Steven Gerrard went on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month. It is as though he was trolling those who yesterday were his comrades. No matter what we think of the other lot, you or I would have more taste than to do that to them. He could have waited another hour.
To Celtic fans, he will forever be the man who clung on after a curtailed season and then stopped 10-in-a-row, but we will lament today, as Gerrard leaves Glasgow. He was a walking UB40 manager, one League Cup semi-final defeat away from being able to sing, “I am the one in 10…. a statistic, a reminder”, of nine failed campaigns.
For months, I wrote here that I wanted him to stay. Celtic’s complete collapse last season made the league a non-event. Gerrard oversaw another year of massive and unsustainable overspend, and coasted to the title. Despite this, his squad was unmarketable, planning was all about consumption today, to hell with tomorrow.
The main reason I wanted him to stay, however, turns out to be false. Gerrard’s current contract was signed after it became public knowledge that Brendan Rodgers had a £9m release clause in his Celtic contract. Surely, I assumed, those sharp minds at Ibrox would tie Gerrard down on nothing less than the same terms. Newco need £9m more than they need a manager who can only win when there is no opposition.
However, Villa will pay £4.5m compensation to deprive Newco of their management team. Lots of things in football are out of your control, but the figure required to adequately compensate a club to allow their manager to break his contract? Someone slipped up here, and on this occasion, it was not Gerrard.
£4.5m will keep the lights on for another three weeks, if they don’t need to pay compensation for the next guy. Anyone in a job is likely to cost as much, if not more. Now comes the work of attracting a quality candidate to a club in the 10th year of living beyond its means. Some sort of miracle worker, would be ideal.