Managers who change outperform those with one great system


Sometimes I look at the trajectory of Martin O’Neill’s career and wonder why he didn’t land another top job after leaving Celtic.  He was the hottest property in football while he was in Glasgow, almost joined Leeds United (then a top side), while he was short odds for the Liverpool manager’s job at each annual crisis on Merseyside.  At the time Ferguson at Manchester was talking about retiring, had he gone, Martin would have moved to Old Trafford.

In 2003 he met Mourinho in the Uefa Cup final.  The Portuguese had some of the finest footballers of that generation at his disposal, unquestionably a better collection of players than Celtic, as their Champions League win 12 months later would prove, but Porto were pinned-in for long spells in the second half and required (literally) every trick in the book to prevail.

Despite losing, O’Neill did better with the resources available to him than Mourinho.

After a few meritocratic years at Aston Villa, where he spent more than the club could afford, but delivered a better team than they would otherwise expect, he left a day before the season kicked off, apparently unhappy Villa’s budget was being curtailed.

Without meaning offence to Sunderland, I was disappointed when he pitched up there.  Martin O’Neill was surely a manager who should be competing for league titles and in the Champions League.  His early form at Sunderland was transformational but it was a transformation built on fragile foundations.

Those founds’ have now disappeared, Sunderland sit two places above relegation.  Their play is recognisable from how Celtic played a decade ago, and how Leicester played in the 90s.  Opponents know what they get from Martin’s teams, so they know how to prepare for them.

Martin’s former players talk about his inspirational qualities not his tactical incision.  It’s hard, if not impossible, for a manager of a major club to master all the attributes required in the job.  The successful ones realise this and delegate.

One of the frustrations we had with Martin when he was at Celtic is his reluctance to indulge the scouts.  We signed former Leicester players, players who featured on Match of the Day, or players from other SPL clubs.  The Wanyama, Izaguirre, Kayal-recruitment model, players signed with greater trust in the scouts and limited supervision from the man at the top, would never have happened under O’Neill.

The technical side of the game is perhaps even more important than recruitment.  Great football systems, clubs and countries develop from one coach doing something sensational.  Successful tactical changes are then studied and copied, but how do you study and learn from a system that’s not utilised against you, or on TV, when you are manager of a large club?  You can’t, on your own.

Instead you have to deploy the systems you already trust and used to get yourself the big job in the first place.  Or you can tinker a little, or use what, for the want of a better term, we’ll call a technical research team.  People who can say to the manager, “A club in Romania is doing something really clever, we should try it”, without being frog-marched off the premises.

The lesson of evolution is that it is not the biggest, strongest or healthiest who thrive, it’s those who can adapt to a changing environment.  The list of great managers who end their career in humiliating relegation is longer than the list of greats who regularly discard their tried and tested formations and become early-adopters of successful new systems.

By any means necessary, Journey with Celtic Bampots’ by Paul Larkin, is now available at Lulu and other outlets.  Paul charts the remarkable events the Internet Bampots became embroiled in since 2008.

As well as reading for FREE here (don’t try to read through the graphic below), you can subscribe for £10 or £20, and our sponsor, Executive Shaving, who offer an enormous range of grooming products, are offering readers a £20 voucher for all £30 CQN Magazine subscribers.

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  1. @WATPPodcast: @alextomo We are recording at 10:30pm GMT Tuesday. Are you available? If so we’ll need your Skype handle to bring you in. Let us know.



    They try to discredit him and now they want Alex to talk on the podcast.



    When the Sevco fans are nice it always means 1 thing they’re after something.

  2. Good article Paul67.



    The Celtic of MON was a great team, but most of our main men were in their peak years, some on the subs bench were of a decidedly lesser quality and our line-up, formation and game play were very predictable.



    None of the above caveats apply to the Celtic of NFL.



    Exciting times,




  3. South of Tunis



    I refer you to the previous thread.



    Cluj are indeed a very decent side – when I said that Collum would be referreing their game v Galatasaray tomorrow night I meant no disrespect to them.



    Still think that he is a horrible wee individual!




  4. JohnnyClash



    The pouch is trapezoidal in profile when filled and rectangular when flat, with a flared bottom that makes the pouch able to stand upright when placed on a horizontal surface. A straw is supplied with each individual pouch. It takes a certain type of person to be able to locate then successfully pierce the the pouch, using the correct skured end of the straw and experts in this field are a rare breed, indeed.

  5. Just a quick thought as well…



    I love Paddy McCourt, he’s a fabulous talent, a throwback player.



    But when he came on yesterday his cameo showed us exactly why Neil doesn’t ‘trust’ him.



    His first real cameo ended with him dithering, being robbed of the ball which very nearly resulted in a DU breakaway goal.



    Would adore seeing him more, but feel he has to adapt to moving the ball along much quicker – if he plays to that tempo we’ll still see his flashes of genius, but if he carries on playing the game as he did yesterday it’s difficult to see NFL giving him a run in the team should the opporchancity arise.




