Sisyphus FC’s endless struggle to catch Celtic


That late winner by Matt O’Riley was the start of a great weekend for Celtic, as later, main challengers St Mirren could only manage a draw at Kilmarnock.  The fact that this result is better than Celtic managed there in the League Cup is no comfort to the Paisley side’s title aspirations.

St Mirren are Celtic’s only real challengers this season, as the chasing pack slipped ever-further back.  Saints are home to Newco next weekend, and if fortune goes our way, the visitors will get a new manager bounce, allowing Celtic to extend their lead at the top again.  The top two meet at Celtic Park on 1 November in a game that will go a long way to deciding the title.

As alluded to above, yesterday the world’s most hilarious football club sacked manager Mick Beale after just 10 months in charge.  The Beale episode is a morality tale worth exploring.  A youth coach at Liverpool, Steve Gerrard took him to Ibrox in 2018.  Gerrard, never considered an intellectual, won the league three years later, with Beale’s reputation in Glasgow soaring as a consequence – he was “the brains” behind the operation, apparently.

In 2021 the pair moved to Aston Villa, where they put the Midlands club through 11 months of poor results and were sacked.  Beale spent 7 months out of work before being appointed manager at QPR.  This is where it gets interesting.

QPR opened the season on fire, were top of the table, with Beale looking like a Premier League manager designate.  The opportunity to manage in the topflight came sooner than expected, as struggling Wolves asked him to take over, but Beale rejected them.  As the nights drew in, so did QPR’s season.  They lost four games in five and Beale’s abilities were being laid bare.

At the same time, Giovanni van Bronckhorst was struggling at Ibrox.  Just months after taking Newco to the Europa League Final, he had them in the Champions League group stage, but the demands of competing at that level exhausted his squad.  They were losing heavily in Europe while slipping behind Celtic domestically.

With discontent at van Bronckhorst growing, Beale played his card, visiting Ibrox for a home game against Aberdeen.  I listened to Radio Scotland that afternoon and his presence there took prominence.  Newco fans wanted him, and his attendance was seen as a sign he was willing to come.  van Bronckhorst was a dead man walking.

Fair play to Beale, with some sharp elbows, he got himself a multi-million-pound contract, money Newco can ill-afford but will still have to honour.  He is the last type of person you would want associated with your club, but just about perfect for a rival.

Let’s talk strategy.  Clubs have immediate demands: win the next game. and for some, win the league.  Then they have long-term objectives: improve so we have a better chance of winning in future.  Fans of all clubs overwhelmingly make immediate demands.  Even when clubs know their short-term actions harm long-term objectives, fan demands can be so overwhelming they become irresistible.

That is horrible, destructive, but very common in football.  Newco had an unbelievably good manager in van Bronckhorst.  He took them to a Europa League Final, eliminated Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic on the way to winning the Scottish Cup, then took the club into the Champions League group stage for the first time.

Newco were not ready for it.  How do you deal with losing 1-7 to Liverpool and still get your players full of confidence and pumped up for the weekend?  These were questions they didn’t have answers for, because none of them had the necessary experience.  Even clever Newco fans I know rationalised to themselves how van Bronckhorst’s football was bad, and change was necessary to prevent inevitable decline.

How ridiculous does that sound now?  van Bronckhorst had earned the right to go through a bad patch and would have emerged a stronger manager with a better team.  Instead, the Newco board succumbed to fan pressure – which remember, at all clubs is overwhelmingly focused on immediate satisfaction.  Tempted by the fruit of another, they sacked the most successful manager they are every likely to have and appointed a great self-promoter.

I spoke to Peter Lawwell often during season 2020-21.  It was clear from around October that Celtic were unlikely to win the league and that change was inevitable.  Lawwell had to balance the immediate pressure of winning a very important league, with what was best for our future.

Everyone (including me) was telling the CEO the same thing: change had to happen and the sooner the better.  Celtic took soundings.  Without going into detail, midway through that season, no one worthy of the job would touch us with a barge pole.  Neil Lennon had won five out of five domestic trophies and after his first elimination from a cup competition, a mob wanted him sacked.  In those circumstances, only a loser wanting the pay cheque would come.

At the start of this season I gave Newco a 33% chance of winning the league.  Celtic signed talented players in their early 20s, Newco signed players typically five years older, at their peak – and most of them physically taller and stronger.  Again, they had a short-term strategy: win now and think nothing of the long-term.

It failed, but 33% still feels right for what we knew in the summer.  Their alternative, to build a sustainable and successful team, would have had a lower chance of winning the title this season, but at least they would not have burned all that money on players who will do well to finish second.

Signings like Celtic’s, full of young talent that will improve, gives you a platform for the future and a chance of eventually competing at a higher level.  Now, Newco are under Uefa supervision for overspending, making the strategy which won the league in 2021 no longer available.  They are penniless and have a reputation for being forced to sack managers during their first rough patch.

