So, apparently the big news of the day is that Celtic gaffer Ange Postecoglou gets to go home for the first time in three years when Celtic take a tour of Australia later this year during the World Cup break.
This is a good idea. It would be nice to have Celtic, not only a club with an international stature but also an international brand, play Australian teams in what would best be described as friendlies that, under the best circumstances, would keep Celtic players fresh and promote goodwill in the Land Down Under™.
Want to screw up this perfect plan?
Simple. Ask Celtic’s ugly neighbors from Ibrox along for the ride.
Nothing yet has been etched in stone, but rumors immediately floating around the announcement have Sevco joining us on this jaunt halfway around the world.
My colleague Niall J from The Celtic Star outlines the situation here with a healthy dose of clarity. I would urge you to read his take on the situation.
He nails it when he says, and I’m paraphrasing here, that the last thing we need is to have marauding Huns defiling Sydney in the same way they’ve descrated St. George’s Square in Glasgow after winning the COVID Cup. Or when they rioted in Manchester during a UEFA Cup final in 2008. Or when . . . well, I could continue, as there is a significant list here, but I think you get the point.
The Celtic Board would be well advised to think this one through. Clearly, masses of Australian football fans will come to see Celtic play clubs native to their land.
In fact, a matchup between Celtic and clubs Postecoglou managed in Australia, like Brisbane Roar or Melbourne Victory, would have the potential for becoming iconic.
And the special nature of this tour would be hampered significantly by dragging another Scottish club — an embarrassing and undeserving one at that — along for the ride.
Think this one through and read the room, Celtic Board.
Organizing guru and bestselling author Marie Kondo says — and I’m paraphrasing here — that if something doesn’t bring you joy, you should toss it.
With that in mind, I am tossing Scottish football.
Scottish football is unwatchable. It is nowhere near worth the effort of putting in two hours of my life on a weekend or weekday to watch when, more times than not, even in a Celtic victory — like the one against Alloa on Saturday, which is the final straw after many other instances — it does not provide satisfaction.
Life is too short to watch unfair, corrupt, bad football. And Scottish football, whether it’s the SPFL or the underleagues, has created an environment where hammerthrowers thrive in high numbers, where officials at all levels are either too corrupt or too stupid (and possibly both) to provide a even a halfway decent product on the pitch, and where sports hacks of the mainstream sports media — no one outside Scotland would ever consider them real journalists — would rather pad their wallets than provide the public with the truth.
To say nothing of the leadership in the upper leagues, who are blind to a situation in which their league spirals into backwater oblivion in the eyes of the world outside of their borders.
In a worldwide market where football fans have a wide choice of quality football from around the world to choose from, Scotland does itself no favors by acting like everything is fine and actively ignoring these glaring problems.
Problems which the Bundesliga doesn’t have.
Problems which LaLiga doesn’t have.
Problems which the Eredivisie, the Allsvenskan, or Ligue 1 don’t have.
Problems which even the MLS doesn’t have.
I love Celtic and I think that Ange Postecoglou is on the right track. There’s a good chance another treble is in the works this season, miraculously, and it’s my sincerest hope that this transpires. It would be poetic justice in the face of the constant abuse in the form of attacks on our players on the pitch while referees look the other way, and the bleatings of so-called “journalists” covering matches, who are spoon-fed nonsense that they transcribe as if they were stenographers.
I’ll keep watching Celtic, and rooting for them. I will still suit up every game as I always do when I watch. But where once I looked forward to game day, now it has become a chore; what was once a welcome event has become a two-hour visit to the garden of Gethsemane.
I’m through with having to watch Celtic playing both the 11 men parked on their end of the pitch and the four so-called objective officials who, maybe not so ironically, have SpecSavers on their sleeve.
I’m through having to temper any joy in victory with dealing with a casualty count, while literal assailants go unpunished and, in some circles, praised.
I’m through with watching one SPFL club get preferential treatment in every game, while every other club in the Premiership — including Celtic — sits idly by and says nothing.
This behavior may play to rave reviews there at home. But bear in mind that the rest of the world is laughing at you.
And that’s the worst, and saddest, part about it: Hands are thrown up and it’s just accepted as “our fate” or “our lot in life” that it has to be this way, because it has always been this way.
