When a managerial hero has to leave the stage


I loved the Leicester City story as much as any of you. Well, maybe not just as much. Leicester’s title win was astonishing, but it was no fairy story. They outperformed far wealthier clubs, sure, but this was achieved by spending the kind of money Celtic couldn’t dream of parting with.

Apart from their league win, Project Leicester was typical of the financial chicanery which has been prevalent in English football for so long, and which Financial Fair Play seeks to end.

Right now they are in freefall. If they go down, loaded with an underperforming squad on eye-wateringly high salaries, they will find it impossible to downsize sufficiently to give anyone sitting around the King Power Stadium boardroom table that they will be able to achieve stability in the Championship.

Once you drop out of the Enland and Wales Premier League, the biggest parachute in the world simply isn’t big enough. Two of the three Championship relegation places are currently occupied by recent Premier League clubs. Aston Villa, twice the size of Leicester but with a far smaller wage bill, are currently 17th. Leicester will look ominously at Blackpool, 14th in League Two, and appreciate how rapidly a Premier League relegation fight can turn into something altogether more serious.

Claudio Ranieri is a football hero, but even from the outside it has been plain to see that something has been seriously wrong under his control in recent months. His comments before the Sevilla game, “we know they are the better team”, spoke of a man who didn’t believe in himself or his players anymore.

It is never easy to spot when a managerial hero should move on from a club where he’s loved, exect in hindsight. Clough was the greatest English manager, but stayed on far too long at Nottingham Forest. Relegation was his reward.

Jock Stein’s sacking as Celtic manager in 1978 was shabbily handled, as was the way at the club back then. I was too young to know the best of Jock’s years at Celtic, but I remember the grief he got from the terraces during his last four seasons, when Rangers (remember them?) won three titles and two trebles.

No one will tell you they got on Jock’s case back then, but it happened. Football fans in the 1970s took no prisoners.

Looking back, Jock stayed too long at Celtic. He produced miracles for five years then managed decline for eight. He should have taken the Manchester United job when offered. Clough squeezed two League Cups out of his squad in 1989 and 1990 and should have headed for this hills right then.

As for Claudio, he should have bowed out a champion in May. He didn’t have managerial alchemy after all, it was inevitable that performances would return to his normal trend this season. Someone at Leicester had to take responsibility.  That’s football – and it’s not even a modern aspect of it.


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  1. JAMESGANG on 24TH FEBRUARY 2017 12:10 PM


    McGinn gave brownie more trouble at Celtic Park while playing for St Mirren than any spl midfielder I’ve seen.




    No brainer we should have signed him then.




    My Hibbee colleagues here would kill me if we pinched him.




    Is he now good enough for Brendan’s future plans?




    HH jamesgang






    Indeed. First off,nae pyro,that would be a start-even though they appear ubiquitous on the continent.




    “How did it come to this?”




    IIRC,a supposedly Celtic-minded Match Commander heard something which breached UEFA guidelines on “Illicit Singing”. Someone somewhere took the decision not to defend the club AT ALL (much less vigorously) against this previously unheard of offence.




    Now we reap the whirlwind. Heyho…

  3. Paul 67 et al,



    Interesting phrase “managerial alchemy”. I love it.



    Could that mean that Brendon, Peter, Dermott et al are managerial and financial alchemists. After all they seem to turn base materials into gold. Both on and off the field of play. ( Judging by recent performances )



    HH. Alchemycsc.

  4. Bundoran Bhoy and Fourgreenfields sorry to hear of the death of your dear mother. I have said a prayer for her and will remember to say one for her at Mass tomorrow. RIP. You will have plenty of fond memories in spite of this time of sadness. But remember a mother’s love never ends and so she will be looking after you in the Eternal Paradise. God bless you both.

  5. The BBC are reporting it was player power that got him the sack – some of the senior players went to the board to complain about his management about his lack of leadership and his tinkering . The suggestion is now that he merely guided the ship last season, his influence is being played down, it was the players who were responsible for the success. As soon as he started tinkering the team stopped performing



    Could be the owners putting the blame on the players, could be the players using his reputation to try and escape blame themselves, who knows, but it’s soured last seasons achievement a bit and made them seem a bit small-time and shabby when the whole football world is looking at them

  6. embramike supporting Res 12 on

    Said it before and I’ll say it again about UEFA fines for pyros – simply identify ’fans’ responsible for pyros, hand them bill for UEFA fine, ban them until paid. Other ‘fans’ know who they are !



    Yes there are some seeming injustices on who gets reported, but if we stuck to the rules and used common sense, it wouldn’t matter and we wouldn’t be getting these ridiculous fines.Why should club pay for actions of puerile idiots ?



