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.

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  1. Paul67



    See your second footnote all I can say is “You cheeky, but scarily accurate, bassa!!!”



    Back to lurking

  2. Paul67



    Big Jock never fully recovered from his near fatal car crash in 1975 – Sean Fallon was in charge for the 75/76 season and we finished runners-up in the League and League Cup. Not an entirely disastrous season, but the first without a trophy since 1963/64 – I am just old enough to remember that.



    The following season 1976/77 we won the double again with Jock in charge. On reflection that should possibly have been his swansong, but he remained for one more season which turned out to be a repeat of the barren early 60s. Season 1977/78 is the ONLY season with Jock in charge that we failed to win a trophy.



    Said it before and will repeat it ad nauseam – I shudder to think what would have happened if Jock had not returned in 1965!




  3. sixtaeseven: Armageddon ain't a bad place to be! on

    CQN demographics clearly indicates that you’re only as young as the woman you feel.



    GrouchoLennon&NeilMarx CSC

  4. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    If Celtic dont lose any players in the January transfer window and get a wee bit luck in the Champions league draw on the 20th of December I can see no reason why we cant progress into the quarter finals.I feel certain that many of the teams we can draw will still under estimate us and that is our Ace in the pack.As for Celtic activity in the January window we could benefit from a quality ball playing midfielder and we may consider a couple of young Scottish players to add to our young pool of riseing talent however,it would not surprise me in the least if we dont sign anyone.H.H.

  5. Seven Celts named in Scotland’s U19 squad for next month’s training camp – Chalmers, Findlay, Fraser, Miller, Herron, Kidd and Lindsay.



    official CelticFC



    Armageddon CSC

  6. kayal33



    11:32 on


    14 December, 2012




    11:22 on 14 December, 2012



    BetFred are/were good but in recent weeks they must have been taking a pasting. Odds are cut and they now only give a selection of championship games instead of the full list.






    Yeah that always happens..



    Goodluck tomorrow in ur pickings.

  7. RTE (Ireland’s national TV station) have a weekly TV magazine similar to the Radio Times and this is how they describe the Queen’s Speech.



    The Queen – The British monarch lectures her subjects.







  8. It’s also interesting to ask why negativity about Celtic is still so popular.



    As people in the main representative CQN demographic have seen me post before, this is where the whole thing gets very interesting in my opinion.



    Scotland has an ongoing issue with Catholics, and its history in the last 150 years has turned that into an issue with the Irish. Scotland is the only country in the world to have become Calvinist-run and almost entirely Calvinist in the theological outlook of its population. Everywhere else, the Calvinists were a minority, seeing themselves as a people set apart, a city on a hill. Calvinism as the core belief-system for an entire nation, its laws and institutions, never happened anywhere else.



    Aye, they had a go with prohibition in the US and (infinitely worse) Apartheid in South Africa. Aye, it was exceedingly hard to get a drink in Ontario on a Sunday, but it was always an influential minority imposing that way of doing things on the rest of the population. In Scotland, there was no rest of the population. Not until the Irish started arriving in big numbers in the late 1840s.



    This is deeply significant because as Scotland tries to become a grown-up modern democracy, it can clearly have no place for prominent politicians calling for forced repatriation and prominent employers excluding potential workers on grounds of religion and race. But after centuries of teaching that Catholics are bad because they are Catholics, which was the attitude our forebears encountered when they arrived in Scotland in the wake of the An Gorta Mor, and which Rangers and others perpetuated until more than a century later, it’s clearly going to take more time for the back-story to stop influencing contemporary attitudes.



    Express contempt for Catholics or Irish people (because they are Catholics or Irish) and you ought to face the wrath of the law. The same if you exclude these groups, or any other, from jobs in your company.



    Express contempt for favourite football club of many of the Catholics and Irish (as well as lots of other people) in Scotland in 2012 and the law can’t touch you because it’s just banter, but it’s banter that presses some very old and still-functioning buttons and this, my friends, is why it is so prevalent.



