Brendan And This Celtic Squad Will Deserve All The Credit If They Triumph In This Title Race.

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As we come out of the worst transfer window let-down in living memory, one that made the Wilo Flood window look like a triumph, things are coming into focus. The performance of the head of recruitment is one of them, as I wrote this morning. But so too is the answer to a riddle which has been long pondered over by observers in many different sports.

Who actually wins things for a football club, or in fact any sports team? Are the owners, the CEO and the finance guys responsible for every trophy and title, or does the victory belong to the small group at the sharp end, the coaches and the players?

This argument has raged since time immemorial. Brian Clough once told Sam Longson that his only role at Derby was to write the cheques. Who was right and who was wrong? Longson gave him his platform from which to grandstand and backed him with those cheques. So when Clough stood on the touchline after Juventus had knocked them out of the European Cup and ranted about being stymied not only by a ref he branded a cheat but by his own board was he right?

Well, when Clough left Derby did win another league, but it was their last top flight title and they never climbed the mountain in Europe. Clough, on the other hand, went to Forest and not only made them champions but brought the greatest prize in football back to that modest club not once but twice. So who was right and who was wrong?

Looking back on his career years later, in one of his books, Clough lamented what happened at Derby. That club, he said, should have been what Liverpool were in the 80’s, a multi-title winning, multi-European Cup winning elite team. He blames himself for it, for not giving the chairman the respect Longson demanded. Not, for Clough, the respect he deserved. Clough was adamant that the worst thing ever to happen to Derby was his departure. History backs him up.

Several of the players Clough had taken to Derby also ended up with him at Forest. So his judgement was sound (at that time) and Forest reaped the benefit. The right combination of players, under the right manager, made the miracle happen.

The same happened at Celtic under Stein; would there have been a European Cup without him? What part did the board play in the success? Does history recall them? I could name the starting eleven in Lisbon if you woke me up out of a deep sleep. I couldn’t tell you the names of a single director, although I know there were probably White’s and or Kelly’s on the board, whose sons and grandsons we eventually had to run out of town on a rail.

When Phil Jackson and his Chicago Bulls team, five times title winners vying for their second three in a row run, called their playbook for the final campaign before their squad was broken up The Last Dance, Jerry Krause, the general manager, was very confident that he could lose Jackson, Scottie Pippen and even Michael Jordan the greatest player of all time, and build another title winning dynasty. “Players and coaches don’t win titles,” he had scornfully said. “Organisations do.” He tested the theory … to destruction. Chicago hasn’t won a title since whereas Phil Jackson went on to lead the Lakers where he built another dynastic team.

The disgrace of the last two transfer windows has left Rodgers with a weakened version of Ange’s treble winning side. He has had to contend not only with injuries and the departures of key players but also the contempt and second guessing of those above him at the club, people convinced that the successes this club has enjoyed are down to them. How many more fools at the top of clubs will try to prove this discredited theorem? Ours intend to give it a go.

But their opportunity to make a contribution is over. They had their chance to stake their claim for some of the glory; they didn’t. These guys are sitting on a transfer surplus whilst this team cries out for quality in at least four positions. Whatever else happens here, nobody in that director’s box can kid themselves that the success of this team is theirs.

Rodgers and this team stand alone on the field of battle with only the fans to have their back. Whatever I think of this board, and I’ve written many, many, many thousands of words on that subject in the past fortnight, this manager and those players have every bit of support and will get every bit of encouragement that I can give them now.

I will not forget, nor forgive, the people who didn’t just fail to support that but at times seemed almost to be working counter to the manager’s needs … and nor will I stop shining a light on their ego-driven running of this club as though it belonged to them.

The players and the manager can write history again, filling up those pages with their names once more, and this title will be all the sweeter for the fact it was achieved in spite of those in the director’s box. It will be the ultimate proof that it’s not out of shape, arrogant pen-pushers who build winning sides.

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  • Henry McDade says:

    I think our chances of winning the league is less than 50-50. The team are not playing well, our main striker is not being properly used, the goalkeeper should have been replaced at the end of last season and the defence always look like conceding.

    Still, we have about 50 wingers (only one of whom can actually cross the ball) so no shortage there.

