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The manager, captain, fans and successful teams

598

Anyone who has watched Celtic in recent weeks knows the impact Jeremie Frimpong has on the team.  He alone has the ability to run at and past defenders, without him, Celtic are significantly easier to defend against.  This has been clear from recent performances and his absence from the starting line-up against Riga was my principle concern before the game.

He did not start last night because when we go three at the back, it is Jeremie or James Forrest on the right.  After the game Neil Lennon told us James has struggled with an ankle injury for a couple of weeks, leaving us with the classic ingredients for recency bias.  James’ recent injury-affected form has been below the standard or Jeremie’s.  But of all the occasions you could make a case to start James Forrest, European qualifiers will be the easiest.  He scores and creates goals in qualifiers at a prodigious rate.

Also, watchers of Celtic in recent seasons will know that Injury is the Mother of Invention.  Where would Ryan Christie be without Eboue Kouassi and Olivier Ntcham picking up first half injuries at Murrayfield?  Jeremie is now likely to get a run at Hibs and Sarajevo.  What happens in the middle of the park is more intriguing.

Scott Brown took a knock that will keep him under observation between now and the Hibs game.  That clip on Scott’s Achilles’ gives the manager lots to consider.  After Hibs, we have four hugely important games: Sarajevo, then after the international break: Newco, Aberdeen away and Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup semi-final.  The roster becomes significantly trickier if we overcome Sarajevo, as we would have two Europa League games before next month’s semi-final.

I read many asking, why does Scott Brown play practically every minute of every game?  It is clearly not that you have spotted something that escaped the manager’s attention, Neil Lennon does not have a blind spot that tens of thousands of Celtic fans can see through, so let’s not pretend otherwise.

You have been watching football all of your life, so you know by now that what you see on the field is only part of the story.  Any team: footballers, salesmen, network engineers or shop staff, need a common culture and leadership to reach their best.  What a boss gets from his or her line manager in frontline performance, in any walk of life, is not the entire contribution.

I have a friend who is also a customer.  He tells me what I need to do with my staff and I tell him the same about his staff.  Neither of us take the others’ advice, because I am using the resources I have to keep my team focussed on our objective and he is doing the same.  I talk to him about practically every personal aspect of my life, but I don’t even go into the detail of this stuff with him, because it involves personal details about others.  In very simple environments like mine and his, teams are complicated things.

I would like to see Jeremie start more games and I am really keen to see central mid re-jigged.  From my seat on the couch, both are crucial to our outcomes this season.  But I know there’s a ton of human dynamics in every team that outsiders are clueless about.  The manager needs to keep this indoors while suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous opinion.  It can be a tough gig.  It is good that we have all ‘been there, done that’, when it comes to building a winning football team, so none of us exist in a fantasy that we are the true fonts of wisdom Neil Lennon really has to listen to.  I mean, can you imagine thinking like that?  Jeez.

Have a great weekend.

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598 Comments

  1. HvartskiJim,

     

     

    Thanks for your explanation, it makes sense to me now.

     

     

    I struggle to get my head around that things like this may happen in our country and I suppose we won’t know for sure unless there is an independent investigation.

     

     

    Thanks again

  2. St Stivs @ 3:41

     

     

    In reply to Rolling Stone you asked for evidence re Lennon not being too keen on tactics.

     

     

    I posted a link at 5:08 backing this up – just making sure you have seen, as I believe you have challenged a couple of people regarding this in the past month or so – forgive me if I’m wrong.

     

     

    Cheers 👍🏼

  3. I’ve been lucky enough to meet The Maestro a few times recently, when he has been visiting Willie, let me tell you as one who never stuck for words….I was totally starstruck, he is the nicest guy you could ever meet, an unassuming Superstar, and I agree, I was in The Jungle when he threw his boots in,and I cried……I really wish he would have moved to a better league and showed the World what he had.

  4. BGFC

     

     

    Just caught your reply to me, your point is taken and appreciated.

     

    Koln cathedral? been there a few times, amazing building.

     

    H.H. Mick

  5. ERNIE LYNCH

     

     

    ” There was a time you could buy a football club for that ”

     

    Classic.

