I was gratified yesterday to read Henrik Larsson pay Celtic the ultimate respect, although some headlines tried to twist his words to make him sound arrogant. In fact, he was quite the opposite. Larsson has never been that kind of guy.
The interviewer asked him if he would ever manage Celtic.
He said that it would be up to us to make the call, but that it was a job he would one day love to do. He went on to say that Celtic would have to want him first, and that we may not think he had the right skillset. It was an honest admission, and a humble one.
Larsson does not yet have the stuff.
And you know what?
I don’t think he will have it.
His managerial career up until now has not been great, let’s just say, and shows no signs of improving in the leaps and bounds necessary.
We all love the guy, but we don’t run a charity at Celtic Park, which is why I’ve cringed every time I’ve seen his name mentioned in connection with the job before now.
Contrast this with the attitude of Gerrard; I’ve heard him talk about the Liverpool job as if it’s his destiny, as if he is fated to sit in the Anfield dugout. There is no chance of it happening, not as manager, but his ego cannot be checked by exposure to reality.
He is the second best resourced manager in the country. In two years he has won nothing. The closest he came was a cup final where his team could not beat ten men. Last season, he alienated his dressing room so regularly that you could set your watch to it.
It is widely believed that he lost the players. Had the season been played out to the expected finish I don’t believe the gap would have been less than 15 points, and I think the Ibrox dressing room issues would already be in the public domain.
Gerrard’s ego is fed, of course, by a slavering press both north and south of the border.
Except where it matters.
I have never seen Gerrard be linked with a managerial return to Anfield in any of the serious papers where, as I pointed out earlier, they take sports journalism seriously. It is in the tabloids – where some of the English writers are as stinking as their Scottish counterparts – who push the line on his behalf. No-one credible believes it for a second.
Larsson is a realist. He is as much a Celtic icon as Gerrard is at Liverpool; he is our greatest ever foreign player, made our All Time XI, is the best player of the modern era, the King of Kings. He holds club records. He is beloved by the supporters.
Yet he knows that it would arrogant at best to think that he can parlay that goodwill into one of the biggest jobs in the game.
If humility were one of the qualities that directors looked for when they were out to appoint managers, Larsson could have any job he wanted.
The man is, and has always been, a class act, on and off the pitch.
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