I’ve turned comments off. This is pretty much non-negotiable. If the Scottish game perchance ends up improving, becoming more fair and objective in its officiating, and providing the quality that is truly there — groaning under the sheer tonnage of graft, hypocrisy and greed that would stun a team of oxen — I would fight to be the first to sing its praises.
But I think I have a better chance of seeing Nessie pop up out of Loch Ness. From my couch.
So long, SPFL. Good luck. And, as always, Mon the Hoops.
My holiday season could best be summed up by the line in “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas: “No one could have had a noisier Christmas Eve.” Hence the late post, scheduled for it’s usual Tuesday slot, for which I offer apologies.
First, I hope everyone had a good and safe holiday season. And to the supporters of the Glasgow club that plays at Ibrox, we should let Chris Sutton drive here, wishing them a happy holiday season.
Despite a draw at St. Mirren which brought out the Naysayer Brigade once again earlier last week, the Bhoys ended with a crisp 3-1 win at McDiaramid Park last weekend on a pitch that might quite possibly had been used the previous day for a tractor pull or some other monster truck event. The Scottish Football Association clearly needs to step up their standards on playing fields, and these guys deserve to play on much better fields offered by St. Johnstone.
But I digress.
In this holiday season, Celtic fans have a lot to be thankful for. This guy, for starters.
There is no one — no one on God’s now less-than-green earth — that could have pulled off the herculean task that Ange Postecoglou has done.
He leaves his family in Australia, and comes in to a club in turmoil without his own staff and inherits the backroom staff that arguably brought us to this point. He works briefly with a CEO he’s in tune with and suddenly, mysteriously, the CEO resigns under questionable circumstances. Now with a new club captain, he’s fighting off player injuries and nebulous and oft-changing COVID restrictions. And then there’s dealing with a Scottish sports press corps which, collectively, seem to both be sharing a collective IQ point while rewriting the record book in number of moronic questions asked of a Celtic manager.
All of that, and then there’s the officiating. Between the “honest mistakes” and downright chicanery in other games, the fact that SpecSavers sponsors the SPFL referees is an irony lost on no one.
Yet the turnaround many expected to take most of the season, at the earliest — and many were expecting longer — was nearly instantaneous. We are now 2nd in the league, easily within striking distance. Some may argue that 2nd is nothing to be thankful for, and there may be a case to be made for that. However, it could be phenomenally worse.
As it stands right now, Eddie Howe’s Newcastle is in the relegation zone. Are you really going to argue the point that we should trade places with Newcastle?
I didn’t think so.
Then there are these two guys.
Some of the more vocal and somewhat, um, “opinionated” supporters on social media wrote off Anthony Ralston long ago, as they do with anyone who has one or two bad games (Remember Jack Hendry, now excelling in Belgium?). If we can be thankful on this holiday season for anything, it is these wannabe swamis are light-years removed from any decision-making authority in Celtic’s player personnel. The amount of crow eaten by these Playstation Pundits can be measured in tonnage seeing the player that Anthony Ralston has become. But give Ralston credit — he worked hard to make the jersey fit, and his improvements on the pitch have helped in the club’s recent success.
And Kyogo Furuhashi? すばらしい — suburashii, meaning “wonderful” in Japanese. Not only does this kid light it up on the field and is a joy to watch playing the beautiful game, he’s also living rent-free in the tiny heads of his detractors, who claim he cheats because they have no other reasonable way to explain how, even at 5-foot-7, he’s head-and-shoulders above the rest of the league.
And speaking of head and shoulders . . . (you knew that was coming).
Charles Joseph John Hart. Joe Hart, to those of us who know and love him between the sticks for Celtic. The reputation of a big-time player past his prime was clearly unwarranted as he stepped up with both his commanding play and a commanding leadership presence on the pitch.
There are more contributing to the good tidings as well: Cameron Carter-Vickers’ rock-solid defense picks up when others falter, and he should stay with Celtic; there’s talk of that being bandied about during the break. Jota should definitely be signed as soon as possible — he seems to be at home at Celtic and his presence has proven to be a good fit for the club. And what can you say about Tom Rogic? The Wizard of Oz has found the magic so many had thought he had lost.
Leading up to the holidays, the results — though not perfect — were good enough to lead into a happy and satisfying Yuletide. There’s no reason that this won’t continue into the second half of the season.
