When great managers tumble over the peak


Looking back it’s easy to spot; that moment when an imperious manager peaks before tumbling over the edge, but at the time this moment is almost impossible to see.  The moment Jock Stein peered over the mountain was absolutely impossible to identify at the time.

Celtic qualified for the 1970 European Cup final by beating English champions, Leeds United, home and away, and were hot favourites to lift the trophy for the second time in four seasons.  They were about to win their fifth consecutive league title and would go on to make record a world record nine-in-a-row, meaning there was a mountain of ‘evidence’ obscuring the peak from view.

We were the most feared side in football in April 1970 but that team’s time as a European heavyweight was over.  Stein remained a further eight seasons but he never beat another team from one of the large European leagues.  A 1975 win over a relatively obscure Boavista was his best result* in the period before he was replaced in 1978.

The reverence Jock is rightly held in by all Celtic fans now was tested during the 70s when I remember tactics and even minor decisions, like substitutions, were being questioned by large sections of the support.  It all ended in ignominy in 1978, fifth in the league and sacked in a clumsy and misleading fashion.

Jock was still a good manager and did well with Scotland but he should have moved on from Celtic years earlier.

Fans of other clubs will always see the moment of inflection before those too close to the event, but even Arsenal fans are now politely making the case that their once-supreme manager is no longer suitable for purpose.  Anyone suggesting that Arsene Wenger was finished in 2004 would have been certified.  His team had just won the league undefeated, the first team to do so since the 19th century.  They won the FA Cup on penalties the following season and reached the Champions League final a year after that, but they have not lifted a trophy since 2005.  Wenger was a fine 2004 vintage but has disappointed since.

After a slow start at Manchester United, Alex Ferguson has managed to remain at the top for 20 years.  His most important ability appears to be to know when to change coaches, players and tactics.  It has long been said that the best managers were not great players as they needed to acquire a conscious insight on the game which gifted players inherently knew.  Perhaps enduringly great managers are not even tactical geniuses, it’s more important that they can just spot a few.

Ordered the CQN Annual yet? Get it here in time for Christmas!

Remember being a teenager?**  The excitement of waiting for news of the latest pop charts was big news for some.  You can relive your youth buy BUYING ROD STEWART’S single before Sunday.

* In European competition, between beating Leeds and when Jock left in 1978, Celtic eliminated Kokkola, Waterford, B1903 Copenhagen, Sliema Wanderers, Ujpest Doza, Rosenborg, Turku, Vejle, Basel, Valur, Boavista and Jeunesse d’Esch.  They lost to Ajax, Inter Milan, Ujpest Doza, Atletico Madrid, Olympiakos, Sachsenring Zwickau and Wisla Krakow.  And Feyenoord, of course.

** CQN demographics suggest for most of you, your teenage years are now a distant memory.

[calameo code=00039017193b8a8bbd612 lang=en page=126 hidelinks=1 width=100% height=500]
Click Here for Comments >

About Author

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 33

  1. Paul



    Teenage years that is going back a bit :)



    Family outing to game tomorrow as have made use of the free ticket allocation.



    Hoping for a good result.

  2. kikinthenakas



    12:26 on


    14 December, 2012





    The Committee by Sean McPhillemy


    Banned in the UK



    What book is this ?

  3. Paul67



    Big Jock’s Celtic were very unlucky not to get past the European Cup semi-final encounters with Inter Milan and Atlético Madrid, especially the latter.



    We deserved to go through both times. Would we have been good enough to beat Ajax and Bayern Munich in the finals? Both were terrific teams, but on the night, anything can happen, as we showed Inter in 1967 and as Feyenoord showed us in 1970.

  4. ‘@ OfficialNeil


    Some serious negativity emanating from the tabloids up here regarding us…really disappointing…and boring now





    Welcome to Salmondland…

  5. ArranmoreBhoyLXV11 on




    I cannae log in and work at the same time..



    Lovin the MSM getting so envious they try and unsettle our players..



    What? No mention of Mintys owing of millions or Chucks Fables?



    Thought not..



    In Lenny we trust!!




  6. ** CQN demographics suggest for most of you, your teenage years are now a distant memory.



    I resemble that remark !!!




  7. time for change, good stuff. Wrap up warm.



    Ralston Row, correct. Oversight.



    Can I Have Raspberry, aye, indeed.



    Celtic_First, if only we could enjoy such hard luck again.

  8. On the demographics, I point you all to the Radio 3 programme last night in which youff worker and writer Lindsay Johns argues that we need to stop wondering all the time what young people will make of us, our views, our products and our appearance. Who cares? Tell them to beat it.



    He believes corporations, councils and entertainers spend far too long “genuflecting at the altar of youth”. And that it has to stop.



    Mon the Lindsay.




  9. celtic first at 12.36……….entirely agree.Unlucky to lose to Inter on penalties and no need to make further comment on Athletico Madrid with their Argentinian contingent.Alf Ramsey called it right “ANIMALS”.

  10. Swivel-eyeddavieleggat is fast becoming my favourite blogger. One really feels for the “hard-working, decent, loyal folk of Bathgate” with their “hate-filled, anti-Rangers, Fenian” postie!


    Absolutely brilliant!

