At the height of the Battle for the Pacific in World War II, the Centre For Naval Analysis wanted to know why so many American bombers were being shot down.
They commissioned a report into aircraft strength, wondering if there were weak areas of planes which they could beef up and make them less susceptible to enemy fire.
The report came out. An analysis of returned aircraft found that most of the holes from enemy fire were distributed up and down the hull, and not so much in the areas of the canopy or the fuselage. The decision was taken to strengthen the hulls of the aircraft.
It made not one blind bit of difference.
Not, at least, until a statistician named Abraham Wald came forward with a theory; they were working in reverse. The fact so many planes returned with damage to the hull showed it couldn’t possibly be the cause of the losses … the planes which didn’t return were the ones where the fuselage and the canopy had taken the hits.
That changed the way the US Air Force built its bombers from that point forward, and Allied losses dropped dramatically as a consequence.
It’s a sterling example of how easy it is to look at a problem the wrong way, and thus come up with entirely the wrong conclusions about how to fix it.
At the end of report into last night’s game, I joked – joked – that those who wanted Lennon to stay would deploy a new argument in their defence; the Fraser Forster Can Save Us one. I had heard it mentioned on the fringes, and amongst the stupider hacks.
I should have expected that this ridiculous idea would catch, like a virus, and rampage through the internet overnight, and be lent credence by others in the mainstream press. It has been that kind of season so far, one where it’s our club, not the one at Ibrox, that lives in the half-light of fantasy and delusional thinking, from the boardroom down.
There are several reasons why it shouldn’t happen, but let’s go with this one first. We paid £5 million or thereabouts for a goalie. Few of us are convinced that he was worth that outlay but I know for sure that he cannot – simply cannot – be as bad as he currently looks.
He is an international footballer. He was scouted prior to the signing.
The inert lump who played for us last night cannot be all there is. Somewhere in there is a decent keeper. Those who are calling for Forster again were calling for Bain not that long ago. Play Forster behind that shambles of a defence right now and he will leak goals too.
When the inevitable happened what would we do? Inflict this horror on Connor Hazard?
The second reason is this; at a time when the manager himself is questioning the commitment of players currently at the club, why in God’s name would we want to bring to the club a footballer who didn’t want to play for us in the summer and who, if he was starting in England, wouldn’t even give it the slightest consideration?
It is madness.
Fraser Forster turned us down this summer. It’s a fact. Those who claim Celtic just wouldn’t push the boat out for him … look what we did instead. If we hadn’t spent big money on a goalkeeper I might agree with you, but we did. Forster didn’t want to come.
The third reason is the really important one; changing the goalkeeper is not going to fix this.
We’ve already done it once this season and it made no difference. We’ve shuffled the defence dozens of times. It has made no difference. We’ve tried different formations and defensive shapes. It has not changed our trajectory; we’re still regressing rapidly.
I fully appreciate the number of sites and forums and fans today who are chipping in with ideas about “if we go with this formation” or “that combination” or “give these boys a try” … I wish I thought the management team were putting as much thought into this situation as the guys online were.
But the truth is, it’s the management team who is to blame.
The longer people at Celtic Park continue to pretend otherwise, the longer this crisis drags on.
Fraser Forster is not going to save us because the personnel aren’t the problem.
The problem is with the coaching, with the leadership of the club.
We are focussing on the hull instead of the fuselage here.
Unless we fix the real issue, everything else is slapping a sticking plaster on a gaping wound.