Chris Sutton is a cheeky bhoy.
His recent Q&A with Lennon was full of what our manager rightly pointed out were “loaded questions”; I laughed reading some of them, as Lenny must have laughed being asked them.
He knows his big mate was fishing for headlines.
But amidst Sutton’s obvious attempts to stir the soup were a couple of very serious points, and it was clear that he was actually the questions at least, in part, out of sheer bafflement. Why does Steven Gerrard get linked with jobs that Lennon does not?
Lenny was right to dismiss the question on the grounds of it being a distraction. He’s delighted to be at Celtic and is focussed on nothing else. Yet Sutton’s question lingers long after the interview has ended, and it begs to be answered just the same.
I think there are three reasons why Gerrard gets linked with gigs that Lennon doesn’t.
The first is, as Lennon said, that there’s just no point. He’s in his dream gig at Celtic Park and we’re going for ten in a row. Other club chairmen may watch with interest but they know that any approach would be roundly knocked back. Lennon would not leave.
Gerrard would walk out on Ibrox in a heartbeat if a better gig presented itself. Phil Mac Giolla Bhain said during the last campaign that Gerrard’s agents were putting his name about all over the English game, making it clear that he would listen if clubs were interested in talking.
And of course, this is the second reason that Gerrard gets linked to jobs; whatever interest there is, the stories in the media are largely the confection of his agents and representatives, as they try to create interest in him from those clubs which are without managers and might be willing to take a punt on a name with a little stardust on it.
Which is the third reason; Gerrard played for Liverpool, he’s an elite footballer, he captained England and has a higher profile than our manager does. Gerrard is bling, whereas Lennon is a guy who had to earn his stripes in the dugout before there was any hype or buzz.
The hype around Gerrard has never been based on anything real.
Look at the almost universal assumption down south that he is destined to return to Anfield as manager one day; I could not tell you what that is based on, except for a completely wrong-headed understanding of the dynamics of being a successful boss.
Nobody at Old Trafford ever assumed that Keane would end up back there in the dugout, just as only a handful believe Larsson belongs in ours.
I’ll say this now with 100% certainty; Steven Gerrard will never be the manager of Liverpool. Not in a million years, not in this reality. And as time goes by even those who worship him will come, bit by bit, to that conclusion.
Indeed, I think it could be his time at Ibrox that does it. As I can’t see circumstances in which he wins anything there, that’s more than possible.
I’ll go even further; I think the belief that Gerrard will get a job in the EPL or the English Championship is built on foundations that are just as shaky.
I wonder if he, like McCoist and, more importantly, John Barnes, who this site wrote about last week, is doomed to a managerial career which will be viewed one day as a cautionary tale for aspiring bosses.
Don’t bet against that either; the way he has alienated the Ibrox dressing room, and will continue to, will not have gone unnoticed where it matters; not in the media but in the boardrooms of those clubs who might otherwise have taken a chance on him.
The truth is, the clubs who might be sniffing around Gerrard now are not going to actually come calling for him, not on the basis of a famous name, not on the back of what he’s done at Ibrox. His so-called “success” there is illusory … this is a guy who cracks under pressure and spends a fortune doing it.
This is a guy who even a lot of Liverpool fans no longer think will be a success in the dugout … because he doesn’t seem like one, just another ex-player falling back on his name.
Lennon, on the other hand, reigns supreme.
This is why he doesn’t care about media hype.
He knows what he’s done and where it’s led him … to exactly where he wants to be.
Fortunately, it’s also where we needed him to be.
Where Gerrard will end up is anyone’s guess, but it won’t be where he always wanted to go, not now.
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