Happy New Year, Celtic fans. You’ll never walk alone.
If you are a Celtic fan — and if you’re not, why are you here in the first place? — the afterglow of the Insert-Sponsor-Here Scottish League Cup final victory on Sunday was still fresh on Monday when this video appeared on social media.
Give it a watch. I’ll wait.
The video takes shots of the postgame celebration at Hampden and puts the images atop audio of Ange Postecoglou in a speech he made to the Socceroos — the Australian national team — when he was coaching them. After doing a little digging, I found the clip on YouTube of the original video, which is here.
Go ahead and give it a watch. Again, I’ll wait.
There is literally a world of difference between the Scottish coal pits south of Glasgow — where the likes of Jock Stein, Matt Busby and Bill Shankly removed themselves to lead football clubs — and the sunny shores of Melbourne where Postecoglou, an immigrant lad whose family had fled Greece in the wake of a political coup, grew up and learned to be a footballer and then a coach.
But despite the difference in distance and time, it’s not a stretch to say Postecoglou is cut from the same coaching and leadership cloth as our own Jock Stein. Compare the football played this season to last season — this season is definitely a lot closer to “pure, beautiful, inventive football” the way Stein had his team play it when he was in charge.
Just to be clear, I am not equating Postecoglou with Stein. Postecoglou has a long way to go to reach the rare air of Stein’s lofty status as a football manager. However, with a foundation marked by his successes in the past coupled with the recent turnaround of this current team, he is well on the way.
But more to the point: Postecoglou is clearly Celtic grade. Pure and simple.
It has gone beyond the trivial “foreign coach brings new ways to a new land” subtext, because despite the club’s recent successes, Celtic has returned to winning silverware again. That speaks volumes to Postecoglou’s skills as a manager.
So to say we’re fortunate to have him is a profound understatement. And whether it’s bringing his brand of football to the Hoops or putting the self-important and self-aggrandizing Scottish sports press in its place, Postecoglou has made his mark on the Scottish game in the time he has been at Celtic’s helm.
We can only hope he continues on the same successful course with the club, and if the past several months are any indication, he will clearly earn a place in Celtic history.
It’s 6:30 a.m. Pacific time, and I’m already awake — fallout from the 8- to 9-hour time difference between here and Europe when dragging myself out of bed to watch Celtic and St. Pauli matches live — and because the Winter Solstice is tomorrow, the sun is just making its way on the horizon behind the hills to the east.
But I confess, after a sleepless night — in a good way — I am still buzzing about yesterday’s win. My daughter, who was born in Kodaira-shi in the Tokyo Metropolitan District to her Japanese mom and me, now has an adopted older brother named Kyogo Furuhashi, who becomes a part of the family by virtue of his Larsson-esque play this season.
This is a Monday I don’t mind facing. In fact, I’m planning to break my mask protocol and wear my Celtic mask for two days in a row when I go into work later. Even in America, the reach of Celtic has a profound effect on its followers, and I know I’m not the only one. Across four time zones, there’s an excellent chance Yanks who bleed green-and-white are still buzzing about the results at Hampden.
Thank God Eddie Howe balked at joining Celtic and is now toiling — to be diplomatic — at Newcastle. Howe would have never — never — accomplished the same 180-degree turn with the Hoops as Ange Postecoglou has in the last several months.
As an aside, I don’t know where Dom McKay might be these days, but he’s owed a huge debt of gratitude for bringing in Postecoglou and the wave of players in during the last transfer window, many of whom made the difference yesterday with long-time Celtic veterans like Tom Rogic, Nir Bitton and Callum McGregor.
Put aside the fact that Postecoglou won, in a matter of months, the same number of trophies that Steven Gerrard took years to finally accomplish at Sevco before taking the first train out of Glasgow for Aston Villa. Ange is no stranger to silverware, and for those of you keeping score at home you can count Hampden as his ninth — three with South Melbourne, three with Brisbane, one with the Socceroos, one with Yokohama Marinos, and now one with Celtic.
But they said Postecoglou was not built for the SPFL. They said he’d be gone by Christmas.
In what has sadly become a hallmark of the Scottish mainstream sports media, they thought wrong.
