Keith Jackson’s Latest Piece Is Nonsense, But Celtic Fans Can Laugh At It.

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We haven’t sliced and diced a Keith Jackson piece with the forensic cutting implement for a while, and that’s mainly because I couldn’t be bothered going through one line by line. But he put up an article this morning of such absurdity I couldn’t not do it.

I’ll start with the headline, and immediately you’ll see what I mean.

Celtic eyed Philippe Clement in Ange aftermath but real Todd couple question remains around Cantwell – Keith Jackson

Apart from a really crap play on words joke, you can tell already that this isn’t going to be moored to reality in any way, shape or form. I just love the opening lines.

Here’s a quirk of fate of which not many will be aware.

In short, this is something only I could possibly know, since it came to me whilst I was sitting on the lavvy last night after a few whiskeys. Oh I’m not saying Jackson made this up, but considering the fabulist nature of what he’s alleging here he might as well have.

Around eight months ago, when Big Ange first dropped the Spurs bomb on Celtic, the name of Philippe Clement featured high up on a very short list of preferred potential candidates to replace the outgoing Australian. Yes, at that time the Belgian was still taking home a fat tax-free wage from Monaco which might have proved problematic around the negotiating table even if his long term job prospects in the Principality were already the subject of some serious speculation amidst suggestions of a splintered dressing room.

Let’s take this nonsense from the back and work our way through it that way. For a start, he is suggesting that we were seriously interested in a manager who was on the verge of the sack, who had split the dressing room at Monaco but who was, at that time, still employed there and on a massive, tax-free salary? That’s the kind of individual Celtic would have ruled out almost at once, without giving it a second thought. In addition to that, Jackson’s claim rests on the idea that Celtic was shocked when Postecoglou “dropped the Spurs bombshell.” In fact, people inside Celtic were well aware that the manager might not be hanging around. Several months of trying to commit him to a long-term deal, and being rebuffed, told us that. Which is why we had been feeling out Rodgers for a good long time before that became public. I knew weeks before the press was talking about it. There are other Celtic site editors who knew even further back than me. The short-list really was a short-list of one. Rodgers was who the club wanted from the off.

And, in any case, once Brendan Rodgers had answered the call from Dermot Desmond, the whole process was put on hold for as long as it took to persuade the Irishman to bring his planned year-long sabbatical to an early end. In other words, it was a conversation which never really got off the ground but the fact remains that Clement was a person of considerable interest at a moment in time when Desmond and his board of directors needed to find a credible fix to a Postecoglou sized problem.

Once Rodgers “answered the call”? Rodgers had “answered the call” before two Celtic directors flew out to meet him in Spain. Nicholson and Chris McKay didn’t fly out there on a whim, that was a tidy up the final details and start putting plans in place meeting. The process of actually convincing Rodgers had started long before that … and if Clement was so high on the list of “candidates” how come nobody knew that up until now? Christ, looking back over that time, there were a dozen names in the media guessing game. But Jackson knew this all along? And sat on it until now? When writing that at the time would have made a nice exclusive? Does he think we’re thick?

Ultimately, the Rodgers redemption shot offered the most highly qualified, lowest risk solution. Within a couple of weeks Clement was removed from his position at the Ligue 1 club just as Michael Beale was careering across the continent in a breathless pursuit of the likes of Cyriel Dessers and Sam Lammers and putting in place the feeble axis which would eventually cost the Englishman his own job.

I would hardly have called it “low risk.” In fact, it was a huge risk for all involved because it could have blown up in people’s faces very easily. I do love Jackson and others showing their wisdom after the fact on The Mooch though. They were ebullient at the start of this season and every one of those signings was touted as a superstar although the information on all of them was freely available to see. Lammers, in particular, was obviously a preposterous signing and Dessers didn’t look much better. Some of us were sniggering about it at the time. Even Ibrox fans woke up on these guys quicker than the likes of Jackson did.

The doors were sliding. Having previously been under consideration for the manager’s role on one side of Glasgow’s divide, Clement was offered the vacancy at the other end of town. And now here he finds himself, wedged in between a rock and a hard place as he attempts to take what Beale left behind and mould it into a team capable of competing with Rodgers and Celtic for this season’s title.

He really does belong to that dishonourable school of “journalism” wherein if you repeat a lie often enough people start to believe it. But really, this one is too daft for words. Celtic was not remotely interested in Clement. But say we were, right? Say, for example, we had been … he’s actually saying that we snubbed the guy, right? That’s the central thrust of this isn’t it?

The theory that he lost his own dressing room in Monte Carlo is an interesting one and not only because he probably feels like doing precisely that with some of the players bequeathed to him by Beale. Certainly, if he could lose a large number of them during the January sales then he might stand a better chance of eating into the gap at the top of the table which remains at eight points in spite of sluggish Sunday performances from the top two.

