Yesterday, after some urging, I sat down to write a story I had been assured was 100% true by a good source, and which was starting to appear in certain places online. At the crux of it was a question, the one that sits at the head of this article.
Did Sevco make Pedro Caixinha their number one target without first formally interviewing him for the post?
This sounds too ridiculous to possibly be true, doesn’t it?
It sounds breath-takingly barmy, the sort of thing that is way too incredible to be taken even remotely seriously.
Any club who did something like that … well, there’s no words for how insane that would be.
I started to write the story.
I got as far as 500 words – an average tabloid hack’s daily output – and basically talked myself out of finishing it. I did some online checking and found that The Daily Record was saying the club and Caixinha had been in talks for “a week” before the story found its way into the papers, and that their top delegation had met him in London.
And based on that report I shelved the article.
I must be a mug. Can you believe I shelved this on the back of a Daily Record report?
I should have the word tattooed on my forehead.
Because my source emailed me again today and asked where the story was.
He told me, again, that Caixinha somehow got through the process without having been interviewed by members of the Sevco board in face to face talks, that there was one conversation with his agents in London but no actual direct meeting. Today Johnjames has run a piece saying that the negotiations were held over Skype, which … I dunno … sounds outrageous but does gel with what I’m hearing from elsewhere. And as ridiculous as it sounds … I am partly convinced.
First, I’m told the disquiet over this appointment is profound within the club.
That’s not a secret. The media knows that the board is divided on it, that others at Ibrox are baffled. The whole media narrative over this is skewed against truth and much of what we’ve read about the process has been a tissue of outright lies, piled on top of one another.
I know some of it. I’ve guessed some, but my guesses are good ones based on the evidence we see in front of us.
And something is seriously wrong with the media narrative.
First, Sevco’s managerial “hunt” was said to have been “extensive.” How extensive? Well if you look at it through one end of the telescope it looks pretty far-flung. After all, they are bringing in a manager who was based in Doha, who’s last job before that was in Mexico and who has also coached in Brazil and Portugal. That’s extensive alright. To have combed through a truly global list to arrive at … this guy?
And that’s where the first alarm bells should have been ringing.
Because a global managerial search led them here? To a guy who’s not coached in Europe in five years? A guy to head up a long-term restructuring who’s been at ten clubs in various roles but has never stopped at one for longer than two years? Whose team was playing in the Qatari league? This was the best, the very best, their global search could come up with?
Are we really expected to believe that?
What I’m told happened is much simpler than that; Sevco got an email from this guy’s agent and he offered his services, with his contract winding down in Doha and facing an uncertain future and exactly zero interest from elsewhere.
Zero interest, right?
You’ll doubtless have read the story linking him to a team in South America yesterday … utter PR inspired guff.
So how did this really come about?
For openers, he knew more about Scottish football than they did about him. A lot more.
Because, as we’re now all aware, he does have a certain affection for our own club. So he knew there was a vacancy at Ibrox.
Perhaps – and this is me being cheeky, but is it out of the question, especially given our own links to Doha which have grown in the last few years – it was even a mischievous suggestion from inside Celtic Park that inspired him to try for it?
I know this about his club over there; there was no offer to extend his contract; the club made that quite clear in their email yesterday, which the media highlighted but no-one went out of their way to examine. The stories that he was about to be offered a £2 million a year deal but fancied Ibrox and a fraction of that instead sounded exactly like what they were … sheer fantasy.
Then there was the tale of how he was so keen on the Ibrox move that he was willing to write his club a personal cheque to get out of his contract, a story so laughable I did a piece mocking it and the writer.
This all reeked of spin-doctoring and PR sweat. Who’s? His? His agents? A little Level 5 obfuscation? A bit of all of it, I think. His people were clearly feeding the press tit-bits all the way through this, and they were, of course, running them as per usual.
It all felt, even early on, like “Motherwell Born Billionaire” style stuff.
Bullfighting and jet-skiing?
I mean, seriously … talk about blowing smoke for cover.
But what exactly was being covered?