     

    H.H. Mick

  6. Bada Bing

     

     

    Paul was and Always will be World Class.

     

     

    An incredible fitba player that could do it all.

     

     

    Getting to the middle of the jungle was a must.

     

     

    8

  7. a wee blast from the past.

     

     

    hrvatskijim i will get back to you.no hours in day at mo.great work

     

     

    The Fall of the House of Murray

     

     

    As tycoon David Murray’s once-thriving business empire folds with a barely audible whimper, Ian Fraser picks apart the disastrous sequence of seemingly limitless borrowing and bad decisions that precipitated the downfall

     

     

    Sunday 18 January 2015

     

     

    Sir David Murray’s metals-to-property conglomerate Murray International Holdings (MIH) died last week, going out not with a bang but a whimper.

     

     

    MIH and eight subsidiary companies – Premier Property Group, PPG Land, Premier Burrell, GM Mining, Murray Group Holdings, Murray Group Management, Murray Outsourcing and MMH NSS – are to be liquidated by Deloitte.

     

     

    The insolvency practitioners will be seeking to retrieve as much cash as they can from the firms’ assets and debtors before shutting down the companies for good.

     

     

     

     

    Since the credit crisis blew a massive hole in Murray’s business plans six years ago, his bank, Lloyds – which completed its disastrous acquisition of HBOS in January 2009 – appears to have treated him with kid gloves.

     

     

    It had few qualms about pulling the plug on other HBOS ­customers who had built up massive debts with HBOS, such as John Kennedy’s Kenmore, Jonathon Milne’s FM ­Developments and Ken Ross’s Elphinstone Group.

     

     

    But Lloyds was prepared to give Murray five-and-a-half years to disentangle and dismantle as much as he could of his business empire, as well allowing Murray Capital, a new private concern of Murray and his son, David junior, to cherry-pick some of his most cherished assets.

     

     

    The reason for this unusual leniency from Lloyds was ascribed to Murray’s tough negotiation skills, and highlighting the number of dependent Scots employees in a diverse group.

     

     

    In his pomp in the 1990s and early 2000s, David Murray was viewed as one of Scotland’s most successful entrepreneurs. He caught the eye of Bank of Scotland’s former treasurer and managing director Gavin Masterton, and the bank first lent Murray money in 1981.

     

     

    Bank of Scotland went on to lend him the entire £6 million he needed to buy Rangers FC in 1988. By 2008, as part of HBOS, it had provided him with £900 million of debt to bankroll his wide-ranging business operations, which once encompassed commercial property, coal mining, metals trading and football. This was despite the fact that, even at its peak, the turnover of Murray’s group ­holding company never exceeded £550m.

     

     

    HBOS senior bankers including chief executive of corporate banking Peter Cummings and the late Ian Robertson, managing director of corporate ­banking, gave Murray what amounted to an open cheque book.

     

     

    Together, Murray and HBOS formed a complex web of joint-venture companies into which hundreds of millions of pounds of the bank’s money were poured. In most of these property deals, the bank was effectively lending up to 40% of the money to itself.

     

     

    Robertson, nicknamed “Robbo”, was infamous for “Robbo rollovers” – deals by which the bank rolled over existing loans into newly created special purpose vehicles, effectively making bad debts disappear in a puff of smoke.

     

     

    One banking analyst said: “Property assets that ought to have gone into ­insolvency, or into HBOS’s intensive-care unit – which would have required the bank to book a provision for bad debt – were instead rolled over.”

     

     

    The roll-overs are said to have compounded Murray’s situation after the credit markets crashed, complicating his business empire’s problems. However, one of Murray’s more astute moves in the past decade was to sell his Murray International Metals business for £119m in 2005.

     

     

    From the mid-2000s onwards, having witnessed the success that the likes of Sir Tom Hunter were having in commercial property, Murray massively boosted his group’s exposure to commercial real estate, snapping up provincial shopping centres and office buildings from Edinburgh to London.

     

     

    The number of deals accelerated after Robbo’s successor, Ray Robertson, former head of real estate at Bank of Scotland Corporate, assumed day-to-day responsibility for his affairs at the bank. Both Robertsons had such faith in Murray and his Premier ­Property Group they seemed willing to lend millions with few questions asked, though it was the worst of times to be investing in and developing commercial properties.

