What a petulant, whiny, bitchy little article Jackson turned in today. If you haven’t read it, don’t worry I’m about to give it the treatment. This piece deserves nothing less than withering contempt and a full-scale paragraph-by-paragraph dissecting.
Let’s start with the headline;
“The 5 Celtic words Ange Postecoglou should have said instead of swerving lingering Leeds question – Keith Jackson”
Isn’t it odd that a so-called journalist would want Ange Postecoglou to say the words that deprived him of a story? Of course, Jackson wanted him to say nothing of the sort. The so-called “lingering Leeds question” exists only in the minds of the media and there is nothing Ange could have said to remove it.
“Postecoglou stopped just short of shutting Leeds down when given his first chance to face the lingering question head on.”
Ange, actually, did just fine. His comment about how “Celtic fans don’t need me to respond” shows the man’s class. If that’s not someone saying “they have nothing to worry about” I don’t know what is. Only one group of people are trying to keep this story going. So let’s get into the piece itself.
“They’re all borderline narcissists with a leaning towards control freakery. Well, the best of them are anyway.”
Here, Jackson offers an insight into the minds of football managers. Except no. What he’s actually doing is holding up a mirror to his own face. For a Scottish sports journalist to accuse anyone of that when in fact they are the most arrogant people on the face of the earth – and with very little cause to be – lacks any sense of self-awareness at all.
“Just don’t expect any football manager worth his salt to admit it. That would seem a little too much like the acceptance of criticism. And they’re not comfortable with being criticised. They’re not even all that fond of being questioned. Which might explain why so many of them have such a low tolerance level when it comes to the fulfilment of their pre- and post-match media duties at times.”
Don’t expect any hack to ever admit it either. The thing with being a journalist is that nobody really holds you to account. There is more egotism rampaging through journalism than just about any other profession. Notice the number of them who go into politics. They think that the ideas in their own heads are unique and special and that they have a particular skill for crafting language … many of them are terrible at that as well. His contention about how most managers don’t like being questioned is nonsense. Most of them just don’t like stupid questions or the same questions over and over again, on rinse and repeat. His snark about a low tolerance for their duties is pique at those few times when managers do decide they cannot be bothered.
“Invariably, there’s a whole lot of huffing and puffing involved when it comes to sitting down with the ladies and gentlemen of the press which is odd in itself given that the vast majority of these verbal jousts are largely mundane, low-octane affairs. Particularly, when things are running smoothly. And yet, even so, there’s something lodged deep in their psyche which makes the whole thing feel like an inconvenience and, in some cases, even an ordeal.”
I like his use of the word “invariably.” It’s the first time I’ve ever seen it start a sentence and it’s definitely not being properly used in context, but I admire the effort. The rest of the paragraph is pretty ridiculous. Most managers do not find our journalists to be Supreme Court level debaters or forensic analysts of facts or tactics. That might be the reason some of them find it tiresome. The average manager knows vastly more about football than the jokers of the media, and our jokers in particular are utterly clueless. The level of questioning Ange is subjected to is occasionally laughable. Ignorant, leading and occasionally even removed from reality.
“When you think about it, it’s probably the one part of their working week when they are not in complete control of their own environment. The rest of the time, a good manager operates behind closed doors in his way and on their terms.”
Haha! There it is. The first time that ego shows its monstrous form in the piece, like Sam Smith’s preposterous outfit. The idea that Ange does not control the press room when he sits down across from these people is actually absurd. There has literally never been one occasion, not one, where Ange has not been in command. I find it incredible that a newspaper that was asked to pay £25,000 just to be in the press room at Ibrox never bitched about that half as much as this idiot is wailing here about managers not fulfilling their responsibilities. And you’ll notice that he’s droning on instead of actually getting to the point, right?
“So when they are expected to explain themselves in the full view of the public perhaps it’s only natural that the heckles come up. Which is why Friday afternoon provided such a fascinating insight into the managerial mind that a psychologist would have had a field day.”
Who needs a psychologist when Keith “Jackass” Jackson is on the job though? And I repeat; most managers can take scrutiny. What they find hard to take and tough to endure is stupidity, and there’s something else as well, so let me make a modest admission. I’ve sat in the press room and questioned Ange. And although I like to think I’m a pretty grounded guy I actually voluntarily backed out of my last couple of allotted slots, and the reason I did last time is that I realised that in my prep I had been writing questions which were in no small part designed to make me look smart. I’m not saying that they weren’t questions the readers of this site wouldn’t have been interested in the answers to, but I was trying to frame them in a way that made me come off well, and that’s not supposed to be what the job is about. Our hacks do that all the time, and it’s a common failure amongst journalists as a whole. They all want to be the star attraction, to be the one who asks the killer question. Jackson should ask himself why so many people in showbiz, politics and sport hate sitting in front of the media. It’s not because of their own egos it’s because their interrogators themselves are often self-promoting headline chasers.
