Recently, I watched The Thick Of It, on James’ recommendation, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
One of my favourites moments is at the start of Season 3.
It’s one he’s mentioned before.
She’s barely in her ministerial job, but already Nicola Murray, in charge of the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship, is having a torrid time of it.
Her brightest idea involves wooden toys … don’t even ask!
She sits in the back of a car with Malcolm Tucker, the waspish communications chief for the government, trying to get a feel for whether she’s on the brink of the sack.
“Stop worrying,” he says, “The PM’s not going to sack you after a week. Sacked after 12 months, it looks like you’ve screwed up. Sacked after a week, it looks like he’s screwed up.”
“I’m not doing terribly, am I?” she asks, pensively.
Rather than answer that, he peers out the window. “I love the way they’ve sandblasted everything around here. It’s so clean,” he says.
In light of events at Celtic Park last month it’s somehow less funny.
Because in September, our board got rid of its new chief executive after a mere 72 days in the job.
So who screwed up? Is it his disaster or theirs? Do any of them even care how bad it looks?
It was an extraordinary development, and made worse by the dishonourable way the club conducted itself in the aftermath, claiming in their statement that he had resigned for “personal reasons” and then leaking it to the press that he’d been sacked.
This is the club which dithered and delayed over Lennon.
We all hoped that a lesson had been learned from that.
Perhaps it has.
If you accept the board’s narrative that McKay simply wasn’t getting it done and that they realised after two months that things were not going to improve in any significant way, it raises an obvious question.
How long does a flailing manager get?
Not a failing manager, because in strictly technical terms a manager hasn’t failed until the numbers are all against him. But how do you measure a failing CEO without a metric to judge him on?
McKay was, at worst, only flailing … and they terminated him without the least quibble.
So the word flailing is the operative one here.
Does a manager who looks like he’s struggling get the time McKay didn’t?
Or is this board now possessed of a bloodlust which risks turning us into one of those clubs where the managerial hot-seat more and more comes to resemble an electric chair?
In its arrogance, our board has encouraged the asking of that question.
Getting rid of one of the most important people in the organisation in the manner in which they did, before his coffee machine was even cold from its first heating, was an extraordinarily destabilising act.
It sent an appalling message to the world about the way our club is run, on the basis of personality issues and ego, prone to dithering over some decisions and taking others in an extraordinarily knee-jerk fashion.
It does not paint a nice picture.
When a business acts like this, no-one inside it can feel totally safe and secure.
Everyone having a bad time of it will be constantly looking over their shoulder.
They don’t know what those above them might do, any more than the rest of us do.
This board’s behaviour cannot be predicted any longer, and no promise they make can be totally trusted.
The people running this club still don’t understand the full ramifications of what they did here.
They appear as oblivious to it as Lawwell seemed to be when he boasted about ignoring CV’s and putting them in a bin during the “hunt” for someone to replace Brendan Rodgers. It’s unprofessional. It is dangerous.
Weeks later, they’ve still never uttered a word about it, not even to the friendly blogs they prioritise over the rest of us.
Those running Celtic do not care any longer what the rest of the world thinks.
That means Ange might be on thinner ice than any of us imagines.
Thinner than Ange himself realises.
I don’t think they would care what impact it would have on the support; these people have elevated making it up as they go along into a particularly gruesome art form and their decision making has become increasingly erratic and difficult to comprehend.
I’m not saying they’ll dispense with Ange if we don’t get some positive results soon, I’m saying that we cannot be sure that they won’t because we can’t be sure of anything at Celtic right now because the club does not appear to have a single leader or a strategy to follow any longer.
If the absentee shareholder wakes up one morning and decides that enough is enough there’s no voice on the board to stand up to him.
Christ, Ange doesn’t even have the benefit of being Irish to fall back on.
He needs time. He should get time, although not unlimited time.
An early dismissal, one that looks born of panic, one that looks ill-thought out, one that makes us look desperate and out of control, would be a major disaster and reputationally devastating, and we cannot be sure that these people will not take such a step.
Because their official version of what happened with the CEO is that they made the decision after running out of confidence in him … and if he was finally deprived of the role after 72 days that means they made that decision a lot quicker than that, a lot sooner than we’re aware, a lot sooner than was reasonable.
It means that some of them are acting recklessly with no thought to the long-term impact on the club’s dwindling professional reputation.
And I know that as a result of that, our manager, out on the end of a very long limb, with no management team of his own around him, will be wary of more than just those outside of Celtic Park. He has to be wary of those who have his back.
Because they might just knife him in it.
The Rumour Guy is a Celtic fan and blogger from Glasgow. This is him branching out into horror writing.