Standing ovation please, folks, for the brilliant guys on the E-Tims podcast last night. I do love to listen to these guys when they are on their game, and this week they are really on their game. Their podcast on the match at the weekend is brilliant and everyone should listen to it, because these boys understand football and speak intelligently about it.
But these guys do more than talk about the games. They talk about the issues which relate to the games, and they have sharp analytical minds which can get to the heart of a matter as well as anyone in Celtic cyberspace, and their observations nearly always make me go “Ahh … yes.” One from last night’s podcast stands out an absolute mile.
Regular readers will know that I lamented the booing of the team after the St Johnstone game; I was so focussed on the booing that I didn’t focus on the bigger picture. And the bigger picture was our manager standing alongside his players on an afternoon where he must have known that the reception was going to be frosty to say the least.
I wonder if he said to them, on the way back into the dressing room, “They are booing me, not you. A little residue of anger still, from the way I left.” I have no idea. That’s a bit of blue-sky theorising on my part.
What I learned last night was that Rodgers was there with the players the whole way, standing by their sides, making sure they know that at Celtic there is a collective effort, that everyone is in it together. That’s massive. That’s good man management.
Where that becomes important is in the E-Tims boys observation of how The Mooch behaved at the weekend.
He went straight up the tunnel. There was no standing by his players, there was no acknowledging the fans. He abandoned his footballers to the savage response of the crowd. It was the complete antithesis of leadership, and you have to wonder if that has gone over well in their dressing room. It was a cowardly act … and a selfish one.
But then, as they pointed out, that’s who this guy is. A thoroughly selfish man, a man who got his current job by undermining the last manager. For reasons known only to himself, The Mooch is an extraordinarily arrogant individual, and I have long thought that everything about this Ibrox team can be explained when you start from that basic position.
The idea of him abandoning his players to what he was well aware would be a hostile crowd is almost unforgivable for a manager. Players know they cannot trust you to have their back when you behave like that, and even those who knew him from Gerrard’s time at the club must have been appalled by that. That creates real, long term dressing room issues.
It really is over for this guy, and as the E-Tims guys pointed out, if he gets sacked from this job, and this quickly, having spent all this money that’s his “managerial” career over. He will, as the lads pointed out, forever be known as a mere coach; that will be the limit of the jobs he is offered from here on in. They wondered why, with this level of risk, he was willing to leave QPR in the first place, as it was never going to be a job with this much pressure.
And this is where I think I can fill in the blanks for these guys, because this is like one of those puzzles where two people hold a different part of the clue.
The Mooch wanted the Ibrox job because he believes that Scottish football is an easy environment to succeed in; in his mind, you only have to beat one team, and he really does believe it’s that simple … and those who are still trying to work out his tactics and cannot believe that they are as piss-poor as I make out should reconsider that view in light of this. Because he thinks winning in Scotland is perfectly possible with those 1980’s long balls.
Everything that man does and has done flows from an arrogant belief that Scottish football can be easily conquered, that if you can find a way to beat Celtic a couple of times a season that they will erect statues and paint wall murals of you forever more. He thinks being The Man at Ibrox is just a matter of waiting until a Celtic boss gets a better offer or our players head for pastures new. He reckons that if we drop the ball just once he can walk away with the prize.
But Scottish football is way tougher than that, and better men than he is, and better managers too, have found the spotlight of managing in Glasgow way too hot to endure for long. He will be very lucky to make it until Christmas and I strongly suspect that it will be nothing to do with Europe but the teams he has so causally written off – the Aberdeen’s, the Hib’s, the Heart’s, who will send this joker homeward to think again.
I suspect too that many of the players at Ibrox will not miss him at all. Indeed, Keith Jackson wrote, and then conveniently forgot, that The Mooch was not that popular amongst the players the first time he was at Ibrox either … and there’s more than a whiff of arrogance about the way he’s gone about throwing guys like Kamara and Sakala on the scrapheap although they were amongst the most technically gifted players at the club.
This guy’s brute force football is on a par with his brute force people skills. If the E-Tims boys have it right, and not for the first time I’d bet on it, the problems over there are much bigger than they appear on the surface. That place is a volcano, ready to blow.