Keith Jackson’s piece today is so bad that I could have slapped a Jackass headline on it and stuck it up almost verbatim. It would have passed muster as a satire. That’s difficult for even him to do, but not impossible. I’ve done that with a Jackson piece before.
Mostly, though, I subject his worst articles to this treatment; the fabled “deep dive”, going through his moronic writing line by line and taking apart the paragraphs. If he has any shame at all, any sense of professional pride, and if he reads this stuff, he should do so with the deepest feelings of embarrassment. I rather suspect not though.
Let’s not waste time on this; let’s get right down to it starting with the headline.
“Frank Trimboli’s Celtic VIP presence sounded alarm bells but fans could be showering kingmaker with flowers – Keith Jackson”
First, what alarm bells? I didn’t know the guy was even at the ground until I read this piece this morning, and only the most eagle eyed of fans would have spotted him. And there’s a clue in the headline which Jackson hasn’t spotted. I’ll get to that.
“Our man spotted the influential agent who could become a key figure in the Parkhead gaffer’s future with Spurs circling.”
The sub-heading is hilarious. There is no way in Hell that Keith Jackson “spotted” Frank Trimboli and knew right away who he was. This is a guy who can barely do “paint by numbers” as this article is going to ably demonstrate, so I do find it faintly ridiculous that his editors would try to suggest that he identified this guy like some detective on the prowl.
“Chances are you won’t be overly familiar with the name of Frank Trimboli.”
The opening line is a beauty. Because I very much doubt that Jackson or most of the people at The Record were familiar with him either. It just so happens, actually, that I was familiar with the man’s name because I took an interest, last season, in who Ange’s agent was. So I wasn’t absolutely unaware of him, but I freely admit this; I couldn’t pick him out of a police line-up if he was wearing a Frank necklace, Frank signet rings and a “This Is Frank” t-shirt.
“And over the course of the next week or so Celtic’s supporters may have good reason to wish it had stayed that way. Or they could end up showering him with flowers and chocolates all the way down London Road. Either way, it seems increasingly likely that Mr Trimboli is about to emerge as a central character in the unfolding drama which will ultimately decide if Ange Postecoglou is Home or Away this summer.”
The first of many crap Australian jokes aside, Jackson goes straight to the worst case scenario here. The suggestion that we will blame Trimboli if Ange goes or otherwise laud him if Ange stays is faintly ridiculous. Agents get their cut either way. Their job is to present a manager or player with a series of options. A guy like, Ange, he will make that call. So he’s the “central figure” here, not the agent. Which is only the first thing Jackson gets wrong.
“So it was more than intriguing that he just so happened to be there in person at Celtic Park on Saturday, with a VIP pass to join in the title celebrations before Sky’s cameras caught him hugging and high-fiving Postecoglou like a long lost brother down on the pitch. Trimboli, you see, is the man who makes deals happen. He may represent Postecoglou professionally but he is not exactly renowned for adopting a touchy-feely, Jerry Maguire approach to fostering agent-client relationships.”
Good God, isn’t that entire paragraph just a horror show? Any high-school paper editor would have wanted that substantially rewritten before it ever saw the light of day. Let’s start with the obvious; there is no “intrigue” here. He didn’t “just so happen” to be there. He had a VIP pass. So he was invited, by the club, to attend the game. That’s as close to certain as you could possibly get. Who does he think gets VIP passes? Anybody who wants one? If there was “intrigue” it was very stupid of the guy to be out on the pitch where the Sky cameras caught the whole thing. On top of that, to describe a guy as not “touchy feely” and then say he was “hugging and high-fiving” Ange just one sentence apart is truly dire stuff.
“Rather, he has a reputation as a no nonsense Aussie adviser with a hard earned reputation for getting things over the line. Put it this way, if there are any balls that need breaking, invariably, Frank the Tank’s your man.”
What a colossally stupid thing to write. If he’s here – as Jackson clearly imagines – to broker a deal taking Ange to Spurs there are no “balls needing breaking.” Ange has a one year rolling contract; Spurs could buy that out with the petty cash. If he’s here to agree a new deal for the manager, there’s no need for ball-breaking there either … if Ange is minded to stay and the board wants him to then he will, and the agent only needs to do the paperwork.
“He also enjoys a long standing working relationship – and wields enormous influence – with the men in the command room of the very club which is now pecking around Big Ange like a feisty cockerel. Trimboli is credited, for example, with playing a key role in the somewhat left-field appointment of another Australian, Scott Munn, as Tottenham Hotspur’s chief football officer.”
First up, credited by who? And where is the evidence that he “wields enormous influence” in the Spurs boardroom? That’s pure fantasy land stuff. The Spurs boardroom is ruled by one man, and Jackson will come to him in due course. On top of that, the appointment of Scott Munn is only a “left field appointment” if you aren’t familiar with the landscape of English football; actually, it’s a sensible appointment considering his background.
