As everyone knows, I sometimes despair at the way Peter Lawwell runs our club. But today we have an interview with Dermot Desmond which shows that the CEO is only part of the problem and maybe not even the greater part.
Desmond hardly ever gives interviews, so it’s a pretty big surprise that he’s given one to The Athletic, a modest sized publication which is still building its reputation.
Perhaps that was the point. Based on the content, there were no hard questions.
They might have gotten an exclusive, but somewhere along the line they were so caught up in the pleasure of it they forgot they were actually supposed to be journalists first. What a favour they could have done us had they remembered that.
As it is, I think they did just enough to clue us in on the present thinking of the man who runs our club. None of what I read was particularly impressive. There are a number of things we can take away from the interview, and most of them are pretty grim.
Let’s start with his comments about the Ross County game at the weekend; they were made in a broader segment about Neil Lennon which I’ll get to in due course. It’s clear reading his comments about the match that he’s swallowed the “Ross County were unlucky” narrative whole.
He thinks we were terrible, and that we perhaps only deserved to win the game 2-1.
Which tells me that he didn’t actually watch as much as a minute of it and is basing his comments solely on the garbage which was circulating in the media afterwards.
Celtic was utterly dominant in that game, and only someone who didn’t see it and who believed what they read in the media could believe otherwise.
How can a game where we scored five times have been tight? Or close?
Some of the press reports would have had you believe it, and in particular on the BBC where the first question Kettlewell got after the drubbing was about whether he felt they were unlucky not to “take something from the match.”
I don’t mind that our majority shareholder has no clue about how the team is playing; he’s an absentee landlord and that’s something we pretty much accept.
I do mind that he’s repeating obvious spin and nonsense from the mainstream press in critiquing us.
He also thinks the Seville team would have been beaten by the current side, a claim so ludicrous that it’s almost hard to believe anyone could have made it with a straight face. Even the rawest, greenest, Celtic PR rep would have visibly blanched hearing him come out with such obvious claptrap.
His claim that he tried to entice Alex Ferguson from Manchester United in 1997 is fantasy land stuff which no reasonable person actually believes.
I have never had a problem with Wim Jansen – how could any of us? – but I fail to see the leap of logic that got us from one of the most sought after football figures in the world to a guy who had just been fired from a job in Japan and who’s role before that had been as assistant manager of Saudi Arabia.
Honestly, these things make nice headlines but this is the real world and some of us aren’t gullible fools easily lulled by such braggadocio.
His comments about Brendan Rodgers only confirm what most of us already knew; that man was a slippery sod who had no long term commitment to Celtic whatsoever. The club knew he had one foot out the door. If that’s the reason they restricted his spending in the transfer window before he left someone at the club owes us the truth on that; most of us have long suspected it anyway, so what’s the harm in them coming out and confirming it?
Where things get funky is that with a full year to prepare for his exit, Desmond makes it clear that they were already looking at Neil Lennon as his replacement; Lennon who had recently been fired by Bolton and who was then at Hibs.
To say this is scandalous is an understatement; it makes it ever clearer that the people running Celtic didn’t at any point have the ambition to go out and get the best person for the job; they fell back on a cheap option and counted on the fans to swallow it because it was another “Celtic minded” appointment.
I didn’t think I could be more appalled at the way we went about replacing Rodgers, but the people running the club have managed to shock me again.
The interview was an opportunity for Desmond to articulate a long-term vision for the club, but the Lennon segment on its own should have been enough to confirm that this wasn’t going to happen.
When he does talk about an over-the-horizon plan it is in relation to a British Super League, an idea he still thinks will come about, but which we’re no closer to than we were when people started talking about it two decades ago.
Back then, I know our club looked into all the legalities of it and war-gamed scenarios for forcing that outcome.
We never took a single step beyond that and we’re not going to in the future.
Instead, we sit on the side-lines and wait and hope, and cross our fingers and get ready to prostitute ourselves if the “invite” ever comes … regardless of what the terms would be, and regardless of where they would make us start. It wouldn’t be at the top table.
Neither Desmond or any of those running our club has a long-term plan for us.
These people are poor tacticians, but they look like geniuses in that art when you consider their ability to plan strategically. This would have been a wonderful moment for asserting a clear vision and a set of goals, especially at a very tough time for the game.
Instead, we get this; fantasies about the England move that will never come to pass and confirmation that we didn’t look for a Rodgers replacement any further than the M8. We get nonsense about Alex Ferguson and a ridiculous opinion on the strength of the current team in relation to the one which got to a European final. And we get excuses too.
In his segment about Seville he made the same stupid assertions I’ve heard from Lennon about how we were the better team against Cluj and against Ferencvaros.
It’s the kind of talk which prevents us from doing a proper examination of those defeats and the causes of them, and which condemns us to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
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