Systems more important than the manager


Getting rid of the last guy is always the easy part.  It is the day later, when your mind turns to appointing a successor, that your worries really start.  The great problem with managers is that their careers do not proceed with success or failure evident in a linear manner.

The guy sitting joint second in England with a provincial Midlands club was sacked five years ago by Liverpool, who are adrift in sixth, despite having a genuine top tier manager.  Davie Moyes reputation was fixed as one of the English game’s tired old options before he got a chance to return to West Ham and has them in a Champions League spot.

Mourinho is the classic example.  Champions League winner with two clubs but he presides over the descent of Tottenham.  Guardiola needs all the money in the world to keep Man City ahead of Leicester and still awaits a Champions League since parting with his Argentinian Midas.  I enjoy watching City but Pep’s eight years there and at Bayern failed to deliver the trophy both clubs wanted.

All you really know about a manager with an impeccable record of improving players and teams is that his form will soon decline; they all do.

Systems bring sustained success in football.  Deeply embedded, appropriately resourced and continually reviewed systems: recruitment, development and coaching systems in particular.  Get this right and even Klopp would be able to push Liverpool above sixth.

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  1. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    “Getting rid of the last guy is always the easy part.”




    Didn’t he resign?


    Systems are fine – wouldn’t argue with that. We had a partial system under Deila and Rodgers. The important part is to hire a coach whose philosophy FITS the system. And recruit players who fit the system. Otherwise it’s pointless. As we have seen…..



    We need to be a good European team who just happen to play in Scotland as opposed to a Scottish outfit with occasional good nights in Europe




    I couldn’t have put it any better.

  3. P67 – you overlook that we had or have ‘systems’ in place, going back some years.


    But they just wurny aligned systems.


    Peter’s system was to source affordable players from trusted agents/sources (Dudu and Citeh) that could be transformed into profitable assets. Which was done relatively profitably.


    Brendan’s system was a step-up from Ronnie Deila’s attempt at professionalising the player fitness regimes – and Brendan’s was working a charm due to his backroom team methods and personal charisma w players.


    When Neil – who I admire as a great Celt – came in, he said something to the effect of maintaining what BR had and just tweaking it a bit – and he did and furra while we looked even more on fire – and won a swag as a result



    In truth, fitba’s a game of ups and downs and whether yer system’s Pep-esque or Jurgen-borne it’s just as fragile to lady luck, curve balls and life’s vagaries. We’re on a downer but the bounce back begins now.


    Our business operation’s due an MOT, and our current squad isnae as bad as the naysayers think.


    As I said, soon enuff we’re good to go again. HH

  4. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Well written.



    Evidence based.



    Enjoyable read.



    And yet I’m not convinced I completely agree?



    FWIW – if the last paragraph began “supporting systems” instead of just “systems” it might be more persuasive?



    The manager is the spider’s body in the football operation.



    Everything feeds into him.



    The system needs to provide space for that one man to exercise (occasionally overpowering) control, leadership and personality.



    The kind of thing that makes a player believe he is better than he is and motivates him to perform at 102% until he breaks down.



    If the system is too constraining?



    The manager becomes a servant to, rather than a manipulator of, the system.



    Hail hail



    Keep The Faith

  5. Looks like this Gerrard will join the esteemed list of John Hughes, Alan Stubbs ,Paulo Sérgio and Valdas Ivanauskas as having won ONE domestic honour

  6. Sorry to say but personally speaking NL wasnt cut out for management.great player,til his legs went,and leader but imo never a manager

  7. Neil is gone, can all the repeat posters let it go now?



    If you have a new insight on the subject or want to share some insider knowledge then great, but if all you want to do is repeat the same stuff you’ve been posting for weeks can you think twice and give it a rest?



    Lets move on.

  8. It is not beyond us to continue to Seasons end without a defeat,which would give the support some satisfaction.


    This of course would then create another dilemma,so if we delay an appointment ( which looks likely )we run the risk of this problem.

  9. The board are the kings pf procrastination, I’ll be amazed if they have someone in place before the close season.



    There will of course however be lots of speculation and empty promises via the usual media tarts to encourage season ticket sales.

  10. Thank you Neil Francis Lennon for all you have done for our club as both player and manager. Without your contribution to the nine we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go for the 10, alas it wasn’t to be, but all good things come to an end. How anyone can’t be more than satisfied with 9 in a row, including a Quad Treble and an Invincible season is beyond my understanding. Personally, I’m excited to see what the future holds as we move into a new era. Good luck and God bless.







  11. All this talk of systems, doesn’t the plan come first then systems implemented/developed to achieve the plan? How can a system work if you don’t know where you are going? Even if the driver is the best in the world.

  12. Celtic Mac on 25th February 2021 1:54 pm



    I think you need to invest in a dictionary mate.

  13. prestonpans bhoys on




    I share your negative view of our players. Lenny has been poor this season, but he’s been let down by a bunch of greedy, vain primadonnas.



