Another autumn, another messiah across the city. They arrive with the regularity of the nights drawing in. As the shops sell Halloween tat, sections of the media sell similar quality stories of a new beginning under a brilliant new manager.
Unlike the last guy at Newco, Philippe Clement at least has more than 19 games as a boss under his belt. He won the Belgian league with Genk, against better funded rivals, then won two titles with an exceptionally well -funded Brugge. We can all look very messianic floating on a bed of euros.
He jumped ship to Monaco in January last year. Despite being able to pay players without having to worry about income tax (cough), Monaco were in deep financial trouble, pressing up against Uefa Financial Fair Play rules. Clement had to sell his best players, spending less than half of what he took in. Results crashed amid dressing room turmoil and he was sacked in June this year. A football messiah without money is a very ordinary thing, find a French football fan and ask.
He has not worked in a value market, Europe’s top clubs search Belgium and France for talent, so don’t expect a string of great budget signings others have overlooked. Just as at Monaco, Newco are under Uefa supervision, unable to pay their way out of inadequacy. Having sacked a manager in each of the last two years, Clement negotiated a lucrative three and a half year contract, so like Beale and van Bronckhorst, if/when the natives demand his sacrifice, he will at least have a bundle of cash to fall back on.
There is not enough information to know if he is an improvement on either of his two predecessors, but my biggest doubt about his abilities is that he has taken this job. A poor squad, mostly under long-term contracts with very low resale value, insufficent money to spend, a scouting network which is already earmarked for disbandment and a support which has yet to realise their place in the foodchain. He must have been without good options, but sure, the Saudis wanted him, just as Wolves wanted Beale!
Celtic’s position at the top of Scottish football did not come under threat yesterday, if anything, it was enhanced.