Gaius Julius Caesar was one of the greatest tacticians in history, but if great tactics were all he’d had he would never have accomplished a fraction of what he did. A greater strength, perhaps, lay in his ability to motivate the men under his command.
George Patton had the same incredible ability to push his soliders beyond the limits of what they thought they could do and what they could endure.
Great leaders don’t just win glory through ingenuity and skill at sizing up a situation.
They inspire the troops, and because they can do so those same troops will do anything for them.
Those troops will travel hundreds of miles and then fight a battle at the end of the march, and most probably win it into the bargain, even against unbelievable odds.
That takes incredible talent, and we should acknowledge that such men are exceedingly rare.
That particular skill cannot be taught; you’ve ever got it or you haven’t. It cannot be learned. You can either do it or you can’t. Most mere mortals don’t come close.
Leading men properly does not mean that you have to be everyone’s pal. Patton famously slapped one soldier who had been hospitalised with shell-shock, and called him a coward. Caesar used even harsher measures to motivate his men.
During the war with Pompey he actually threatened the Ninth Legion with decimation. It’s a much misunderstood word; it comes from the Latin, meaning ten.
In the context of the Roman Army it meant that one in every ten men would be put to death to keep the rest of them on their toes. Caesar never had to follow through; the troops got the message.
Martin O’Neill had that talent. Aside from having a spark of it in his own personality – which, as I said, is essential as nobody can teach it to you – he saw it in effect whilst at Notts Forest under the great Brian Clough.
Don’t forget that during an unbelievably tough – both physically and psychologically – run to the UEFA Cup Final in Seville that we came straight from Boavista to play at Ibrox … and won.
That’s how good O’Neill was when at his best.
Lennon does not possess that particular skill-set, and that’s perfectly forgivable in and of itself as most people don’t. The trouble is, Lennon believes that he does and reacts with frustrated anger and bafflement when people don’t act like it.
Nowhere is this more obvious, or horrific, than in his abysmal man management skills which this site has highlighted over and over again.
A good leader takes responsibility for everything that happens on his watch.
Lennon prefers to throw people under the bus.
It is the worst possible thing for a leader to do.
If you’ve ever been on the inside of a team or group where the person in charge blames everyone else for every failure you know how demoralising it is and how toxic the atmosphere becomes.
It’s hugely destructive for morale and cohesion and ends up with most people agreeing to put in only the most minimal effort. You don’t have to look too far to see how that mind-set has gripped a hold of our first team squad at the moment.
Every now and again, one of our players will go in front of the press and tell you that the manager has the support of the playing squad; I stopped believing it ages ago, because they do not play like they are trying to save him.
These guys have chucked it and you can tell that.
I’m not saying that they want him sacked, but they certainly don’t care if he survives.
In their shoes I wouldn’t either, not with how he constantly questions their focus and commitment and mentality. Worse, he constantly changes his mind. He’ll praise them one day and point to their achievements and the strength and fortitude it takes to do what they’ve done and the next he’ll attack them as mental weaklings who have collapsed under pressure.
I think most of them stopped listening to his dire rantings ages ago.
We all criticise players for such bad attitudes at times, and we call them out for downing tools and talk about how unfair it is on managers … but we have no real understanding of the internal workings of the dressing room or how bad it feels in there.
But we can infer it from a number of things, including the number of players who cannot wait to get out of Celtic Park.
What becomes clearer as you watch it all is that this crisis has been building for far longer than the results have been bad, building, perhaps, from the day Lennon got the job full time.
Can you imagine what it must be like for these guys to go into work every day and try to make sense of the inconsistencies and the contradictions and the lax professionalism?
Can you imagine how soul-destroying it must be to work for someone who you know is capable of turning on you in public, in the blink of an eye, and will act afterwards like nothing even happened?
His attack on the team tonight was genuinely deranged.
Any remnant of loyalty he had in this team, any remnant of inspiration he was capable of offering them is gone as a result of that. He is a Dead Manager Walking, and all that remains is for the club to do the necessary.
The players did not get Lennon fired.
That is the narrative that some, who will remain in his corner no matter what, are desperate to promote as the full unravelling becomes clear.
But nor were they willing to run through walls and work their balls off to save him.
I cannot hold that against them at all.