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Taken to school, Paul McConville

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Celtic’s valiant capitulation last night had a familiar feel to it.  We took the game to Milan, bossed them in many areas while the tie was still close enough to be called a contest, created chances but had no cutting edge and lost heavily, at home, to what is clearly the weakest of four Milan teams we have faced in the last decade.  It was a similar story when Juventus came to Glasgow last season.

Am I the only one who thought it was familiar from stirring European nights of the 80s?  Take on one of the most experience teams in Europe with two out-and-out wingers, inspire for a time but only earn a lesson in how unforgiving the game can be at the top level. Or at least, hope we learned a lesson.

We loved it in the 80s, of course, but it was like going to school when Martin O’Neill arrived and taught us how to win in Europe.  Despite the defeat, the 10 men got it right at home to Barca, and in the home win over Ajax, where we allowed the visitors the majority of possession and territory, but with four minutes on the clock and Celtic playing well last night, I noted the game was “worryingly open”.

In Europe, an open game means defeat. We don’t have the midfield or attack to win playing adventurously. When setup properly, we can defend as well as anyone in Europe, this is our irrefutable strength, play to it.

Paul McConville

The first thing I did when I met Paul McConville at the Columba Club on Friday was dig him up for not being in touch recently.  This gave him an opportunity to wax enthusiastically about the consuming joy of being back on the tools as a solicitor in Glasgow.  He was a man who had arrived exactly where he wanted to be in life.

He was so full of drive, clarity of vision and purpose that it was with utter disbelieve I heard the news of his sudden passing yesterday.

As anyone who read Random Thoughts Re Scots Law knew, he loved his family.  He also loved practicing law and held Albion Rovers in high affection.  He was not, as has been suggested, part of the Celtic family. Had the snake oil salesmen turned up at Celtic Park they would have endured the same forensic analysis from Paul as he applied elsewhere, but he was an important friend and resource to our community, and ultimately our club, during an historically important time.

To most of us he was a unique blogger.  Cheerful, incisive and unrelenting.  He charted the story of Rangers insolvency, administration and liquidation, then picked up the even more complicated events surrounding the phoenix.

When asked on Friday why he had been less industrious recently, specifically covering the leaks from Charlotte Fakes, he conceded he just didn’t have the time anymore; he was back litigating and loving it.

The personal cost of his blogging was often all too clear, he was out there, but Paul managed to retain his determination not to be browbeaten, while enduring the numptites with more good grace and humour than most of us could muster. Before taking up his new role in Glasgow he worked a few minutes walk from me. We collaborated on a number of matters in recent years and marked one auspicious afternoon last year by sharing a bottle of Champagne; a genuinely treasured memory.

The fragility of it all is breathtaking. Our condolences to the McConville family. May he rest in peace.
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  1. Looking forward to winning league at either Kilmarnock St Johnstone Inverness or Motherwell

     

    Whoopity doo da something to really look forward too for the rest of the season

  2. craggy island gaa on

    Condolences to the McConville family and may Paul rest in peace.

     

     

    Met him at the Q&A at the Columba Club in the Summer, and he will be missed by so many.

     

     

    craggy

  3. Such sad news, 47 is no age at all, thoughts are with his friends and family at this terribly sad time.

  4. Paul 67-condolences to you and Paul McConvilles friends who visit these pages,and to the McConville family.RIP.

  5. jimbo67

     

     

    11:27 on 27 November, 2013

     

    Morning all

     

     

    Glad I dont have to face work today.

     

     

    I have read a few pages on the blog and can’t say I violently disagree with anything anybody says. To sum up we didn’t buy well in the summer- or indeed the two previous transfer windows – the team both individually and collectively is a whole class , at least, below our CL opponents even before they step onto the pitch, we made mistakes in front of our own goal and yet again failed to take the chances we were presented with. The team needs overhauled and Sunday’s cup tie has taken on an unwelcome significance . It was a sobering bucket of cold water to the face.

