Someone on Twitter updated me on the issues around Gerrard not holding a European Pro Licence.
According to a Twitter user called Red Left, the European governing body makes allowances for clubs in the Irish Leagues, if the individual is studying for the course.
It may well be the same in Scotland.
Another person brought it to my attention that in the Portuguese league they get around the issue, domestically anyway, by having a qualified licence holder on the bench. That, in this case, would be Gary McAllister who actually holds the qualification that Steven Gerrard does not.
Does this satisfy UEFA?
On a surface reading no, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some grey area here.
Football governance is full of grey areas.
But major European leagues do not allow someone without the requisite qualifications to hold managerial posts – I was told that in Germany this rule applies to the top three divisions and not just the Bundesliga 1 – so I would be amazed if UEFA allows any wiggle room on it at all.
This stuff is hardly written in code.
It’s there, in black and white, in their regulations and clubs have known about these rules a long time.
I am informed that it’s why Martin Canning’s Hamilton were refused certification by the SFA. That information may be erroneous, but that they were refused their certification is a fact and it’s also a fact that Canning is booking up for the qualification right now.
In the end it’s up to the European body to decide whether they let this one slip by.
But put it with the pile of other issues Sevco faces in getting the nod.
This is a club that seems to exist in the grey area.
Nothing with them is ever straightforward, and even the smallest things aren’t cut and dried.
Last year, they missed the deadline for submitting kits to the league. This year’s deadline was two days ago and as you may have gathered barely a soul outside of Hummel knows, for sure, what this year’s Sevco kits look like. Did they make the deadline?
Who knows? Transparency doesn’t exist over there, and until the governing bodies change their regulations to make it mandatory and to put this stuff where we can all see it we’ve got no way of ever finding out. But this is so typical. This is so them.
Everything with this club happens just outside of the norm.
And that includes the Gerrard appointment itself, which has been hailed as a masterpiece of ambition by the Scottish media when there are so many holes in it that you could drive an armoured tank division through it.
UEFA might wave this aside – and they might wave everything else aside as well, and the SFA might not bother to punish Sevco over what happened in 2011 – but in the end, the biggest challenges facing that club are where they’ve always been; on the pitch. They are under-resourced and led by men of no vision and no ability that I can see except in pulling the wool over the eyes of their fans. They excel at that, probably more than any other club.
What’s become even clearer in the past 24 hours is how underqualified Gerrard is for doing the Ibrox job. As Matthew Leslie brilliantly pointed out, on Twitter, the much maligned Ian Cathro arrived at Tynecastle having held the UEFA Pro License for many years and had worked as part of management teams at Rio Ave, Valencia and Newcastle. He was qualified, and yet the media treated his appointment as a joke. Part of that is his age; he wasn’t even 30 and had no playing experience. But Mourinho wasn’t a player and did pretty well in the game.
Gerrard’s “on field leadership” is being hailed as his experience, but that’s for the mugs in the gallery who don’t realise there’s a difference between what the captain does on the pitch and what the manager does on the touchline. At almost every top club the pecking order is pretty clear; the manager relays instructions to the captain and the captain makes sure the players have got the message. His job isn’t to fix things, it’s to implement the manager’s instructions.
And so far Gerrard has given those instructions to kids, at the youth level.
To people who look up to him as a role model and as hero and as somebody to aspire to follow.
When he walks into the dressing room at Ibrox he’s going to face professionals. Men who have worked and sweated and bled to get where they are. Men who will not be star-struck. Men who may even (and whisper this, the press doesn’t want you to consider it at all) be a little bit resentful of what Gerrard has achieved in terms of his profile. He’s not that much older than some of them, and a handful will fancy coaching careers of their own.
It’s not a lock that he will “command respect.”
Professional footballers don’t just dole out respect like candy in a schoolyard.
They want to know that the man who’s giving them their instructions knows his business and they won’t simply accept that based on his having once sat where they are. This guy hasn’t learned half of what he needs to know yet and there will be no disguising that from the footballers who will have to work under him.
The media is excited over this in a way only Scottish hacks get about a manager at Sevco. Look at the hype that surrounded the Portuguese loony or that which surrounded Warburton … and he’s the case in point here, he’s the real comparison, because his own managerial experience was a solitary year in the Championship. Sevco’s appointing him was an act of lunacy when what they needed was solidity and experience.
When the club sacked him Dave King himself lamented that they had “hired, at short notice, a relatively untested management team.” Well next to Gerrard, he had the CV of a battle hardened veteran. Back in December, and shortly before Murty was given the gig until the end of the season (which he didn’t complete, of course) in another statement King said that the club would “re-evaluate the criteria” on which they based future appointments.
Do you think he meant that they’d just throw the guide-book out of the window and go for somebody with no experience whatsoever? Of course not. He said the manager would be given a three-year deal. Gerrard was given a four year one which is simply breath-taking when you consider what the costs of terminating it early will be.
And he also said this;
“In my opinion, what would truly be wrong is if the board made a quick knee-jerk appointment without a thorough consideration of the options available at the time just because it appealed to certain sections of the media, or to some of the more outspoken supporters … The appointment of a manager is far too serious for us to endorse such a frivolous approach.”
No matter what way this is portrayed, the Gerrard move is a staggering risk and it’s already started to unravel before he’s in the job for more than a day. Key targets have already been identified and missed. His “scouting expedition” has been revealed as little more than PR to cover the fact that he’s effectively still at school.
If he qualifies to lead his team into continental football – and if they get a license – it will be because of a dispensation that exists in national associations like Scotland and Ireland … the stuff of farce in other words.
Squeezing in through the narrowest crack, exploiting a loop-hole that, if it exists, does so because teams in poorer leagues can’t afford to hire properly qualified bosses.
And there’s an article on UEFA’s own website about how 30 coaches in Malta just passed their Pro Licences …
Do top clubs really get run this way?
We know they don’t.
And the warchest?
Well it’s June now and there’s no sign at all of Dave King’s promised share issue, which is supposed to provide Gerrard with the bulk of his funding. In terms of transfers out of the club which is meant to secure him the rest, the media today is briefing that he’s decided – without having seen them play – to keep Tavernier and Windass.
I guess those English clubs preparing to offer millions will be disappointed, right?
So too, I presume, will the clubs getting ready to offer game-changing money for Morelos.
And even as these facts are becoming apparent to even the daftest person who’s looking at the big picture, our hacks and sections of the Sevco support wet their pants at the merest mention of this guy’s name. You could not make this up. It is astonishing, and all too clearly heading for one Hell of a denouement when the football actually starts.
But at least the question as to “what the Hell is Gerrard thinking?” has been answered. This is the best gig he was ever going to get at this stage in his career. He probably can’t believe his luck. On a four year deal too, with image rights secured … a four year deal for a guy who doesn’t even have his UEFA Pro License. Amazed? Not even close.
This is Sevco. Nothing is too crazy to be true.