  11. If there’s a Celtic person left that doesn’t know that MSM especially rag newspapers are anti Celtic always were and always will be, then they’ll never know.



    The absolute certainty is that anti Celtic bias will get worse and is easily measured by the lower the level of division Sevco play in, this is precisely the country we live and play football in.



    The better the Celtic team the more trashy the tabloid.



    Plus ca change



    1888 CSC

  12. kikinthenakas



    The Trigger Men by Martin Dillon



    The Shankhill Butchers by Martin Dillon



    Stakeknife by Martin Ingram/Greg Harkin



    the Amirissar Massacre by Nick Lloyd



    British Spies & irish Rebels by Paul McMahon



    The Nemisis File by Paul Bruce



    Ambush by James Adams, Robin Morgan and Anthony Bambridge



    Ten-Thirty Three by Nicholas Davies



    Big Boys Rules by Mark Urban



    War Without Honour by Captain Fred Holyroyd

  13. Gordon_J backing Neil Lennon


    12:41 on


    14 December, 2012


    “CQN demographics suggest for most of you, your teenage years are now a distant memory”



    Thanks Paul. And a merry fracking xmas to you too.




    I thought that was a short intro to a new blog from you on “Fracking”



  14. On Why LNS enquiry is necessary and Why It is Being Attacked



    The following is from a discussion on Paul McConville’s blog about the Lord Nimmo Smith enquiry into player registration which CG portrayed as a witch hunt. It delves into underlying principles and why admission of wrong is so difficult.



    I was not talking about the FTT decision but what the findings suggested in terms of player registration that will be decided on by LNS..



    You guys just do not get it do you? The underlying principle of sport is fair play and that is what the rules are intended to convey. LNS is looking at player registration and if the rules about revealing all remuneration were broken.



    EBTs according to the FTT evidence were intended to provide Rangers with a sporting advantage and that they did by allowing them to attract a higher quality of player than they might have otherwise. However in failing to report the added benefit accruing via the use of ebts when they registered players (and this is not in doubt from what the FTT reported) they broke the fair play principle the rule is intended to support. The two issues, tax avoidance by ebt and player registration, whilst separate converge at the player registration point because had the additional remuneration been reported as part of the player contract there would have been no question of why it was not reported, which on the face of it, was to ensure the sporting advantage ebts were used for, was in fact delivered.



    Based on what came out of the FTT it seems that Rangers embarked on a risky tax avoidance scheme that they hid from the football authorities (and do not give me it was in the accounts crap) to gain sporting advantage and the question has to be why? If the tax adviser said it was not necessary and Rangers took that advice they usurped SFA authority by not checking with them. Whatever way you slice and dice it ebts should have been included in player registration remuneration details or permission to exclude them requested. Neither was done and the only conclusion can be is that Rangers did not want to put the ebt objective at risk by seeking guidance or reporting them and so they willfully did not and so broke the rules.



    On the question of contrition etc thanks to whoever responded. [only God gives absolution] It suggests why there is such a wide cultural gap between supporters of either club. One group is used to admitting wrong during their life time, the other to denying it until they die. Very interesting in terms of understanding why LNS is seen by one side as a witch hunt that would confirm officially a wrongdoing took place for which no absolution is possible in their lifetime and the other side as a search for the truth and justice. that could then lead to reconciliation.

  15. Gordon_J, having met many CQN’ers, the stats don’t lie. I spent a couple of hours with Dixie last month and discussed that night with him. We were somewhat unprepared.



    Vmhan, I see what you did there.

  16. I’m going to audition for a job in the scottish media so here goes.



    Prominent Celtic website CelticQuickNews today called for the resignation of hoops’ boss Neil Lennon. In his daily article, Paul67, explains that invariably managers will stay at a club when they are past their sell by date.



    A quick scan in the comments which followed, showed that no-one disagreed with this. This shows that the supporters have come round to the fact that Neil Lennon must go.



    I know Paul didn’t say any of this, but when did the truth ever matter to our friends in the msm.




  17. Negativity about Celtic is the only thing the tabloids have left to try to sell their abysmal, intelligence-insulting products.



    They used to be able to use lewd images and innuendo, but they are open-source now.



    They used to be able to use sycophantic exultation at the supposed triumphs of the second-biggest institution in Scotland. But the second-biggest institution in Scotland is now deid.



    Sevco stuff is clearly not selling many papers. There’s only so much you can say about a game against Montrose, I suppose.

  18. I agree about the post-1970 period. Although we beat some good teams after that, there was never a time when I really thought that we were the best in Europe – there was always a team which we felt would be out of our league (Ajax is perhaps the best example: but that Ajax team were historically special). Up until around ’74 I would have put us in the top 5 or 6. Still, that wasn’t so bad. If only….



    Managers tend to have a shelf life. Fergie is probably the only exception I can think of, he probably has a hairdrier in the attic which grows older. However, you also need to be lucky, as Mr Bonaparte said. Jock Stein inherited a fine group of players which was his luck: his genius was to take them where he took them.



    Mentioning Ajax, I remember that at the time of the Celtic-Ajax ties, a certain Johann C was angling for a better contract at Ajax and according to the Glasgow papers said he would have been happy to come to Celtic. Does anyone rememebr that??

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 33