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.

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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. No Ledley is he injured?. Strong side I’ve got a real good feel about today. Could be 4 or 5 and maybe some Ambrose acrobatics.

  2. No Gene, its 3-5-2 according to website. Efe, Kelvin, & Charlie at the back. With Lustig & Matthews bombing forward on the flanks.

  3. Gene's a Bhoys name on

    I notice there will be a minute’s silence before the game today for the victims of the Connecticut shooting. Truly sad and puts things into perspective.




  4. A Ceiler Gonof Rust on

    Thats about as strong as we could field.



    Hope we hammer st mirren. Really looking forward to the game.



    Young acgr had a pepperoni pizza for lunch and is now tucking into a big bowl of minestroni for desert.



    He one hungry hungry bhoy.



    Off to the game.





  5. corkcelt



    Lustig at back with ambrose and wilson, accordng to site.


    Looks like mulgrew and mathews giving width, brown and


    kayal to move forward and vic in the centre.



    Hail Hail

  6. Summa… I just posted on fb to you


    theres a wee shop opened at parkhead cross selling celtic prints.



    Your hero has pride of place in the window.



    Guy beside me said it is maybe an advert for pantene shampoo



    I replied… Its defo not gillette ;)

  7. corkcelt



    Acc to website it’s Matthews and Mulgrew as wingbacks, CBs are Lustig/Efe/Wilson.



    I’m surprised Wilson’s been moved out to LCB, as he looked so impressive in the centre.

  8. Gene's a Bhoys name on

    I think I saw this morning that Man city wagebill was £200M and they lost £94m last year – crazy!

  9. Just dropped in to ask….



    Is it true that we’re about to pay – £3mill for a striker ?


    I’m confused as we baulked at – £1.5mill for Johnny Russell ?


    I hope it’s true !


    Time to move the club on from the-bosman/bargain/trialist level.imo


    And, it would be ghood to see some of the fans money eventually


    re-appear back on the pitch.


    Not looking for a fight….only saying.



  10. Not at game today, just about to leave for works Christmas doo. Burghbhoy junior away to Paradise with his godfather.



    Wish I hadn’t said I would go to the doo!



    C’mon the hoops

  11. Its just a rumour KevJungle, The Daily Mail are claiming it as an Exclusive but no other confirmation. Some on this site say there are reports lad is heading for Germany.

  12. AH Sh***, Montrose should have scored last minute equaliser, lad hits inside of post from 6 yards, Huns go down to other end and score with last kick of game. Final Score 4 to 2.

  13. If I caused any offense or lowered the tone of the blog last night then I apologise. From my perspective I was just posting some sounds as I surfed youtube for memories. I have re-read the posts and would only remove one of my posts which referred to two other bloggers sorting out their differences. Anyway, I hope that Celtic maintain their good form and that we have an injury free win. I would love to see big Efe bang one in. My intentions are always good I dont want to cause a problem. If necessary I’ll stop posting.

  14. Fanandpatriot



    Exactly mate, feel like a part timer, my true love is not getting my full attention and I feel guilty!



    Plan to have an uninterrupted run of games to the end of the season.



    Living vicariously through Burghbhoy junior today!

  15. ACGR



    Pints of Moretti?!



    Good for you ma’ mhan!



    I have been ridiculed on here in the past for saying that I like Birra Moretti!



    Buncha’ philistines! :-)



    C’mon the Hoops!