    That’s a interesting comment and I fully agree, perhaps we should draw a list of players we think fell into that category. I’ll start with Christie😵

  14. Whoever takes the reins,


    Must have his own backroom staff, it that’s what he wants.


    Must have a history of producing fully fit players for EVERY game.


    Must have his players prepared mentally to inflict defeat on the opposition in every game.

  15. TIMMY7



    Sorry boss..but i read the article and felt like posting a comment.Is that not allowed?..do we have a new system in place?

  16. timmy7



    Sorry about the delay mate…


    I was too busy trying to make up my mind whether I should look up the meaning of the word ‘procrastination’

  17. fourstonecoppi 'Still standing for NFL' on



    Shaun Maloney would quickly lose the treatment room.



    Aye but he’d hiv a sicknote!

  18. English Championship Part 2: the bottom 9.



    Chris Hughton – Nottingham Forrest – took the job in October and has added some stability. He’s unlikely to leave though Forrest have been a bit of a basket-case of a club for a while. He’s done solid jobs wherever he’s been – getting Newcastle and Brighton to the Premier League. Someone we ought to have looked at back in October when the wheels were coming off, but the moments probably passed.



    Nathan Jones – Luton Town – took over when Luton faced relegation from League 2 and led them to safety. In 2017 they were beaten in the play-offs before winning promotion to League 1 in 2018. A great season followed with them sitting second in League 1 by January 2019 (they’d go up to the Championship at the end of that season).


    In January 2019 he took the Stoke job but was sacked by November that year.


    He went back to Luton in May 2020, helping them to stay up last year (3 points above relegation) and they are currently 17th.



    Wayne Rooney – Derby – first managerial job which he was appointed to permanently in February this year. He isn’t going to jump ship.



    Carlos Corberan – Huddersfield – former Leeds United youth coach and Bielsa disciple, he got his first managerial gig at Huddersfield in summer. Has them in 18th and has lost half his 32 matches in the league.



    Mark Robins – Coventry – in his 14th season as a manager. He’s had relative success, starting at Rotherham who he turned from relegation contenders to promotion chasers, although they never quite made it over the line. Solid, if unspectacular, stints followed at Coventry, Huddersfield and Scunthorpe.



    He’s back at Coventry now, and has done well – 2 promotions in 3 years taking them from League 2 to the Championship. They’re currently 20th and 5 points above the relegation zone.



    Overall he’s done well at most of his clubs, but not really an inspiring choice for us.



    Actor Karanka – Birmingham – Mourinho’s former assistant at Real Madrid, his first managerial job was Middlesboro in 2013. He got them promoted to the Premier League a couple of years later but was then sacked as they sat 3 points from safety.



    The football was defensive and dull, and he had at least two major disagreements with folk at the club!



    A stint at Forrest followed – he spent £13m on a player and started well, but went on a bad run and fell out with folk at the club.



    He took over at Birmingham this summer – they are 2 points above relegation.



    One to avoid.



    Paul Warne – Rotherham – his first gig, he’s been in the job since 2016. The classic yo-yo team – relegated -promoted – relegated – promoted – now in the relegation zone but only 2 points from safety.



    Neil Thompson – Sheffield Wednesday – interim manager since the end of December. It’s his first managerial job since 2004.



    Gareth Ainsworth – Wycombe Wanderers – following two caretaker manager stints with QPR, he took over at Wycombe in 2012 when they were in League 2. He got them promoted to League 1 in 2018 and won the Play-offs last season to get to the Championship. They are rock bottom, 8 points from safety.



    He’s done a good job for them in difficult circumstances. He’s also really loyal, turning down a move to Sunderland and has signed several long-term contracts with Wycombe.

  19. Mainly agree Paul67. Managers, like players, can eventually lose their magic. Having said that systems come and go. For a while 3 at the back was all the rage, England’s wingless wonders won the World Cup in 66, Celtic defeated el in 67. 3 at the back then became the thing, the Dutch gave us total football (did win the World Cup though). Now goalies now have to be very capable with the ball at their feet (think of how that finished Joe Hart’s career). On the other hand, If you are talking about systems as in how a Club organises coaching structure – that is even more complicated. Do you have a manager who is simply a coach? Does the DoF decide who is bought etc? There are examples of how it works for some clubs and not others, I personally cannot understand why a manager would not be the one who sees what he wants and asks the club to make it happen.

  20. bournesouprecipe on 25th February 2021 1:08 pm



    Shaun Maloney would quickly lose the treatment room.





    Very witty. He would though have real inside knowledge of it.

  21. So it’s about systems not managers?



    Jesus wept. Expectation mangement in full flow here.



    So the right system can turn even a Jack Ross into a contender eah?




  22. Completely agree with this – have said before we need a DOF to lead on that and embed the system so the manager/head coach fits into it!



    Which makes the appointment of Lennon bizarre! We went from bringing in Ronnie to start the focus on fitness, sports science, data, high pressing and supercharged it with Rodgers. Instead of finding someone to continue that work, we went back to a man who’s main strength was “motivation” and had said he didn’t believe much in tactics and who’s teams were said by RD to be too unfit.


