When a manager fails in a job, most chairman understand that this is a part of football, that it happens and that it doesn’t mean that the guy isn’t up to taking on a new gig.
It is common currency that one of the first questions a prospective employer will ask an employee whose last posting ended prematurely is “what went wrong and what have you learned from it?”
If you went to a job interview and were asked such a question and you blamed external forces, bad luck, internal divisions and finally the company’s own customers I think your chances of being employed would lie somewhere between “slim” and “none”.
You would be fortunate to get the courtesy of a “hard luck” letter.
I watch Neil Lennon these days in disbelief, as he does the rounds of the studios and the TV stations making every excuse that he can for failing as manager of Celtic.
This weekend saw him name Odsonne Edouard as one of the player who wanted to go and thus, presumably, wouldn’t play for him. It saw him blame the virus. It saw him puff up at the idea that the form had returned because fans were back in the grounds, which is a big hint that he thinks that was the crucial factor. But he left a lot unexplained too.
Edouard presumably still wants to leave. Christie hasn’t signed a deal yet, and there’s talk that he too still sees his future away from Celtic Park. Yet both men are playing well under the new manager. Christie actually looks like a new player under Ange.
Neither player has downed tools. Neither player has chucked it. They are giving Ange real selection dilemmas and showing their own next prospective employers what they can do.
The style of football is blazingly different. The team has lost that depressing knack of playing rigid, boring stuff which defences know how to read. Gone are players stuck to their own positions and not making runs for others. Gone is the awful backwards and side to side passing that characterised the horrible performances under Lennon.
Lennon’s problem – one of his problems – was that he lost the dressing room. Ange dominates it. Every player talks about how good he is in one-to-ones and in giving them their instructions. He is a clear communicator. He has enthusiasm and he trusts people.
Most importantly, Ange is a modern manager in a way Lennon isn’t, and that’s not just do with his control over the team. When he talks to the press he is often asked about the instant demands of fans, about fan media, about the swiftness with which opinions can change and he both understands this environment and respects those in it.
Is profoundly different from Lennon’s outlook, where he seems to resent scrutiny from the supporters, and frequently flashes the positive aspects of his record at us in response to any criticism, without a single acknowledgement of the negatives.
Postecoglou doesn’t do that. He understands that this is all part of the modern football environment and embraces it. Which isn’t to say he won’t snap back at the more ridiculous stuff from the press, but he understands why they do it. He also respects the views of the fans as being paramount, as he’s made clear over and over again.
Lennon’s refusal to accept any responsibility, his frequent casting about for someone to blame, his arrogance and penchant for re-writing history … these are the amongst the reasons clubs are beating a path to his door.
“So what did you do wrong, and what have you learned from it?” That’s the question every chairman wants to ask before they appoint a recently dismissed manager.
“Nothing and nothing,” would be Lennon’s answer. It is an attitude which infuriates our fans and damages his career. If he understands that, he’s pretending not to care.