Yesterday, my namesake extolled the virtues of Scott Brown to a world which knows them already.
He is a great personality in the dressing room.
He is a great leader.
He is a great example to others at the club.
Scott Brown is a Celtic legend.
None of this up for the slightest debate.
Yesterday I did a poll on whether he should get a new deal.
The response in terms of the number who voted was entirely underwhelming; that doesn’t matter.
The comments on Facebook and Twitter told a story that was and wasn’t reflected in that poll.
In spite of the low proportion of voters, I got a sense from the closeness of the result and from those who commented on social media that this wasn’t quite as cut and dried as I had at first believed.
It may be that I was looking for a little confirmation bias; if so I didn’t get it.
The fans are divided on this one, split almost right down the line.
I lean heavily towards the “no” voters on this one, and this is why I profoundly disagree with my namesake.
Yet I understand his basic point, and I can sympathise with it a lot.
He’s not wrong to want to see Scott depart this club a winner, but life doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to.
Top players come to the ends of their careers, it’s a fact of life, and only those who are very lucky get to pick the manner of their exit.
Some go out in glory. Others go down to defeat.
The important thing is to recognise when it’s over. For all this season has been awful, nobody holds Brown responsible for that. His legacy is untarnished, but the grumbles and groans which were plainly audible every time his name was read out on a team-sheet are only going to get louder. We will never again view him as indispensable.
It would be dreadful if we started to resent his presence in the side.
It is natural to want Scott Brown to be at the club when we take back our title.
But the same logic was applied to hiring Lennon; “Think,” I was asked, when I was voicing my anger, “about how good it will feel to see him be the man who secures the ten in a row.”
And it was precisely that appeal to sentimentality and other irrelevant nonsense which played into the decision to hire him in the first place and put us on the road to this disaster.
As good as it would be to see Brown come out swinging like an aged fighter with one last shot at the heavyweight crown, we’ve all seen how that story ends.
Club captains like Brown have a strong hold on the teams they play for.
Their presence is felt in every corner of the dressing room, and beyond. We can talk about how having Brown around will help with stability, but it’s actually not the case.
His presence destabilises Celtic.
Imagine the pressure on a new manager to play the captain, the legend, a man with so much history at Parkhead. Imagine the fun the press would have if Brown were to be dropped for more than just a handful of games.
Nobody wants to be the manager who tells such a towering figure that it’s time to quit, that it’s over, that it’s done and settled and that the club has to move on.
The danger then becomes that nobody will.
It’s easy to say a strong manager will not consider any of that, and will act ruthlessly, but that would be foolish, not brave.
Only a fool would walk into a dressing room he doesn’t know yet and cut such a mighty figure down not knowing what fault lines it will open up or troubles it will create. That’s not what any reputable boss would do.
For Celtic to move on, it is plain that Brown has to, just as Lawwell could not have hung around the building like a bad smell and as Lennon had to depart the dugout.
I’ve been arguing for a long time that Brown is like a habit Celtic has to shake off; for too many years we had one player in the engine room who was considered a first pick.
The truth is, we should have begun to transition this midfield beyond Brown several years ago.
It is another opportunity we squandered, and to be fair it probably went by the board when John McGinn was allowed to slip the net, as he was the obvious player to take the armband after Tierney decided the grass was greener in London.
Callum McGregor is an obvious choice, and giving him the captaincy might bind him to the club in a way that keeps him here for the best years of his career.
Keeping Brown a season longer delays the moment when McGregor can step out of his shadow and into that role, and that might make all the difference in deciding Callum’s own future.
The problem with what Forrest said yesterday was that he’s made this about Scott Brown and what’s in the best interests of the captain and not the club.
For what happens if Brown doesn’t win the title next season?
Do we give him another year and then another?
What happens to Celtic in the process?
For too many months this season – the ones that mattered – it felt as if our club had been forgotten and we were operating according to The Greater Good Of Neil Lennon.
Are we to repeat the same mistake?
I am shocked that Celtic has offered Brown a new deal in an effort to stop him starting his coaching career.
It feels like a retrograde move both from his point of view and from ours, and I hope with all my heart that he turns us down.
[snack-countdown title=”Celtic’s Countdown To Champions League Disaster” date=”06/20/2021″ time=”00:00:00″ colour=”#000″ textColour=”#FFF”]