Celtic Will Not Be Plunged Into Crisis Whether The Manager Stays Or Goes.

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Two summers ago, on 28 May, we were in turmoil. The big ticking clock was ever loud in our ears. The club was spiralling. On that day, we found out that we had just lost Eddie Howe. The bombshell news was dreadful, and its implications obviously horrendous. We had very little time to do the hunt for a new boss and start to rebuild the team.

Back then, I remember the air of celebration on the Ibrox fan sites.

I remember a kind of general acceptance that they would win the following title and build foundations to win the next couple of them. They were joyous, and apparently with every reason to be.

Yet even then, with Howe knocking us back, a lot of us were preaching the value of the fundamentals. One of the reasons that we turned around on Ange so readily, and easily, was that we grasped a number of truths which the media were determined to ignore.

Last season, I thought back to the Scottish Cup semi-final of 2016, and the piece I wrote directly in the aftermath of the game.

Let’s take a step back and recall that time.

Mark Warburton was the Ibrox manager, and he was being touted as the next big thing in English football. He had assembled a team of lower league English players, and was seen as progressive and a coach who valued attacking football.

Is all this sounding familiar?

They beat us in the Scottish Cup semi-final and were on their way to the SPFL and you could not find one of them who wasn’t supremely confident that Celtic were there for the taking.

Ronny Deila then announced that he would not be at Celtic Park when the next campaign kicked off, and that had a seismic impact on our club and everyone in it.

I was writing a blog, at the time, called On Fields Of Green and the piece that I wrote was entitled The Storm Before The Calm.

It told the story of how the Roman senators who murdered Caesar presumed they understood the people and the climate. When they heard that Caesar had named his nephew Octavian, 18 years old, in his will as his successor and not, as many had presumed, his close friend Marc Anthony, they took it for granted that they were in the ascendency.

But Anthony gave a funeral speech that named them murderers and sent them fleeing, and after a spell where he and Octavian duked it out over who would claim leadership of the Caesarean party, or the populares as they were known at the time, they made their peace, formed the Second Triumvate and set about avenging his death and securing total power in the state.

Within a short time, every single one of the assassins was dead.

I ended that article with the famous quote from Yamamoto, following the attack on Pearl Harbour; “I fear all that we have done is awake a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

I thought that cup semi-final defeat would shake us awake … and it did.

I revisited that article, and republished it almost verbatim, in February 2022, in a piece called “Our Enemies Celebrated Our Summer, But It Was The Storm Before The Calm.”

It was written shortly after we had gone top of the league by winning the big match at home.

That article is the first thing I thought of when I read the gleeful media reports today of Ange being “on the brink” of the Spurs job. Whether he is or isn’t, these people just don’t seem to get it.

We’ve appointed O’Neill, Strachan and Rodgers from the EPL in the past two decades. We almost hired Eddie Howe. We have a top class coach right now. What is it that gives these people the idea that we are staggeringly weak and ripe to collapse?

Bosses leave clubs. This is known.

But the clubs which have the fundamentals right can cope with that. They go out and they hire someone new. It’s not like there won’t be interested parties. There will be plenty of them. The trick, should it become necessary, will be finding the one who causes the least disruption to the club, and it would be tricky but not as hard as the 2021 summer was.

We don’t have a club to rebuild here. We just need to replace the man in the dugout. We don’t have a squad needing a total demolition and restructuring. The squad is as strong as we’ve ever seen it. Players might go, but we’re ready for that anyway and we have plans for dealing with that eventuality. This team does not need major surgery.

There is, in theory, no reason why a new manager with a similar footballing outlook to Ange, cannot come in and have a similar impact on the side.

Off the field, it hardly needs to be pointed out that we’re streets ahead. This is what I wrote in the revised version of that piece, which I published in February last year.

“Our club is immeasurably stronger than theirs is. The resources at our disposal absolutely dwarf what they can bring to bear. Our financial position is rock solid. With the right man in the manager’s office and the right strategy behind him we were always capable of burying any threat they, or anyone else, was likely to pose. This is all about the fundamentals, and when you break down the facts and the figures we are in front of them by every accepted standard. We sometimes appear less than we are as a consequence of appalling management. But this doesn’t offer an accurate picture, and only a complete fool would believe that it does.”

Complete fools are all we have in our media, and that has never been more obvious than with the pronouncements of doom we’ve been hearing for months about what would befall us should the manager be tempted by an offer from England.

I also wrote this;

“We have emerged from a period of turmoil when to the outside world it looked like we’re mired in crisis. To Brutus and Cassius, Marc Anthony’s political manoeuvring must have looked a little like that, like the scrambling of a desperate man, determined to hang on to what little he had left in the world. And all the while they ignored the boy who would become the man. The man who would become the emperor.”

Ibrox fans should get this, considering that they’ve just witnessed a coronation; when one monarch dies or steps down, another takes their place. The empire remains.

They have no clearer idea of what the world will look like when the new emperor takes his seat than Brutus and Cassius did.

But here’s the thing; Martin O’Neill won a treble. Rodgers won two. Even Lennon won two of them. Ange is on the brink of his first. We’ve won four of them in the last six years … so unless we make a very big mistake with the succession – and remember, Lennon, who most of us regard as a huge error – completed one treble and won another before the Season Without Fans.

So really, Celtic in crisis? We’re miles from having to worry about that.

If that’s not a clear enough warning for them not to get their hopes up, nothing will be.