First, it’s not a “theory” that he lost the dressing room at Monaco, it’s a fact, confirmed out of his own mouth in several interviews. And I enjoy this mad fantasy that Jackson and others are trying to convince themselves of in terms of the January transfer window; that Ibrox will find clubs daft enough to spend money on the likes of Dessers and Lammers when anyone can see that these are absolute duds with no value at all. You know that thing I always say that even our backup players would walk into every team in the league? Would even the likes of St Johnstone want to take Lammers on loan? That’s damning when you think about it, right? It’s like that superb Only Fools line from Del when Uncle Albert suggests that Rodney become a gigolo for rich widows and Del sneers that “Rodney couldn’t even give it away let alone flog it.” That’s the bulk of Ibrox’s summer business and they are very much stuck with these guys on the wage bill.

Yes, Celtic came from behind to win at McDiarmid Park but only after falling a goal behind St Johnstone and infuriating Rogers throughout a woefully lacklustre and inadequate opening 45 minutes. Clement’s players were equally as uninspiring for long spells and they made a bit of a meal of things at home to St Mirren with two goals from Abdallah Sima, both assisted by Todd Cantwell.

Well excuse us for doing what football teams are meant to do, I guess. Yeah, we went in a goal behind at half time and turned it in the second half. That’s why they have two halves. That’s where the phrase “a game of two halves” comes from. Did you not know that, Keith? I know you lack the benefits of a proper education but man oh man …

And it’s Cantwell’s importance as creator in chief which is so utterly fascinating where Clement’s own credentials are concerned. Because while the manager might justifiably believe he’s been dealt a dud of a hand by Beale, Cantwell is one player whose ability will have to be harnessed and channelled if Rangers are to make a decent fist of this season’s title fight. And so far the relationship between the Englishman and his boss seems strained to breaking point.

Cantwell is an over-hyped prancer. There is a reason, as Sutton has pointed out, why several managers at Norwich did not like this guy or play him regularly and Clement, who knows far more about football than hacks like Jackson ever will, clearly thinks that there are problems. But as long as the media is feeding Cantwell’s giant ego, one out of all proportion to the “career” he’s had and the ability he possesses, the more he will think of himself as un-droppable and someone with special gifts which deserve special treatment. That paragraph and what’s to come are the only bits in this whole article which whilst I will critique them are actually pleasing to me. Feed that ego, please, because when Clement continues to treat him as just another second-rate player the detonation is guaranteed. Hell, he acted like a petulant kid coming off the other night … that’s only the beginning.

For a start, there’s a glaringly obvious personality clash between this pair. It could be Cantwell is all a bit too flashy for Big Phil’s liking. Perhaps the man in charge suspects the former Norwich man’s head is full of Tik Tok nonsense when it ought to be focussed on football alone. But whatever the issue is, Clement risked making it all very personal and maybe even petty on Thursday night when he hooked Cantwell with 10 minutes of the first half against Aris Limassol remaining.

What a daft paragraph that is. A manager is being petty now when he subs off an ineffectual player? Wow. Jackson really does love the Boy Band Wannabe, eah? Nice of him to crib lines from Big Sutton for his piece. (Hey if he can refer to “Big Phil” I can do the same.) But it is great to see a hack throw caution to the wind and promote the idea that the manager at Ibrox has a personal dislike of the idol of the stands. I hope that spreads like a virus. It will cause no end of trouble!

Given how atrociously both Lammers and Jose Cifuentes were performing against the Cypriots, the decision to make Cantwell the scapegoat made Clement look a little one eyed and lacking a breadth of vision. That’s why the home fans were in danger of turning on him for the first time as Rangers limped to a 1-1 draw.

They turned on him in the immediate aftermath of full-time against Aberdeen; maybe Jackson missed that. But in the main I can’t argue with this paragraph because I found the decision to leave those two on the pitch quite mad – Cifuentes in particular; I have never seen a more ineffectual footballer grace their shirt since they were in the Third Division and playing Ian Black. I said to my old man weeks ago that any time they play him they are effectively starting a man down. It is hilarious that Clement thinks he has something to offer the team.

It was fortunate for the manager that the equaliser was scored by Cantwell’s replacement, Ross McCausland, but the young winger could still have been sent on from the bench without making such a statement substitution. Lammers, for example, could have been told to make way without anyone inside the stadium even noticing the Dutchman was missing in action.

I wrote about statement substitutions yesterday. They are a vital part of a manager’s toolbox, and I was very pleased that Rodgers took Yang off at half time to send that message. I also listened to Clement explain the Cantwell substitution; he had made his mind up that the player was not going to obey his tactical instructions and the way he saw it “Why let that go on another ten minutes?” Most people understand this stuff. Managers need to assert their authority like this. Jackson undermining that authority is interesting … and fun to watch.

It was certainly no surprise that he was left on the bench when Clement named his starting XI to face St Mirren. But what did catch the eye was Cantwell’s inclusion and his role in a more central, creative position.

Haha. The manager dropped Lammers but in doing so was forced to go with Dessers. Who they eventually subbed off for Danilo. Who has been hailed a world beater but currently can’t get a starting berth in front of those two! What a mess that club made of that window. What a shambles. And to think we’re the team being pilloried constantly for its summer business! Wow.

In fact, it might have been more convenient for Clement to double down and leave Cantwell to stew on the sidelines again rather than to throw him straight back into the mix in his preferred place. That Clement chose to give Cantwell the nod smacked of strong management and perhaps even an indication he may have been wrong to put his player through such a high profile humiliation in the first place.

