Collins arrival means new type of management team at Celtic


Two years ago, current Inverness manager, John Hughes, was guest of honour at the CQN Golf Day.  For around two hours during the meal he spoke privately to me about John Collins.

Hughes worked alongside Collins at Livingston and regarded our new assistant manager as the most insightful, tactically aware and innovative person he’d met in the game.  According to Hughes, Collins could see things hidden to others, including himself.  He could spot weaknesses in opposition teams and make telling observations about his own players and formations.

When recruiting anyone to the management team we want to hear endorsements like this.  Most of the CQN demographic are old enough to remember times when managers’ and assistants’ most important attribute was their ability to bang his first on a table and yell “Get stuck right intae them” with a legendary level of authority.

This model of the desirable manager is still valued by British clubs, it’s a superstition which has been fed by famous and successful table bangers like Sir Alex Ferguson, but Ferguson’s Fist was not the source of his magic touch.  More than anything else, Ferguson’s successful longevity was his insistence on appointing insightful, tactically aware innovators as assistants, who were often more switched-on than he was.

I wanted a student of the game as manager but I also want another strong tactical head as assistant.  The last thing a manager actually needs as his assistant is his pal, or someone who is good at shouting, or even someone to be a buffer between him and the players.  Whoever puts the cones out at Lennoxtown, like the Scottish physio at Chelsea, can be the players’ pal, cum-go-between, cum-nag.

One of football’s many inefficiencies is the managerial structure.  Unlike other industries, the responsibility and wage gaps between the man with the top job and his assistant are huge.  There is no reason for this, in fact, it’s mad.  You always need a hierarchy but the no. 2 should have duties, responsibilities and pay only a fraction less than his immediate superior.  The huge disparities in authority which are common do not give you a functioning team, at best you have a less efficient autocracy.

As we’ve said for years, guru managers don’t exist, but good, properly constituted, management teams do.

Those in the management team, responsible for spending millions of pounds of our money each year, of making tactical decisions against the best teams in Europe, need to be oracles of the game.  Anything less and we’re indulging in one of football’s glaring and costly inefficiencies.

John Collins fits the profile.  He also doesn’t suffer fools, with strong ideas on training, fitness, laxity, drinking, diet and off-field behaviour.  For Celtic, all of this is necessary.  Footballers are elite athletes but there is enormous variation in how dedicated they are to their personal development.  This doesn’t exist in elite participants in sports like athletics, where you don’t get near the podium without a puritanical level of commitment to your development, and to your coach’s instructions.

You can also forget any concerns about Scott Brown.  The Scott Brown of 2014, who as Neil Lennon’s captain was responsible for imposing misdemeanor fines on players, is more like John Collins than he is like the Scott Brown of 2007.

Over the last seven years we have built the sports science, medical, technical analysis and scouting capacity, all of which are particularly impressive, but the management team has always had a homespun feel about it.  In 10 years of CQN I’ve never backed a Celtic management appointment, but with the appointment of Ronny Deila and John Collins we have a new type of management team.  There are no guarantees of immediate success in any walk of life, and Champions League qualification this season will still be exposed to the vagaries of sport, but I’m delighted we finally have what looks like a properly constituted team in the dug out.

Visit the CQN Bookstore to get Tommy Gemmell to sign your personal copy of his book, All the Best.

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    !!bada bing!!



    11:16 on 18 June, 2014


    BT- I’m sure VP will be there helping the weans…..






    Heart of gold,the fella. But I think he’s off the road at the moment.



    Otherwise,a certainty.

  2. John Hughes said he would only be a No2 to one man in football and that man was John Collins. Yogi loves JC.


    I hope JC is a huge success with our new gaffer.




  3. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on

    I am exited about the new set up, strong, fit,powerful with no lack of skill..



    the future is green…and white…





    Fergie made his name at Aberdeen.



    His assistant was Archie Knox.



    I’m more than willing to give John Collins the opportunity to assist Ronny Delia,but if he is all you say he is,he would be managing Barcelona.

  5. Same as paul67



    First appointment since o’neil im really happy with.. And i dont know ronnie at all. Just a good feeling

  6. It’s a good team. But the most important item this managerial team must have is their ability to bang his first on a table and yell “ Peter don’t sell our players for AGM balance sheet and give us Victors money from last year to strengthen the team for CL qualifiers”

  7. eddieinkirkmichael on

    I’m taking 5 mins out of my holiday to say well done PL for listening to the fans who said they wanted JC as our new no 2.


    As Paul67 says, there’s no guarantees of success but something feels right about these new appointments and I for one fully back the board for once.



