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As Ibrox Prepares Its Next Mistake, Does Celtic Need A Director Of Football Model?

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The calls for Souness to get the Director of Football gig at Ibrox are brilliant. I hope they go for it. This football dinosaur has no business in the modern game and they might be able to put Clement’s future in his hands.

The drumbeat on this is so loud that I sense there is definitely something going on. This is one deal that I really do want to see them close.

With their determination to bring in a director of football, the attention turns to our own club and our own views on the same subject.

This is one that divides a lot of people. Some think we do need one, to fully separate the Football Department from the bean-counters. Others will say that we’ve got one already, just not the sort we want. A third group would say that we’re better off without it, and that the manager should run that particular show himself.

The first option would, in some ways, be my preferred one.

But it’s the least likely one for Celtic to head down because that would remove some of the power from the likes of Mark Lawwell.

To me, that’s part of the problem. I was against the idea of a director of football until Lawwell Junior on the scene … depending on where the centre of power lies at the club, you would either want this or not.

The small clique which runs things at Celtic wants to keep doing it and they refuse to accept that they could be wrong.

A director of football would have to be a football man. That’s one of the things that Ibrox would be doing right in bringing Souness in.

But he has to be more than just a football man; someone who has been around the game isn’t enough. There are technical aspects to that job which Ibrox would be trusting to a rank amateur. I can’t see how that ends well.

And the difficulty is, there aren’t a lot of people out there with that sort of experience. Actually, only one guy comes to mind and we wouldn’t want him; Gordon Strachan, who does know that side of the business as he’s been a technical director (a different thing from a DOF but close enough that he’d be instantly recognised as capable).

We could, I suppose, leave the system as it presently is. Which is something I don’t think any of us is particularly happy with right now.

Lawwell and Sons shouldn’t be near this process, and there’s a notable drop in the quality of the signings since Junior got his hands on the controls. I would much prefer it if these people were removed from decision making almost entirely and left to handle only the contracts and the finalising of the deals.

The third option is the one that worked when Ange was boss, and that is when the manager takes the leading role. This is far and away the option which I think would have the most support within the fan-base.

Although there are advantages to having a director of football, just letting the manager manage would be easily the best way to do things.

This works best when he tells the board what his needs are and they deliver him a list of options based on those needs.

When he uses his own judgement to pick players.

Brendan Rodgers hasn’t done that this time around, so far … although there were certainly signs in the latter comments by Lawwell in particular, that the board were willing to be more flexible in listening to him, which I think is a scandal that they weren’t in the first place.

January will tell us a lot about how next summer will go, and I hope to see Brendan playing a more hands-on role in transfer affairs.

If he gets to do that then we’d have the best overall position and no director of football would even be required.

The truth is, there’s not much wrong with the way Celtic does this stuff and we could just as easily fit a director of football in as do without one … no system will work unless the manager is at the heart of it and we’ve got a top class one.

We clearly know how to spot players with potential; that’s a given, and it’s moved us miles out in front in our domestic dominance, creating a gab so big that it’s hard to see how Ibrox plugs it up.

But the way the manager’s needs, and wishes, were so completely ignored in the summer is obviously not great and it has led to the inevitable problem which is an overly bloated squad, something Brendan himself has pointed out and intends to fix.

Three or four quality signings to keep the squad steadily improving, and moving out those who you’re replacing in the team … that’s something that hasn’t really been done properly by us yet, although the signs are good that we understand that changes have to be made, especially in the way that we’ve gone about renewing the contracts of all the strongest players.

The next evolution in the strategy has to be one with a better balance, and if that can be achieved by the people currently at Celtic then great.

But I’m not against a director of football model as long as it’s a football person who supports the manager rather than oversees him because the manager is primus inter pares – the first amongst equals.

In short, he runs the show and no system which does not acknowledge that will work for us. We’ve been at our most powerful when that is known and respected.

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  • Jim says:

    Agree with pretty much all this, and as you say pros and cons. The only thing you don’t say outright, is we don’t need to see how this works out, we already know the answer, it doesn’t. As long as Celtic sticks with the model you outline, nepotism, lack of professionalism, appointments made on the back of bogus cv’s, it is failure all the way, at least where Europe is concerned. It doesn’t take a lot of skill with our resource advantage, and biggest rival a basket case, to dominate Scottish football.

  • Eldraco says:

    Unless Scottish football reorganise,unless full second squads are playing good competitive football in a good competitive competition the need for a DOF is moot.

  • Frank says:

    can you imagine Souness not sticking his nose into picking the team and generally undermining the Manager with his interreference

  • Magua says:

    When the football men at Celtic are allowed to run the football side of things, everything runs smoothly. More or less. It’s when interfering nonentities like Big Peter and Jock Brown get involved in football matters, that problems arise. BR and his team should have full control over all footballing matters. A DOF would only complicate matters.

    Hail Hail.