     

     

    As I say I think that is the main points although unlike others I have no wish to blame individual players or the coaching or the manager. I am inclined to be less charitable to Peter Lawell and his colleagues but others can do this with more vitriol and/or wit than I can muster.

     

     

    Whatever more than anything else I feel is sad. Sad that it’s effectively over for this season but also because walking out the ground I thought last night’s match could be the last Champions’ League I or the rest of us witness at Celtic Park for quite a while. We found it hard enough to qualify – scraping past in two of the qualifying rounds- and in the last two matches we looked badly out of our depth. I feel sad that this is the case.

     

     

    Still I’ll be in Barca in a fortnight and although at the moment I am kind of dreading it I dont feel like a mug for following my team.

     

     

    I just wish we had a much, much better one

     

    jimbo67

     

     

    11:27 on 27 November, 2013

     

    Morning all

     

     

    Glad I dont have to face work today.

     

     

    I have read a few pages on the blog and can’t say I violently disagree with anything anybody says. To sum up we didn’t buy well in the summer- or indeed the two previous transfer windows – the team both individually and collectively is a whole class , at least, below our CL opponents even before they step onto the pitch, we made mistakes in front of our own goal and yet again failed to take the chances we were presented with. The team needs overhauled and Sunday’s cup tie has taken on an unwelcome significance . It was a sobering bucket of cold water to the face.

     

     

    As I say I think that is the main points although unlike others I have no wish to blame individual players or the coaching or the manager. I am inclined to be less charitable to Peter Lawell and his colleagues but others can do this with more vitriol and/or wit than I can muster.

     

     

    Whatever more than anything else I feel is sad. Sad that it’s effectively over for this season but also because walking out the ground I thought last night’s match could be the last Champions’ League I or the rest of us witness at Celtic Park for quite a while. We found it hard enough to qualify – scraping past in two of the qualifying rounds- and in the last two matches we looked badly out of our depth. I feel sad that this is the case.

     

     

    Still I’ll be in Barca in a fortnight and although at the moment I am kind of dreading it I dont feel like a mug for following my team.

     

     

    I just wish we had a much, much better one

     

     

    Jimbo67 supporting Oscar Knox

     

     

     

    Jimbo67 supporting Oscar Knox

  6. Hamiltontim is praying for Oscar on

    Paul67

     

     

    Lovely words about someone that you evidently cared about greatly.

  7. I never met Paul but he was clearly intellgent, educated and tolerant.and I enjoyed reading his thoughts on all matters football and non-football.

     

     

    My sincere condolenses to the McConvile family during this difficult time.

  8. Sorry for posting twice. This copying and pasting is beyond me.

     

     

    RIP Paul McConville

     

     

    Jimbo67 supporting Oscar Knox

  9. Keepthehighballslow on

    As a person who reads Pauls blog every day im saddened to hear of his sudden passing. Met him a few times at the Columba Club…lovely man.

     

    God rest you Paul.

  10. We are a club operating in a ‘ bottom of the barrel ‘ league.

     

    We have just had an adventure against 3 of the world’s footballing giants.

     

    For the most part it was a great experience. I have loved every second of it & look forward to the final episode, against probably the most successful club on Earth.

     

    I have NO feeling of disappointment.

     

    I am just thrilled that Celtic are part of the show.

     

    The same feast awaits us next season.

     

     

    It’s a grand old team………….

  11. Not going to comment on the match, as enough will be said about it.

     

     

    But RIP Paul, I enjoyed reading your blog, thoughts are with your family.

     

     

    As already been said, You were indeed one of the good guys.

     

     

    YNWA

  12. I met Paul very briefly just a couple of times. You know when you just immediately recognise a sincere and kind person? That was my experience of Paul. His blogs were ridiculously overly verbose. I told him that and he loved it. God rest him, and I hope his family and friends (there are a few on here who I know are struggling with this) have the support to get them through these horrendously dark hours and days.

