Somebody emailed me last night and asked me what is it about Ibrox that gets to people so early?
What is it that makes them crazy so soon after stepping in through the door?
It’s not the first time I’ve asked that question myself, but Steven Gerrard’s embrace of full-on moon howling this early in his time there suggests it’s something else.
What does a football club look for in a manager?
Do certain clubs have certain characteristics, and do those influence the search for a new boss? Of course they do. I remember reading Graham Spiers book on Paul Le Guen, back when he was still a writer and not an apologist for SFA cheats and South African tax crooks, and thinking his chapter on whether the Frenchman would have been a success at Celtic Park was right on the nose.
In that book he argued that Le Guen would have been more suited to the laid-back and socially liberal atmosphere at Parkhead than he was to the small c conservative and altogether more serious one at Ibrox. Whether you liked Murray or not – and I despised him then and despise him now – they took themselves seriously and behaved that way.
Spiers thought that it was Advocaat who summed up the ethos of the club; an arrogant loud-mouth, a walking ego, a guy who, like Murray himself, thought everything else in the world existed for his benefit. The Dutchman, he said, personified Rangers in the way the likes of Walter Smith did.
Le Guen was as out of place there as a fish in a field.
Celtic has never hired anyone like Advocaat. Even Gordon Strachan, a man with a healthy self-regard and a willingness to offend almost anybody, was not full of himself in that fashion, strutting and preening, like a peacock in a front yard.
So the question that automatically rises here is this; does Sevco make these people crazy … or does it deliberately hire people who tick the paranoid, egotistical and arrogant boxes? I know many people did not think Gerrard moving to the Ibrox club made sense, but perhaps it made more sense than we were aware, and to both parties.
Perhaps they are a match made in heaven?
What did we really know about Gerrard before he came to Ibrox? He was a fantastic footballer, one of the best to ever play the game in the UK, but what else? Gerrard, as a person, remained out of reach, someone about whom we only had guesswork.
Except … well, that’s not entirely true, is it?
Because there are things we know about him, but they are things they never talk about in the mainstream media these days. There is his involvement in a highly unsavoury incident in a Liverpool nightclub in 2008, for which he stood trial but was cleared.
In the course of that trial, the player was revealed as an arrogant, egotist who was quite capable of standing in the middle of a drunken fray and throwing punches. His “entourage” that night beat the living daylights out of a guy who’s only “crime” had been to refuse to play music that suited them.
Then there’s Gerrard’s involvement with a number of gangland figures in his home town, which this site wrote about when one of them was assassinated shortly after Gerrard was unveiled as Sevco boss. The man moves in odd circles. He has been involved in some seriously out-there situations.
Other footballers don’t get involved in such affairs.
Hey it isn’t hard to imagine Gerrard as being someone with a big ego. He has an MBE, he has won countless honours, he is a multi-millionaire, he is feted and admired with a following that’s more global than that of Sevco itself.
You can see why Sevco wanted him; they want to piggy-back on that “global brand”, having nothing to offer of their own. They hoped that Gerrard might pull them up; what remained a mystery was why Gerrard couldn’t see that this was a club that had the potential to drag him down.
But perhaps it’s just that Gerrard recognises Sevco for the open sewer that it is perfectly well. Maybe he sees the club the way Joey Barton clearly did, as a law unto itself, as the kind of environment where his own proclivities could be allowed full expression.
And perhaps that’s what Sevco really saw in him.
He has no managerial experience to speak of.
It was a colossal risk and one that already shows signs of blowing up in their faces. Because one game in and he’s already swallowed whole the incipient paranoia that swirls around that club like a toxic cloud. He’s clearly been talking to people in there, and he’s bought the lot of it. It’s gullible, yes, and speaks to his low IQ … but it’s an attitude that also feeds on arrogance and self-entitlement, and that’s clearly present with this guy in spades.
His comments of the weekend were bad, but let’s not forget the petulant and childish dig he had at his Croatian counterpart mid-week.
The man lacks any class at all.
Scottish football is going to love this guy. Except, it’s not. This is a country who, the media aside, has a low tolerance for this Billy Big Time stuff. He’s already being slated for his dire comments of yesterday, and as the pressure on him ramps up I expect that even more cracks will emerge in the façade.
This is going to be a car-crash that makes the Pedro experience look like well played.