When Mark Warburton was famously told that Scottish football would be kind to him because the tradition here is to have a “good cop and a bad cop” he took notice and made a judgement about the Scottish media which they completely misunderstood. He viewed them, forevermore, as a bit weird and very corrupt. He knows now what that hack left out.
Our media are a sycophantic lot which respects strength above all else, and there is no strength like that you get from a winner.
But they also have a favourite club, many of them anyway, and will tend to give the incumbent in that job a certain benefit of the doubt until the minute the tide turns against the guy and then woe betide him because they turn the guns on him and fire away.
Warburton learned what their true loyalties were when the media up here did it to him. Other Ibrox managers have found out the same thing. Van Bronckhorst might be unique in that a handful of them are getting their digs in early.
Does this make Ange the “good cop” this time around? Certainly, there is no way he’d ever have had that status conferred on him whilst the media was slobbering over Gerrard. Van Bronckhorst has won more than Gerrard, as both a manager and as a player, but the press, from Day One, fawned over him like he was a rock star. They only question his record now that he’s safely over the border and because he left having stabbed their favourite club in the back.
Ange has the press eating out of his hand. They are totally bewitched by him; the first time I’ve seen a Celtic manager wield this ability. They treated Rodgers and O’Neill with a certain amount of respect, but they feared O’Neill more than they liked him and a lot of people are impressed by Rodgers but see him as a little too smooth and full of himself.
But Ange, they genuinely like. They enjoy talking to him and he – amazingly – enjoys talking to them although he refuses to suffer their nonsense and snaps at them when he thinks they cross the line. He is likeable. They try hard not to notice it, some of them, but he is winning them all over steadily. Will they feel the same way about Van Bronckhorst?
The thing is, some of them will never get the chance between of Ibrox’s bizarre and now obviously self-defeating media policy. This has so infuriated the likes of Jackson that he is openly calling the new Ibrox boss a coward before he’s even managed a game. Part of it is pique at the club crashing out of the League Cup whilst the Dutchman sat in the stand … but part of it is the excluded section of the media smarting against the restrictions and biting back.
Ange doesn’t care about any of this nonsense, of course, but there is an opportunity for him here and I’m sure if he thought in these terms he’d recognise it. Do not underestimate the power of the press to make someone the good guy and someone else the bad guy. If Van Bronckhorst doesn’t get a quick grip of the Ibrox dressing room, and if it all starts to fall apart, he will find himself at the centre of a media firing squad even as Ange basks in the sunshine.
Of course, if Van Bronckhorst looks like he will be competent Ange will have to watch himself but these people aren’t his friends no matter how friendly they find him to be, and he will not get the leeway or latitude an Ibrox boss would under the same circumstances.
But he knows that already, because although he doesn’t care who their favourite is, even in the short term, he’s well aware that if they smell weakness on him that they will pounce.
For the moment though, he has the mastery. He is the one who looks strong, just as our club has recovered from its self inflicted wounds to reach the first final of the campaign. Our dressing room is united. The one across town is riven and bereft.
The opportunity is obvious.
He doesn’t care about phony status, but he cares about utilising every advantage.
Ange will have recognised this one, and he will certainly be ready to exploit it.
Jim Duffy says:
November 23, 2021 at 7:21 am
November 23, 2021 at 11:31 am
I wonder if van bronkhurst may turn out to be the new Paul le guen because he never got much leeway with Scottish hacks
I’d rather we took feck all to do with the Scottish papers and banned them from Paradise. Their loyalty is to one club only. This continue as if they’re an objective and even handed reporters policy backed by the board should not be backed by the fans they so wish to disreguard as dirty fenians invaders. HH
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