    We will definitely be looking for a new manager in the summer. “Hello, Neil, Big Pete, here…”

  • Johnny Green says:

    Meh…..I am not an expert on transfer window statistics but I doubt very much if this was the worst in our history. The fact is anyway that that scenario has still to be proven, let’s see what transpires.

    And as regards building the Ark before the rain, Noah had inside information there when God whispered in his lug when they were on Mount Sinai.

  • Chris Kerr says:

    Once again a perfect analysis. The only times in my 70 odd years we’ve built from strength has been under big Jock & Ange. I weep (literally) at all the chances we’ve lost.
    Will aye renew my season ticket till death or increasing infirmity takes over but…

    Hail! Hail!

  • Charlie Green says:

    I am not saying Mark Lawwell has “daddy issues” but do we honestly believe he can make a suggestion without running it past his old man first. I would go further and suggest he is there as a front for his father.

    Reminds me of another comedy where Frasier convinced his popular father to run for Condo president thus allowing the former to wield the power. Didn’t end well, though.

  • Douglas says:

    Yes it’s now the time to focus on our real rival. Like it or not you pee with what you’ve got.
    Supporters are needed now, let that be your agenda and leave your anti board diatribes till we see the result

  • Bob L says:

    Oh, James, I can see that you are trying to let your optimism shine through, after what has been a disaster of a window, a club like no other, run by rank amatuers, intent on self destruction. But it has always been this way with Celtic, get well ahead and balls it up. I hope the fans get behind Rodgers and the team now, and win this league, despite the Lawells, and to be fair, Desmond, and the rest of the Board. Luckily, it seems THE Rangers are no farther forward either. Win the league and get a professional set up in place for next season, minus the spongers, ill-equiped for any football role. Pissed up tonight big time, but lets get behind the team tomorrow!

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    “The disgrace of the last two transfer windows has left Rodgers with a weakened version of Ange’s winning side”

    And it gets weaker tonight still…

    Due to another injury time goal (90+7) in The Asian Cup South Korea forced extra time and scored the winner in that said extra time –

    And so with it a double whammy blow to Celtic and Brendan…

    Hibernian get Miller and Boyle back for the clash next midweek while Celtic do without Oh (even though he couldn’t hit a cow’ arse with a fcukin banjo) but it’s one potion less for Celtic and two more for Hibernian where Brendan’s record is quite frankly utterly appalling…

    What next – Him splintering back to Parkhead injured like Hatate ?

    In an ideal world these two injury time goals and extra time for Japan and Korea wouldn’t have happened and these pair would be back and available for Pittodrie tomorrow but there we go and we are where we are and old grey bastards simply don’t do forward planning – certainly not those at Parkhead in any case…

    The bad management is coming home to roost and fast at that –

    I obviously dearly hope and prey we have enough for Pittodrie and Easter Road but perhaps a bad omen around half an hour ago came over ma radio when the Paul Simon hit “Slip Slidin Away” came on…

    Is our title “Slip Slidin Away” – We will all be devastated that being the case and it’s five utterly massive days ahead to see if we’ll be all be devastated –

    But hey – Pistol Pete won’t be – His O#D F#RM will be back to where loves it to be !


    Wish I could share your optimism James, ceteriis paribus, which they ain’t because we are now weaker, that mob have strengthened and they have for the first time managed to snare a decent manager.
    Throw in the assisted progression, or whatever the blogs are now calling the MIB & VAR cheating, and the Tribute Act are on course for their first Treble. It’s theirs to lose. Our only hope is that their continued Euro involvement will put additional strains on their squad which, although strengthened, doesn’t appear to have much depth.
    Acht, well it’s on the Sky ramorra. We’ll maybe have an inkling as to how the team are going to respond to the anti climax of a non event window.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Safe tae say we’re back tae the ‘support the team, sack the board’ days and which ah 100% agree wi btw. Tho never thought we would be in this position again, no in my lifetime. It’s a sorry situation, created by corporate greedy people. Anyway, can only get behind the manager and team now, for the time being.

  • JimBhoy says:

    Celtic, the only team in Scotland to have weakened their team in January when there is a £70m carrot and lots in the back.

