Today there are three interesting stories online which kind of tie together and make me smile.
The first is the “news” that Sevco should be wildly optimistic about the prospects of netting Frank De Boer. That’s the subject of the piece, but first let me tell you about the other two news items because they slot alongside this one very neatly.
Over in the States, there’s a real battle brewing over the continuing use of the death penalty in some states and in Federal cases. Controversy over this is not new in America; it would be strange if it was. The current debate has arisen because Pfizer, one of the biggest drug companies in the world, has steadfastly refused to provide any more of the chemicals necessary in the lethal injection cocktail, which is how the majority of the US executes people.
The alternatives are pretty horrendous; the firing squad or the electric chair.
Lethal injection cuts down on all the “cruel and inhumane treatment” arguments so beloved of anti-death penalty lawyers over there. It’s also cheaper.
Now with a shortage of chemicals, some states are going back to their even more barbaric methods and opening up a big legal can of worms.
Not Arizona. They are determined to stick to lethal injection, so much so that their justice department proposed a highly original – in other words, frankly ludicrous – solution; that the condemned individual’s own legal team may, if they choose, provide the drugs rather than rely on the courts to do it. Needless to say, this suggestion hasn’t gone down terribly well with anyone outside the state attorney’s office, and even there some think it’s a step too far.
For one thing, it’s illegal, but that seems less important an obstacle than the utter absurdity of the idea itself.
Imagine arguing for a man’s life and then handing the prosecution the tools to kill him if your appeal fails?
Whoever came up with that is a moron.
Yet it seems that such notions are not confined to the United States; here at home Sevco has been advertising today for “volunteers” to work outside the ground on match-days; most of us would call them stewards. They are licensed, trained and compensated for their time. These people wouldn’t be. Now this may, or may not, violate health and safety regulations as regards ground safety, but the idea itself is pretty cheeky at best.
We know the club is skint, that it has difficulty paying people without soft loans. But surely compromising spectator safety, at a ground where there have been two high profile, fatal, accidents, just to save a few quid is beyond even them?
At the same time, Stewart Robertson is telling all and sundry that they will squander what precious cash they do have on a whole new layer of bureaucracy, by installing a Director of Football. Under him, if you believe what you’re hearing, they will appoint a new management team spearheaded by a man who will have “the wow factor.”
Dangerous, delusional nonsense, all of it.
The name their fans seem most enamoured with is Frank De Boer, and I read the newspaper reports about that link today with great interest. It never ceases to amaze me how much mileage the media can get out of vague, non-committal statements from people.
De Boer’s agent is all over the media today because the guy hasn’t ruled out going to Sevco.
Of course he hasn’t. If he had no other offers and he was desperate, of course he would go. Most managers would if they were out of work long enough and were willing to take whatever offer came along. To be fair to De Boer he’s not going to be one of those.
Amongst the nonsense, his agent made a startling claim, which I didn’t even bother to check out; that when he came to Ibrox in one of the last spending splurges before it all started tumbling down that Frank De Boer worked for free. I actually burst out laughing reading that, and in particular the assertion that if we have doubts we should ask David Murray.
I wouldn’t ask David Murray if he thought it was raining on a stormy day.
If he said yes I would doubt the truth of it even if I was standing outside in the downpour.
The guy went on to say that De Boer’s next move might not necessarily be dictated by money; again, that provoked some sniggering. Not many agents put it out there that their client is willing to work cheap. It does make him sound rather desperate, doesn’t it?
But aside from this “come and get me” plea, made not so much to Sevco but to clubs all over Europe, there was some hard truth; he won’t work for nothing, unlike the poor sods Sevco wants to do their stewarding outside the ground. But there are other criteria, which he’s clearly putting on the table to temper the fevered expectations of a support who have been lied to long enough, and by everyone who was supposed to level with them.
De Boer wants to go to a club with a vision, a plan.
Which rules them out straight away.
Because as Stewart Robertson has made crystal clear in the last few days the board doesn’t have one of those. They can dress it up however they want, but this stuff about appointing a Director of Football is being considered because they want someone whose job it is to come up with a plan because they’re unable to.
So what are they going to tell De Boer if he comes for the interview?
“Oh we’re bringing in a guy who’ll tell you that when he’s done his strategic review”?
I think not. No manager would accept that as a club’s long term strategy, especially when the DoF will have no idea what resources will be available to do the job.
Which brings me to De Boer’s second criteria; he would want to know there was money available to improve the squad. That, too, would be a problem at Ibrox. As King’s statement makes abundantly clear, the “blue chip signings” of Rossiter, Barton and Kranjcar were supposed to be the manager’s total outlay for the summer window. I don’t see De Boer, who spent some £40 million in his time at Ajax, being happy with free transfers.
His third criteria would be that he takes over a decent squad.
I call that game, set and match.
It says a lot that Warburton was desperate to tie up new deals for Miller and Hill and that he was happy to start two loanees in the first team these last few weeks. The rest of the squad is useless, a colossal waste of resources the club couldn’t afford.
Without tens of millions to spend, Celtic are going to be uncatchable. Any new manager knows he’s on a hiding to nothing, and De Boer’s career has already taken a hit with his short-lived stay at Inter Milan. There is no way he’s going to move to Ibrox to suffer humiliation on top of that, and being jettisoned for it before any plan he makes is even two years old.
Furthermore, King’s idiot statement has dealt a death blow to their chances of getting any top manager to come to the club. Showing ambition, seeing the club as a “stepping stone” will not be permitted; his demand for ultimate loyalty – to a club which will show none to the manager himself – is the latest irrational demand.
All of this is insane, of course, this whole concept of them going out and bringing in a coach who can “challenge Celtic” when what they need more than anything is a plan which ensures that their very survival is a viable option.
De Boer will not come cheap, no matter what his agent says, and the kind of package that would be required to bring him in is far beyond the club’s ability to pay.
The new manager, when he is finally announced, will be a huge step down from this level. That they are willing to leave Murty in place for the moment is one of the smartest decisions they’ve taken, because an interim manager would have been a disastrous option as at the very least they’d have had to offer him some hope of getting the job long term, thus limiting their room to maneuverer in the here and now. But Murty himself is a gigantic risk.
Risk is now everywhere they turn.
It’s an unavoidable consequence of the decisions that have led them to this place and time.
Going after someone like De Boer would be a risk with the future of the club. Appointing someone like McLeish or Davies is a smaller risk, but scares them more because of the way it’ll make them look to their supporters.
In reality, this club has narrowed itself and its attractiveness as a prospect so much that it’s now only one of the “Real Rangers Men” who would even consider taking on this poisoned chalice. It’s a little like being leader of the Labour Party; the next election, perhaps the next two, are a write-off. You’re simply marking time until your sacking.
No agent, anywhere, is going to willingly submit his guy to that; you would be as well asking a defence lawyer to buy the drugs that will allow the state to more easily put your client to death. Warburton will be the warning note to anyone even considering the Ibrox job, and the way they’ve treated him may yet be what burns the whole King project to the ground.
This club still labours under the monster of all shadows, and it’s not the one reaching from Celtic Park. It’s the one reaching out from the grave of Rangers. Like Norman Bates, this obsession with keeping alive what’s long since dead is palpably unhealthy.
If these people don’t embrace reality soon they’re going to have to embrace the full consequences of persisting in this madness.
No matter which gloss their board puts on this, it doesn’t have a happy ending.
They would be far better admitting that to their supporters instead of stringing them along.