    Right that’s me off to play in the pool, adios amigos

  8. ian_in_budapest on

    Paul, This is up there with some of the best articles you’ve published on CQN. Well done!



    Let’s hope that these appointments take us to the next level. In my mind that means becoming a thoroughly post-modern and innovative club that sets trends for others to follow. Whilst winning major European competitions may be a very tall order for Celtic these days, developing highly-skilled footballers that can play attractive and exciting football should not be beyond us. A key goal must be to continue punching above our weight on a consistent basis and to be ready to take advantage of any changes in the structure of European football.

  9. Phyllis Dietrichson on

    P67 – when you say “most of the CQN demographic are old enough to remember…” – what are you actually saying?

  10. BMCUW



    ‘I’m more than willing to give John Collins the opportunity to assist Ronny Delia,but if he is all you say he is,he would be managing Barcelona.’



    Sometimes undiscovered or neglected gems exist. Celtic occasionally gets one. KoK, Lubo for example.



    We could have the makings of a similar situation if this new coaching team (and I think that’s what it will be) gels.



    Paul. I’m with your article’s view 100% and can’t wait to see the football these ghuys will look to have is playing.



    The future’s bright. The future’s green n white.



    Right, aff oot to stick my wee paws in a bucket of ice. Yon happy lapping isn’t for the faint hearted!



    HH jamesgang

  11. ian_in_budapest



    11:36 on 18 June, 2014



    Are you Peter Lawell on holiday?!?!






    You’re an even happier happy clapper than me!!!!



    HH jamesgang

  12. 11.45



    Happy lapping should of course have ready happy clapping!



    Happy lapping is something quite different I believe. And not for likes of wee me!!!






    HH jamesgang

  13. Nags………scroll on



    Ereyna being held for another day, more later.



    Genny Wren tonight in the 9.10pm. Hmmm…how to put this. Every time she runs the yard think this might just be her day, but as she is still a maiden after countless attempts, 17 to be exact, that may never be the case. She worked well again this week, but to be honest, she is such a trier that is always the case, yet on the course, she invariably comes up short. I couldn’t advise anyone to bet her simply because of the history, yet if anyone told me they were punting her, I wouldn’t put them off. Contradiction perhaps, but that’s the truth.



    When we backed Dawn Commander, Colebrooke and Mr Maynard, they were standing at bigger prices than they should have been, and as such, were value bets. In my opinion, Genny Wren is too skinny at 7/1 given her record.



    I will be having a moderate wager on the nose simply because she is from a yard I have had a connection or two with, and as I said, she is a genuine trier albeit with limited ability, who may just pop up one of these days. I expect I shall lose my dough.



    I guess that’s a lot of words which don’t actually tell you very much, but it’s the best I can do I’m afraid.



    The yard have been distracted for 2 weeks looking for a new addition, and he arrives this week from Francis Flood’s yard in Wicklow. Should be well suited to English racing. Will keep you posted of his progress. He will run in August I believe.

  14. .



    Probably the Best thing Celtic FC have Done here is NOT make Collins Manager..He probably is Ten times the Tactician Lennon is but has the Man Management Skills of a Escargot..







    Summa of SnaillsCSC

  15. .



    Moonbeams WD. Wee Oscar’s our Bhoy and Kano’s our mhan.


    11:50 on


    18 June, 2014


    Is this a project management team?



    MWD says AYE







    Of Course it is.. Glad You are the First to Suss it..



    Summa of CelticFCSteppingStoneCSC

  16. MWD



    Mibbees aye. With added skill, fitba insight and cajones.



    Jamesgang says AYE if it is!





    Eaten any panda burgers today?



    HH jamesgang

  17. Twistsnturns



    You got 2 replies to your query about horses for RA yesterday and both won, Kingman and Hootenanny. Would have been a good treble with Toronado.

  18. !!Bada Bing!! on

    Re todays Annual Taxi Drivers trip to Troon ,Ronny Deila was there seeing them off.I believe the Celtic Charity Foundation supplied packed lunches and Goodie Bags for the weans,amongst a contribution of £77,000 .

  19. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on



    that is a wee bit much for me to have to text….



    thanks buddy… 8-)

  20. MWD



    Check my tweet ya rocket. I thought you’d have fad them for breakfast. ;-)



    Apparently tastes like chicken!



    HH jamesgang

  21. beatbhoy


    ha…was busy yesterday mate, logged in, posted, logged oot. Wish I hadn’t now!!



    Never saw a race, but knew when I checked my account that I hadn’t had any joy. Wish I had read the blog now:-)



    Never mind.



    Bada Bing



    How are ya bud? Kinda nothing message I have posted re tonight but I hope fholks can see what I am trying to say, which is, in summary…’ I have no idea’..:-))))

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