That the guy made the approach and not the other way around?
Well, that’s just the way these things happen sometimes. Jose Mourinho himself publicly advertised his own services to Manchester United far in advance of taking the job. It happens. But a guy managing in Doha doesn’t end up in Scotland just because he told people “Hey, I’m here. Come and get me if you want me.”
What kind of “deep background” did the club do on this guy? I’ll tell you how much; none. They were completely caught on the hop by initial stories that he’d worked for Celtic. They didn’t have a clue about that connection (which was simply that he’d been offered the gig and a colleague of his had taken it instead) and the story ran for days before the facts of it were publicised through the guy who actually got the job.
But the club didn’t know about any of that, far less about the video that surfaced yesterday, a PR disaster they could have headed off themselves had they been aware of it.
But what convinces me there’s something more wrong here than just where they found this guy and who approached who is in the timeline.
Mark Warburton was sacked four weeks ago now.
The “global search”, which some in the media lamented was taking too long, was actually done in one big hurry. They admit that they accelerated the process when the club lost more ground in the league. In that hurry, would it be terribly surprising if they didn’t tick every box and cover all the bases?
Was there a meeting in London between him and the club? I don’t know. I’ve been told there wasn’t a direct face to face, and on one hand I have that version and on the other I have what appeared in The Daily Record, the same paper which has misled at every step of the way here. So I have no reason to believe or disbelieve it, just a hunch which is that he probably did fly over and sit down with someone representing the club, if not a board member.
But The Record’s report in which that story appears said the talks had been on-going for “over a week.”
And that had to have been done long distance; so a lot of the talks have taken place over Skype or some other such network.
Sevco held “follow up interviews” with their shortlist.
Which there has to be, right?
Because otherwise this guy was the only candidate they considered … and that is too crazy to be believed, isn’t it?
I’ll tell you this right now; Pedro Caixinha did not attend any follow up interview.
The timeline – and I’ve been over and over it – does not fit.
No-one from Ibrox flew out there to meet him and he sure as Hell didn’t fly to the UK.
If there has been a face-to-face at all … it was the only one.
Apart from the obvious failure to find a hole in the respective schedules when a follow-up meeting took place, you can tell how detailed the chats have been by the fact that until yesterday terms hadn’t been agreed between the club and the manager.
How extensive does a conversation about you coming to take over a club have to get before that’s resolved?
This is not supposition.
This has been widely reported in the press, who as usual have taken only that fact and not bothered to look at the context of it and what it means.
The club has hired this guy blind. If there was a meeting at all between its reps and him it lasted, at most, a few hours. The rest has been snatches of conversation by long distance communication. Talks were so advanced that they hadn’t got to brass tacks on his contract or salary until this week. We know this process was “rushed”. Everyone involved admits it, but the way this guy’s appointment has been put together is spectacularly haphazard.
Football experts from around the country are expressing private disbelief over this series of events.
Candidates who might have thought they merited at least an interview or an approach are angry, some are even hurt by it. All are asking what credentials this guy has that they didn’t possess, and why the process appears to have been so closed off.
None of it makes much sense. A decision of gigantic importance has been made in a manner that blows your mind. If this was Celtic, every aspect of this would be laid bare in the media already. Instead, the hacks are preparing for a coronation.
Sevco could have hired one of a dozen guys out there who wanted it, all Real Rangers Men … they could have bought some certainty.
But certainty of what? Second place at best.
So they’ve hired someone so outlandish, so off the wall, such an unknown quality, that no-one can say, for sure, how it will turn out.
They deliberately went for uncertainty … because they can sell that.
This is by far the craziest thing I’ve heard out of Ibrox save for the story about the water board.
But I believe that some version of this is true.
Pedro Caixinha’s agent got in touch with Sevco a few weeks ago and said he’d be interested in the job.
On the back of that approach the club held, at most, one meeting with him or his reps, they exchanged a few phone calls … and on the basis of those they ditched every other candidate and handed him their future as a viable entity on a plate.
And now they are praying he doesn’t drop it.