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. And yet, Bada Bing, it might do them, and their country, a whole lot of good.



    Nice touch from Johnathan Pierce, commentating, also mentioned victims of terrorism from Lebanon, Africa and elsewhere. They have been forgotten in recent days, when something happens on your doorstep you tend to focus on that, and they should never be.

  2. I would welcome to suggestions, which I will catch up with later, where the following line from Upton Sinclair could fit into the current debate on THEM, a supine SFA and our cretinous media.


    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon him not understanding it.”

  3. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on



    The good news for England fans tonight is they get to sing a decent national anthem for once.






    If,of course,you prefer militaristic national anthems.




  4. Doc-I don’t think the French football bosses had much say in it, I totally understand the symbolism and defiance, but those guys look like they would rather be elsewhere. I read today, the French team have not seen their families since Friday, a bit extreme in the circumstances. HH

  5. Wee Chinese bloke jumps into the cab at the central.


    He asks to go to Alexander Thomson hotel.


    “It’s just roon the corner mate” says me


    ” I can give you postcode” says he


    Naw yir awe right mate I’ll take you round.



    Wee man pipes up “Glasgow has famous football team”?


    “Aye Celtic”



    “Yes Keltic ,there is another one ?” he asked.



    ” Naw mate….they died”



    Liked the quizzical look on his face :O) Happy to help!

  6. The Spirit of Arthur Lee on




    Liked the quizzical look on his face :O) Happy to help! and call it twenty quid




  7. Dallas Dallas where the heck is Dallas on

    Doc at 8.08 re Jonathan Pierce.



    I wouldn’t have expected anything else from Jonathan Pierce. He annoys some posters on here but he is the least annoying of the English commentators. When he’s commentating on an international not involving England, he rarely mentions England and concentrates on the teams playing but with the obligatory EPL comments.



    He has always been very complimentary about us. When he covered a South Korea game in the Olympics , he mentioned numerous times in the game about Ki playing with such a great club like Celtic. Ki left us soon after unfortunately.

  8. TBJ says Wee Oscar Knox is in heaven with the angels on

    Canny beat cqn for the modren adverts when you log in – to think I get dogs abuse for my Facebook posts



    Ooooh Mrs

  9. BB



    My grandfather from Sligo Thomas Delaney emigrated to New York before jumping a cattle boat to Glasgow. I googled his Danish namesake I had never heard of him before tonight. His family are Irish New Yorkers.


    Mmmmmmmm ;))

  10. the unthank road on

    Morrissey the 23rd @7.41


    Are you that handsome guy who accosted me in Argyle st because I was wearing my CQN cap? Thanks for the offer , but I have staggered home from Wishaw to ML1 quite a few times! Catch you in the Cross Keys, or you could venture to the Railway Tavern in sunny Motherwell.

  11. MELBOURNE MICK @ 7:52 PM,



    Excellent post as usual… Glad you had a top weekend.



    Well done, for adding a bit of fun to the aul’ blog with you and Paddymacoz certainly know your Celtic, well, almost:-)



    After I posted, I read you had few iconic 80’s Celts in there, a team I’m particularly fond off.



    So knew Tommy Would be in there, but stuck with my team. Of course there is a sound argument that says no team of greats would be complete without Tommy.



    Couple of your own individual favourites in there obviously, Petrov the biggest surprise I would guess, but I loved the ghuy, box 2 box, and a huge Heart.



    Used to have arguments galore with CQN’s erstwhile Kojo, when Petrov played for us. He regarded him as a journeyman… He is well worth his place.



    Anyways, once again thanks for the fun, keep up the good work in Celtic and of course a huge congratulation to…



    GEAROID 1998.



    Hail Hail

  12. MM


    Hail, hail. I shall wear it with pride.


    Should set up a donate page. Plenty on here would be willing to help our Aussie celts in their endeavours to assist those less fortunate.


    Even offer the Polos for sale with a little extra to cover postage and a donation built in (even though I want to be the only Tim wearing one at Celtic ok and on our European travels.


    Anyway big mhan many, many thanks it really is much appreciated and thank the wee mhan for drawing my ticket. Made up.


    Go raibh mhaith agat Miceal

  13. The key element of any review/investigation into EBT years is full exposure of corrupt SFA et al in the admin of game in Scotland. The full extent needs to be laid bare: officials, refs, media, politicians, police, judges, the list goes on and on….


    Rampant and widespread corruption. And it isn’t limited to EBT years. This has been in place for many, many years. The underbelly of Scottish society.

  14. Dallas Dallas where the heck is Dallas on

    Martin O’Neill gave us our pride back . I feel Martin finally helped us get over the psychological blow of le petit merde and the sticky buns taking advantage of SFA laxity re player registration in the nineties .



    We did play some great football at times under Martin with two great team goals I remember being Liam Miller’s v Lyon and a goal Jackie McNamara scored in a five nil win against United in a league opener at Celtic Park.



    David Pleat was co-commentator at that Lyon game and was raving about the quality of the build up to it, over twenty passes were made.



    Martin’s loyalty to players he trusted let us down at times particularly at the 2002 cup final. It looked like a number of his trusted players weren’t fit in that game and it cost us.



    Overall, Martin gave us the lift we so badly needed.

  15. Delaney’s Dunky.



    Yes. A win would leave Hibs 2 points off top spot having played 1 game more. Livingston host the league leaders this Saturday.

  16. BB



    My nosy daughter is messaging him on facebook or something. She thinks he looks like us. :)))

  17. Just been watching a few minutes of Italy-Romania. 35-year old Lucien Sanmartan would be worth the admission. He has a career plagued by injury, but he’s the nearest thing I’ve seen to Lubo in a long time, a joy to watch when he is on the ball.