Here in Scotland, the headline of the week of course is that Aberdeen and Sevco are about to get into an unedifying scrap over Derek McInnes.
If the football world was a nightclub McInnes would be the one sitting in the corner, blitzed out of his mind, sick all over his clothes, shouting obscenities at passers-by. Do you know any two people anywhere who’d get into a fight over who got to take him home?
Fair play to the winner; they get to phone a taxi and leave alone.
That’s always been my impression about McInnes; that he wasn’t worth all the speculation, all the “will he, won’t he?”, all the flap that has surrounded this from Day 1. if Sevco’s six week (and counting) manager hunt is going to end with this guy in the dugout, then the global search didn’t get very far, did it? The decision will be wholly uninspiring and the very real impression will have been created of a club which simply does not have a clue what it’s doing.
That can’t be said for every club, thank God. Our own continues to move forward fluidly, engine purring. We are the definition of a well-oiled machine. What will get forgotten in the course of this week, as the media ramps up its McInnes coverage to the level of a saturation bombing, is that these two clubs are fighting over second spot, as if it was a coveted prize.
We, on the other hand, will be strutting our stuff in the last Champions League match of the current campaign. We will be vying for European football after Xmas. In January we will have real money to spend – in the last January window we paid £3 million for a kid – and will be looking to beef up the defence. We need a central defender … and I still think a left back.
In part, this is just another consequence of having professionals running your club. But it kind of begs the question; do we attract professionals because of the standing of the club, or is the standing of the club enhanced because we hire professionals?
Let me put that another way; if Peter Lawwell was out of work, and he wasn’t a Celtic supporter, would he take a call, right now, to go to Ibrox? Would a move to a club like that interest him? Why can’t they bring his type of people to the Ibrox board? If left alone, I think a guy like Lawwell could turn their dysfunctional loss-making business around in a year.
Oh it wouldn’t be pretty and the football department would see radical cuts, but it would work. It would make a profit, and not on some distant ten-year timeline. Hard-headed pragmatism would be what got the job done. The profits would be reinvested in scouting or youth development or perhaps fixing those crumbling roofs … a long-term vision would soon be in place.
But to get there, to bring in someone like Lawwell, you need a certain level of professionalism at the club already. I cannot imagine him working alongside a blowhard like King or a complete halfwit like Traynor. I cannot imagine Peter Lawwell sitting in board meetings where the sole topic of conversation is how many penalties another club gets.
Above and beyond that, you need a plan in place. Peter Lawwell serves at the pleasure of a Celtic board which is chaired by a former corporate lawyer who moved into the whiskey business (he actually owns the Whiskey Shop chain) and includes; the chairman of Peel Ports Limited – which is a substantial part of a £6.6 billion company; a multi-talented lady who sits on the board at RS McColls and is the former finance director of Dobbies Garden Centres; a former Cabinet Minister, journalist and author; an international corporate finance expert; and Dermot Desmond, of whom not a word needs to be written, as everyone knows his CV and net worth.
To list the companies they’ve been involved with, collectively or even just individually, would take me ages and you’d have stopped reading a thousand words ago. The point is, our directors are people of the highest calibre … and it’s therefore no surprise that we can retain our top talents and continue to grow the club.
From the moment Fergus took over, it’s been like this.
He brought heavy hitters onto the board. One of the people he left in charge when he departed was Brian Quinn, who was only a former governor of the Bank of England. Rangers had a steel magnate who built his company on bluff, bullshit and debt. They never reached out to top tier people like we did.
And that led to the famous business strategy of “for every fiver.”
This is why changing the manager won’t get the job done for their club; the problems start at the very top of the house, with a board that doesn’t get it, that believes in spending money it hasn’t got. This is why we’ve got nothing to worry about.