Martin O’Neill takes us to school again


I caught parts of Ireland’s win over Bosnia last night, then read the odd truculent comment about their style. Bosnia are a decent team. They reached the last World Cup and would have reached France, if Ireland didn’t put on a classic Martin O’Neill performance.

Football is a game of systems and Martin’s defensive system is perhaps one of the most effective in Europe. Good enough to get the better of Germany over two games and eliminate Bosnia. The goal Shaun Maloney scored against Ireland at Celtic Park was exceptional, while Scotland’s goal in Dublin was a deflection, any defence is susceptible to exceptional and deflected efforts.

If Ireland had attempted to play the ranging 30 yard passes which Bosnia used to put the home team under pressure, they would have lost the game last night. It’s hard to escape comparisons with our own European performances this season. Robust in Amsterdam, but expansive and vulnerable elsewhere.

The first job of any team is to make itself hard to beat. Martin’s been in the game a long time, and managed this from the off at Celtic, at home, anyway. His systems in the road in Europe failed. Apart from Amsterdam, of course.

The Winds of Change, Managing Celtic 1991 – 2005, published by CQN, is out TODAY, available on the relaunched CQN Bookstore! Alex Gordon, who wrote the prequel, Caesar & the Assassin, covering Billy McNeill and Davie Hay’s time as Celtic manager, leads us from Liam Brady’s time to the end of Martin’s era in 2005.

Celtic transformed beyond recognition during this period. Liam Brady, then ‘Luigi’ Macari managed Celtic through perhaps our most turbulent periods, before everything changed. Fergus McCann arrived, be brought in Tommy Burns and together we built a stadium.

The ultimate prize (as winning the league was then regarded) had to wait until 1998, during Wim Jansen’s short but historic time in charge. Fergus left us with Dr Jo, a man he wished he’d met earlier in his tenure, before the magnificent (cough) John Barnes era, and King Kenny’s League Cup.

Then Martin O’Neill came and took us all to school. We learned things about football that we didn’t know before.

Alex Gordon was a working journalist through this period and gained excellent access and insight into the club and our managers. Forewords by Billy McNeill and Davie Hay.

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  1. I’d like to see a physical comparison between MON’S best Celtic team and RD’S.



    If you are going for wee guys you need at least 3 of Messi, Iniesta and Xavi techical ability.



    So do we have them No


    Are current team as strong physically as MoN’s?



    Any stats?

  2. Or maybe that’s MON’s honest opinion on things? Couldn’t be that he’s an intelligent and headstrong person with his own view if it doesn’t fit with the particular narrative.



    After a while all the conspiracy guff makes for some very boring reading

  3. Hunderbirds are Gone on




    I think the fans of the other clubs in Scotland are the real problem here. I have the odd pint with a died in the wool (pun intended, cos it’s a good one) Sheepie. He reads a lot of sheep social meeja as ar as I’m aware, and when I quizzed him last time I saw him about the latest deady bare developments, his answer was very much in the “let it rest now” camp. This surprised me, cos he hates them almost as much as I do. On attempting to more fully educate him on the issues, I became aware that he just treated it as small mindedness from me.



    Celtic fans, thanks to some of the posters on here, and others (you know who you are, and you have my appreciation) are the best educated on the cheating issues involving Oldco, and rightly feel a responsibility to educate others. However we are easy targets for accusations of partisan bias, and this makes it difficult to spread the gospel to the blind, and bring more pressure on the football authorities. A problem!

  4. Awe_Naw_No_Annoni_Oan_Anaw_Noo on




    It is only a problem because our plc want it that way.



    If they were to be seen running with this and picking this challenge up then maybe the perception that it is just the deluded internet bampots that are “obsessed” about this then it might go away.



    I know that you all can see it. It is your unwillingness to accept it. I find sad.




  5. Herbo



    In the Daily Record, that bastion of true and accurate reporting of all things Celtic, which suddenly became the major source of reference for some on here.

  6. Pogmathonyahun aka Laird of the Smiles on

    I sent the Harry Brady/CU podcast link to my oldest son (27) and asked him to listen to it regarding the huns cheating, if he had a couple of hours spare. His reply was that presently he was really busy but he didn’t need to listen to it to know that the huns cheated – Ah the wisdom of youth!


    Or did I just bring him up well?

  7. I read the French football team haven’t seen their families since Friday,a bit extreme in the circumstances i would have thought.

  8. Beatbhoy



    Right ye are. I think I’ll hold on to my opinions on OFM for now then. Cheers for the reply.

  9. Awe_Naw_No_Annoni_Oan_Anaw_Noo on




    your email will be tomorrow night. Scheisse clean forgot !




