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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  1. ian_in_budapest on

    twists n turns, I should criticise your tipping more often because it seems to have had a remarkable effect on your results : )



    How’s life otherwise?

  2. .



    The only thing that Worries me about Celtic FC running with..The Hero and His Apprentice Take II.. in Reverse Roles..



    Is it Excites BlantyreTim..



    The only Time l have seen BT Excited was when the Green Brigade were Singing..’Gettin our Taps Aff when Rangers Die”..;-))))))))







  3. Iain



    oh pretty good mate, pretty good. Busy busy, but coping. Just had a wee break in the sun, back to the grind now, but heading off again on my travels over the next few weeks. Various parts of Europe, unfortunately Budapest not one of them. (I shall definitely see you if we get drawn in Hungary in the CL – keep that spare room tidy:-)



    Hows the missus and wee bhoy? All good I hope Iain.

  4. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on



    that would be a sad day, me taking ma tap aff;


    no thems dieing again…

  5. ian_in_budapest on

    jamesgang, sadly I’m not on holiday and I’m not Peter Lawell. I am however really happy with the new management team!

  6. ian_in_budapest on

    twists, as you know, you’re welcome in Budapest any time.



    The wee bhoy is already 6 years old and he’s doing great. Not sure yet whether he’ll make a good footballer but he’s certainly athletic and he clearly takes after his mother who was a Champion swimmer.



    Otherwise, I’m still working on my PhD, which is one of those neverending projects. I enjoy it but it’s a nightmare trying to find the time to complete it.

  7. I am really excited with the appointment of our new management duo: nearly as excited as I was when Jock stein arrived: changed losers into winners; hopefully Ronny and Johnny will change winners into winners playing the Celtic way.



    Sydney Tim are you able to post without slagging PL or are you still playing the reverse LP?



    Give him and us a break: get behind our new management team.

  8. Paul67,



    An excellent article and views entirely consistent with my own – which of course doesn’t make us right! ;-)



    Celtic must be innovative and dynamic in managing football operations. This is essential to counter the reduced income levels and environmental limitations when compared to European competitor clubs generally playing in more lucrative, competitive and technically superior leagues.



    But this is Scotland, and Celtic are always 3 results away from a crisis. Let’s hope the new team are given the time, budget and luck to succeed.




  9. whitedoghunch on




    I was at that china game got to sit down and watch a game crazy !


    WDH says Aye

  10. .



    Right OK..I’m going to Say it..



    Can We Stop this Saying..spending millions of pounds of “Our” money (ffs) each year,



    When You Pay or Buy something..It is No Longer ‘Your’ Money..You have Not borrowed it to Celtic FC..l see this as a Major problem with the Modern day Supporter..See (Customer)..



    And it is Not a Rallying Call to Supporter Spokespersons..




  11. He also doesn’t suffer fools, with strong ideas on training, fitness, laxity, drinking, diet and off-field behaviour.


    Wake up call for certain squad members.


    I’m sure the fitness levels will rise and training sessions will be intense.


    I don’t think we will have worries about fitness come the CL qualifications

  12. Well done to Peter Lawwell and Celtic board.



    Great appointments and good to see Johnny Collins back.



    Looking forward to the new season.

  13. traditionalist88 on



    12:35 on


    18 June, 2014


    I hear the Mexican goalie is available…great performance last night





    I wouldn’t sign anyone based on one World Cup match tbh. But there are managers out there who will!




  14. Welcome back to Celtic, Johnny Collins! Excited about the new season ahead. Anybody know who our first friendly is against?

  15. P76: ‘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.’






    Uh-oh. We’ll gvie them ’til Christmas, then… ;))

  16. John Collins is an excellent appointment.



    Looking forward to see them bringing through disciplined, technically able and athletic young players.



    On the Mexician goalkeeper – not a hope in hell of signing him. He was good against Cameroon as well. He will be getting snapped up with big money offer.

  17. We now truly are playing the Moneyball game, more than ever, more than any others at our level.



    Maximizing efficiency everywhere; let’s hope it pays off spectacularly. We should get an idea with the first couple of signings.

  18. 001 bhoy:



    I hope you are well, still living in this., surprisingly influenced El Nino. balmy, Melbourne winter. I am heading to bonny Alba on 7 July for a month. I am disappointed that Celtic Park is closed for tourists during my visit but will get first qualifier in albeit Edinburgh and a good curry with a visit to Bairds and maybe the Brazen head.



    I am really excited with our new management team. Hope you are too.



    Wing Commander

  19. The Narrowbhoat Tim on

    For the Racing Quick News



    Tip of the day is Spanish Pipedream(3.05) by the US trainer Wesley Ward who has an incredible record at Ascot and trained Hootenanny. He has a few more horses this week so look out for them. Maybe our illustrious Kojo can shed a bit more light on him and his horses, also I think the name Spanish Pipedream is apt as today Chile will end Spain’s dreams



    Thanks Twist n Turn for your tips lately and if you are ever Warwick Races let me know and I’ll get you a few pints.



    Gambling only pays when you’re winning CSC

  20. In Las Americas,Tenerife, in town last night saw a Spanish guy with the bumble bee top on (thumbs up)…

  21. Eyes Wide Open on




    We arent just on the same page – we are reading from the same line.



    You cant have a football acadamy and the ‘win at all costs’ attitude of old because then its not an acadamy, which is about learning.



    I said yesterday there was no point in preaching about the benefits of movement, space and place when your assistant thinks that sounds like a holiday brochure.



    Your left hand needs to know what your right hand is doing and vice versa and in terms of who else there was better placed than JC – there was none.



    The more ive been thinking about the supposed ‘ego’ thing with JC and how this could conflict with a couple of the players who have their own ego’s, who the likes of McAvennie think could be a problem the more I began thinking about who the Indians and Chiefs are and whether its a case of tail wagging the dog.



    There is no walk of like whereby the senior managers of their profession are all humble, polite and well mannered.



    Therefore you would expect the manager and the assistant to have an element of swagger – they have mastered their profession after all.



    When someone with swagger comes up against a player with swagger – brains will dictate how and who comes out on top and there will be only winner there.



    I am going to make a prediction here – if we get into the CL with this newly appointed management team – our possession stats will be significantly better than in the last 6-7 years.



    We will also retain possession for more than 3 passes.

  22. traditionalist88 on




    Bairds is gone I’m afraid! Plenty choice on the Gallowgate though, would get in to see Paul Sheridan sing in the Tolbooth on a Sunday night if you can!




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