Just days from his autobiography goes on sale, excerpts of Roy Keane’s tell-all story are coming out to wet the appetites of football fans across the country and beyond. After the Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson tit bits, excerpts were published in this morning’s newspapers as Keane explained why he never became Celtic manager.
It is interesting to note that Dermot Desmond was chasing Keane as Neil Lennon’s successor, the majority shareholder is a successful businessman and used to be a shareholder at Old Trafford before selling up – so it is no great surprise Keane was his bhoy. Desmond was the one who brought Keane to Celtic Park as a player for a nice wee retirement payment before he hung up his boots after all.
IF Desmond actually cared for football matters then why would he sign a manager who failed at Sunderland and Ipswich? Two clubs where the pressure of management was minuscule compared to the likes of Celtic. There is no denying that was a great midfielder – a combative midfielder that any side would have wanted in their team and since he left Old Trafford under a cloud the Manchester side have failed to replace his like. But not all great players make great managers – case in point John Barnes. Brilliant player, but rank rotten at management – despite his claims of racism being behind his failure to get a job.
Also across the city, Rangers have seen John Greig – Ranger’s greatest ever player – be labelled one of the Ibrox club’s worst managers and Ally McCoist is heading in that direction also.
The pursuit of Keane was nothing more than a PR stunt, just like Desmond had done with Roy and Robbie Keane when they donned the green and white jersey – to sell more merchandise, to get bums on seats and to increase the profile of the club in one swoop.
And yet sources from within Celtic told several Scottish mainstream journalists, in the aftermath of Keane’s knocking back of the job, that he wasn’t offered the job in the first place. Whatever the real story is Keane never became Celtic manager and despite the rhetoric from some fans now, from those commenting online he wasn’t high up on the list of potential candidates from a fans perspective anyway.
Certainly I was pleased that Keane did not get [or take up]the Celtic job as he failed to show during his time at Sunderland and Ipswich that he was good enough. After just over two years at Sunderland, in which he managed 100 games, his side won 42 games, drew 17 and lost 41. While at Ipswich, he managed 81 games, won 28, drew 25 and lost 28.
He quit Sunderland after spending £70 million on 33 players – including £9 million on current Celtic keeper Craig Gordon who was then at Hearts – and after he departed the Sunderland players celebrated with claims that he ruled by fear at the Stadium of Light.
So while all the headlines this morning had Keane egotistically saying that Celtic ‘never showed how much they wanted me’, what would Keane offer Celtic as manager?
Spending big on average players? Ruling the dressing room with fear? Thinking that he was bigger than the club?
If Celtic didn’t rock Keane’s boat, then Keane would have sunk the boat.
As we all know now Ronny Deila was offered the position. Henrik Larsson admitted he was offered the job but rejected it also – and comparing Celtic’s decision to approach Keane and Larsson, then going with Deila, the Norwegian was the better decision as neither former Celts have set the heather alight in management at lesser clubs.
Keane was a great player, he was a poor manager and at best should be a coach, he should never have been considered let alone offered the job in the first place.
The revelations from Keane’s book also highlights the influence that Peter Lawwell is holding at the club, interfering with the football management side of the club.
Keane was told that the club would choose his assistants – and with Deila coming in so too did John Collins rather than Deila’s own man, which Martin O’Neill, Gordon Strachan and Neil Lennon had the benefit of. John Kennedy was also promoted from the youth set up. We know that Deila’s time at Celtic has been hit with issues on and off the field, but it would have been a smoother transition if he had a management team he knew and trusted not one thrust upon him. But at the end of the day Deila agreed to the terms of his contract and he is responsible for that also.
Likewise, Celtic signed several players with Deila having no say in the matter. Craig Gordon was signed – as we know now – as a replacement for Fraser Forster before the Norwegian signed on the dotted line, while Stefan Scepovic was signed without Deila ever watching him play. The Parkhead side have also ignored numerous young Scottish players in favour of signing foreigners who may or may not achieve a re-sale value. In effect, Lawwell & co. are running a moneyball system by building a team to do enough to win the league on a shoe string budget.
The stark reality hit home this summer when Celtic failed to qualify for the Champions League group stages with a team that was bereft of quality, quality that had been sold off by Lawwell and the Celtic board year on year. A successful team has to have a strong spine and from the side that beat Barcelona 2-1 in 2012 – only Fraser Forster [sold after Legia Warsaw defeat]and Scott Brown [injured for Celtic’s start to the season]remained.
In my previous article, citing that Deila needs time and patience rather than his P45, he also needs club officials to stick their own jobs. Lawwell, to run the club and not interfere in football side of things – like Mad Vlad used to do at Hearts. And John Parks and his scouting network to watch and assess players for the manager to then decide if the player should be signed.
Scottish football has changed, we all know that, but Lawwell’s change of the way that Celtic works is having a negative effect on the club to make as much profit as possible. It is having an effect on the pitch and its having an effect in the stands also.
Time that Celtic realised that they are a football club as well as a business. They are here to entertain the Celtic fans, their customers, even the most loyal customers would eventually turn their back on a business that fails to cater for their needs.
Going by average attendance statistics over the years, this season’s attendances have been the worst at Celtic Park since season 1995/96 when they averaged 34,459 – that was with Rangers in the league also.
Keane’s appointment as manager would have bolstered the attendances somewhat, but Champions League football and the Glasgow derby against Rangers were always the big lure for the fans and the lack of entertaining characters and football gives the fans an easy decision to stay at home rather than spend over-inflated prices for a product that is as flat as a pancake.
Is this simply down to Ronny Deila – as some fans are trying to blame – or is it bigger than one man and down to interference from the Celtic board, Peter Lawwell and Dermot Desmond specifically?
Either way Deila will be the man held accountable – a convenient patsy for those really to blame for Celtic’s failings – while they await the return of Rangers?