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



    You got that problem too? As long as ma dinner appears I think I must have cracked it :)

  2. NegAnon2



    13:43 on 14 December, 2012




    The Celtic bored’s parsimonious ways will continue – as long as folk continue to pay


    £500-£600 for a SB. imo


    Until that stops….the bored will brass it out. imo


    But…given that – this is the 1st season the bored huvny announced how many SB’s have been sold…maybe a lot more fans are starting to see the light ?


    I love the Cellic – from the cradle to the grave- but I’m not going to be ANY billionaires


    MUG. Not now – not ever.


    Only saying



  3. Can I Have Raspberry On That Champions League Ice Cream/estorilbhoy



    Sorry guys but I don’t know why that is happening, the jist of the last post was basically to remind the blog that without then, each and every one of them, then Martin would not be home. But he is home, but he is not better, and if the guys that got him home could spare a moment to say hello, it too won’t make him better, but just for that moment he’ll be with friends and he won’t feel so alone.

  4. NegAnon2



    13:37 on 14 December, 2012



    The over riding motivation of the SNP at Holyrood is to differentiate Scotland from the rest of the UK in every area in which it has the power so to do.



    Hence not just all these daft, petty things, but also the destruction of vast areas of the Scottish countryside given over to wind turbines.



    The merits or otherwise of these policies are of less importance to the SNP than the fact that things change when you cross the border.



    Look at their policies past, present and future with that in mind and you’ll see the pattern..

  5. Afternoon all. Miserable day here weather-wise but brightened immeasurably by the arrival of the CQN annual. After a quick perusal, it looks even better than I expected. My congratulations to all involved.



    I am feeling quite chuffed as I am quoted a couple of times. Looking forward to furthering my CQN addiction…..



    By the way, I wish folk wouldn’t bring up Dixie missing thon penalty; I can still see it vividly in the ole mind’s eye and still get the same sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. We would have been favourites to win the Big Cup again, I’m sure. We WERE that good back then.

  6. Bored with eejits who cannot spell board. If you don’t want to buy a season ticket then don’t but stop lecturing us that do that somehow we are mugs.




  7. Bored with eejits who cannot spell board. If you don’t want to buy a season ticket then don’t but stop lecturing us that do that somehow we are mugs.




  8. Kevjungle – wholeheartedly agree



    Ernie – at least the wind turbines have a point – but soon complaining about them will be made illegal – as will posting things like this on the interweb.



    I was listening to a news item when driving to Edinburgh the other week. The news item was entitled “introduction of new automated safety measures on scottish motorways” Intrigued I listened with interest. But the new automated saftey measures comprised of reducing the speed limits when it gets busy. Thats it. So the rozzers can change the speed limit when it gets busy.



    Its a bit like the Glasgow area – whenever it rains heavily (often) or its a bit windy (often) all of the speed signs on the overhead gantrys are automatically switched to 40MPH. Everyone ignores it but they do it anyway.



    Scotland is fab aint it?

  9. Sachsenring Zwickau- the Trabant motor works football team. Quite ironic.


    The bear was still a school cub and had to get permission by the headmaster to travel to East Germany.



    If my memory is right, this is where the idea of playing Roddie McDonald at centre forward was spawned as he was pushed up front and nearly saved the tie. Despite losing we tried it in the next league game v Motherwell, Celtic were coasting 4-0 at halftime, Roddie though was like a fish out of water, never seen a player so uncomfortable in all my life (picture Fraser Forster playing centre forward). That idea was abandoned. Pat Stanton came and did make a reasonable CH out of him.

  10. Interesting article, Paul.



    A factor in Big Jock’s decline, not mentioned yet, was the loss of crucial players in his “next generation”.



    The Quality Street Kids were on the threshold of replacing the Lions.



    However, the loss of Macari, Connolly and Hay, left a big hole in his future planning.



    These were three players who arguably would have been the nucleus of a great team.



    At the time, I was told by someone with an insight to Celtic Park, that the loss that hurt Jock the most, was David Hay.



    He had intended to have him as the corner stone of his new team.



    When these boys left, we were left with one man, Kenny Dalglish, who was of the calibre required.



    For a few seasons, he carried the team, but it was not enough. He couldn’t sustain it.



    The quality if player around him was not as good s those who left.



    Only Danny Mc.Grain, when fit, was real Celtic class, as set by those who preceded them.



    The car crash was the final blow, as it robbed Jock of the drive required of a top manager.



    God Bless Jock Stein, a great Celtic man since 1951.

  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.



    GrouchoLennon&NeilMarx CSC




    How does that work for the CQN girls?



    confused dot com

  12. I would be surprised if Arsene Wenger was immediately moved aside at Arsenal but I`m sure that someone high up in the club is thinking about it. Nothing is forever. :-(

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




    The Bournesoup kids

  14. ernie lynch





    Mary Stuart wasn’t Irish, and it wasn’t the fact that she was born in France that upset the Six Johns.



    I agree with you about national identities being hard for any government to cement; they still are. However, the Highlanders were hardly unified in conflicts such as Glenlivet, and it was religion that divided them.

  15. Robinbhoy – I admit it I take little care on spelling and grammer when positing on this sight (see what I did their (and again)!! :)

  16. Henriks Sombrero on

    Anybody know what this is about ?



    alex thomson ‏@alextomo


    David Limmond arrested this morning by Strathclyde police in connection with Rangerschat podcast used on C4News report recently..

  17. Celtic_First,



    I haven’t examined it but I imagine the Netherlands would be an interesting country to study with regard to Calvinism and its relations with Catholicism in particular. Traditionally, the North has been almost entirely Calvinist and the part south of the 2 rivers (the Maas and the Schelde, I think) completely Catholic. The 2 parts were almost separate entities, having their own political parties, newspapers, even TV stations. Possibly because of its size, they reached a modus vivendi and a shared pride in their country.



    In fact, Amsterdam now has probably the biggest Carnaval “optocht” (parade) of all. Carnaval, their mardi gras. used to be the preserve of the Catholic South. Multicultural or what?

  18. Paul67 et al



    John Hughes, sold 1971, Lou Macari, sold 1973, Bobby Murdoch, sold 1973, Brian McLaughlin injured 1973, Davie Hay sold, 1974 and Kenny Dalglish, sold 1977. In the latter case Kenny would have left earlier, at one point Jock Stein stuck him in the reserves, but following Jock’s accident on the A74, he stayed on to help Sean Fallon. The problem for Celtic, even when we were one of the biggest clubs in Europe, was that our players knew other Scottish players who played down South, (like Billy Bremner) and found out how much they were earning compared to what Desmond White decided they were worth.

  19. Glendalystonsils likes a mr whippy with his lime green jelly on

    Celtic first




    Of course ,the good guys won the battle of Glenlivet.


    It’s also perfectly feasible that Catholicism in Scotland might have all but died out before the arrival of Irish catholics if it hadn’t been for the secret seminary at Scalan in Glenlivet.

  20. Ramie, Pablo, Aldo, McGraininSpain,



    I don’t know if the internet works wherever you might be, but from you guys, and all the others too, I learned a higher meaning of humility and glory.



    Happy Birthday Kano.

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