Earlier on I published an article on the Celtic board’s pursuit of J-League manager Ante Postecoglou.
There is no other way to put this than to call that pursuit a scandal.
There is nothing in his CV which remotely qualifies him for a job at a club the size of Celtic.
A few Australian titles, a handful of trophies with their national team playing against the likes of Fiji and New Zealand and Thailand, many of whom don’t even have professional leagues or professional players, is not in the least bit impressive or regarded as such by senior management officials at other clubs.
Even if you don’t believe that my opinion is necessarily valid, you need to take theirs into account if you’re going to do an honest appraisal of this.
Not one reputable European team has offered this guy a job and he’s been coaching for 25 years.
Do his teams play good football?
I’m sure they do, but there are managers all over the world in lower leagues who bedazzle their opponents … there is a reason they stay managers in the lower leagues as there is a reason Ante Postecoglou has never managed at a higher level than the J League.
An entire industry of chairman and talent spotters has passed on this guy, time and time again.
Does Peter Lawwell possess some football insight they don’t?
I think his record has proved otherwise.
Twenty years ago, when Martin O’Neill was managing our club, it seemed we had learned the lessons of appointing an untested rookie like John Barnes, and surely we would never make that mistake again?
But we reckoned without Lawwell and people like Bankier.
Lawwell’s first managerial appointment was Tony Mowbray.
When that failed he gave the job to another untested rookie, based on nothing more than his own judgement and Lennon’s affinity with our club.
His next appointment was an unheard of Norwegian manager who had been tagged as Lennon’s assistant before Lennon up and quit.
Two things benefitted Lawwell in that case.
The first that there was no Ibrox club to provide us with a serious challenge and the second was that Deila had some transformative ideas which laid the foundation for Brendan Rodgers’ own.
It didn’t take special knowledge or magical powers to see that Rodgers was an outstanding choice.
It only took a board being willing to go the extra mile and bring him to Celtic Park.
But his appointment wasn’t some work of Lawwell genius; Rodgers had come within a handful of points of winning the EPL with Liverpool, he was a dream candidate who luckily was available at just the right time.
To replace him, Lawwell gave us Lennon again, in spite of having months to conduct a search for a real replacement.
Having spent more months trying to correct that momentous error, he’s missed Eddie Howe in his usual cack-handed fashion and so here we are, with another Lawwell level candidate.
And this is the thing, this is where the full measure of his toxic legacy, and that of this board only now becomes apparent, and it’s manifested in the number of our fans – a minority, I grant you – who are actually arguing that there might be some merit in appointing a J-League boss whose other best years have been in the league of Australia.
This is what Lawwell has made a section of our support into; willing accomplices in the dramatic downsizing of our ambition and self-esteem.
I would have said even up to two years ago that a hire like this was absolutely unthinkable, that we thought higheer and bigger and better than that, that we aimed higher and bigger and better than that, and that even the idea of this would be met with universal derision and scorn.
But you know what? I would have been wrong.
Because all morning I’ve had to argue the toss with people who do claim to believe that an Australian League level manager is an appropriate option for Celtic.
They cling to the fact we found Wim Jansen in the same league and compare this moment to when Arsenal hired Arsene Wegner, who’s ten years in France, seven at Monaco priot to Japan they’ve somehow managed to ignore … Jansen himself had won two Dutch Cups as manager of Feynoord.
But these are inconvenient facts as they scramble to square this in their heads.
And this to me is incomprehensible … I could a spend a long time pondering it if I wasn’t already sure of what the issue is.
It’s the final toxic legacy of this board, a degradation of our standards and self-image and view of our place in football that is now so profound and ingrained and part of our psyche that a section of our support regards a weekend such as this, as an appointment such as this, as … normal. As business as usual.
Who the Hell are we now as a club, that this is an acceptable proposition?
Who the Hell have we become?