“Munn’s bespoke role and wide reaching remit will make him pretty much the decision maker in chief from now on at the North London club. He starts his job on July 1 and when he does he will be second in seniority only to chairman Daniel Levy who, understandably, is seeking to take a backseat after overseeing a spectacularly Spursy season, even by their own basket case standards.”
I laughed out loud reading that and I’m laughing out loud even as I’m typing a response to it. The idea that Scott Munn, or anyone else, will be the key decision maker at Spurs whilst Daniel Levy has his name on a parking space is preposterous. The suggestion that Levy is “seeking to take a backseat” is one of the most fantastical things I have ever read in a national newspaper, absolutely without any foundation or grounding in reality. Any person who has had any dealings with Levy whilst at Spurs knows that he is temperamentally unable to adopt any sort of “hands off” approach to the job. It’s one of the reasons no-one wants the role and one of the biggest obstacles to them making Ange an offer that he will find acceptable. It does not matter that Munn and Ange have some connection; Daniel Levy’s writ will run. As it has from the moment he took over. Anyone who believes anything else is living in a fantasy world.
“Like Postecoglou, Munn has a history steeped in the City Group having held down a position as chief executive at Melbourne City FC before being promoted to head up the entire China division over the last four years. So it’s little wonder if the alarm bells began clattering even more loudly inside Celtic Park at the weekend when Trimboli’s name appeared on Big Ange’s personal guest list for a second successive title party.”
At the centre of that are two giant presumptions, both of which Jackson tries to paint as facts. The first is that “alarm bells rang” at Celtic over Trimboli’s presence. The second is that he appeared on “Ange’s personal guest list.” Whether he was Ange’s invitee or not, Celtic would have been fully aware of his coming, would have granted him the VIP ticket and would not have been caught by surprise in any way, shape or form. In fact, am I crazy or is he confirming that Trimboli was there last year as well? And if he was, what in God’s name is this article about?
“Trimboli’s presence in the posh seats will certainly not have escaped the notice of Celtic chairman Peter Lawwell who will be acutely aware of all the various personalities and pieces which are in play as Spurs weigh up their next managerial move.”
Jackson clearly thinks he should win some sort of prize for stating the obvious. Does he really think Lawwell glanced around the director’s box and spotted him and was surprised to see him there? Like I said, those guest lists and those VIP passes are not given to just about anybody. Not only will it not have “escaped Lawwell’s notice” … he’d have had to sign off on it. Is Jackson really too thick not to understand that … or does he just hope his readers are?
“It could even be that Lawwell was the one who handed out the invitation in the first place in order to conduct a face-to-face with Trimboli over a fat new contract offer for his client, who is now days away from completing a domestic clean sweep at the end of his second season in Glasgow.”
Well I’ll be damned! That thought actually has crossed the short span of Jackson’s tiny mind! It was, actually, the first thing I thought of. How many hours of concentration led Jackson to this conclusion, and why now is he finally stating what was obvious to I suspect all of us from the word go? Because of course Lawwell played a part in that invitation being issued. Trimboli wouldn’t have been out on the pitch with Ange otherwise for God’s sake.
“If that turns out to be the case – and Postecoglou was to put pen to paper on a bumper deal to stay – then Trimboli will have Celtic supporter’s buses being named after him throughout the close season. And yet, all the noises coming out of London, suggest Postecoglou’s pal has other plans in mind.”
Two things here. The first, and I repeat it, is that agents only present their clients with a range of options. If Jackson really believes it’s Trimboli’s name that fans will remember if Ange signs a new deal and not that of the manager himself, or those at the club who pushed out the boat to make it happen, he has his head jammed somewhere the sun doesn’t shine. Secondly, I don’t know what “noises coming out of London” have to do with convincing Jackson that Trimboli has decided that it’s time the manager was moving on. And neither does Jackson as he’s about to make clear.
“Postecoglou’s name has been on Levy’s list of potential new bosses ever since the decision to axe Antonio Conte was made at the end of March. And the more he has bungled the recruitment process, the higher up it has climbed.”
Ange wasn’t near the shortlist at the start of this process, unless the shortlist had over a dozen names on it, which doesn’t make it a very short list at all. But I do agree that Levy’s inability to get a deal done has been a contributing factor in making Ange a possibility. Why that would be regarded as flattering, or enticing, to Ange is another question.
“So last week, when Feyenoord’s Arne Slot became the latest man to turn down Levy’s advances, Trimboli may well have sensed that the time was right to start upping the ante over Ange. Both Slot and Postecoglou share similar philosophies in terms of how they believe the game ought to be played.”