    How much is that now that they have cost the club ? As a shareholder, I want our hard earned income spent on the club squad and infrastructure not on fines due to behaviour of ‘fans’ who think they are being smart. Not true fans IMHO

  7. Paul67, I tend to agree. Stein was the greatest manager in Celtic’s history, but his time was past by the time Celtic decided to ‘relive him of his post’. And yes, it was done shabbily.



    Most football managers are a bit like generals, they tend to fight the last war. But football moves on. Inter were unbeatable, then Celtic, then Ajax, then Bayern. Part of this is the squad coming together at the right time, but part of it is that good managers find ways of combating the existing order, and then it happens to them in turn, and they find it difficult to change. Terry Venables was once the future, remember.



    Fergie is the only UK manager who has managed this in the modern game. I don’t think he’s the best manager Britain has ever had, but he has been the best at adapting.

  8. Claudio Ranieri .



    Given the label – Troppo Simpatico – (too nice ) in Italy .



    When he was appointed Manager of Juventus – some of the support weren’t happy . His early games featured a striscione stating — WE WANT A MANAGER NOT A PRIEST .



    On the glory hunting front ( much removed ) A bar owner in Siracusa marked Leicester’s Title win by digging out a photo of Claudio playing for Siracusa FC , getting it framed and then giving it pride of place on the wall above the till .





    Jock had a very good team in 76-77,painstakingly rebuilt after departures out with his control. Many of which occurred while he was hospitalised.



    What he didn’t have was a squad. No strength in depth.



    He lost Dalglish. £440k from which the board gave him barely a tenth for Dowie and McAdam.



    He then saw what was left torn to pieces by injury. Pat Stanton,gone and replaced by a freebie Frank Munro,as an example. Danny,out to diabetes. Our list of injuries that year was horrendous,we were even signing players on a Monday from the juniors and playing them on the Saturday.



    Desmond White did Celtic no favours by his inaction. I’ll always love Jock Stein. I’ll always treasure what he gave us.



    I cannot say the same for White who had despised Jock for a long time,and twisted the knife first chance he got.

  10. Always thought pistachio was an Italian with a shabby attempt at above upper lip hair growth.




  11. There’s a bit in the Kenny Of The Celtic Book I didn’t know at the time. Jock Stein wanted to sign Andy Gray and David Narey from United in 1975. We offered £80k, McLean wanted over £100k, Celtic board wouldn’t increase offer. Paul Sturrock has said that Jock Stein tried to sign him on at least a couple of occasions for Celtic but a deal could never be agreed.

  12. Nye Bevans' rebel soldier on

    BMCUWP………ffs I’m having nightmarish flashback’s


    Dowie and Munro, a wee taster of what was to come


    in the early 90’s.

  13. Losing Kante to Chelsea completely transformed that team. He was everywhere for them. Like a Duracell bunny on red bull!



    HH jamesgang

  14. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    “As for Claudio, he should have bowed out a champion in May”




    Would have been very difficult to turn down the CL campaign, Paul.


    Feel sorry for Claudio – a really decent guy and clearly a very good manager.


    Almost impossible task to motivate the players for this season. They were never going to repeat last season, but probably thought they would be nowhere near the bottom.

  15. A reminder to us all we should enjoy and are appreciate these good times. The lessons from history tells us they don’t last forever.












    FWIW,White allowed Billy McNeil to spend the rest of the Dalglish money right away.



    McLeod,Provan,Sullivan. Money well spent. No doubt of that,it gave us a night to remember.



    Quite happy to trash Jock at a genuine risk of relegation the previous season.



    That’s six Celts I’ll remember fondly for various reasons. I’ll remember White for different ones.

  17. JAMESGANG @1.14 .



    Kante . .



    I agree with you . Conte tried and failed to get him to Juve from Caen . Media have Chelsea favorites to sign Atalanta’s Frank Kessie . A wowee good box to box midfielder … Juve are interested in him too but they will not match the money /wages that Chelsea will offer

  18. “Almost impossible task to motivate the players for this season.”






    Agreed. This is a fact throughout sport, not just football.



    Often teams win world cups and struggle at the next. Maybe it’s why retaining the CL is so elusive.



    Even the England Rugby team, who were stick ons for the 6 nations, failed after winning the world cup.




  19. Paul 67


    Just read the CQN magazine report of the fine due to to flares at Man City, I must say if Celtic are allowiing delegates to report selectively then this is going to continue , we have plenty enemies, cant the club instruct its lawyers to challenge these when delegates reports are one sided and provide full accounts of what was going on. This is totally unfair especially when scum visit our park in the league and in Europe who wreck it and in some cases receive a Police escort into the ground. What the f..k is Hawthorn paid for.

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