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  • Johnno says:

    Celtic has never been, nor ever will be a one man operation.
    Weather Ange stays or goes is irrelevant as there was always going to be changes within personal regardless.
    We can already produce a team worthy of playing CL level and the only team in Scotland that can make such a claim.
    Yes, improvements within squad depth will have to still be addressed, and debatable about team set up also imo.
    So in fact nothing changes really, and if that involves a different manager in the near future then so be it.
    Of course I would be disappointed if Ange were to leave, but no way would I class it as a disaster either, not unless lenny ever gets a call mind you.
    Can’t let all this distraction take away from all the well deserved celebrations that await after the cup final either

  • Sid says:

    Everything you write is true, our club are significantly stronger and in a normal football environment I wouldn’t be worried in the slightest. We however don’t operate in a normal football environment. The referee’s have upped the ante since VAR was introduced and the signs and alarm bells are ringing that we ain’t seen nothing yet.
    This is the area I want to see our club tackle. Since VAR was introduced it has been nothing short of farcical. Our policy is against the backdrop of the situation worsening. Should, as I predict more scandals next season then their is no hiding place for our board, they are culpable. Sort the referee’s and our power will keep the ? trophies coming.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    As a boy when aged six I first watched Celtic beat Rangers in the Glasgow Charity Cup Final of 1950, which incidentally was kicked off by the famous comedy actor of those times called Danny Kaye. This victory was celebrated by the older members of my family because beating Rangers in the 5 years after the 2nd WW only happened now and again.
    I say this because like you James I’m always amazed at the doom merchants among a minority of Celtic supporters who seem to sxxt their pants at the likelihood of any change of manager at Celtic Park .When will they realise that football in Scotland has changed since the millennium and Fergus in his foresight set us up to be the biggest club in Scotland, and that is what we are.
    The days of the Kelly/White control are long gone and although our board are not perfect
    they have mostly run the club well since 1994. Financially we’re light years ahead of The Rangers.
    If Ange does go, and I hope he doesn’t, then I’ll trust the board to appoint a decent successor as they have done in the past 28 years with a couple of notable exceptions.
    While I’m getting some moans off my chest I wish that some of the modern day supporters would give the younger players a wee bit more time to develop rather than write them off after a few games. I’m not kidding when I say that some of these supporters would have written off a few of the Lisbon Lions way before Big Jock developed them into superstars.

  • Hugh says:

    Should Ange go to Spurs or anywhere else down there, which I don’t think he will. I would be more concerned that with the money banded about Kyogo, Hatate, and Johnston could see their future with him again. The profit they would bring might make the bank manager happy as we see downsizing once again.

  • king murdy says:

    agree james…
    i will be so disappointed if ange goes next week…it’s genuinely pathetic that the only way the huns see us being bettered by them, is if our head coach leaves…astoundingly pathetic….
    but as ange has shown and wanyama…forster…eddie…dembele…tierney etc ect….celtic fc is a great place to showcase their skills….so we’ll always have a great standard of coaches and players only too willing to come and perform here…
    hope ange stays….either way, next season will be very interesting….
    the king is dead (hope not) long live the king….

  • SSMPM says:

    Crisis. What crisis. If Ange goes then I understand the temptation to him of a top 5 or 6 EPL team with potential for a higher finishing position. It will in Spurs be to a team in the top league with massively more spending capability, a fantastic new stadium and the potential to purchase higher and better quality players. Did we not know this was always on the cards.
    It’s not a bigger club but hey who can blame him. It will feel like rejection to some including some of our own players and many many Celtic fans. At the end of the day, there’s only them across the city in terms of the league and they’ve only got beale driving their hopes and a team of not too bad freebies. Hardly worth focussing our time on or considering.
    ‘Angeball’ and ‘never stop’ hasn’t been in full swing since pre Xmas, but for a couple or three games, and in all honesty Ange has made a few unaccustomed errors and I don’t mean the recent changes in allowing the squad additions to get game time when the league was won. Maybe it was nearing that time for change though perhaps one or two years earlier than we wanted or expected.
    If Ange goes then we have a great and better foundation to build from. If he stays and I’ll be surprised if he does if offered the Spurs job, then we move forward as long as he doesn’t feel the need to pinch the likes of Kyogo. It’s not what you do when you’re faced with a wall, it’s how you get over it.
    We put our boots on and get back to work. The CL is the challenge ahead that we need to be preparing for not simply the rankers in the SPL. If the club meets our expectations with the proper planned squad investment for the CL then we’ll be fine in the league. A new manager will be found, given assurances and absolutely love that challenge. Crisis, that’s newspaper talk. What crisis. HH

  • Brian Cavanagh says:

    Hi James

    over the last week your tone has changed re Spurs ‘offer’ it has gone from why Spurs- to he won’t go – to the club can survive and hopefully thrive without him. That is true it did so after O’Neill and Strachan surprised us all. Delia ditto. The bigger fear that Ange takes some of our bigger players with us – which brings us back to rebuild rather build on which would be the strategy if he stays. Though like many of us your are preparing yourself for the last time we see him manage a Celtic team. Bit like a relative who you dont want to die more for your own loss than for the next stage in theirs

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    It’s up tae the board what happens next if Ange goes. And poss gettin ahead of maself, but let’s hope their no lookin at our own dug-out tae replace him if he does. That’s my concern. Anyway, get the treble done first.

  • Kevan McKeown says:


  • Peterbrady says:

    This is all contecture either Ange is the man we believe him to be interigty honesty realist or it’s all fake either way we thank him for his excellency in our club we are CELTIC the whole being of our existence. HAIL! HAIL!.

  • Roonsa says:

    I just hope he stays. I love the big guy.

  • bertie basset says:

    i have to echo what Sid says above regarding var and the referees , celtic will have no room for errors next season , we know beale will be dragged through these games by penalties and sendings of in favor of sevco ,

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