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. Bada Bing, sure was.



    BOBBY MURDOCH’S CURLED-UP, Barca have followed exactly the same management team model.



    ian_in_budapest, thank you.



    Phyllis Dietrichson, easy there, granda.



    Subterranean, of course we’re both right!



    Sandman, aye, I know……..



    Sandman, 12:45, correct. This is slap bang down Moneyball Avenue.



    Bawsman, thanks, will catch this afternoon.



    Eyes Wide Open, absolutely.

  2. Thanks for that info regarding Bairds: I may call in to Merchant city area and catch up with some CQN guys. Aggressive blessing has a lot to answer for. Too many good pubs being closed. Of course the Louden bar is still open; Great place for innocent Europeans to visit and get a great impression of the City of Culture

  3. Paul



    I agree that the Deila-Collins ticket has all the potential to open an exciting new era for Celtic.



    As much as this will depend on them applying their skills and knowledge, here’s hoping they carry the requisite amount of luck to get us through to the CL group stage.



    Oh, by the way, are you actually backing this appointment … ?







  4. 21/5/79



    For me, kickboxer in the 8 20 ripon was today’s good thing at 5/2 this norning. I’d have it at 1/1 if I was pricing up the race ( now 11/8). I’m hoping it covers my stake on Genny an hour or so later. No tip just good old fashioned studying and gut feel B-)



    By the way. Tennis today at Eastbourne. Chard is 10/11 to win 2 0. I reckon I’d beat his opponent on grass. 6 2 6 2 I reckon.

  5. Eyes Wide Open




    Great point about posession. Vital thing in european games.



    Think guys like Biton and Johansen will revel in this setup. Van Dijk as well. He is comfortable on the ball.

  6. I don’t know what to do. I’m a happy clapper. I’m extremely pleased with the appointments of Deila and Collins. I hope it is the start of innovation on and off the park.



    However, there is always a risk. And if it all goes pear shaped there will be a plethora of told-you-sos lining up to put the boot in.



    So, which is better


    a) Be negative and be proven to be right


    b) Be positive and be proven to be wrong


    c) Be negative and be proven to be wrong


    d) Be positive and be proven to be right



    Being negative is a win-win. But being positive is only a 50/50 chance of a favourable outcome.



    Maybe the negatrons are the smart cookies.

  7. Eyes Wide Open on

    I may as well throw a controversial query out there seeing as are all being so polite with each other at the minute.



    The level of scouting and recruiting of players is going to change dramatically based on the new footballing philosophies our new management team will be incorporating.



    We have 2 top quality right backs – both of whom are particularly error prone when in possession and being closed down quickly (I would be surprised if Matthews & Lustig’s passing success ratio is much above 50% in Euro games).



    Does that mean if circumstances presented themselves again, both players wouldnt be signed on Bosmans – or would the potential re-sale value (core aspect) mean a certain director would insist….

  8. Ewo



    Matthews and Lustig are two of our best players.



    Matthews has struggled since he came back from injury but in my opinion that was as a result of him being rushed back too quickly.

  9. !!Bada Bing!! on

    Eyes Wide Open- I think Lustig is our most comfortable player at CL level mate,but hopefully we can be coached to keep the ball in Euro games.HH

  10. Paul67



    Maybe I’m just turning into an oul grump, but……



    “When recruiting anyone to the management team we want to hear endorsements like this.”



    Of course we do but I’d prefer to hear them from someone with a better track record in coaching and management that John Hughes.



    Regardless, JC is now in position and despite my reservations he has my complete support.

  11. Eyes Wide Open on




    I am not disagreeing – they are 2 of our most outstanding players, however I have noticed they also happen to both be error prone when put under pressure.



    Therein lies the potential conundrum.



    Badabing, I agree if they are being coached – and more crucially those around them are also being coached – hopefully they will find more options available and they choose the right one.

  12. thomthethim for Oscar OK on

    I share the eager anticipation of CQN’s more knowledgeable and wiser posters.



    A management team with the hope of returning exciting football to CP, built on professional attitudes to the game.



    Deila, Collins and Kennedy, with the back up of Mc.Guinness, will not tolerate anything less than total on and off the field commitment.



