When a club goes into a £40 million game and leaves out their star striker, with the criticism of the manager, the other players and a slew of ex-footballers in the media ringing in his ears, when everyone is turning on the flamethrowers, and much of the fan-base is in agreement, that usually means he’s kicked his final ball for the club.
How exactly do you come back from that as a player? How do you and the club get it together, kiss and make up, and move on in a common cause?
The obvious answer is that you don’t. The answer in this case, the Morelos case, is that you can’t. Things have been done here that can’t be undone. The second the manager goes to the rest of the squad to alienate and ostracise another member of the team … well there are things broken in that move which cannot be patched up let alone fixed.
The manager tried, of course. He appeared in front of the media today and tried to paint a picture of a potential way back. He did that for only one reason. Morelos is in the last year of his deal and if his future isn’t resolved in the next 9 days he will leave for free. Let’s face it, any hope they all had of this ending in a new deal has gone by the boards.
He’s not first choice. He’s been left out of a massive game. He cannot be trusted, and he knows that is exactly how the club sees it. There is no way he signs a new contract now, not when he’s facing a situation like this. Both parties would have to be mad not to try and make these the last few weeks of his Ibrox career. They almost certainly will.
The problem is – and this is hilarious – after years of trumping up moves which never were, they now need one to transpire, and really, who would bother? As this site has pointed out, his scoring record in the SPFL is dire. The club has just branded him an out of shape trouble-maker, and his red card count doesn’t lie.
Shifting this guy, for the sort of money that would save face … nearly impossible.
Above Van Bronckhorst’s head the board must be shocked at how quickly this escalated. He should never have allowed his captain to go in front of the media and shred another player, but he did. He should never have made this decision and then made sure the media knew that the squad had been consulted on it. Indeed, some will say he should never have made this decision in the first place and that all its done is make public the dirty laundry.
But clearly, things have been bad for a while and it doesn’t take a genius to know that when one player acts as a law unto himself that other members of the squad aren’t going to like that a whole lot. There are probably some who think the manager should have gotten a hold of this situation before he did. If, as looks likely, it was Tavernier’s intervention which has finally brought it to a head, well there’s nothing good in that scenario for them either.
Van Bronckhorst has been damaged by this, and having to backtrack today doubtless due to those above him telling him there is no way he can simply cast the player into the reserves and leave him there for a year, hasn’t helped. If they lose tomorrow night, the pressure on him will start to ramp up. His every decision will be questioned at that point.
If this was Celtic, I would be fuming. Indeed, I remember well Brendan Rodgers’ public strop on the eve of the AEK Athens game at Celtic Park, and I remember even more the way a “board member” – who I know was Peter Lawwell – trashed him to the BBC on the night of the match itself. I was at Celtic Park for a meeting with the CEO the following day. It was the day John McGinn signed for Villa. We were in a very bad place and I knew it.
But we coped with that because Rodgers was an outstanding coach who was never going to burn down the house when his own reputation was on the line. The players had come too far to down tools and react badly to the battle between the board and the boss. This is much worse for Ibrox on any number of fronts, because it’s the dressing room that’s divided.
This is a full-scale disaster for them, on the brink of plunging the club into a crisis. The manager has made an immensely destabilising decision, and even if the rest of the squad is in complete agreement real damage has been done here, and will continue to be done as long as Morelos is at Ibrox. There is no way back for him tonight.
There’s no easy way of getting him out the door either though, and so angry ned and fuming club are stuck with each other for the moment, and we have front row seats to the shit-show. I only hope the popcorn supplies don’t run out before the second act.