They have yet to face the truth about where they are as a club.  At board level, the backroom and technical staff, recruitment, sport science, commercials (oh the commercials!), football management and player squad, they are a million miles short of Celtic’s standard.  We have departmental heads with more experience, business and football acumen than anyone at Ibrox, from the CEO down.

Every new season they will start with a puncher’s chance of winning the league.  That is all they have: ‘Buy our tickets, we might get lucky!’  It will remain this way until some very ballsy CEO faces the immediate-gratification junkies and says “No!”  I see no sign of this happening.  Sisyphus FC are stuck in a fruitless struggle for another generation, at least!

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  1. From other article. Our fixtures for rest of year. 19 games in 3 months.






    Wed 4: CELTIC v Lazio (8)



    Sat 7: CELTIC v Kilmarnock (3)



    Sun 22: Hearts v CELTIC (2.15)



    Wed 25: CELTIC v Atletico Madrid (8)



    Sat 28: Hibs v CELTIC (3)








    Wed 1: CELTIC v St Mirren (7.45)



    Sat 4: Ross County v CELTIC (12.30)



    Tues 7: Atletico Madrid v CELTIC (8)



    Sun 12: CELTIC v Aberdeen (2.30)



    Sat 25: CELTIC v Motherwell (3)



    Tues 28: Lazio v CELTIC (5.45)








    Sun 3: St Johnstone v CELTIC (12)



    Wed 6: CELTIC v Hibs (7.45)



    Sat 9: Kilmarnock v CELTIC (3)



    Wed 13: CELTIC v Feyenoord (8)



    Sat 16: CELTIC v Hearts (3)



    Sat 23: CELTIC v Livingston (3)



    Wed 27: Dundee v CELTIC (7.45)



    Sat 30: CELTIC v Rangers (12.30)

  2. bournesouprecipe on

    # The madness of King Billy.



    They thought it was fine to show liquidation the red card, were secretly delighted to accept a stolen licence, and start a new club in the bottom division. It wasn’t ok because the new club is built on sand. Had there been contrition for cheating Scottish football in different decades, if only. Had they started a new football club alone, they might even have been able to carry the heavy burden of the old support.They didn’t, instead Scotland patched the ‘L’ word, afforded them the same name with all the insanity that goes with it, and which led to the demise of the original club.




    Heralding a daisy chain of spivs, snake oil salesmen and Rainjurz legneds as the next football genius can only last so long, they might appoint a good manager, they may already have done, and sacked them too. The problem for Sevco will remain in their foundations, the real hooligans live in the big hoose boardroom, the menacing public affront are a mere mouthpiece. No investment, no stock exchange, no bank to borrow from, toxic permanence with a few marginally wealthy ‘businessmen’ to count the paper clips, and play orange cards on the safe side of the river.



    The gift that keeps on giving.

  3. FAO DAVID66….


    Thanks mate for your advice last Friday in the Shipbank about buying my DA a ” DAB RADIO”, so that he can hear the Celtic games better.



    I took your advice and I bought a DAB Radio this morning from ARGOS, and it will be delivered Tomorrow to my hoose.


    A DIGITAL radio is something that I would have never have thought of.


    Being totally Blind, the Radio is my DA’s only real source of following Celtic matches.



    Cheers DAVID66 ma big China and HH.

  4. Move over Triggers Broom FC – I might have a new favourite – “Sisyphus FC” !



    It may be a little premature though – he cheated death twice.


    “Rangers” have only cheated it once… so far.




  5. Until the new Rangers accept they are not competing with Celtic, this clown car of a club will continue. Pay your bills, live within your means, rear young Scottish talent. Enjoy the odd cup and maybe even fluke the odd league..but stop trying to be like Celtic

  6. I thought they were too quick to sack GVB as well. He not only got them to within a whisker of their first proper European trophy, he got them into the champions league. They sold his best young player and underspent on puddings in the window.



    They bombed out a winner and replaced him with a conman who couldnt seem to get his highly intellectual ideas across to the players. They put their expensive rebuild in the hands of someone who tried to sign players he’d played against as an U18 coach and a bunch of losers from European leagues. He was coaching Liverpool U18s five years before he got the Sevco job.



    As long as they have people in charge who make those sort of dumbass decisions they’ll carry on being losers.

  7. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Cracking win at the weekend and another goal for Matt O’Riley. Unfortunate that it has been all but ignored that in favour of discussing another club. Anything to boost up the old firm, I guess, particularly with partner club in a bit of trouble and looking like they could slip uncomfortably too far behind us.


    O’Riley always looked a player – maybe just needed to add goals to his game to take him to the next level, which he is now doing.