    Could be that some lads will have to shape up or ship out.



    Or even, zip up or zip out!

  13. Paul67 et al



    Really pleased that John Collins is going to be Ronny’s right hand man. I believe both will have a positive impact through out the Club. I have said before that I didn’t think Neil had quite taken the Celtic as far as he might have, but now our new team has the opportunity to do just that. For obvious reasons it is more important than ever to maintain our European profile in the season ahead. And with Scotland and Ireland in a terrific Euro group there will be plenty of good football to be had at Celtic Park next season.

  14. ulysses mcghee - a demographic of one on

    Paul 67



    I think John Collins is an excellent choice…



    … In the context of an assistant manager



    I think he fits a profile designed by our efforts in Sports science, diet etc – I believe young John Kennedy is at the forefront of pushing this model too.



    John Collins has freely admitted that intensive training not only made the difference to his career and its length but it also gave him a professional edge he was told when younger he did not have – he adjusted this weakness rather than compensated for it elsewhere. And he’s admitted that training and physical discipline was the key.



    And he was a resident of ML3 during his career at Celtic (What’s not to like)



    As to his ability in management – not for me to say – but I would veer from Paul slightly in that the assistant role often fills different needs to a team and club than the manager – it’s just that we can both see (I think) a way for that role to be re-assessed and ‘exploited’ differently.



    I’m very excited and optimistic about this part of Celtic’s journey.



    U McG Esq

  15. Geordie Munro on




    Always best to be negative.



    The system always breaks eventually and games are lost and in the meantime you can wallow in the good times. ;)

  16. HT



    The teams coached by John Hughes and Kenny Sheils have played some of the most attractive football seen at CP.



    My reservation with them, and part of the reasons why they have both been sacked a lot, is that they are asking lesser players to perform with a confidence and bravery and skill that they do not possess, hence the reason they are plying their trade with the lowly teams that are managed by the likes of John Hughes and Kenny Sheils (and Steven Pressley).



    I would love to see guys like that working with our youth set up, where results should matter less than the style of play they are being taught. However, I saw many signs that the philosophy, espoused by those coaches, already exists within the Lennoxtown Youth coaches. Anybody who saw our bhoys perform in the CL Youth tournament last year would have been impressed with the confidence shown by young O’Connell and Findlay in carrying the ball out of defence and passing their way forward, and to the pressing game demanded of our front men and midfielders.



    Unfortunately, we are having to attempt this whilst recruiting our youth from less rich soil than those recruited by Barca, AC, and Ajax whom we played. We still gave a very good account of ourselves.

  17. thomthethim for Oscar OK


    13:27 on


    18 June, 2014



    I share the eager anticipation of CQN’s more knowledgeable and wiser posters.







  18. RE:Celtic Reply to Six Year Olds Manager Application



    Sure it wiznae Kevjungle? :-)



    Remember Kev, the jersey doesn’t shrink……………….

  19. ***LUNCHTIME QUIZ***



    Good day fholks and after a short interlude, the Lunchtime Quiz is back.



    So today is all about quotes.



    Who is attributed to have said the following Celtic-related quotes:



    1. “Celtic fans, you are great, you are marvellous”



    2. “I don’t make anything of anything to do with Rangers.”



    3. “Football will survive because of teams like Celtic and its fans.”



    4. “This is what we need in Italy, this type of environment. This was the essence of sport. To hear the Celtic fans singing and chanting after the game was incredible.”



    5. “We work hard all week, but on a Saturday we get the day off to play football”




    ***The rules of the game are always the same.


    No search engines please, you’re only cheating yourself.***

  20. leftclicktic We are all Neil Lennon on



    (e) Be positive and take it as it comes :)))



    Off to Wishaw Gen visiting an Aunt.

  21. Narrowboat Tim



    tyvm, very kind.



    My Ascot losers today are;




    Ascot 2.30



    REDBROOK 12/1 each way




    Ascot 3.05





    Ascot 3.40



    TREVE 4/6 Win Bet




    Ascot 4.25



    PURR ALONG 12/1 Each Way




    Ascot 5.00


    SEA SHANTY 20/1


    Each Way

  22. Just back from a visit to Celtic Park to see my newly laid paving stone in front of Jinkys statue.



    Thanks to the Griffin clan from Balornock



    Pround that I now have my only little piece of Paradise

  23. 16 roads - Celtic über alles... on

    When you are buying so-called professional footballers who can’t even trap a football, then there is something not right.