  • Johnno says:

    You don’t need to fix something that isn’t broken?
    So would a DoF bring the improvements for CL?
    Not so sure either.
    Still trusting the process taken during the summer.
    The squad needed larger squad numbers during the summer, as we seen at the back end of last season how we were starting to struggle when injuries were impacting us.
    Already overcome such a problem to date within the SPFL, and continue to do so.
    The squad may have big numbers on paper, but that’s not really true in reality now?
    You can already possibly write off the future careers of Big Ben, Bernie, McCarthy.
    Can’t see Philips staying beyond January either.
    Kwon, Yuki and Tilo are potentially into the loan market for game time to get the experience for the improvements to maybe benifit further down the line.
    Turnbull and Mikey remains an issue over the 8 homegrown rule for European football, which still won’t be easy to resolve?
    And with plenty of available youth within the squad, and already seen how much improvements Rodgers has already made within the game of Oreily and Scales, so what’s to say that trend won’t continue?
    Still need another keeper within the squad along with a back up for Taylor in the current role he’s playing, so only question remains as to weather upgrades will be made or younger understudies introduced to develop into the roles?
    Already a base line has been set on Sunday of where the minimum standards want to be for ourselves, with still room for improvements also.
    So no longer see where a DoF would fit into the set up presently myself.
    The unanswered question still remains as to just how much backing the board will provide to Rodgers?
    Haven’t seen anything of yet to suggest that he won’t be backed fully this time around imo?

  • Sophie Johnstone says:

    What relevance has this has been got in the modern game,Even as a pundit he’s fell out with everyone,he is a dinosaur stuck in the past,with e.g. his it’s a man’s game comment let them bring him in.Let the banter years continue.

  • Martin says:

    DOF model reduces turmoil when managers change. It’s the way every successful European club works. We should get one. He need have no historic attachment to Celtic, merely be a competent DOF. Look to mainland Europe and get one. They move less often than managers but they do move.

    But if we go down this route we go properly. No shoehorning of “close enough” people. No undermining them..

  • Woodyiom says:

    James – Brendan’s historic record in transfers is not great particularly when he is replacing players either retiring or have moved on to pastures new. Of all the players he signed at Liverpool (more than 30 – only Firmino, Gomez and Origi were ultimately kept by Klopp and let’s be realistic only Firmino was a “mainstay” which is a damning statistic!!)

    A lot of Brendan’s successes come in improving players already at the club or rejuvenating/extending the career of players who look like their time at the top is over. I don’t think our Board are entirely convinced that he can spot a player at other clubs (or his targets are maybe unrealistic) so I doubt option 3 will happen. Ange was entirely different – he was buying from a market the Board and our scouting team knew nothing about so they trusted him and he delivered in spades. Brendan will be looking at British and European players so I think we need a director of football (that Brendan respects and wats to work with) to remove the current set-up but also give the Board confidence that Brendan’s targets are being second checked.

  • 18871888 says:

    Love the classical education, Jamsiebhoy!

  • Roonsa says:

    I got involved in an FB doing dong with some hun walloper on the subject of Souness getting a director role at Ibrox. I don’t know why I bothered, I’d have been as well talking to a blancmange.

    I made the exact same points as you have on here. i.e. Souness is a dinosaur although I really hope it happens. Now that Sky have FINALLY (15-20 years too late IMO) realised that he is so out his depth when talking to people in the studio who actually understand the modern game, there’s only one place left for him to go. A place where being so tragically out of touch is no blocker to getting a gig.

    I cannot wait.

  • Frank Curran says:

    Brendan Rodgers must have the final say in which players are bought and sold.
    It is his job on the line afterall should anything go wrong.

  • MarkyBhoy says:

    James do you seriously believe that Ange was responsible for the signings (discovering, scouting etc) of Hart, Siegriest, CCV, Jota, Starfelt, Juranovic, Alistair Johnston, Matt O’Riley, Giakoumakis, Abada even Liam Scales and there’s a few more who came in that he probably didn’t have much knowledge of, including Oh.
    I agree the Japanese players and Mooy would be down to Ange but so were Kobayashi & Ideguchi who look like their Celtic careers are over before they got started.
    Going with your idea that Ange was the mastermind behind all the signings, remember McCarthy, Haksabanovic, Abildgaard & Bernabei were all signed while he was here.

  • SSMPM says:

    I see there being four arguments on this.
    1/ Carry on regardless ie the way it currently functions (my response to that is no).
    2/ No; on the face of it we don’t need a Director of Football, especially if that role is filled by a plant of the board and with little or no real input of the manager or individual responsibility (so that’s another no for me).
    3/ Yes; if a DOF has the individual responsibility for their actions whilst separately and retrospectively being accountable to the board for them (surely though that has to be in conjunction and with tactical discussion with the manager and if not where does leave him and the manager with players he neither wanted or is willing to select. Just can’t see the point in that model. So that’s another no ).
    4/ My preference; I think the manager should have the final say and responsibility for the players and positions he identifies as needing with the assistance of the scouting team, and the board have that enacted. However who goes and gets those identified targets and whether it’s value for money and affordable is the role I’m not sure of, CEO? The manager and that person then has to be accountable to the board for the spend should go tits up eg Albian Ajeti. Who was responsible for that? Were they held to account?

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Jock Stein won The European Cup for Celtic without any director of football…

    Too many cooks can spoil the broth-el !!!

  • john clarke says:

    The director of football works closely with the manager, but has a more strategic role, overseeing the running of medical, physiotherapy plus Sport Science; the scouting section, transfer dealings, and data analysis,
    If you want to create failure in communication between these operations and the Manager
    put in a DOF. Can a DOF be qualified to oversee all these functions?. “Get outa my way”.
    Like James said, these club functions had direct mutual communication with Ange last year and it worked well. The best person to answer this question is Brendan himself.
    John Kennedy is also helping Brendan.

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