I got my haircut today. Sitting, waiting in line, usual habits were cast aside and I picked up a newspaper; what an alarming read. Neil Lennon was quoted as saying, “I’m not big on tactics. It’s about the players and they have to go out onto the pitch and apply that.”
I couldn’t disagree more. It’s all about the tactics. Players need to be sufficiently fit, fast and fearless but all the talent in the world can be ripped asunder if it’s not tactically well organised. I had been watching Celtic tactics closely for 20 years before Martin O’Neill arrived. Back in 2000, watching Celtic was like going to school. My eyes were opened to how a defence is organised, how to stage an attack that fits your strikers and how to buy with a playing strategy in mind.
We had seen plenty great players since our last great team: McStay, McClair, McGrain, McAvennie, Burns, Nicholas. We’d seen courage and directness: the Bear, MacLeod and Provan, and cameos from Moravcik and Larsson, but we were forever found out, a plucky team who would flatter to deceive. Celtic would regularly dominate Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen – who understood too well the importance of tactics – and lose 1-0, and we went 30 years without beating a team from a major European league.
Martin O’Neill clearly demonstrated that successful football teams are all about tactics, not the players, nor courage, not even an aggregate ocean of skill.
>90% of football games are won and lost before kick-off.
As for the on-going orgy that is dominating front pages (good grief). Get used to it. As I’ve said many times, positions are absolutely entrenched when it comes to the songs debate. Neil Lennon and Ian Bankier are in for a disappointment if they think they, or any of the rest of us, can “self-police” those who object to being inhibited from singing about the IRA. I’ve encouraged this so often I’m not going to waste my your time with it anymore.
Celtic are set for an extended period when its reputation will suffer, there is no avoiding this. Unfortunately, not everyone listens. My great sympathies go to the £X per hour Celtic stewards who have to put themselves in the front line of this confrontation.
If I can offer any advice on a related subject… Songs and banners affect individuals, who will often be selected randomly for exclusion. Lateral movement in the stands, which happened last weekend, will get an entire section of the stadium closed by Health & Safety. If this creeps back into Celtic Park there is a real risk of council action. I’m pretty sure Michael Davitt didn’t place the sod on Celtic Park before bouncing left to right and back again. It’s not a key part of our heritage, don’t pick fights you’re going to lose.
CQN Magazine, issue 5, will be out soon. After 4 issues online and shipping single copies from Magcloud in the US, we’ve ordered a print run locally. You can order now with credit/debit card or Paypal and buy direct from the UK for only £5 by clicking on the link below.