  13. Having waded through the usual knee jerks of No Plan B/ bizarre subs/ play the young boys/ puntralotofthem nonsense last night, it is good to see some realistic assessment emerging.

     

     

    For those that missed it, I reproduce a post from the tail end of the last thread by Blantyre Kev:-

     

     

     

     

     

    “BlantyreKev@11:26 on 27 November, 2013

     

     

    Short term reaction. Medium term planning. Long term structure.

     

    The structure will determine planning. The reaction should play no part in shaping Celtic.

     

     

    Celtic’s long term structure is to break even on a cash basis. That means all the money that comes in can go out. Yes, all the money that comes in can go out again, this is the stated position of the Club, and but for last year – in isolation – holds true. Only missing part is the level of debt we’re comfortable with, I think that needs to be clearer so we can hold the Board to account. At the minute, in the short term, more is coming in than going out and it has directly adversely impacted results on the park in Europe. However in the longer term we cannot sustain losses, so the theory holds about cash in any measure beyond 1 to 2 years.

     

     

    To make the long term work we need a plan and the people in place to make that happen. This is the operational tickly bit. Utterly crucial. The manager is the most important man at the Club and he needs the backroom staff that allow him to do his job, including scouts and talent ID. In a Club that is in a crap football domestic environment we will always be a selling club. This is immediately a clip to the wings on any manager doing his job. Players will be sold without his approval, it will not be sought. He’ll recommend, but is powerless.

     

     

    Neil Lennon helped shape Ki into a £6m player. Wanyama into a £12m player and Hooper into a £5m player. He desperately wanted to keep Hooper more than any. For each of these guys there’s a Bangura, Miku or Lassad to name but a few. They’re thrown into the mix and sieved out. It’s painful at times. It must be draining on the coaching staff.

     

     

    Instruction this year was to bring in pace and a striker. The jury’s out on Boerigter, Pukki has it all to do. These are the tools (if you pardon the pun) that the manager has. He can use tactics, cajole, inspire or berate to make the best of them but ultimately those are the tools and they are blunt.

     

     

    So in the short term pretty much unanimously we agree that we entered this season without a penalty box striker. That is dreadful. It has cost us dear in Europe and in turn will cost us financially. A planning failure, without serious impact to the structure, but carries an immediate and adverse short term reaction.

     

     

    Should we sack the manager? Not a chance based on this failing as it’s not necessarily his. Any selling team will go through regular transitions, more so than I’m comfortable with. That is what we are. A team needs more than one season to bond and in any close season there should never be such a scythe drawn through a team. That was the bigger failing and is not the manager’s call in isolation.

     

     

    The medium term plan had a weakness, that’s what’s to be addressed. The length of contracts, the dates they expire in relation to each other. A massive risk to the medium term plan would be to replace the most important of your personnel. Remember in managerial terms he’s really just approaching the end of a normal apprenticeship. He has had to make his mistakes at one of the biggest clubs there is. The only one that really matters to all of us. He knows the Club, understands the environment, its limits. How many others with the credentials we demand would accept the inevitable constraints?

     

     

    What we need is more support of him, to tune the planning, to perhaps revisit policy on spend. Less players at bigger fees perhaps, less of the panning and sieving.

     

     

    Next year is another chance to address that and to add another layer to our understanding of what sort of team we can be within this structure and what sort of manager we have and the slope of the graph on his career.

     

     

    Short term reaction is the riskiest strategy of all as it impacts everything else.

     

     

    I put this hypothesis to my dad. Apparently it’s a load of mince, we’re crap, and someone else could do better with that team.

     

     

    Longtermdads CSC”

  14. Paul67,

     

     

    I say now we are at a similar point MON was at after the Shaktar game in Donetsk.

     

     

    Another rebuild to take place !!

     

     

    I would imagine there will be a meeting or two with PL and DD over coming days how to proceed !!

  15. RIP Paul. We will all miss your insight into the legal minefield surrounding the RFC-Sevco saga.

     

    I always looked forward to your articles. You stood tall whilst others plunged to the depths.