    Always important to have a good goalscoring midfielder who can follow up play and provide the finishing touch.

  8. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    “The top two meet at Celtic Park on 1 November in a game that will go a long way to deciding the title.”




    Sorry Paul but I think that is utter nonsense. If we lose that game we will still win the league comfortably. St Mirren have done really well but there’s no way they will get anywhere near the 100 points we should achieve.

  9. There’s a lot to unpick in today’s article, Paul. I’ve no interest in going over Neil Lennon’s final season. It’s been done to death and everyone has already made up their own mind, time to move on.



    Just on Sevco sacking GVB, I don’t think it was anywhere near as harsh as you frame it.



    GVB came in year 1 (Oct 21, I think) top of the league by 4 odd points and lost it come May. Year 2 seen him fall 9 points behind Ange in November- the league was done.



    So you’re saying that the huns should have given a gaffer that had already lost two league titles a third year ?



    I can’t think of any Celtic manager since Fergus walked in that was allowed to see year 3 of their contract having yet to win the league. GVB’s sacking was very much par for the course in Glasgow.



    Now our set up at al.ost every level is clearly someway above Sevco.



    The issue really is, should we be using them as a benchmark?



    I’d prefer us to gauge ourselves against the Feyenoord’s and PSV’s of Europe rather than basket case fc.



    My being able to out box a pensioner doesn’t make me Mike Tyson.

  10. CELTIC 40 ME – last article




    You certainly have a penchant for stating the obvious, with a tinge of obtuseness never far away.



    There are always rewards for those who state the obvious frequently and with conviction.

  11. The Blogger Formerly Known As GM on

    Luvvly jubbly 😂😂😂



    A felt a bit sorry for JVB, who seemed a decent human being. I also found it difficult to dislike Pedro and Warburton. Micky Mouth on the other hand is a classless, loathsome individual who was completely out of his depth.



    Hopefully his successor is another like him.

  12. Bobby Murdochs Ankle supportin Oscar Knox on

    It’s the hope that kills them, seemingly, they’re approaching Potter about the vacancy……fill in the punchline yourselves bhoy’s. I think it’s feckin marvellous.




  13. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Just a thought, Paul – what would be your opinion on a club appointing a manager who they only interviewed out of courtesy. Would you call that a well-run club?

  14. PeterLatchfordsBelly on




    Beale was the perfect fit for them. Pity he’s gone. But would any decent manager touch them with a barge pole?

  15. PARK ROAD 67 on 2ND OCTOBER 2023 12:11 PM · EDIT



    Has Mourinho been approached about the Ibrokes job yet ?






    Thet have mourinho and benitez scrapping it out in the car park



    Winner gets the job



    Rumour that benitez punched himself in the face and fell over are unfounded

  16. That Board across the City,like the last,are an obnoxious crew.Bigotry,seeping from every pore.Pandering to the bigots in their,seething,rabid support.Slogans on the walls,orange,if not the dominant colour,always visible on every item of their tacky second rate kits.This has been orderd by them from Castore.As bigoted and staunch as possible please.What’s happening,what they are going through,gives me great delight.


    As for the scum that follow them,GIRFUY.Your anguish is only going to get worse.


    Your battle is over,the Rebels have won.

  17. QUADBHOY on 2ND OCTOBER 2023 12:25 PM


    Move over Triggers Broom FC – I might have a new favourite – “Sisyphus FC” !




    It may be a little premature though – he cheated death twice.



    “Rangers” have only cheated it once… so far.





    I’m glad you cleared that up Quadbhoy. I thought Paul was referring to a particular disease taking hold in Ibrox, instead of rangersitis it was something else!

  18. AN DÚN on 2ND OCTOBER 2023 12:41 PM



    We’re told constantly these days that we should be judged by our performance in Europe.



    The Huns sacked a manager who had got them through to a major european final 6 months after he did it



    How do we square those two things?

  19. Tom McLaughlin on




    A point well made about our main title challengers from Paisley.



    I was listening to Sportsound on BBC Radio Scotland on Sunday and despite St Mirren being in 2nd place and Rangers 3rd and 7 points adrift, the panel still continued to debate which of Hearts, Hibs and Aberdeen would finish 3rd.



    Yes, I am well aware that it is almost a given that the mob from Govan will finish second. It’s their timing I am questioning. It was as if Aberdeen’s 3-1 drubbing 24 hours earlier was just an illusion.

  20. MELVIN UDALL on 2ND OCTOBER 2023 9:19 AM


    Really good Alistair Johnston interview on a Canadian/US Sports channel.





    I agree. I tipped Alistair to be our POTY this year. Should he stay long enough, I think he will be a future Captain as well.

  21. Paul 67,



    Surely our aspiration is more than just being better than the huns.