     

     

    Things started to go badly awry when Murray moved away from calculated risk-taking and started using HBOS’s loans for what looked more like reckless gambling. This coincided from 2005 onwards with the adoption of what HBOS insiders call “kamikaze lending to the great and the good” as it sought to grow its ­corporate loan book by some 20% per annum to compensate for a slowdown in other aspects of its business.

     

     

    Even after property markets ­weakened, Murray seemed impervious to the risk of a property crash. One month after the global financial crisis started in August 2007, PPG had some £500m of development projects under way, including a 175,000sqft speculative office development in Glasgow’s Bothwell Street.

     

     

    MIH was going to be able to defy economic gravity thanks to what Murray described in the 2008 annual report as “the breadth and depth of the group’s diversified portfolio and management team”.

     

     

    When HBOS collapsed under the weight of massive bad debts and a short-sighted funding model, and the bank succumbed to Lloyds TSB in September 2008, the game was up for Murray.

     

     

    He and other tycoons had been used to picking up the phone to HBOS and receiving hundreds of millions of pounds within hours. That all changed after Murray’s accounts were transferred to Lloyds’s non-core business support unit (BSU), whose goal is to maximise value from distressed borrowers

     

     

    One of the BSU’s first goals was to persuade Murray to offload Rangers, partly because the club was such an obvious drain on resources and partly as it was seen as a distraction for the hands-on Murray.

     

     

    One ex-bank insider said Lloyds simply wanted out of football clubs: “Rangers was just soaking up cash. You can’t build a football business on overdrafts and borrowing, but that is what Murray seemed to be doing.”

     

     

    Two-and-a-half years after ceasing to be Rangers’ chairman in October 2009, Murray sold his 85.3% equity stake in Rangers Football Club to Craig Whyte for £1. The club subsequently collapsed into chaos that continues to this day.

     

     

    Lloyds continued to allow Murray to do two massive debt-for-equity swaps which, given the fact that MIH’s equity was by now as good as worthless, were essentially free gifts. The first, in April 2010, saw Lloyds write off £150m of debt in exchange for an additional 12% stake in the company.

     

     

    Conditions included that Murray must liquidate three-quarters of MIH’s commercial property portfolio by 2015; introduce greater transparency into his business dealings; and stop using cross-guarantees, by which healthy and profitable parts of his empire were used to support more anaemic parts like Rangers. Such cross-support makes it more difficult to hive off businesses to third-party buyers.

     

     

    A string of ­disposals, including that of oil and gas business Premier Hytemp and three shopping centres (sold for less than half their purchase price), followed. Unusually, in what seems to have been a sweetheart deal, the bank allowed Murray to personally buy back his private equity business Charlotte Ventures, partly because the assets within it, which included a stake in bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis, were seen as too high risk for the bank.

     

     

    Murray said the purchase of the unit, later renamed Murray Capital, was “done arm’s length, at market value”. A second £118m debt-for-equity swap followed in March 2012, the negotiations for which are said to have been extended and heated.

     

     

    Murray claimed the deal – which took the amount of debt that had effectively been written off by Lloyds to £268.5m – did not dilute the Murray family’s 70% voting power over MIH.

     

     

    Talking about the winding-down of MIH, Murray said: “This has been a consensual approach with the bank, and it has been an orderly, managed process. It’s not been easy – it could have been easier to walk away and not do it – but it was decided with the lender that we would work this out, and we have.”

     

     

    There are major assets which remain unsold, including Response, the call-centre business. It lost a contract with BSkyB, but has since won one for Scottish Power. In another unusual move, Lloyds let Murray and his family, through Murray Capital, buy Murray Estates, which owns about 1200 acres of prime development sites across Scotland’s central belt for just £13.9m. In addition to Murray Estates, Murray Capital also snapped up other unwanted MIH assets.

     

     

    The Murray Estates portfolio includes a 13-acre site at Ratho Station on the western edge of Edinburgh, a 26-acre site near Edinburgh Airport, a 300-acre site at Torrance Park in North Lanarkshire, the 135-acre Kingdom Park site in Kirkcaldy and the 675-acre Garden District on greenbelt land adjacent to the Edinburgh City Bypass near Gogarburn.

