Today we mourn the death of Wim Jansen, a man who was at Celtic for just one season but who’s impact on the club was far greater. Was his title the most important of my lifetime?
Yes, and for two reasons, the least of which is that it stopped ten in a row.
The more important reason, by far, was that it completed Fergus McCann’s miracle. We were almost there with the stadium. The season ticket culture was established.
What the club needed to prove, above all, was that it had the appetite for success again.
Wim Jansen was the manager who made that happen, and he did it in the course of a single campaign.
There are those who will claim that Gerrard’s so-called accomplishment was the equal of that, but it was not. Jansen didn’t have three years to build a side. He didn’t have massive amounts of money. He had to replace key members of our squad and still put out a winning team, and he was brilliant at spotting a player and fostering the right team spirit.
He also won a double, which is often forgotten, but not by those Celtic fans who were at the League Cup Final where we beat Dundee Utd to start the ball rolling towards the title. Wim competed for three trophies and won two of them. We all know how that sits alongside Gerrard’s dire record. The two cannot even remotely be compared.
Wim left Celtic after his double winning campaign, mostly because he and Fergus didn’t get along well. That has never lessened the tremendous affection and respect in which Celtic fans hold the Dutchman.
He was a good and decent man, another who’s treatment by our media was absolutely diabolical.
Some of those who will pay him tribute should instead hang their heads in shame for the appalling headlines which greeted his appointment, in which they played a role.
Wim is remembered fondly across European football, as a part of a fantastic Netherlands side, and in particular at Feynoord where he was both player and manager, and whose honours as a footballer include the European Cup, won against us, of course, in the 1969-70 final, and which ushered in the Total Football era of the “Dutch masters.”
The little man who, like Ange, we brought over from Japanese football, was accomplished, talented, perceptive, intelligent and tactical. He had a greater knowledge of the game than any of his detractors ever did, or could ever hope for.
The game has lost a truly great man. His impact on our club was momentous.
He gave us back not only our title, and prevented the loss of our proud record, but he let my generation of supporters remember what it was like to be champions.
Everything else that followed flowed, in no small part, from our club re-acquiring that taste for victory.
We will not forget you, Wim. Rest in Peace.