  16. RIP Paul McConville. Eternal rest grant unto him oh Lord, let perpetual light shine upon him, and may he rest in peace.

     

     

    Sincere condolences to his friends and family.

     

     

    DLB

  17. Oh. My. God. I’ve heard it all here now:

     

     

    “we can defend as well as anyone, that is our irrefutable strength, play to it”

     

     

    We won the big cup with Big Jock’s attack attack attack, play the game, we beat the defensive team because we broke them down as they tried to contain us.

     

     

    Celtic have always been the flowing, creative, entertaining side to watch. Now we’re being told by CQNewspeak that (in order to keep the bonuses flowing at the top end) we have to get used to the Wattienaccio turgid stifling anti-football that we all hate so that we won’t be on the end of total humpings like we got dealt by an average Milan side on our own turf last night while Neil Lennon sat in the dugout with his arms folded.

     

     

    I don’t think there’s any full set of fans at Parkhead that will cheer for 90 mins with us playing irrefutably defensive football over the long term. We have to get back to what we do really well, that is cheer on a solid squad with a bit of magic in it. A team that plays creative, flowing, entertaining football like Big Jock’s sides that, defends by paying attention AND attacks with trickery and guile. If we can’t put a side like that together with our current set-up then maybe we need to look at the set-up, from the top down, and get back to a situation where we can. I think if we CAN do that then we’ll start to keep those fans that left around the 60 min mark last night and folk might not be chucking their scarves away in disgust and the stadium might have no big expanses of green seats on Saturdays.

  18. I was fortunate to meet and talk with Paul briefly on Friday at the Q and A in the KSC. Condolences to the family and friends of Paul McConville, may he rest in peace.

  19. setting free the bears @ 11 44

     

     

    This came to mind —————

     

     

    ” We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them “.

     

     

    A. Einstein

  20. Dontbrattbakkinanger on

    You’ve got to hand it to ole cleverclogs Blantyre Kev

     

     

    His dad talks a lot of sense ;/)

  21. We scorned several really good chances last night. I wonder if we would have created those chances playing a safety first game?

     

     

    Big Virgils miss for me was the losing of the game. I felt the same when we hit the bar against Barca and they went up the park and scored.

     

     

    Had VVD buried that chance I think Milan would have folded.

     

     

    Celtic have a tremendous habit of allowing teams to break losing runs and harmonise their squads. Milans season turned a corner last night as well.

     

     

    I don’t know how I feel about that game yet. Our players looked comfortable on the ball, they passed it about as well as I have seen them pass it at that level and we created more chances than I have seen in the CL in a long time.

     

     

    I think we should forget about the two wingers. Very few teams score from crosses from open play any more. You can watch all the football you want these days and rarely see a cross ball converted. So forget about who can and can’t cross a ball. It doesn’t really matter. Wide players now need to be able to PASS the ball and find a willing runner to help them or cut inside and get a shot or a one-two away.

     

     

    Celtic, you broke my heart again last night. But I still love you….

  22. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on

    Couple of my mates helped an oldman who collapsed on wY to match last night (giggsy who has lost his login details) and geoff.

     

    He collapsed outside of jock stein and had a severe gash on his head.

     

    They think he came from Bannockburn.

     

    Anyone know how he is?

  23. Don’t post much (well, not at all, really) anymore.

     

     

    Wanted to say how sorry I am to hear of Paul’s passing. His blog was outstanding. A gift for those of us who want to sift through bloggers dross and value clear, rational thinking. RIP, Paul.

     

     

    On football, Blantyre Kev’s post should be a must read.

     

     

    Football is a simple game. I played and coached for many years. Not the world’s best coach by any stretch, but I found that I could make ordinary players effective. Organised and disciplined at the back. Compact in midfield. Lucky up front. Ordinary players, playing thoughtfully, can be a reasonably decent team.

     

     

    To be better than that, you need better players.

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