  10. Hunderbirds are Gone on




    I agree the boards inaction to date is worrying and disappointing. However I am prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt until the period of appeal is over. We rightfully criticise the LMS report for assumptions that were made to early, before the judicial process had run its course. Let’s not make the same mistake ourselves. However i will be watching what our board do and say, after 2nd December with great interest, and may adjust my views accordingly. Hail Hail to you.

  11. “It’s no’ fair, he got a lot of money which he put to good use”.



    “It’s no fair, he had Henrik Larsson”



    “It’s no fair, he had big strong forwards, and made sure the team gave them good service”



    “It’s no fair, he threw away 2 leagues against a financially doped -up team with improperly registered players”.



    “it’s no fair, he was only good in knock-out competitions, that turning a 21 point deficit into a 15 point winning margin in one (yeah ,that’s right, lady, one) season was a complete fluke, and, anyway, I wanted Big Jock to be the last Celtic manager to have won a treble”.



    Like many great teachers, they’re not appreciated by all the pupils, Paul.

  12. mike in toronto on




    Based simply on my viewing, I would have said that, on average, the players Scottish squads over the last several years have been smaller than their Irish counterparts. That could be completely wrong, but that is my impression …



    However, on average, Irish people are statistically a bit shorter than those in Britain …. I didn’t see stats breaking down GB into countries, so it is possible that Scots are, on average smaller than the English ….



    If I am right, it is interesting that Ireland is successful with a more physically robust squad ….horses for courses? (parenthetically, If so, what does that say about RD trying to implement a ‘foreign style’ of football (4-2-31-) on a scottish team … swimming against the tide?)



    but if I am wrong, it says more about scotland in that they appear to play like smaller players …

  13. A ball is round and whoever scores the most goals wins.



    Average heights in countries hahaha



    Fk me wi a ragmans trumpet :-)

  14. SMSM has fair castigated the Celtic Board since our statement last Friday, – wonder what it’ll be like should Celtic actually ‘dae something’.



    The 2nd of December is a myth just like notion of an appeal, though I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the two Ranger’sssssss said they were going to appeal, and every time it got mentioned they’d say in SMSM ‘it was still the subject of an appeal’ – it’ll become a institution, ‘The Rangers Appeal’



    The SPFL will clear it all up when they announce that there’s nothing to see, and they’re all incredibly not guilty.

  15. Hunderbirds are Gone on




    I am looking forward to Lilliput putting up a strong showing in the Euros ;-)))

  16. Auldhied,


    Strange all these objections are coming up now and not when the LNS decision was delivered, as you said to me earlier, most people simply took LNS decision and spent most of their time showing how smart they were by agreeing and showing how they understood the logic.


    This latest round of investigation IMO was spurred by an blog on here last week that identified the decision was a squirrel everyone fell for, that squirrel was unfair sporting advantage. I don’t remember who made the post (sorry sir) but I and quite a few others picked up on it and since then quite a few have done the digging we should have done immediately after the LNS decision instead of babbling shite about the squirrel.


    Now, did you reply to that “journalist” who said I was talking rubbish about ineligible registration :)

  17. MIT



    How about Honduran’s and ‘wee manism’.



    Izzy gets dropped because he’s too wee for Europe and in came big Chico Maldini, for heeders ( he still missed ) at the back post.



    Scotland don’t have a big player, any more, in any sense.




  18. Perhaps if in the UK, and Ireland for that matter kids were allowed to express themselves and not have the natural talent coached out of them by the time theyre 14 we might all have a bit more fun. Rigid systems and formations and Andy Roxburgh types have killed scottish talent for a generation.



    The game is simple. You can be 10 fit 70. Messi will still skin the scants right aff ye. Let the kids play.

  19. Hunderbirds are Gone on

    The SMSM Referred ro Celtic’s bland holding statement last week as “wading in”


    Although many on here think it extremely unlikely, I wonder how they will report it if they actually do wade in after 2nd December. Here’s hoping

  20. mike in toronto on

    Herbo ….



    Scottish football is still run like it is in the dark ages, and with an old school/old boys network mentality …. ‘we invented the game…. them argies, … or italians … or africans … we gave them the game… what can we learn from them?’ …. If i were to sum up scottish football in one word, it would be ‘parochial’



    while scotland has not really progressed in the last thirty years, other countries have blown by scotland …. using things such as, gasp ….. better training, coaching, nutrition ….. science …



    or to put it simply, a team of good big un’s will usually beat a team of good small ‘uns…



    I hope no one is playing that trumpet once you are done with it! :)

  21. mike in toronto on

    BSR …. I loved izzy when he first joined us (and even more so after spending some time in Honduras….)



    when he joined us, he was a good modern wingback style …. good at bombing forward, but wasn’t caught out at the back too much because he had the pace to get back to cover …. however, since his injury, he has lost that pace, and now struggles to get back and get goal side of the attackers …. and too many diagonal balls are played over his head ….



