When Luis Palma missed his second penalty in a minute at the weekend, the question that automatically arose is “How could that happen?” Well, when you put it in context it can happen quite easily. We have missed several penalties this season, across several players. That suggests that something isn’t working as it should be.
But let’s put it in a wider context. We get loads of corners and free kicks in the average game. Our record of generating goals from those is abysmal. We also frequently lose goals from those set pieces. That suggests something even more fundamental.
If you look at Celtic’s coaching staff, you see a complete dearth of talent. John Kennedy has been at the club so long that he cannot possibly be bringing fresh ideas to the place. The slide in the quality of our dead-ball situations is obvious. What exactly has he or Gavin Strachan, one of two full time coaches working under him, done to change that?
We have one other member of the first team coaching staff; Adam Sadler, hired by Rodgers in December. This is still too few senior coaches for a club our size. Where’s the fitness coach? Where are the specialists? Where, in particular, is the dedicated set piece coach? Because it’s clear that when you have so few coaching staff things get missed.
And you don’t have to look too closely to see that we aren’t doing certain things. We’re barely working on set-pieces at all. If we were we’d look better at defending them, and we would definitely be doing better at converting some of those that we get into goals. These things are important. On a day like Saturday, they can be absolutely critical.
On top of that, you need to look at where we get our coaching staff from. These guys are hardly the cream of the crop, are they? Kennedy has never coached outside Celtic Park. There are obviously far better coaches out there than him. How long do we maintain loyalty to the guy? He’s served us well, but you either move forward or you stand still and Kennedy is a classic example of this club settling for rather than aiming to bring in the best.
Gavin Strachan? We got him from Peterborough. Sheer cronyism. A serious club would not be hiring an important backroom staff member on the basis of who his daddy is. But then, we hired the goddamned head of scouting on the basis of who his daddy is. Still, a coach from Peterborough probably shouldn’t be near Celtic Park regardless.
Our goalkeeping coach was promoted from within. Stevie Woods is another guy who has served this club with distinction and deserves our thanks and our praise, but maybe just maybe we should be aiming higher on that front.
Our head of academy coaching is Chris McCart. He was hired from Motherwell. Based on what? How many academy produced Motherwell players are setting the heather on fire? We’ve got one in the squad, but he’s not a first team regular right now and will probably not be here for much longer. Him aside, who has their academy graduated that merits his role at Celtic? Is there no-one other there we could have hired with a proven record of producing young talent? You want to hazard a guess how long Chris McCart has been at Celtic? It’s 20 years. He’s been the head of academy and youth for twelve of them. How many first team players have come through in that time?
The guy who works under him is Steven Hammill, hired from Motherwell last year. He had been at Motherwell for 17 years. He and McCart obviously know each other well, from having played together at that club. So, you can see that we swept the globe for the best person there as well, right? I mean, do we even care about standards? About quality?
According to some sites, we’re still employing Gordon Strachan on God alone knows what basis, and I am choosing not to believe that because it’s too ridiculous to possibly be true.
Our B team is coached by two former players, Darren O’Dea and Stephen McManus. Again, not exactly a great example of our scouring the earth for the brightest and the best. The stench of mediocrity off the B team at the moment is not just related to the atrocious standards of the league they are currently active in.
This is further evidence of a colossal failure of strategic vision and even imagination at the top of the Celtic house. The whole operation is amateurish and characterised by small time thinking. We all know that Kennedy is built in with the bricks and that the club has insisted on protecting both him and Strachan from whatever changes take place … but for whose benefit? You can see that things aren’t working in a lot of areas of the team right now, and that very obviously tracks back to what happens (or doesn’t happen) on the training ground.
Our club badly needs a major strategic review. You know why there won’t be one? Because the last time we commissioned one it was highly critical of the working practices of a lot of people inside the club, including the then CEO Peter Lawwell.
These people do not like to be told they are wrong. Even when it’s obvious they are.