Surprised at the success our former (very successful) managers, Martin O’Neill and Gordon Strachan, are having on the international stage? Perhaps a bit surprised they’ve figures out how to collect points away from home in Europe.
Martin O’Neill will always be royalty at Celtic but after a couple of well-financed seasons at Aston Villa his star fell, eventually leading to an ignominious departure from Sunderland, who managed to replace him, and improve, under Paulo DiCanio.
A decade earlier Martin was the hottest property in management in the UK. Campaigns were run by Liverpool fans to tempt him, he was tipped for the Manchester United job when Alex Ferguson retired, but the absurd reality that Di Canio was able to stop the decline of O’Neill’s Sunderland team damaged his brand considerablty.
Gordon Strachan had a claustrophobic four years at Celtic. He became only the third manager in our history to win three consecutive league titles, and broke new ground in the Champions League, but Celtic’s commercial competitiveness declined during this era, making Gordon’s life harder than it would otherwise have been.
The Ireland and Scotland jobs both looked like poisoned chalices. Ireland reached Euro 2012 but came home pointless, looking like a team in decline. Scotland had fallen so low they were hardly in decline when Gordon Strachan took over from Craig Levein last year, but it seemed shifting demographics had consigned our interest to club football only.
Martin may have found his niche. His teams have always known how to defend and how to score goals, issues like ball retention always appeared trivial to him. Gordon is an example of a manager who is always learning. He was an excellent Celtic manager but it should surprise no one that he is a better manager now than he was when he left five years ago.
I’ve absolutely no idea which side is going to win the bun fight for control over Newco Rangers, but, there is some interesting form to consider……
Just when people with money and a plan (on this occasion Ashley with the Easdales) look to have things sorted, the cabal, previously known as the Blue Knights, pitch up without the wherewithal to take control and drive a poisoned wedge between fans and club.
It’s a master-class in subversion. Based on his previous exploits my money’s not on the tax crook (the one convicted in South Africa, that is) succeeding.[calameo code=0003901718cdc4362fa2e? lang=en page=122 hidelinks=1 width=100% height=500]