“On Merseyside – and not for the first time – Jurgen Klopp’s big smiley mask was slipping when he admitted that speaking to journalists had become all a bit too much of a chore now his Liverpool team is malfunctioning so spectacularly. And in Manchester, Pep Guardiola was going off on a paranoid rant when fronting up for the first time since his club’s alleged financial chicanery landed them with more than 100 charges from the Premier League.”
Let’s start at the back. Guardiola is angry because he sees the vultures circling his club. What was he meant to do, sit there and smile through the presser? He knows – and it would be churlish for anyone to deny it – that there’s a lot of envy out there and that some people are dying to see his club fail. He was being asked if they cheated. If he’s going to lose titles. They are valid questions and the journalists were right to ask them. But his response is perfectly natural and perfectly human and only an idiot could fail to understand that. As to Klopp, he has always had a withering contempt for a certain part of the English media, the tabloids. If I was in his shoes, having done what he has in his career, I too might resent people asking me every week if I was worried about getting sacked. I might even question the job performance of some of my interrogators.
“But while Klopp was cracking up and Pep was losing the plot, closer to home, Ange Postecoglou was cleverly swerving the cameras and sending John Kennedy into bat on his behalf. Which was an intriguing and unexpected plot twist in itself, given that all that week you couldn’t pick up a paper or turn on the telly without seeing the big Aussie’s name linked to the vacant hot seat at Elland Road.”
And finally he gets there, after dissembling for what seemed like an age. The point, at last, of his piece. To lump Ange’s perfectly ordinary decision to let John Kennedy do press for a cup-tie into a theory about how managers don’t like facing the media. It was made clear that this had been pre-planned. The only “intrigue” was in the minds of the hacks, and almost uniquely confined to Scotland because the English media was too busy writing the truth about Leeds pursuit of their next boss, which is that they were working their way down a short-list he wasn’t even on. Just as some of us said right at the start when they sacked Marsch.
“This was Postecoglou’s first chance to deal with all the speculation head on – and to say exactly what the Celtic support wanted to hear. Something along the lines of: “I categorically won’t be leaving” would have done the trick.”
No, what Celtic fans wanted to hear was a clear indication of commitment to the club. Ange took care of that on Saturday, the following day. As to the idea that those words would have “done the trick” that is a blatant falsehood he shouldn’t even bother trying to foist onto us. As he makes clear in a moment, the whole train would have moved on to the next story no matter what words came out of the manager’s mouth. It is nonsense to suggest otherwise.
“And yet, deliberately or not, Postecoglou left a huge question mark hanging in the air when he opted to stay locked inside his office instead. The party line is that this had been the plan all along. But even if that is the case and Kennedy really was always pencilled in to handle the front of house ahead of Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie with St Mirren, it all felt a bit like the big boss was ducking out of his duties.”
The oblique suggestion that Celtic are lying is hard to miss, even if he tries to coach it in neutral language. “The party line” is what our club, our manager and our assistant say happened. The implication that it’s some kind of cover story is baseless idiocy. Particularly as, as I pointed out on the day, the manager had to face the media anyway prior to the Saturday game. The idea that the big guy was “locked in his office” is insulting. Nobody was hiding here, least of all from our press corps who Ange repeatedly has for breakfast. As to how it “felt” to people like Jackson, I think the manager and those at Celtic care about that somewhere on a sliding scale between infinitesimally little to not at all. Who cares what they “felt” about it?
“Perhaps he simply couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of spending half an hour dancing through the same questions while trying not to trip himself up. In the sure knowledge that anything he did say would be written down and used against him. And that’s perfectly understandable.”
The first actual admission of fact here; Ange knows full well that nothing he said would have settled this. He made the perfectly factual “admission” the other day that he won’t be at the club forever and one newspaper, if we’re still calling The Sun that, blasted that onto the back pages with “THE CLOCK IS TICKING” beside it like we were on death watch. So yeah, perhaps he just couldn’t be bothered and decided to play some PlayStation. But when he says that the decision had been taken to let Kennedy do the press duties – and not for the first time – why shouldn’t we believe that?
“But given the apparent ease with which he handles himself, it did seem strange the cat had suddenly got his tongue at such a significant moment. He’s simply not the sort to crumble under questioning. And that was evident again when Postecoglou did eventually have to break cover, shortly before kick-off on Saturday evening.”
