I just watched Dermot Desmond’s interview on CelticTV and I thought he spoke well.
But then, he always does. He makes it all sound as if Celtic followed a process this summer and did everything right. He makes it sound like the chaos of last season was all part of a well-laid plan, in total contrast to what it looked like from the outside.
It would be great to believe in all of it.
Because it does make it sound like people knew what they were doing instead of putting stuff together on a whim. There is just one problem; he said at least one thing that is blatantly contradicted by the facts.
Every lawyer who has ever stood in a courtroom dreads his client being caught in a lie under oath. Even a little lie, a small lie, because if the other side knows it’s a lie and can prove that it does not matter if every other thing the client said is true … that one lie makes them a liar. That lie casts a dark shadow on every other word they said.
And when Dermot Desmond said that the manager is the final arbiter of who signs for Celtic I actually laughed out loud.
Because as good as everything he said before it sounded, Dermot Desmond told a flat-out untruth there and everyone knows full well that he did. I don’t know what that does to the rest of his interview, but I find it hard to take it seriously now.
The manager has plainly not been the final decider on transfers.
Twice, Brendan Rodgers publicly expressed his dissatisfaction over this. Other players have been brought into the club who managers plainly did not want, did not rate and thus did not play.
Rodgers publicly disavowed the signing of Maryan Shved. He publicly said that the club – not him but the club – had brought in Daniel Arzani. Nobody will ever convince me that Brendan Rodgers is the guy who said “yeah let’s bring in Mulumba” after we missed out on John McGinn, in a deal that still took weeks to do although he was available free.
I even detect a little example of it under Ange, with the signing of James McCarthy.
Doubtless, Ange was happy to get a central midfielder who understood the club and who had played at the highest level … but he’s certainly not been a key part of the squad and is the one signing out of all the deals the manager has done which looks odd and out of place.
I always think of Patryk Klimala and the comments John Kennedy made when the player was sold.
A good counterattacking player, but unfortunately not suited to our style.
Because, of course, we don’t play counterattacking football … so who in God’s name amongst the coaching staff would have wanted a footballer that plainly did not fit?
I have always thought that some of our transfer dealings during the latter years of the Lawwell era just got plain weird and made less and less sense.
For periods of our club’s history, those above the coaching team have played their own wee games of Football Manager at our club and with our money. It is a fact and we would do ourselves no favours if we ignored it as a fact.
Like I said, I thought Desmond spoke well for most of the interview, but it wasn’t the only thing that made me raise my eyebrows.
His comments about running the club right so we didn’t suffer a liquidation and so emerge as a “New Celtic” are a turn up from where he wished “Rangers” well and as good as endorsed the Survival Lie back in 2012.
I put that down to a change in circumstances though; the public posture of those at the top of our club is markedly different towards Ibrox in the last couple of years than it was at the time, and so that’s probably why the tone has changed.
Nevertheless, it, too represents a marked change from what has already been in the public domain and felt, to me, like something tacked on as a crowd pleaser.
It wasn’t a real interview.
If you’re going to do a real interview, subject yourself to a forensic dressing down by a serious journalist; there are still a handful in Scotland. Graham Spiers would have done it in a heartbeat. Sanitised sit-downs and softballs as the season draws to an end with a note of triumph in the air doesn’t impress me at all.
This is the board, in fact, trying to step into Ange’s limelight and they shouldn’t dare.
He cleaned up their mess, and that’s the long and short of it and if it had proved too great a challenge for even his obvious skill-set this guy wouldn’t even be offering himself up for these easy questions … he and the rest of the them would still have been hiding from the fans.