First, I’m willing to bet that Jackson doesn’t have the first clue what Slot’s “philosophies” in the game are. He’s been a manager for just three years and is only on his second club, so if he has an underlying philosophy at all it’s not yet near to being fully formed. If he means they share similar tactical outlooks, this too is nonsense. They both utilise a variation of the 4-2-3-1 but guess what? So does every top manager in Europe right now. Off the ball, Celtic barely alters its tactical shape. Slot’s team fall back and adopt a 4-4-1-1. Secondly, stories about Ange did not start this week, and the timing doesn’t fit one iota. The guest lists for the game this weekend would have been set in stone long before Feynoord’s manager decided not to move to London … and that the London club was in pursuit of Slot just last week shatters the idea that this has been in motion for a while.
“They are more than just managers – they are creators of cultures – and if that’s what Spurs are looking for then, of course, it stands to reason that Postecoglou has become a person of such interest.”
Slot was at AZ for a year, where they sacked him because he was already looking at moving up. He’s been at Feynoord for two years. Where is the slightest evidence that he is a “creator of cultures”? We can say that for sure with Ange because he’s done it before and before and before. On top of that, Spurs have zero interest in a “culture”; if they were they would have forged one before now, but as a Guardian writer remarked earlier in the season, after Conte was sacked, a club which has a shortlist featuring an ultra-attacking manager and an ultra-defensive manager has no idea what it wants to be other than more successful than it is. Daniel Levy could not care less what the ethos of a manager is, as long as he can achieve the board’s goals.
“Of course, the fact that he is managing with outstanding success in the comparative blackwater of Scottish football may yet count in Celtic’s favour. There’s an instinctive snobbery where England’s Premier League is concerned and a natural inclination to believe that what goes on north of the border is rarely worth bothering about.”
One of the only things in the article which Jackson gets right, except that he calls it a “blackwater” and his editor never bothers to correct it, so I’m not going to. But if Jackson did even a faction of his home-work he’d know an even more important constituency feels the same way; the Spurs fans, who Levy needs to appeal to with his next key decision.
“It’s staggering, for example, that Brendan Rodgers was regularly overlooked by Spurs while the Northern Irishman was rattling off one treble after the next during his time in charge at Parkhead.”
He “rattled off” two trebles. And I was surprised that Spurs didn’t come calling then. The truth is, Rodgers has far greater cachet south of the border than Ange does, and so I find it amazing that anyone who recognises that he wasn’t considered for Spurs long ago would argue that Ange will somehow get the nod from the giant egos who run that club.
“And yet Rodgers is also among the runners and riders this time around, having recently lost his job when Leicester City pushed the relegation panic button.”
Yet Rodgers, who has since added an FA Cup to his tally, has only an outsiders chance of getting the gig, and I’m willing to bet his advisors have made it known he’d like the discussion.
“It might make for an easier sale to the club’s supporters if an already established EPL manager is shoehorned into the position but the signs are that Spurs are prepared to be bold with this appointment.”
First, their fans don’t particularly want Rodgers either but in a choice between him and Ange most of them would probably take El Rat. As for “the signs are that Spurs are prepared to be bold with this appointment” … well that is even more more fantastical thinking from this eejit. Spurs have not shown the least imagination or boldness up until now; they’ve gone for a slew of obvious, big ticket candidates without the least thought as to a long-term plan. If they are suddenly willing to be bold that’s not evident to anyone with a fraction of interest in this saga. Moving for an SPFL boss would be more an admission of defeat than a sign of boldness or imagination.
“And the fact that they have already been persuaded into appointing one Aussie to a key role more than suggests they have an open mind to exploring the marketplace Down Under.”
Only a complete idiot could have written that. I don’t even need to elaborate or labour the point; that is the thinking of an absolute moron.
“The shrewd Postecoglou has certainly been giving nothing away, insisting in umpteen interviews over the weekend that his focus is solely on completing a domestic clean sweep in Saturday’s Scottish Cup Final against Inverness Caley Thistle.”
What else would he be focussing on? A job offer that might never come?
“And, with that in mind, somewhere up in the Highlands Billy Dodds may have felt his heart break a little bit over the weekend just past when the Celtic boss got back to business as usual by rolling out his first choice XI for the flag day visit of Aberdeen.”
It certainly sounds like it broke your heart a bit, Jackson.
“What followed was the kind of routine mauling which the champions have been dispensing with such savage regularity over Postecoglou’s two seasons at the helm. Caley’s best hope of pulling off a spectacular Hampden shock had surely been that Celtic’s flaky, end of season form might follow them to the national stadium.”
Now it’s “flaky end of season form”? I thought it was the brilliance of Michael Beale?
“But it was tossed aside like a bad habit during that five goal routing of Aberdeen and now the outcome of the end of season showpiece seems almost inevitable – at a moment in time when the future for Postecoglou remains anything but.”
You don’t just toss away a bad habit. That’s why it’s called a habit you clown. As to the idea that Ange’s future is not “inevitable” … that cuts both ways and is nothing more than the manager has said himself over and over again. Managers normally don’t get to choose … he’s in a fortunate position where he may be the exception. But in order for him to have a choice to make, there has to be an opportunity, and it’s not clear that there is … or that he’d even take it if there was.