LIAM BRADY was named as Billy McNeill’s successor as Celtic manager in June 1991.
The charismatic Irishman arrived with a dream for the club, but his vision had become blurred by the time he departed in early October 1993.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE series, author Alex Gordon opens his book files to look back at an intriguing and compelling chapter in the club’s history.
Here is another edited extract from Alex’s tribute book, ‘The Winds of Change‘, published by CQN in 2015.
AS PRE-ARRANGED, I contacted Liam Brady in Dublin on Friday afternoon. As ever, he was courteous and focused. There was no problem with a ‘first person ‘exclusive for the Sunday Mail. I wasn’t surprised there was no mention of a fee for his time.
Under the banner headline ‘PARADISE LOST‘ I ghosted the story everyone else wanted. With Liam Brady’s name on the tale, it read thus:
‘I was sitting on the team bus on a stretch of the M9 on Wednesday night when I made the decision to quit as manager of Celtic. I had just watched the team lose 2-1 to St Johnstone and I was utterly dejected.
‘I thought about that game – and the recent performances against Hearts and Kilmarnock – and I knew I couldn’t shield the players from the pressures any longer. It was getting to me and it was getting through to them.
‘I had to go.
HAPPIER TIMES…Liam Brady in his early days as Celtic manager.
‘I approached the chairman Kevin Kelly and told him I had made up my mind to quit. He didn’t even attempt to talk me into changing my mind.
‘It would have been a waste of time, anyway!
‘My mind was made up and, having come to such a momentous decision, I wasn’t going to change it. It was the most difficult decision of my life. I leave Celtic with so many regrets. I would have loved to have given those wonderful fans a trophy. They deserved more than they got.
‘But let’s nail some of the rumours right now. I was NOT stabbed in the back by Joe Jordan or anyone else. I brought Joe to the club. He was my appointment, there can be no arguments on that.
‘I had hoped Joe would get the job.
‘I was amazed when I heard the news he had quit, too. Naturally, I can’t go into that because I don’t know the facts. I would like to say there were no running feuds with the board. I wasn’t at their throats and they weren’t at mine.
‘Sure, money was tight. But I knew the situation at the club from day one. However, if anything, things got worse this year. Of course, the atmosphere could have been better. All the talk of the rebel takeover and so on kept on the pressure. It just never went away and it affected the club, the management and some individuals.
IT TAKES TWO…Liam Brady welcomes Joe Jordan as his Celtic assistant manager.
‘And, yes, there was talk of the rebels putting in their own man as manager if they were successful. However, I stress I am NOT using that as an excuse. Things just didn’t work out on the pitch. We didn’t get results in my two years and that is what it is all about. No-one is more aware of Celtic’s reputation than me.
‘Okay, I didn’t play for the club, but I was brought up in Dublin and the two teams everyone talked about were Celtic and Manchester United. Their flamboyance and style were well known. That was my aim. I wanted Celtic to continue to play with that flair.
‘People have also been saying I was contemplating quitting after we lost to Rangers in the League Cup semi-final last month.
‘But I can tell you there is no truth in that.
‘Yes, it was a huge blow losing that match at Ibrox…but I believed we could pick things up again. That wasn’t to be. Obviously, I am sad that some of the transfers I made didn’t work out.
THE £1MILLION MYSTERY…Liam Brady poses with big-money signing Tony Cascarino who failed to prove his worth at Parkhead before moving to Chelsea.
‘The name Tony Cascarino continually crops up, but I would like to point out he is currently in the Chelsea first team. Why didn’t he do the business at Parkhead? I believe the unique pressure of being involved with a Glasgow team got to him.
‘To understand just how stressful life can be in Glasgow as a sportsman you really have to sample it. You have to be a certain animal to cope. It took me at least a year to understand it. Tony just could not settle and I believe he is finding life a lot easier in England.
‘The same goes for Stuart Slater. I was greatly disappointed he didn’t match up to expectations at Parkhead. The boy oozes talent and I’m sure we’ll see him do the business at Ipswich. And who could have predicted that Tony Mowbray would have picked up such a series of injuries after joining us? I think he missed about four games in ten years at Middlesbrough, but that’s the way things go. You have to be philosophical about it.
‘What does the future hold for Liam Brady? I’ll sit down and think about that when the dust settles. I’ll talk over everything with my wife Sarah and I’ll spend some time with the kids.
‘I may even stay in Scotland.
PARADISE LOST…Liam Brady quit after a loss to St Johnstone in Perth on October 6 1993.
‘I have made some very good friends during my stay at Parkhead. Who knows what is around the corner in this game? Would I think about becoming a manager again? Anything is possible. Again, I won’t be making any rash decisions.
‘I hasten to add that I did not run away from things in Glasgow. That is not my style. I was already scheduled to be in Dublin at Jury’s Hotel this weekend. It is a beautiful place to get away from the rigours of life. There is a dinner I have agreed to go to tonight. And I’ll probably stick around for the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup-tie against Spain on Wednesday.
‘Meanwhile, I am still trying to come to terms with the fact I am no longer manager of Celtic.
‘That fact hurts, believe me.
‘But there is no bitterness on my part. I’m just sad that it didn’t work out as planned. Good luck to Celtic and their marvellous fans in the future.
‘They deserve the very best and I hope they get it.’
* TOMORROW: Don’t miss the next riveting instalment in the Liam Brady story – only in your champion CQN.