Hold on … wait … what? Strong management now? How can second guessing yourself and bowing to a player’s snarking bitch-fit be strong management? See what I mean about Jackson? There is no coherence or internal consistency to a thing this guy writes.

And, the more Cantwell’s confidence returned on Sunday, the more Rangers benefited from having his creative talents. If there has been some sort of stand-off or simmering bad blood between the pair, stretching back to the semi final of the Viaplay Cup when Cantwell was axed at half time, then now would seem like an appropriate moment for the hatchet to be buried.

Amazing. Simmering bad blood. The manager doesn’t rate the guy, that’s what we’re saying here. I am not objecting to Jackson sewing a little disharmony at his favourite club, I’m just marvelling at the way he’s incapable of recognising that Cantwell is one of those guys who can look wonderful if he’s given space to run about like a superstar, but who hides in the midst of the fight. Professionals, people paid to do this stuff, have spotted it … Clement wouldn’t be the first, not by any manner of means. I personally think he’s a luxury player myself.

Clement will find that this job of his will be made all the more easier the more Cantwell is coordinating his attack rather than stropping from a seat on his bench.

A strong manager doesn’t give a monkeys which of his players is whingeing from the sidelines and if Jackson’s view is widely shared amongst their supporters, then Clement’s job is already being made impossible, and by them. A manager who allows the stands or the media to dictate his selection policy is in bother. One who does that and allows a player to think he rules the dressing room is already dead and buried, headstone and all.

You have to love Jackson sometimes. He started with a lie and the piece went downhill from there. What a fun start to the day it was reading that.

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  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Jeez Oh – What a Sevco Cuntwell bloody love in – and with the obligatory ‘Celtic baaaaadddd’ dig as well in that we were ‘snubbed’ – ‘lost out’ – on Clement…

    Thanks for putting this usual tripe from the usual suspects up or I’d never have known and had no one to pity or scorn on the Monday –

    Surely, Surely, Surely there can be no Celtic fans still financially subsiding that guy and his vomit inducing rag of a publication in this day and age of forums like The Celtic Blog…

    They are certainly very eccentric and oddball Celtic supporters if they still are buying it –

    Anyway his main demographic of readers (Sevco Huns) will be happy enough with that I guess so job partly done…

    I say partly simply because even they are deserting them in their droves –

    Even though they well deserve each other !

  • John Copeland says:

    The Rangers manager taking home a fat tax free salary ……now where have i heard that one before ? I also would say that big Inaction is talking utter bollox ! Why ? Because back before Rodgers was named boss in the Summer , not one SMSM outlet ,or digital blog even mentioned Clemente and Celtic FC in the same breath ! Considering these tabloids are desperate to say ‘ we told you first ‘ if there was a semblance of truth to this Jackson fable ,we would have heard it much earlier than 5 months later . It’s utter piffle combined with sheer bollox …. pifflox ! Just like the standard and quality of the daily Record ‘s shoddy reportage !

  • Peter Cassidy says:

    Who cares what the blue hacks write about the rangers 2012 we should be only interested what Celtic players and manager are doing to keep Celtic as champions

  • Magua says:

    I suppose someone has to stand up for Lady Cantwell. It may as well be the Jacko fella.

    Hail Hail.

  • Scouse bhoy says:

    We have every right to call them out for printing lies to benefit the new club.

  • Effarr says:

    I`m surprised that not one Celtic blogger questioned the media`s comments last week which claimed that the Lazio fans displayed a SECTARIAN banner in Rome last week when they advised that the famine was over and time to go home. They know full well that the banner was racist and not sectarian but it helps to water down the sectarian
    accusations against OF Sevco fans when they fly the same type of banners.

    It`s funny how we are called plastic Paddies with imaginary links to Ireland but are then told to go home. So where is this so-called home?

    • Micky Mikey says:

      Irish is NOT a race.

      There are only five races on Earth and Irish is not one of them, as we’re Caucasoid/Caucasian/White European.

      So please stop proliferating this nonsense that ‘Irish is a race’ as we are NOT a race at all, at least not under the official banner as it makes you, and anyone else who claims this ignorant rubbish, look stupid beyond belief and the rest of us Cekc fans tainted by association, and you can’t have it both ways.

  • Captain Swing says:

    My favourite bit is surely – “Clement will find that this job of his will be made all the more easier the more Cantwell is coordinating his attack rather than stropping from a seat on his bench.”

    He must have disabled the ‘spelling and grammar’ function on his laptop to create that sentence! Most machines would have that all underlined in red as if to say “are you sure? really?”. Probably written whilst under the influence, as you correctly point out it’s absolutely incoherent and reminiscent of the Viz column called ‘The Man In The Pub: Britain’s Most Ill-Informed Columnist’……

  • Patrick Cannon says:

    James I’ve no doubt that clemante is a decent manager but going to sevco will change that,calling out duds the deluded think are great won’t endear him to them, they don’t want to hear honest assessment so they will turn on him when he slates their “stars”, he will soon be off

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