The domestic campaign in Scotland has yet to kick off and already certain sections of the Sevco support are encased in trauma.
They can see it all slipping away already and they aren’t wrong to, because it is.
The death clock is already ticking for their manager and his expensive team and with it the so-called “plan” for their future.
I love music, as regular readers will know, and one of my favourite bands are The Magnetic Fields. Once again, I’ve nicked one of their songs as the title for this piece and one of the verses sums up how a lot of Sevco supporters feel right now:
“I guess you’ve had your little joke, but I have lost my sense of humour. My medications wearing off, or it’s just not strong enough to cover this …”
And it’s appropriate because from the minute Caixinha walked through the doors at Ibrox that’s how it’s felt to a lot of us; like somebody having a laugh at the expense of their fans. There is nothing in Caixinha’s background to explain how he got there, nothing which makes sense of the mechanism by which he came to the attention of the club in the first place. The whole thing looked rushed, panicked, and the questions over it have only grown since.
One of the first things to leap out at me, early doors, was the splurge of information about his personal life which made it into the papers before he had even signed. None of it was in the slightest bit relevant to his abilities as a manager; we had the whole “bullfighter and jet-skier” thing as though you needed nerves of steel to prance around a ring with a dishtowel stabbing at a dumb animal, or to take a ride on the big waves.
Well you know what? I am just back from holiday and if you’ve got the Euros they let anybody who wants it have a shot on a jet-ski.
It’s about £40 in Gran Canaria.
Yet on the back of that we were fed all this “Portuguese James Bond” bollocks. You just knew, reading it, that his managerial CV would be about as substantial as a book by Victoria Beckham. A guy with a solid list of accomplishments doesn’t need to be sold like cheap tat from a market stall. A top manager sells himself. He stands out a mile.
Then there was the interview process.
As I wrote at the time, I had gotten it from a very good source that the club never actually met him before offering him the job.
Oh there were meetings in London, with somebody, but it appears to have been an agent rather than Caixinha himself, and I can say with absolute assurance that if an initial meeting took place that it was the only one. Representatives of the club met him for, at most, a couple of hours. There were no other face-to-face meetings until he flew into Glasgow to agree the deal. King, the chairman, played no part in the process at all.
Which, to me, is kind of mind-blowing.
None of it makes a bit of sense and I don’t think it’s supposed to either. I speculated that he was just for a show, a guy brought in to make do until they could find someone better because it just seemed to me the most ridiculous appointment imaginable, especially in that he was being put in place before the director of football post was filled.
And yet someone in Ibrox gave this guy a three year deal. On top of that, they’ve let him dismantle the previous squad (which he said was the best in Scotland upon arriving here) and gave him the funds, however limited, to build a brand new one.
If this fits into a bigger picture I’m really not seeing it.
You look at the board over there and, King aside, you see semi-serious people.
How can Paul Murray have lasted so long in business without knowing how to put together a plan? The Park’s are certainly no mugs, and Stewart Robertson appears to many to be a guy with some degree of professionalism. But had he still been at Motherwell I don’t believe they’d have appointed Caixinha, so why did Sevco?
It’s said that he completely blew them away at the interview.
How? If you listen to any of his pronouncements since becoming boss he is clearly an absolute moron. There were hacks who were openly gushing about him after his first press conference; they must have been feeling stupid within weeks, as his behaviour became increasingly bizarre.
Against Motherwell he subbed three defenders at halftime to leave only one on the park. A better team would have destroyed them for that. A week later he named his team 36 hours before the game with Kilmarnock to genuine amazement in the stands. His insane assertion that the club was playing a “mini-league” in which they were only a few points off the pace had most Celtic fans in stitches. He talked about turning the games against our club into “war” and capitulated at Hampden so completely many of us wondered why they bothered turning up at all. A week later at Ibrox they actually looked worse; the 5-1 hiding we gave them flattered them. Aberdeen were to win at the same ground within weeks, for the first time in over 20 years.
During the last campaign it was clear that certain elements in the dressing room were arrayed against him. His clear out this summer has been as much about getting those people out of the road as anything else, and yet enough still remain to be undermining him. The rumours of angry training ground exchanges aren’t confined to Celtic blogs; the media knows all this stuff and more besides and there’s a lot of talk on the Sevco forums.
All of this pales into insignificance next to the events of the last few weeks; the incredible, crass, reactionary nonsense of issuing players with a code of conduct that, amongst other things, bans green boots; the gallery-playing decision to daub a sectarian slogan on the dressing room walls to “scare” the opposition; the nutty comments before the Progres game where he said his team should treat it like it was the cup final instead of a match against Luxembourg’s fourth placed side … and the absolutely unbelievable, catastrophic, result.
If you had actually set out to construct a bizarre scenario that put Sevco in even more trouble than they were already in with the floundering Team Warburton project you could not have conceived of something so perfect. Had you written it critics would have dismissed it as the height of fantasy fiction … a jolly jape for Hoops fans, but far too unbelievable to taken remotely seriously. And yet here we are, as incredible as it all is.
I don’t know how he comes back from all that. I don’t know how he inspires confidence. He is betting a lot on his Portuguese defender Bruno Alves and Carlos Pena, the Mexican midfielder who Sevco fans have yet to clap eyes on. I don’t know about Alves, but Pena is going to make headlines and I am very much looking forward to writing what I am certain will be the first of many articles about him before they punt him in one big hurry.
As hard as all this is to believe, when this guy arrived a lot of Sevco fans were overjoyed. It was “out of the box” thinking; someone was certainly out of their box when it was conceived anyway. They had convinced themselves he was a hard man who could take on Brendan and best him. Some of them still love the way he “gets the culture” although he’s a Southern European Catholic who probably doesn’t understand half of it.
But for most of them, it’s wake up and smell the coffee time. The promise of the early days is now like a long forgotten fairytale, more like something written by the Brothers Grimm than a Walt Disney production.
How long until the show ends? I don’t know, but I advise that we enjoy it whilst it lasts. It’s hard to believe we’re going to get this lucky again, but then I thought that about Warburton and McCall before him and McCoist before him … you never can tell, can you?