    I think his best days are behind him due to his injury/lack of pace … had he been a bit taller (what is he? 5’7″, maybe 5’8″?), a few extra inches may have allowed him to compensate somewhat for his loss of pace…

  22. Mike



    Im at kids football almost everyday of the week. As I said in my previous post, in my opinion the biggest problem is the coaching methods. Dont lose the ball? .. He’s 10 years old ffs let him play. How do you know he’s a right back or left winger at that age.



    However I hear what youre saying and I agree. I got papped myself at 17 for being “too wee” . Im no bitter or anything :-)

  23. Can we(the club) go after journalists/bloggers that tell [FFin’] lies about our club?



    “It would be a case of suing them for libel if they are saying stuff that will harm our reputation that is not true.”




    “Libel is the printed stuff mate.Slander is the spoken word.Of both there’s plenty to choose from.If we have half decent lawyers they’d have a f***in field day at the moment.”




    “I don’t think there is a law against slander is there? Libel is the one we can go after people for. It’s the written lies that do the damage as they are used as references to reprint them.”




    “There must be a law regarding inciting hatered that these people could be charged with ?”




    “The Club could make a fortune in the short term taking these rats the full road and it would nip it in the bud so to speak , it may also test the impartiality of the Scottish law system ….or would it ?”




    “Watch what you lot are saying lurker journos…. Every word is being listened to, everything in print pawed over. Keep calling us cheats, let’s see how that works for you…”

  24. mike in toronto on

    herbo @2:54 … there is some truth to what you say …. there is not a lot of joie de vivre in scottish football … but, it seems to me like we have a lot of good young kids, whose development seems to stop as they reach midteens …. I agree that we need to keep kids enjoying the game … in scotland, players like aiden just dont take the next step where there tremendous natural ability is fully realized … I watch Celtic, and my local team, Toronto FC … in spite of Celtic being a much better team, in many respects, the MLS players have much better basic ball skills …. given what we pay, that is tragic!





    My local publican scored the winner for Villa to put them through against Inter Milan. It was a while ago,mind.



    He was raging at the Villa fans giving MON a hard time in his latter days at the club.



    Before he arrived,they were relegation fodder. After he left,they were relegation fodder. Six seasons later,they’re relegation fodder,and been through umpteen managers in the process.



    Three top-six finishes in succession? Not relegation fodder. And it’s not difficult to realise that MON was the reason for that wee blip in Villa’s recent history.



    I’m absolutely delighted-to use one of his favourite expressions-that he has been successful once again. I’m as proud of his current team as I am of one of his previous ones.

  26. MIT



    I think thats a lot down to attitude as well though. From what Ive seen there is far more of a determined attitude in would be sports men/women in North America. The clubs here take on hundreds of boys a lot of whom think theyve made it at 14. There is also far to much emphasis on rigid positions and systems.



    Ive never understood the mantra of clubs playing the same system from the youths to the first team. Its just daft in my opinion. Good football teams are fluid and can adapt. The same goes for good players. Only my opinion of course.

  27. MIT



    The curse of the Celtic full back?



    All brilliant at first, even Mo ( the bandage ) Camara was flying up Janefield Street, hurdling tackles – until?



    Stefane Mahe?



    Ulrich Laursen?



    Joos Vaelgaren?



    Andy Hinkel?



    Adam Matthews?



    Mikel Lustig?



    Methinks, it’s the over expectation of how a Celtic full back is asked to play, as a full back, a wing back , and a winger creative.



    Philipp Lahm CSC

  28. mike in toronto on

    hunderbirds …. there will always be geniuses in every generation … and all but one of those players are from a generation ago, or before ……



    and, now, can you name one scottish player who would be included in a list of players one level down from players one level down from that list? no.



    sure good small players can thrive … but they and system within which they exist must adapt …. the south americans developed ball skills to die for … the spanish developed tiki tak football designed for smaller nippier players ….



    I read ‘inverting the pyramid’ recently …. Inter had a system … celtic devised a way of playing to counter that system … then the dutch came along and developed a new total football system …. systems/coaching are an integral part of football…



    you need to develop a skill base and system that allows a smaller man to succeed (which, as you say, can be done)… but, in scotland, we haven’t done that. we are playing with smaller players using outdated systems that teams long ago passed by ….. no wonder 24 other teams in europe qualified ahead of scotland ….



    GS set up a system to take advantage of the limited skill system …. MON (as he does) picked bigger phsyical players … one’s in … one’s not. .. until our coaching improves, it may be that simple.

  29. BMCUW



    Yip, only so far he could take Celtic, and only so far he could take Aston Villa. Sunderland are


    a basket case.



    Only so far he can take Ireland, interviewed for his dream job, – England.



    Hmmm csc


    CHAVEZ 108



    I’m glad to hear that the SDL and their racist views found themselves outnumbered.



    Bit disappointed at the ratio,mind. A mere 2-1 will encourage them.