It was Leonard Cohen, of all people, who said that “success is survival.” Every football manager knows that by heart. The only certainty in that line of work is the sack. It comes to them all, even to the best of them. Giovanni Van Bronckhorst is not one of the best.
I have tried to understand what it was that their board saw in him.
But when I listen to him talk I hear a man as devoid of charisma and personality as a mop stood up in its bucket.
There appears, on the surface of it, no way for him to survive that.
This season has been one unfolding calamity after another. Only a couple of highly fortunate cup draws has stopped it from being worse. They have made Hampden. It didn’t save managers before him.
Europe, of course, will be held up as the ultimate proof of his failure.
Actually, the European results dovetail perfectly with domestic form which is as close to disastrous as you can get. Had we not slipped up at Paisley the gap would be in double digits.
As it is, we have a seven-point lead. That’s not unassailable; history has taught us that.
But by God, you cannot see how they will overcome it whilst he remains in post. Nor, indeed, when he is gone. Because that depends on us being as bad as they are good … and we just don’t have enough of those bad days at the office in us anymore.
This is a Celtic team that can drag itself over the line – or power its way over it if you prefer – even when suffering from self-inflicted wounds, as we did yesterday. There is always an extra gear in us. There is always a spirit which triumphs over adversity. That’s why, over the course of the campaign, we will ultimately emerge as the victorious team.
Van Bronckhorst must see the writing on the wall. In a shocking moment of insight, even Keevins has spotted that Beale turning up to their ground, unheralded, last week is akin to a scavenger following a dying animal, preparing to peck at its carcass. Everyone in the media has been openly speculating about this day for many, many weeks.
The day has surely come. Beale can start packing his bags if the Ibrox board thinks he’s the answer. (He isn’t, but then their range of options is so narrow right now that it’s hard to know what the answer might actually be.)
And the manager, Van Bronckhorst, can start packing his.
The clamour for his head will reach a crescendo.
Nobody in their boardroom has uttered a word in support of him, even off the record. They had their minds made up before today. This will surely be the moment that he’s called in to “consider his position.”
But let’s be honest, that entire club is living on borrowed time at the moment.
Their commercial strategy has been calamitous. Their recruitment strategy is an ever evolving shit-show which will end with two of their most highly valued assets leaving the club next summer (not that they’ll be missed) without them getting a penny. The dreck they still have on their books … they are facing a momentous rebuild on limited funds.
What kind of manager would take a job like that on?
Not one with any sense. Certainly not one looking across the city as Ange builds a footballing juggernaut. Who wants to come and take on that well-oiled machine? Desperados and fools.
I understand why that club is paralysed by fear.
Ironically, it may be that paralysis that keeps this guy in post a bit longer.
Because there are so many unanswered questions should they decide to terminate his services. For a start, he has brought an entire cadre of coaches with him from Holland, and one imagines they would all have to go … costing a fortune and leaving them with a hell of a rebuild off the park, before they can ever start with the team.
The loathing is there too of course, raging across their forums like a brushfire that is out of control.
Their “official media partners” have already called for his head before today. I imagine the feeling amongst their prominent social media fans is now unanimous.
For Celtic fans this has been a glorious weekend.
For those across the city it is simply another in a long line of dark days. They kept on telling us that The Banter Years were over; well, if you check the wording on the box-set it does say “The Story So Far …”
Over? There was a one year break between seasons, that’s all … we’re well and truly back in the swing of things now, and this particular one may prove to be the finest yet.
Personally, I hope that he lasts a while yet.
As a Jackson Browne wrote, “Won’t you stay a little bit longer?”