For God’s sake, that’s not even close to what happened here. So it might seem “strange” in the fevered mind of Keith Jackson, but Ange didn’t even buy himself 24 hours before he had to answer the question anyway and as this clown points out he dealt with it. Of course he did. Because no, he’s not the sort to “crumble under questioning.” Especially not when those in charge of it are comprised of such dolts as we have in our press boxes.
“He was asked live on radio if he regarded the Leeds links as a compliment to his work. “I guess it would be if I paid any attention to it,” was how he brushed it off. It was then put to him that his levels of job satisfaction and feelings of loyalty to Celtic might be being underestimated. Presumably by the media. His response to this one was even more brutal. “I have no idea what you think about anything, mate.”
Typical brilliance. And brutal? Yes, of course. No more so than these people deserve for asking him in a roundabout way the only question that some of them ever have on their minds these days; “When are you leaving?” Because that, when you get to the heart of it, is what they want to know.
“Again, textbook Postecoglou. Later on however, after another thumping win, Postecoglou explained why he had chosen to step aside on Friday afternoon. But this answer was a lot less convincing.”
Call him liar, Keith, I dare you.
“He said: “I just thought it was a good week for us to sort of focus on training. John’s a very, very capable guy and he handles the media well. I thought I’d have a break from everyone and everyone could have a break from me.”
Go on, you know you really want to.
“And all the while, he stopped just short of slamming the door shut on the possibility of a move to England’s elite. By Sunday morning another Premier League job was up for grabs when Southampton finally called time on the discombobulating Nathan Jones. Which means the whole circus surrounding the Celtic manager’s future employment might roll back into town for the rest of this week too.”
What a joke that paragraph is. He wants Ange to rule out a move to England, ever. That’s not going to happen and he knows full well it’s not going to happen. Anything less and there is no way that he could have “slammed the door” on this and Jackson knows that full well too. Because had the planets aligned for these guys just right the sequence of questions would have gone like this. “Are you interested in the Everton job? No? Okay then, what about the job at Leeds? Do you want that? No? Well, the one at Southampton is available. How about that one?” We had people like Charlie Nicholas linking to him jobs which weren’t even available.
“And yet, there’s something about the Leeds job in particular which might well be piquing Postecoglou’s interest for as long as it remains available. Not least because he’s almost a carbon copy of Marcelo Bielsa, the equally obsessive Argentine who masterminded the club’s rise back into England’s top flight by implementing a contemporary style of high-intensity, all-energy, attacking football.”
What, you mean the job that the first four candidates turned down? By the time the Leeds board got to Ange he could well have found himself fifteenth choice. Still appealing? I do like the reference to Biela’s playing system. There’s just one problem with that. He didn’t have the players to pull it off and it got him sacked. The transfer window’s shut, and so Leeds are stuck with that squad. So even if the job did interest Ange, which I never thought it would, he would have to consider whether his style is suited to a relegation dog-fight and it’s just not.
“In other words, Postecoglou couldn’t be any more up the Yorkshire outfit’s street if he kept ferrets down the front of his Australian strides. Celtic, for their part, remain satisfied that their man has no intention of bailing out on them before his work here is done.”
Oh dear God. In any Jackson article, there is always at least one grindingly awful paragraph like this, one where his use of the language is so offensive to the reader’s sensibilities that it should be considered a crime against humanity. That’s like a drunk guy at a party coming up to you, grabbing you by the collars of your shirt and screaming into your face. And the use of the term “bailing out” is usually reserved for people parachuting out of a bad situation. It’s in context, but only just.
“His close relationship with chairman Peter Lawwell in particular, lends some credence to their comfort. And that’s good news where the image of the Scottish game is concerned because Postecoglou is exactly the kind of character who makes our landscape a great deal more interesting.”
“Credence to their comfort.” Ooft. That’s a bad one. Still, I did snigger a bit at the idea that Jackson, or most others in the media, care at all about the “image of the Scottish game.” Especially in an article where he’s suggested that our manager, chasing a treble, might want to leave for a relegation dogfight in the EPL. He could write comedy this guy. Badly, but he could have a go.
“Put it this way, if you don’t appreciate the work he is doing in this country or if you can’t bring yourself to enjoy the manner in which he’s been going about it then you’re either a Rangers fan or a philistine. But – by their very nature – football managers can be a strange, unpredictable lot. It tends to be best not to take them for granted.”
An Ibrox fan or a Philistine? And those two need to be mutually exclusive, do they? I always thought they more or less went together. Which one are you Keith? Which one are you?