I have read some astonishing things recently, but Keith Jackson has actually found a way to top almost all of them in a piece this morning which is partially about The Mooch and the spiralling crisis at Ibrox. The real subject matter is last week’s reports linking the club to Graham Potter. Jackson has a “theory” on that which is so daft it begs to be commented on.
He outlines three “possibilities” for the links about Potter. You’ll notice right away which possibility is absent from his list. I cannot believe that it did not dawn on him. Before we get to it, here are the three which he does outline.
First, the whole story was a fabrication by journalists south of the border.
This is the first time in years, literally years, I’ve seen one journalist float the idea that another has made up a story.
Second, that it was a story planted by Potter and his people “to keep him relevant.” (I am using Jackson’s exact quote. Potter and his people need to make stuff to “keep him relevant.”)
Or three; “an underling at Ibrox overstepped the mark by floating the idea to them in the first place.”
He gives greatest weight to this third “possibility.” It’s right there in the semi-literate headline to his article; “The 3 Rangers conclusions over Graham Potter swirls as John Bennett left to slap down rogue agent.” Once you work your way through that word soup and re-arrange it to turn it into an actual sentence, the words “rogue agent” are right there.
So, his operating theory is that some faceless wonder inside Ibrox, someone with no actual authority, took it upon his or herself to rifle through the club’s contacts book and gave Graham Potter’s agents a call to find out if he’d like to have a chat about the job.
Now, it is blatantly obvious that this would be an absolutely extraordinary story in an of itself, and at any other club it would be used as evidence that there was rampaging dysfunctionality, as well as a complete breakdown of internal discipline.
This would not exactly be unheard of, and it’s happened in higher up places than a mere football club and with far greater repercussions. I’ll give you a quick example.
Eight days after the 2020 US Presidential election, with the country still reeling from Trump’s claims that the vote had been rigged, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff, Mark Milley, was presented with a document, signed by Trump, ordering the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Somalia.
Milley was stunned. In his job, he should, and would, have been part of any internal White House discussion on something as consequential as that … and so he set out to find out what was going on, and why he had been kept out of the loop.
Milley and the acting Secretary of Defence, Chris Miller, went to the White House and corralled the National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. “How did this happen?” Milley asked him. “Was there any process here at all? How does a president do this?”
O’Brien looked at the memo and said, “I have no idea.”
Months later, Axios published an article which claimed that the “rogue memo” had been authored by a former White House aide and a general who was little more than an advisor to Miller.
Neither of those men had anything approaching the authority to even propose something like that within the proper chain of command, far less to put it in writing and get the President to sign it. Had it not been for the various after-effects of the Trump coup, that story would have knocked everything else off the US front pages and run in the news for months.
So, it can happen. But that I had to reach for something from the surreal environs of Trump Land shows you both how rare it is and how chaotic the circumstances have to be for something like that to occur.
It does not happen with organisations still moored to reality.
I mean think about it for a minute; imagine this had actually happened. Imagine that was what had actually taken place.
What if Potter had been interested in talking with the higher-ups? At what point does this “rogue agent” go to the people in charge and tell them what’s been going on behind the scenes? That person might as well hand in their resignation at the same time because that’s a sacking offence if ever there’s been one.
But of course, there’s a fourth option which is absent from Jackson’s piece, and it’s this; the approach for Potter was made with the full approval of the Blue Room, by people arrogant enough to believe he might want it, and who are now hopelessly back-peddling because the story leaked. They aren’t smart, these people, because it’s not the only approach they made, and which subsequently found its way into the newspapers. There are stories about Eustace and Muscat too.
Jackson is dumb, but a fantastical theory like this is too crazy for him to have come up with, but not too stupid for him to write if someone else briefed him to that effect. I think that’s what this is, the start of the Ibrox roll-back.
They’ve tried to pressure The Mooch and he’s digging in his heels. He’s going nowhere. It doesn’t matter how many stories the media writes linking other people with the job; he won’t budge. So what do you do now?
Well, unless you want a manager who knows he’s being undermined, you have to assure him that he’s still wanted and valued and that you’ll be loyal to him – up to a point. But until that point is reached, they need him to hold the club together.
They made a real mess of this, and they must be glad that there are people like Jackson out there wiling to clean up after them.
But still, how embarrassing for him to have to put something like this under his name, because his “theories”, and the main one in particular, are completely barmy, and that he, and that club, would push the craziest of them all rather than have people examine the much likelier scenario tells you all you need to know.