    Good job we can take all they have to throw at us and come back for more.

  9. Paul 67



    You didn’t mention that in Mr Stein’s last season, Celtic had just sold their best player to Liverpool for – £400k and gave Mr Stein – £90k to find a replacement ?


    Also….at the start of Mr Stein’s last season – in the opening league game v’s Dundee Utd…Celtic lost – Danny McGrain – Pat Stanton – Alfie Conn – through injury, all for very long periods. You see….the traditional Celtic FC trait of – cutting back the quality on the pitch and giving the manager peanuts to replace that quality was as much alive in those days as it is at present. imo


    Mr Stein was treated miserably by the Celtic board. No surprise there then !


    Only saying.


    Hail Hail

  10. P67



    Armageddon is real…..



    Falling attendances (under 20k), no away fans, concerns over the quality of football. The league needs rangers.






    This was my first ever game at Paradise :-). Had to sneak away (wasn’t allowed to go to the games because I would inevitably be stabbed. Seriously!) local fella had sadly died after an incident at a game a few years before this.



    I though Nicholas came on as a sub, turns out he started. The mind plays tricks indeed. Main memories were how green the pitch was, how close the players were and not believing I was standing in the jungle!

  11. sixtaeseven: Armageddon ain’t a bad place to be!




    13:11 on 14 December, 2012




    CQN demographics clearly indicates that you’re only as young as the woman you feel.




    make that as young as the woman you can catch. Zimmers set to turbo.

  12. He used to be a gregarious pit-bull on here, an intrepid defender of all things Celtic. Something unexplainable happened and now he is a perpetual hostage to mechanical life support. His ability to pit-bull is all but gone yet he is still the same gregarious Celtic Supporter who once walked and talked with us.



    He’d love to shake your hand.




  13. I see that the SNP Government continues to focus on they key issues of the day to ensure that everything is made illegal



    Latest targets



    Air guns


    and even funnier parking on pavements…….



    Good to know that the govt has its finger on the pulse and thank goodness we dont live in a police state…….

  14. KevJungle – MURDO’s 30 yds Title Winning Boots 1979



    If Peter Lawwell has



    “Jan 2009” on his tombstone



    will you have



    “Celtic Board Did It Doctor”



    on yours? :)

  15. Kit, your YouTube links still error on my iPad, not sure why but seems to be mainly the ones you post. Anyone else using an iPad get this problem?

  16. Celtic_First



    There is a book “Bigotry and Scottish Football” under publication.



    I think you will be interested in the various views it contains.



    Out next year I understand.

  17. Celtic_First



    13:19 on 14 December, 2012



    Scotland’s problem was with Irish Catholics rather than Catholics or the Irish per se.



    Indigenous Scottish Catholics and Protestant Irish were accepted , because neither threatened the Scots sense of themselves.



    It’s partly to do with the extreme Calvinism of the Reformation in Scotland but it’s also to do with the fact that Scotland only became a ‘nation’ in the sense of an imagined community ie the majority of people in a given territory imagining themselves belonging to the same community, fairly late on, certainly much later than England. For centuries the level of distrust and hostility between Highland and Lowland Scotland, which were in effect two separate cultures, not even sharing a common language, meant that Scotland wasn’t a nation in any real sense, it certainly wasn’t a country at peace with itself. Those divisions healed in the 17th and 18th centuries but what the sense of nation that resulted was still too fragile to accept the wave of Irish migration that was to follow. The influx of Irish Catholics was seen as too great a threat to what it meant to be Scottish because Scots still weren’t wholly comfortable themselves with what that meant.

  18. sixtaeseven: Armageddon ain't a bad place to be! on




    CQN demographics clearly indicates that you’re only as young as the woman you feel.




    make that as young as the woman you can catch. Zimmers set to turbo.




    and if perchance you catch one, remembering what it was you were supposed to be doing

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