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. DD


    I didn’t think we should have sold, the Bhoy had lots of potential and when on form was a really good player ?

  2. Listing doing bl00dy head stands to celebrate!!



    That’ll be him oot for 8 months!!!



    HH jamesgang

  3. WITS…your assertion that the adds on CQN are related to browsing history is total Bollocks….I Get adds for Erectile Dysfunction and I Can assure You…Well You Know what i mean..Ahem…

  4. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on

    GEAROID 1998



    Ask Mick for express delivery and the Cqn bhoys can see the t shirt next week

  5. Ger57 ( from ages ago )



    McGrain and Gemmell



    Pretty much untouchable on a podium of perfect full backs, aren’t we lucky to have seen them both in the Hoops.



    With that pedigree albeit somewhat dusty, no wonder we judge the Celtic full back to an impeccable standard. Very different players but both true Celtic legends, a word that shouldn’t be used lightly.



    Wouldn’t attempt to split them but both could do things the other couldn’t do so well. Tommy Gemmell was a formidable obstacle for any player to get past on any wing, a brilliant defender, that attacked because the was also a flamboyant dashing showy off type, who packed a shot that made him unique.



    Danny was recognised as ‘world class’ at the time even by non Celtic observers, kind of says it all really. I don’t think there was a better balanced Celtic defender, who could carry the ball and turn defence to attack, whilst being ferocious, but immaculate in the tackle.




  6. Cowie



    When Fit Adam was a great player. Always thought he was a right mid or right winger.


    Thought he got lazy near his last games for us.

  7. Morrissey the 23rd on

    the unthank road on 17th November 2015 8:46 pm



    Indeed I am. Looking forward to having a beer with you in The Keys or Railway Tavern.




    Doc on 17th November 2015 9:22 pm



    Jealous, that’s all!




  8. BT



    Good shout pal. Would like to see Gearoid wear his new Melbourne shirt at the Ajax match.


    Great that one of our far travel regulars from Belfast won the far away CSC shirt. Magic :)

  9. Delaney’s



    Your ‘fit Adam’ chat might get you some interesting pop up ads!!!



    Any truth in the Twitter rumour that Gearoid gained a distinct sporting advantage in the the tap is contoured and figger hugging so could only go to one of these ‘fit Adam’ types???






    HH jamesgang

  10. Dallas Dallas where the heck is Dallas on

    Doc at 9.254, thanks for the reply. Jonathan Pierce is a far better commentator than that dumplin. Tyldesley on Itv . He’s the worst of the English commentators and run close by that clown Alan Green on radio 5

  11. BSR



    My late dad loved Big Tam. He took me to games when Danny was right back and Andy Lynch left back. Andy was compared to Tommy Gemmell, with much dislike. Danny was always compared favourably to Jim Craig. He still to the day he died disliked King Kenny but respected Alfie Conn.

  12. James



    Your mind works in a mysterious way.


    Why I love you my friend. :)


    Thats Entertainment!

  13. Back atcha my Fenian Ragga Renegade!!



    Ooo. I do believe we now have the name for a band. Now just some musical talent!



    Bed time.



    HH jamesgang

  14. Gearoid 1998



    It certainly got us all thinking about great Celts.


    If you can get your address and size to us safely


    ( any tech ghuys or Paul 67 help us here ) and it


    will be sent post haste with a couple of other little






    great idea and i think somebody ( GERRYFAETHEBRIG )


    thought of one from the 80’s the problem is keeping


    either Paddy or i sober to check the posts lol but we’ll


    think about doing another when the blog is quiet


    H.H Mick

  15. Have to admit i think Jonathan Pierce is a good commentator as is Guy Mowbray. Tyldesley is the worst ever, i watch any match he commentates on with the volume muted.

  16. the unthank road on

    Doc at 9.22


    Ref Morr23rd


    I though he was the James Dean type. Tall, sultry, lean an mean. No?


    Cause there aint many of us like that in the Tavern!!

  17. Dallas, agreed, Pierce is the best available, decent commentators are like hens teeth.


    Archie was the last one I thought was good, I know he is from the dark side, but a fair commentator.(good man too, met him a few times, first when I was a kid, he and Jock Stein touring with the big cup and the original Celtic Story, showed on a projector at the local Minors Welfare.)



    Morrissey, jealous of your youthful looks and fine head of hair?


    Aye ok, Fair enough!

  18. Delaneys



    Celtic bought Andy Lynch from Hearts where he was a striker, not much of a contest, though Andy Lynch also hit a good penalty.



    No Celtic right back not even the elegant Lisbon Lion Jim Craig I’d imagine, would argue he was better than Danny, I reckon your dad went off King Kenny after he left Celtic?, an undoubted legend just the same.



    The Celtic support willed Alfie Conn like I’ve rarely seen to succeed, and whilst he’d some good games, he was plagued by injury and eventually moved on.



    GreyBrigade csc

  19. TBJ



    Aye, but ma mother Mary’s watchin me. Got a blind date with a nice Polish lady this weekend. I work with her daughter, who will be there with her man as interpreters. She nae Anglais, me limited Polska. Should be fun. :))