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For The Ibrox Club And Their Manager, Hell Is A Room With No Exit.

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There is an episode of The West Wing which I’m terribly fond of although it falls in the Season 5 run which is widely regarded as amongst the worst of the entire series.

Called “No Exit”, it’s named after Sarte’s famous play about three damned souls whose dreadful fate is revealed, over the course of the story, in the oft-quoted line “Hell is other people.”

No Exit nails it, rising to the difficult task of creating a story out of a White House quarantine lock-down where small groups of cast members essentially just talk for an hour. It’s the juxtaposition of those stories, the way those circumstances throw together characters who are either diametric opposites or people with tense personal relationships which makes it a classic.

For Josh Lyman, the chatty, gregarious White House deputy chief of staff, he has to spend lockdown with a reserved CIA official who knows more than she says and he has to have each snippet of information prized out of her.

For his assistant, Donna Moss, it is to be stuck in a room with the White House press secretary CJ Cregg, a high-flying woman in an administration full of them who knows Donna is wasting her talents in “grunt level servitude” because of her hopeless devotion to Josh, and although Donna is reluctant to discuss it, CJ tries to find a way to cajole her towards taking charge of her destiny.

For the chief of staff Leo McGarry, it is spending time with the President’s wife, who is a doctor and knows he’s working too hard and should find a way to take it easy; she finally snaps at him when he sees her popping a pill and asks her if she’s being careful.

Worst of all though is the fate that befalls Toby Zeigler, the communications chief who finds himself locked in a room with Will Bailly, who he brought into the White House to work for the President and who he believes has betrayed everyone in the building to go off and groom the VP for a run at the top job when all involved knows he’s a joke who shouldn’t be near the top of the administration let alone leading it. Their verbal back and forth is excellent.

The Ibrox club won its game last night, and amidst what I am 99% certain will be all sorts of comparisons between our record and theirs – all of them without merit – there will be talk that The Mooch has lifted a huge weight off his shoulders and now has time on his side.

But the truth is, all it means is that he and that club are as stuck with each other as Toby and Will Bailly are in the show, or as Joseph Garcin, Inèz Serrano and Estelle Rigault are in the play.

They will continue to circle like wounded animals, and although the original characters are doomed to spend eternity together because of their sins, Ibrox and The Mooch will part much sooner than that … just not soon enough.

Those inside Ibrox are convinced that he’s a busted flush and that they can do better.

They know every good result he gets makes it harder for them to shift him.

If he was determined to hang onto the job before last night, he’s going to be all the more determined to hang onto it now.

They have to watch him smirk his way through the press conferences and preen for the cameras knowing full well that they remain one bad result from a meltdown in the stands and that as sure as night follows day that it will come.

And it brings us back to a question; how could they have been so daft as to appoint this guy in the first place? How can anyone be in the least doubt that he’s not going to survive in the job?

A few episodes prior to No Exit, you see the administration having to choose a new VP after the previous Vice President John Hoynes resigns in scandal and disgrace. They have good candidates to choose from, but the Republicans are in the ascendent and they force a shortlist on the White House which under normal circumstances would be unacceptable.

But they need a win, they can’t afford a long floor fight and so they pick the “least bad” option; “Bingo” Bob Russell, a congressman who wears cowboy boots, gets his words mixed up, lacks any sophistication and is obviously out of his depth from the word go.

In No Exit, Toby is furious with Will for “propping up” a Vice President who would otherwise be a shambling ruin. What he doesn’t realise is that Will, who doesn’t know how he was picked, looks at Russell and thinks “Well Toby and the President nominated him, and they’re smart guys so he can’t be the empty suit that he seems to be …”

But of course, Bingo Bob is exactly the empty suit he seems to be.

Toby fires a verbal volley at Will at one point; “The problem with Bob Russell jokes is he doesn’t think they’re funny and no one else thinks they’re jokes.”

And I’ve always thought of The Mooch in a similar way.

He’s got a very big ego of his own, and his arrogance flares from time to time.

Getting that gig only made it larger.

He is the manager of a club which s supposed to be this huge massive powerful institution, and that makes him feel powerful and special. The media has kidded itself about this guy for a long time for the same reason; because he’s in that job.

But the problem Ibrox has is similar to the one we had with Lennon; even at his worst, this guy has players who are good enough to win most weeks, and as unsuitable as he is, and as disastrous as it will prove to be, that slows momentum to a crawl.

Because when you look at their fixture list right now, it’s not inconceivable that they could win the next four or five league games and suddenly he’s not in crisis anymore. He could do that without any corresponding improvement in performances, merely by having better players than the sides he comes up against, with most of his matches at home.

In fact, it doesn’t matter how bad the performances are … if his team is picking up wins that’s all he has to do to survive in the short term.

But in No Exit, Toby understands the risk inherent in making somebody look credible; they might just be taken seriously.