    With the players away, back and ready in a couple of weeks maybe, 2 first team players moved on, a few squad players on loan, 3 big players out. A Kyogo or Calmac injury away from a calamity. We just took the Norwich Mikey Johnston on loan.

    I think a big part of this is Rodgers ego, he doesn’t have the same hunger he had in the past. Rangers with the backing of Scottish ref’s and a biased VAR will win this league. We brought in nothing to give us a spark, an edge. As bad as rangers are they have a helping hand. Celtic will likely struggle with more injuries and we will be playing young boys to get us by.

    It is truly shocking.

  • Brattbakk says:

    We’ve not strengthened from a position of power in the summer, we’ve not strengthened when the warning signs were there in this window so we’ve weakened our chances but as you expertly point out, the manager and players win trophies, they have to make this work now and although we’ve been let down we can still triumph. Even if we do win the league though I think the damage has been done between Brendan and the board again, maybe Brendan really believes he can convince them and win the power struggle

  • Embra Tim says:

    Totally agree James. The windows closed. They have let the supporters down but the time has come to forget about the board for now. They are not that important. True celtic fans need to get ? behind the manager and the players he has at his disposal till the end of the season. This board have given a glimmer of hope to our friends across the city, and it is now up to Brendan and the Bhoys to snuff them out. Winning this league is absolutely vital now.

  • Johnno says:

    Always has been about the performance of the manager and team as my main focus James, and no intentions of changing that regardless of how well or bad we are doing?
    Will always expect the player’s to give there all, even knowing that it’s not possible to maintain in every game, but collectively don’t take preforming very poorly to well either.
    Certainly won’t accept a stinking attitude towards any game for ourselves, as a total disrespect for the club, for which a few players over the past have been guilty of, yet doesn’t apply to any players within this squad thankfully.
    Will maintain to support every player to the best of my ability, regardless of there actual ability within the team, because all I am is a supporter at the end of the day, which includes supporting decisions I really don’t like, which isn’t easy, but far easier to express them these days.
    So players in general will receive a far easier form of criticism from myself, as prefer to defend our player’s regardless, and don’t like the criticism handed out, which can tend to be a bit overboard and worst when it comes from within our own support imo?
    The manager is a totally different story altogether.
    Regard themselves as the biggest and most important decision maker within the club imo?
    How they set up the team and a playing style that works well in entertainment value and gets the best from the players he chooses to represent our club?
    Not an easy job by any means, especially when the demands are so high, and the decision making process can be so critical to ourselves to get right?
    Personally believe Rodgers has been very questionable in that regards upon his return, and was actually expecting far better from him than he has currently produced imo?
    Hardly a novice within the position, and knows about the club and its workings also, so not really buying into the ready-made excuses for himself either?
    Overall I still believe that we have by some distance the best squad of players within the SPFL?
    Still haven’t been able to field our strongest available 11 yet this season, and beginning to wonder if that will even happen for ourselves at all this season, with the rate of injuries occurred upon a regular basis also?
    However I must admit to losing a lot of trust within Rodgers upon his decision making?
    Still an issue upon match days and confidence within myself regarding Rodgers and getting the best out of the player’s he’s got available to him.
    Still think he can actually do better, and if he does also, still think a double will be achieved and nothing to suggest it won’t, as long as the improvements are achieved?
    Praise will be given when them standards we expect are met, along with the criticism when they aren’t, all part of today’s game?
    The support will remain intact regardless of being challenging at times especially with the increasing discontent within our club, and hopefully our support will be able to rise above the level of discontent within our club at present imo

  • Johnny Green says:

    I don’t see us being weaker by signing 2 new players and getting rid of some of the fringe players that we did not require. Injuries make us weaker of course as they do to every team, but we just need to handle that, Will their three loanees make the Huns stronger, who know, that’s a hit or a miss and it might take their new players weeks to settle in properly, ours too. The fact remains though that we are in the driving seat and the league is ours to lose.

    I personally don’t think we will. Keep the Faith.

  • Paddybhoy67 says:

    The word “If” in the title of this piece says it all, James.
    We’re still in a battle that should have been won months ago.

  • sligo123456 says:

    I believe sevco have missed a chance here re the transfer window/signings. They really must be struggling finance wise. I think they missed an opportunity to buy the league here.

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