     

     

    The latter offers scope for a £1 billion development of 3500 homes, a showcase garden project called Calyx and a new community stadium. For many years Murray has been ­piecing together so-called “ransom strips” to the east of Edinburgh Airport’s approach road, with a view to galvanising a wider ­development project called the ­International Business Gateway.

     

     

    Things are already moving fast for the some of Murray Estates’ development sites. In November, Fife Council granted planning permission for the construction of a £500m residential district at ­Kingdom Park over 20 years. The same month, pre-construction work got under way on a £60m mixed-use development for phase one of Torrance Park in Holytown.

     

     

    In its 2013 annual report, MIH said funding difficulties meant it was unable to develop the Murray Estates sites itself. MIH added it had considered ­selling the land in a piecemeal fashion to other developers but then “received an unsolicited approach from the Murray family in spring 2013 to acquire the ­majority of assets in the portfolio of Murray Estates”.

     

     

    A spokesman for Lloyds said the Murray Estates deal included an “anti-embarrassment clause” which enables the bank to secure a share of the upside should Murray Estates’ projects come good, but declined to give details.

     

     

    The MIH 2013 accounts noted: “The ­transaction completed after protracted negotiations and was supported by advice from two independent firms of chartered surveyors … plus significant potential additional consideration based on profits realised over 10 years.”

     

     

    Intriguingly, even though Murray Capital (formerly known as Charlotte Ventures) also banks with Lloyds, Murray made clear Lloyds did not fund the £13.9m acquisition. He added that the non-embarrassment clause is geared to enable the bank to get a bigger share of gains if projects are sold or developed quickly, saying: “It was put in place to stop us flipping things for a quick gain.”

     

     

    Overall, Murray has been shown far greater leniency than other failed property tycoons after Lloyds/HBOS was bailed out and commercial property prices crashed. One ex-HBOS insider has suggested that it was because he was “one of the great and good, like Tom Farmer and Tom Hunter”.

     

     

    All three have been knighted, with Murray receiving his – for services to business in Scotland – in June 2007. The source added: “Sir David never had the great fall, the humiliation that some of the other over-leveraged property tycoons were made to feel.”

     

     

    His businesses’ outstanding debt to Lloyds stands at up to £346.7m, and the bank has, to date, written off £268.5m through debt-for-equity swaps, which suggests that the collapse of his business has left a £615m hole in Lloyds’s accounts, and that two-thirds of the money Murray’s businesses borrowed has been lost.

     

     

    And because of the 2008 bailouts, it is effectively taxpayers who are picking up the tab. Meanwhile, he has walked away from the wreckage of his failed group with some of its most promising assets under his belt.

     

     

    It is perhaps unsurprising that Murray presents the winding-up of his erstwhile business empire as a sort of triumph. ­Writing in the MIH 2013 accounts, he said: “In the prevailing economic ­conditions since 2009, the delivery of the numerous asset disposals and debt-reduction programme represents a significant achievement and a very ­credible performance.”

     

     

    He said: “It’s not been without some ­casualties but we’ve done the best we could. The proceeds from the disposals have been optimised, enabling us to secure ­continued employment for more than 95% of the group’s 2008 workforce and minimising losses to other stakeholders and creditors. One of the reasons we have come through this as well as we have is that we had some prime assets and some good trading ­businesses. All the small creditors have been paid in full and everyone’s been paid their redundancy.”

     

     

    Lloyds refused to comment “on the grounds of customer confidentiality”, but others might see Murray, along with bonus-crazed bankers in rescued banks, as the ultimate pet of the sugar daddy state.

  8. Good morning all in CQN. The greatest strength of our club is it’s eclectic support and, usually, there’s a common characteristic. Let’s hope we don’t let any outside influences prevent us enjoying such a historic season. Not going to be easy, but, then again, it never is🍀

     

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Zx0VTmGXOIw

  9. Good morning all from a hungover, dry but cloudy Haggerston

     

     

    Greenpinata – there’s a starter for 10.

     

     

    Bring on the Hibees.

     

     

    Right now to cook this lot a right good fry up.

     

     

    HH

     

     

    D :)