  6. BlantyreKev



    very good point mate especially if it cost as reported £10’000 to organise it needs to work as well as possible and I think the Celtic PA making an announcementg would help no end! Does Paul67 have any contacts at Celtic? Im pretty sure he does!

  7. BSR



    As with most things, dedication and practice does lead to successful piercing becoming easier and more frequent.



    I often buy a multi-pack (boxed) – always Orange never Tropical – despite the fact my kids no longer drink the stuff, for the shear joy of a successful first time piercing. When full the pouches can also be used for building a small ‘Eiffel Tower type’ structure.

  8. KevJungle – Murdo.. 25yds out..YEEeeeesssss..10 men Championees! 1979!



    12:41 on 5 November, 2012



    ‘Just dropped in to say – Rod Stewart just aboot to come on loose women STV’





    And people are complaining about the BBC?

  9. When he arrived in 2000 Martin set about transforming our fortunes – and this he certainly did. Treble in his first season. First European final in 33 years. Group stages of the CL. The arrival of players like Sutton, Valgaeren, Hartson, Thompson, Lennon, Balde…to join Larsson, Petrov, Mjallby, Lambert…



    Tremendous success… but at a (high) cost – financially. MON was given money to spend that no other Celtic manager, then or since, has had.



    MON was, and is, a motivator – he is not a tactical genius…but he is certainly no mug.



    When the board decided, about 7 years ago, that the business model then in place could not continue this was the first signal that there would be a parting of the ways – as well as the illness of his wife.



    Before anyone thinks that I am trying to have a pop at Martin I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth!



    MON was the right mhan at the right time for us after the Dalglish/Barnes ‘experiment’.



    Martin O’Neill – CELTIC LEGEND!!




  10. Gerard Piqué has been given clearance from the medics to travel with the Barcelona squad to Glasgow. Talk at the moment is that he would be unlikely to start the game.

  11. Two great goals yesterday and hopefully Hooper and Samaras back for Wednesday.



    Understandable this young team have taken their eye off the ball whilst the two Barca games are ongoing.



    It is all I have thought about for a few weeks.




  12. just a quick update



    35 weeks since start of spl investigation into 2 contracts at RFC ( IL)



    44 weeks since finish of FTT tax case



    maybe some people cannot handlel the truth or its the big hoose with bars on the window for some



    as for doncaster et al they will not apply the rules imho



    comeongetyourskateson csc

  13. Malcolm Cohen and James Stephen, both partners at BDO, were appointed joint interim liquidators of RFC 2012 on 31 October



    Paul Clark and David Whitehouse joint administrators, from Duff & Phelps, have handed over to the interim liquidators.



    Cohen and Stephen will remain interim liquidators until they are granted a formal appointment at the first creditor meeting. A creditor meeting must take place within 42 days of their appointment – however the liquidators are trying to speed this process up.



    Cohen said: “As joint interim liquidators, our prime objective is to maximise returns to creditors. By investigating the reasons for the company’s failure, we will better understand the avenues available to enable the recovery of all possible monies for creditors.



    “This is a complex case with many potential areas for us to investigate, which we will do thoroughly in accordance with our duties and powers. Our investigations will, of course, include the conduct of those responsible for the financial affairs of the company in previous years.”



    As part of the insolvency process, liquidators have more powers to investigate the reasons behind the collapse of a company than administrators. This is the main reason HM Revenue & Customs vetoed a rescue deal known as a CVA earlier this year.



    The interim liquidators have said they will continue any legal proceedings already initiated by the administrators.






  14. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    Paul67.An interesting article which for me leads to a question that must be asked.How many CQN posters would today swop Neil Lennon for MON if they had the chance? H.H.

  15. RTC is a comedian/iene!!



    John Beattie ‏@BBCJohnBeattie


    ON air, text me 80295 – Scottish brands you remember from when you were a kid but they’ve gone now?



    5m Rangers Tax-Case ‏@rangerstaxcase


    @BBCJohnBeattie Too easy.

  16. KevJungle – Murdo.. 25yds out..YEEeeeesssss..10 men Championees! 1979!



    12:41 on 5 November, 2012



    Just dropped in to say – Rod Stewart just aboot to come on loose women STV






    That was the answer.



    And the question?:



    ‘In one sentence, encapsulate the gravitas of Kev Jungle’s frequent contributions to the CQN pantheon’.




  17. John Beattie @BBCJohnBeattie 27m


    ON air, text me 80295 – Scottish brands you remember from when you were a kid but they’ve gone now?


    View details ·



    Rangers Tax-Case




    @BBCJohnBeattie Too easy. ;-)

  18. JohnnyClash



    All these years and I didn’t know about the ole Eiffel Tower expedient.



    I do buy in bulk outside as well though, in fact because of Celtic Capri Sun prices, I’m a serial Capri Sun, mad buyer and will often even when I’m not remotely thirsty – Crack a carton off the shelf in Tesco, Asda, or wherever.



    Made with real fruit juice, freeze a pouch, then part defrost for a great tasting slushie!,



    Freeze overnight for the perfect lunchbox cooler!.



    No artificial additives, preservatives or sweeteners. Suitable for vegetarians.

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