Let’s talk for a minute about threats and the people who make them.
Threats are the province of big talkers. Threats are usually nothing but empty bluster. If you want to convince someone you’re serious you don’t make a threat. You issue a warning. The difference is subtle, but distinctive nonetheless. Warnings have to be backed up. Threats don’t. You can issue them with the impunity of knowing you never have to close the circle. Try that with issuing warnings. Fail to follow through and your credibility is shot.
Not everyone who issues threats is a blowhard; you can tell those who are by the nature of the threat itself. When Alex McLeish was issuing threats to players and clubs who didn’t accompany him on the ridiculous South and Central American tour at the end of last season you knew this was a guy who you didn’t have to take seriously.
What was he going to do? Cock the gun, aim at his own feet and pull the trigger? McLeish can’t go out and buy players; it’s the curse of international football management. He has to work with what he has, and as any fool knows he’s not got riches at his disposal in that regard. He isn’t in any position to issue threats far less warnings.
That’s why I am shaking my head reading his ludicrous posturing today, and his assertion that Griffiths will be “raging” at being “dropped” in midweek for Naismith. Does this guy think we’re all thick? That wasn’t some move born of tactical genius, it was weakness.
Had he selected a half fit Celtic player and that player got badly injured our club would have hounded him out of his job, and he knows it. Or worse, we’d have pulled our players from future squads unless they were 100%. And no footballer in the modern era is ever 100%.
That’s why his puerile childish comments to the media over the non-inclusion of several of our players sparked only derision from our fans. The idea that Scotland will play Steven Naismith up front instead of Griffiths would be costly from a footballing point of view, but would only end up losing one person his job and that’s McLeish himself.
This guy is playing a bad hand badly.
The truth is – and he knows this and everyone knows this – Griffiths, McGregor, Forrest, Tierney and Gordon are amongst the very best he’s got at his disposal. Without Celtic and its players Alex McLeish will not survive in post even until the end of this farcical Nations League campaign. Any threat to exclude them is a transparent bluff. Any “snub” will be quickly reversed when we’re playing a team with greater standing than Albania.
Our players are facing a large number of games in the coming months. The manager would probably prefer it if we weren’t playing any international games at all. If McLeish believes anyone at Celtic Park will be smarting over his “snubbing” our footballers he needs a serious reality check. Many of the fans would be delighted if our players pulled out entirely, and left him dependent on the band of also-rans who would be left available to him.
I don’t doubt that many inside our club feel the same way.
I am sick of writing about McLeish this week. This drivel today merited a response though. The man is behaving like a child. He is making his own job progressively more difficult. If Griffiths really is raging as this posturing idiot believes he better be careful that the best striker the country has doesn’t make himself unavailable for selection until the face in the dugout changes. McLeish appears not to realise how crappy what he’s holding in his hand actually is.
The cards don’t lie though. He’s playing a dangerous and stupid game here, and against the very worst club.
He needs us more than we need him.
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