In his nightmare, Russell does just enough and looks professional enough and Bailly presents him well enough that he might just win the nomination and God forbid even the White House.

Which Toby recognises would be a disaster.

In The Mooch’s case, he might just do enough to survive until November or December.

And heading into January he might expect, and get, even more money to spend even if the gap is still four points.

But the coach and horses turn into a pumpkin and mice if they come to Celtic Park and we’re on form and move into a seven-point lead, and at that stage they’re faced with demands to sack a manager on the back of one bad result (but really much more) and asking a new manager to come into the team to take on a lost cause and possibly start a rebuild without really being able to work with the players he’s got first … that’s a disaster in the making.

Every game The Mooch wins right now, and last night was a big one and a Hell of a result, moves him closer to safety, which I’m sure is the last place the Ibrox board wants him to be.

This is the true nature of the darkest possible crisis in football; knowing something has to end but perversely hoping that every week brings a result which pushes the end a little further down the line. It challenges everyone involved to keep on going although they know it can’t possibly last.

It is the classic dilemma, the classic crisis, like a room which you badly want to escape from but from which there is no exit.

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  • Captain Swing says:

    An interesting analogy, because for a lot of us Room 101 would actually contain Beale, or worse still a looped recording of his intensely irritating cockney voice talking about ‘two or free fings that I fink about’…. The recording would definitely be worse – if he was physically in the room, at least you could shut him up…..

  • Dan Cowie says:

    To be honest James, I think manager wise, we may not be in any better a situation. Brendan looks disengaged and far from happy. I really feel Peter Lawell may cause a repeat of 2019. It’s as though Brendan has been duped by what promises were made and what was delivered in the transfer window. I really cannot fathom Celtic’s progression strategy. They seem happy to stand still or even slightly regress if the cash is coming in. Every season seems to be a rinse and repeat. I cannot help think PL had an influence on Ange leaving, he would have seen he could not take the team forward .No high profile manager would be happy with a job coaching what is given to him by non football staff.

  • bertie basset says:

    what a quandary for the refs to be in . because they can’t do right either way even if they rob the opposing teams they’ll be keeping sevco in it lol !!!

  • king murdy says:

    it’s al well and good pointing and sniggering at ibrox james mate….
    i think we have a major problem regarding our manager and the board…and sooner or later it will blow up…
    we all ask why did ibrox give beale the job….while we are being inquisitive, we should also ask…why did rodgers accept the job ? when the same problems, which led to him leaving, seem still to be in place?

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Yep, predictable and as suspected, the media huntin and squeezin every shred of credit they can, out of their favourites narrow win against a so far, bottom 3 Spanish side (tho that doesnae get a mention, because they don’t dae perspective). Especially DR’s graeme ‘ I must admit, i had a lump in my throat when they beat dortmund’ young. Their ‘deputy sports editior’ ! Whatever tf that is eh ! Even managin tae pull us intae it for some kind of smug dig. Tho first GOOD side they come up against, theyre gubbed. Nae doubts about that imo and it’s back tae reality.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Aye… They seem somehow to pluck out some results in Europe…

    This could very easily prove to be a springboard to kick start their season –

    I certainly hope not though as we are hardly firing on all cylinders for sure…

    The games are coming thick and fast now –

    Interesting times ahead for sure !

  • Frankie says:

    James why did Brendan come back? When he was enticed back was it through false lies, the game against the huns there wasn’t much difference between the two teams apart from the wonder goal from kyogo all the pundits that go on about the difference in the two teams are they looking through blind eyes at least they won their first important game in Europe.

  • Sophie Johnstone says:

    Not sure the timing of this article is the best.they continue to win in Europe while we can’t buy a goal never mind any points.For all we know that could push them in.our house is no way near in order

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    It’s no so much that they’re gettin the odd result in Europe. They did ok, fair enough. Their EL run tae the final was riddled wi luck and we know what happened tae them in last seasons CL. Don’t forget the ridiculous and utterly hysterical hype, bein force fed by their media and support durin these campaigns and that includes before they went intae the CL. They’ve already had a reality check this year by PSV, who incidentally imo, don’t look as good a side as we thought. Fact is, If (bottom 3 La Liga) R. Betis had been a little more clinical in front of goal, then that lot would’ve been in trouble. Betis got in behind them often enough. My point bein, they NEVER exercise level headedness or caution, it’s always the same unmerited deluded super hype EVERY season. Ffs, young of the DR, actually asked in his headline when they won against Dortmund, ‘are rangers the best team in Europe’ ? Aye, try that steamin pile of cringeworthy jobby in a tabloid outside Scotland ! It’s laughable. See what ahm gettin at ? These clowns actually believe this crap. Although we should be happy wi it right enough, it’s the reality when it arrives that kills them.

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