    We have a winnable CL game imminently and we seem obsessed with what goes on at another club.




  22. Given our financial advantage and our manager who was on the Ballon d’or managers top 5 shortlist for how he did in the season GVB was sacked he did better than you’d expect



    He won their second ever trophy in his first season outplaying us in the semi and got them through to a major European final.

  23. Garngad to Croy on

    We should not laugh out too loud for too long ! 7 points is easily reversed over the course of a season and the season is not won in October (well apart from covid season). We still have a lot of work to do especially in the January transfer market but as you say Paul67 we are a well run club so I am sure the powers at Celtic will be working hard on the January transfer targets. (and not sitting back laughing out loud at ‘The Rangers’).

  24. Lol! I’ll need to watch my dyslexia – Did anyone else see “Syphilis” at first glance instead of “Sisyphus”!’ Lol!


    I thought – Offt! that’s a bit stong Paul! hahahahaha …



    Anyway …



    “Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again just as it nears the top”




    Much as I liked Brendan`s celebration, it was the undestandably emotional ` F… Off. F… Off. No way man .` from the Motherwell supporter which struck me as showing just how much of an emotional experience the `game` of football is.

  26. The returnof weeron on

    A great weekend.



    While events masked the fact that we are still struggling to put a quality 90 minutes together, there were many signs that our team is (slowly) beginning to gel.



    Paul…I see that you are continuing to put lipstick on the pig of a job OUR board did in replacing BR. I agree that NL was a good SHORT TERM option. Such an appointment gave us MONTHS to source a quality coach for our first team. The point you made about PL saying that there were no decent candidates in the winter of our discontent is fine. However, it is disingenuous to skip over the painful reality that Neil shouldn’t have got the job beyond his post game shower.



    The arrogance that our board showed at that time was astounding. Let’s hope that they are not getting carried away with themselves today. It isn’t difficult to imagine them binning the January transfer budget as we speak….






  27. Today on the BBC Gossip page, the following names have been linked with the poisoned chalice…



    1. Kevin Muscat


    2. Derek McInnes 😂


    3. Graham Potter


    4. Jesse Marsch


    5. Pascal Jansen


    6. Marcelo Gallardo


    7. Gary McAllister 😂


    8. Scott Parker


    9. Frank Lampard


    10. Ralph Hassenhuttl


    11. Philippe Clement


    12. John Eustace



    Clutching at straws or what?





    As much as there are some very decent managers on that list, I doubt the Huns would be able to get who they want and none of them would be capable of getting a tune out of the pile of dross Beale has signed.



    Good times to be a Tim. 😂🇮🇪🍀🏆😂

  28. No matter what disasters befall that mob,some still come on here with their wee not so sy digs at Celtic.


    Try looking a tad ahead,instead of back.We are now in the process of extending the contracts of all our key players,Taylor,CCV,Hatate,Calmac,Matt,Kyogo,Maeda.We have signed,terrific prospects in our 2 CHs,Odin,Yang,Palma,Oh,,maybe Bernardo,who we have the option on ,who will come on leaps and bounds under Brendan.We WILL sign a top keeper,Jan or Summer window,.Also the emergence of Scales,possible LB under BR.Next summer we will be ,for the first time,ready to have a go at the CL,with a settled,happy squad.

  29. Dexter P. Bampot on

    I have criticised for years, the myopia which we demonstrated for so long in looking only as far as the other side of the River Clyde.



    That was during a time when Trigger’s Broom FC actually were competitive.



    By focusing overly on them, we were limiting ourselves to doing the bare minimum, rather than forging our own standards. This really harmed our chances in Europe.



    Over the past few seasons, we have definitely enjoyed a growing structural gap between the two clubs, which means it is even more important now to avoid the aforementioned myopia.



    Our benchmark must be similarly sized European clubs who like us have been effectively excluded from the top table of the Champions League.



    We should be looking to compete, compare and copy teams like Ajax, Benfica, Porto, Feyenoord, some French sides like Lille and Marseilles, some of the Italian Serie A sides like Fiorentina, Lazio etc. and a couple of the Danish teams.



    The continuing omnishambles in Govan should provide yet another reminder to the Celtic board that our ambitions and our sights need to be focussed elsewhere from now on.

  30. For anyone else unsure of who sysyphus is



    In Greek mythology, Sisyphus or Sisyphos (/ˈsɪsɪfəs/; Ancient Greek: Σίσυφος Sísyphos) was the founder and king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). Hades punished him for cheating death twice by forcing him to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll back down every time it neared the top, repeating this action for eternity. Through the classical influence on modern culture, tasks that are both laborious and futile are therefore described as Sisyphean (/sɪsɪˈfiːən/).[2]



    I was sure it was a spelling mistake and Paul67 meant to write syphilis



    Which is far more apt

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