a group of his fellow senators murdered the dictator on the Senate floor. It didn’t have quite the impact the assassins hoped for.
Within 18 months every single one of them was dead, and Caesar’s young nephew Octavian had already put the Republic to the sword with them, ushering in the era of the emperors. Getting there proved to be even bloodier, with another civil war lying ahead of Rome before something approaching peace.
Civil war has to be one of the stupidest phrases ever; there’s nothing civil about it when two groups of people who should be on the same side fall out. The bloodletting is usually pretty awful, even when judged by the standard of other wars.
There’s often not much room for compromises either; the losers usually die.
Tread carefully Keith.
Your urge not to take any side is understandable enough. Sure as Hell you don’t want to pick the wrong one …
(If, indeed, there’s a right one at all in this nest of vipers.)
For the rest of us, it’s almost jelly and ice cream time again.