    5 years work – inching forward into the modern world – undone in one appointment! We now start from scratch!


    Youth development is another important part of the system. Since Lennon left first time, we’ve only really seen MacGregor and Tierney come through and properly make it in the first team. Both made the breakthrough in RD’s time, though Rodgers took them to another level. Not good enough for the millions we’ve spent on it. And Lennon was never big on blooding youths – in his second stint, only Hazard and Welsh have had any real game time and that’s been through desperation- neither will make it at Celtic in my view.


    Recruitment was never really part of the system – it was largely based on cosy agents and Man City loans in RD’s time, and while Brendan recruited who he wanted in the first season, that soon ended. We apparently have a strategy of buy low/young and sell high, but it’s only really worked a handful of times – Forster, Wanyama, Van Dyke, Dembele and Frimpong. Armstrong at a push. Since RD took over, we spent around £70m on around 70 players (some on loan). Only 3 of those – Dembele, Frimpong and Armstrong made decent money (c£40m), and we have some who would also make decent money when sold – Eddy, Ajer, Christie, etc – but we’d probably only make a small profit on our £70m spend (say £30-40m for those three) and think how much we’ve wasted on wages on the other 65 folk we brought in during that time! Our recruitment strategy has been a disaster!



    So yes – systems are important. But we’ve had the same CEO for 17 years and 9 seasons without the threat of a proper challenge to the title to be doing all that and we made a half-arsed attempt at it before going back to the old-school approach!



    That’s largely on the Board and CEO. It’s also partly on us! Some of us mock Strachan and his laptop and were annoyed at Oko-Flex when he had his air pods in – every modern successful club uses data and technology to get the edge on other teams – to point out weaknesses in the defence, what runs to make, who to pick up at set prices – and to check on our own (who needs taken off because their running stats are fading) and things like that. We don’t and when we make attempts to do so the guy gets grief for doing so. As much as the club needs to move into the new world we as fans do too! How often do we hear the “play 2 up top, it’s the Celtic way” when we haven’t played two up top since Hooper and Stokes? Hardly anyone plays two up top now, and for most top-level teams the centre forward isn’t the main man but rather a player who makes space for your Messis, Salahs, Ronaldos to come in from wide areas and get mind-boggling goal numbers!


    We’re being left behind – club and fans – and that’s allowed a poor Rangers side who make the best of the technology and resources available to overtake us, while we’re (the odd game/campaign aside) not at the races in Europe.



    David66 – good stuff – hope your arm isn’t too sore. It is a real relief.



    JAMESGANG – great for you, and welcome home :-)



    Fans back in football grounds – I think we could see it post split for a couple of games.



    Me and Wee BGFC cannae wait!!!!!!!!!!!!


    McChuills/beer –> Game –> McChuills/mair beer –> Sharkey’s/wee sing-song/mair beer – PARADISE :-))








    My arm is Fine its the rest of the body that’s feeling it today, i was meant to be off today but just came to work as i hate sitting Idle.


    BGFC – The best bond building days of our life’s spending quality time with our parents.


    Something that if we do not do we regret in years to come.



    I got to go to games and spend time with my Dad and learned things over a pint that I had never knew, like the time he pulls out a paper clipping saying “Man utd and Celtic are interested in local Bhoy Tommy McIntyre but Man utd are winning the race for his signature” when I asked him how he had never shown me this in my previous 23 years his answer was because he waited on Celtic and they never came for him. Doh..



    Point being spending quality time.



    Now I go with my son and Grandson






    D :)

  24. ST TAMS on 25TH FEBRUARY 2021 2:36 PM






    Keep posting and don’t be bullied



    where is the bullying going on?




  25. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    I see headlines quoting Charlie Adam that Celtic crumbled the moment ‘Rangers’ applied any pressure.



    Just goes to show that even in-bred village idiots could see it.



    Makes you wonder how our highly remunerated CEO and Board managed to miss it.

  26. My friends in Celtic,



    Unfortunately NFL had to go, it was inevitable.



    Let me be clear ( sorry ). NFL wasn’t the only one responsible for our performances and results.



    Certain players and remaining management are just as culpable.



    I am like an Elephant, some would say in both respects.







    Shaun Maloney would quickly lose the treatment room.



    Nearly blew coffee through my nose at that! Very funny. Brilliant wit.😊

  28. I have a different train of thought to Paul.



    The quality of the players is more important that the system.



    The man who chooses the players that he needs to execute his game plan must choose the right players.



    Lenny has lost his job and we have slumped because we have invested in the wrong standard and type of players.



    Ajeti , Barkas, Klimala, Bayo, Shved, Taylor , Laxalt, Duffy.



    Whoever decided to invest in them has failed us .


    No matter the system .


    Ross Wallace is always going to get beat at the back post , to a header by Danny Invincible.



    We must get the recruitment of the recruiters correct.



    I have posted that several times over the last decade .



    Systems don’t win matches .


    Good players do.




  29. It helps if the players understand and fit the system otherwise you end up with Callum at left back and no forwards.