    Why would any club buy a footballer,and pay him thousands of pounds per week if the said player needs to be coached and taught the very basics of the game?



    If you are 20 odd years of age and you can’t even hit a football with both feet,control,keep possession or pass with accuracy, you have no hope of making it at any level, never mind at a professional standard.



    These basic skills are learned on the street when you are about 4 or 5.




  24. setting free the bears supports Res. 12 & Oscar Knox


    13:42 on


    18 June, 2014




    Kenny Sheils?



    I didn’t mention him.



    I only referred to Paul’s article which included the endorsement from J Hughes for J Collins.



    If we stick to Yogi then I can’t agree with your claim that his teams ‘have played some of the most attractive football seen at CP.’






    I take it you’re only referring to the SPFL?



    In terms of the Scottish game then I would concede that often his teams have come to Parkhead and ‘had a go’.



    Does that result in more entertainment for us, the Celtic support?



    Yes, frequently it does. Rather than being up against 10 or 11 men behind the ball, our players have more space to display their superior skills and abilities.



    The game is consequently more open which can result in more goals if chances are taken of course.



    But what about his own team and supporters?



    I’m not convinced that they’d agree with this idea of ‘attractive football’. In fact I’ve heard them call it ‘naive’.



    In my opinion, John Hughes has been sacked from his positions simply because he isn’t good enough as a coach and a football manager.



    Personally, it adds nothing to the veracity of JC’s appointment to use his endorsement.



    Sorry must dash, will catch up later.

  25. 16 roads – Celtic über alles… 13.55



    Instead of going to the trouble of writing a big long post you could just have summarised it with 2 words…



    Amido Balde





    BOBBY MURDOCH’S CURLED-UP, Barca have followed exactly the same management team model.




    With respect,when have Barcelona appointed a manager from the minor leagues,and an assistant who has had nothing to do with the club for nearly two decades?



    The only time Barcelona successfully recruited from within recently was with Guardiola.



    I fail to see how you can suggest ‘the Barcelona model’ as a template.



    Particularly when we sell our way to failure.

  27. Geordie Munro on

    Art of war @1348






    Couldn’t possibly be……it made it to Celtic Park ;)

  28. 16 roads - Celtic über alles... on




    14:03 on 18 June, 2014






    It would be unfair of me to pick out one specific individual player for criticism, when there have been many other examples over the years.




  29. TnT,



    FWIW – My Ascot losers for today are (all placed earlier):



    E/W Bets


    2.30 – Sudirman


    5.00 – Sea shanty


    5.30 – Wee Jean



    Win Bets


    3.05 – Tiggy Wiggy


    3.45 – Magician (Treve is just too short)


    4.25 – Esoterique



    So looks like we picked two the same (Sea Shanty / Tiggy Wiggy) – I guess that DOUBLY confirms that they have no chance :-)








  30. Geordie Munro on

    “Particularly when we sell our way to failure.”




    Deary me Bobby!



    Are you in a mood cos River City has been canned for the fitty or somert? ;)

  31. Eyes Wide Open on

    Setting free the bears supports Res. 12 & Oscar Knox


    13:42 on 18 June, 2014



    Good post and fair points.



    I think it was the 3-3 game – possibly one or two games before and Shiels had them lined up in a 4-2-2-2 formation against our flat banks of 4-4-2.


    Every time a ball was punted they had men in between our banks – to them I guess it wasnt about controlling the game, more picking up breaks and it worked a treat.



    That was when the penny dropped for me about our rigid formations and ive developed a growing infatuation for a modernised brand of football ever since.



    You can only go so far with the tactical nous – you need players capable of transgressing that further.



    If you have ever heard big JK talk – hes been on that page for a few years now, talking about the challenge of coaching kids to keep their shape on the one hand but without wanting to restrict the natural instincts to move around into space around the pitch.

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