And this team Postecoglou has put together, what more can you say? It’s a team that is once again geared to win trophies. Against most odds. Against the resistance of a Celtic board that balks at expense.
And what about this kid?
Kyogo was not 100 percent yesterday, coming off a hamstring injury. But he was ready to play regardless. Postecoglou said on Sunday that no one was keeping him off the pitch, and for this we are truly thankful. The kid delivered.
It wasn’t just Kyogo. It was everyone, a team effort. Even Carl Starfelt — who Michael Stewart couldn’t slam hard enough on the game broadcast, early and often — had an OK game with a couple of miscues that resulted, arguably at most, with Hibernian’s only goal. But the point here is that everyone stepped up, because that’s the Celtic way.
My Celtic Star colleague Niall J points this out in more depth in his article here. It’s worth a read, outlining the contributions the team has made. But it bears repeating. Rogic? Awesome. Bitton, coming in for the dinged-up David Turnbull? Phenomenal. McGregor, the captain? No doubt the man we want in charge. Cameron Carter-Vickers? His solid defense clearly earns him the nickname “The Rock,” in deference to actor Dwayne Johnson.
[Cameron “The Rock” Carter-Vickers. Hmmm. That has a nice ring to it.]
The only thing missing, sadly, on Sunday was the absence of Jota, who is out with an injury. If anyone has contributed to the success of the club this season, it is clearly Jota. And for him to be absent in the victory on Sunday was definitely heartbreaking.
But of all the deliriously joyous events and happenings at Hampden, this one was probably the best.
Some cardboard cutouts are destined for the trash bin. And some are present at the final at Hampden. If you listened closely enough after the game, you could hear Bertie Auld say, “That’s entertainment.”
Coffee’s ready, finally. We’re away to St. Mirren on Wednesday — here we go again, we’re on the road again. Mon the Hoops!
First things first: Celtic played a phenomenal game at Tannadice on Sunday against fourth-place Dundee United, winning 3-0 easily with phenomenal play from Tom Rogic, ballet-like moves by David Turnbull and new kid Liam Scales slotting one in to seal the deal.
What could have been potentially a nailbiter with key players missing — the absence of Anthony Ralston, Jota, and Stephen Welsh casting a shadow over the game — ended up being a classic show of Angeball.
The Bhoys in Green made fairly easy work of a club that — unlike, say, Livingston and their 10-0-0 formation — actually went out of their way to challenge Celtic on the pitch with a pressing style of play. While it’s hard after a 3-0 defeat to heap glowing praise on Dundee United goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist, he did play well to keep the score from being significantly higher; to say nothing of feeling completely awful for ex-Celt Charlie Mulgrew, now sadly toiling in obscurity for the Tangerines, who got beat so handily by Rogic on the first goal of the game.
But . . .
You would think that the officiating would be its cutting edge sharpest in a match where all eyes were on the Men in Black, especially after the razor-thin margin of an offside goal for Celtic on Thursday had caused such a huge scandal in Scottish football.
Sadly, any semblance of objectivity or sharpness on the part of the officiating crew at Tannadice, or anywhere else throughout the league for that matter, was virtually non-existent.
On Sunday, three offside calls that weren’t really offside — I guess that will show us. Countless fouls matching the non-calls on fouls.
And then there’s the aptly named Callum Butcher. Butcher: Is there an any more appropriate name for a hammerthrowing nobody who immediately should have been red-carded for his spikes-up marking of David Turnbull?
No doubt the Scottish Football Association’s Crawford Allen will have a busy week going round all the media outlets telling us why Butcher didn’t get a red card and why his linesmen had countless incorrect decisions against Celtic on Sunday, just like he did this past week after Kyogo Furuhashi’s goal against Heart of Maddenlothian . . . sorry, Heart of Midlothian.
Wait. Who am I trying to fool?
So, while I’m pleased with the results against Dundee United on Sunday, pleased with how Ange Postecoglou and the coaching staff arranged the limited personnel, and reassured by the uptempo style of play which makes us the team to beat in the Scottish Premiership, I don’t want to get complacent with our treatment by the officials, which is nothing short of abhorrent and, as the rest of the world outside Scotland sees it, hypocritical.
As such, it’s easy to take our foot off the gas — rhetorically speaking — when it comes to the malfeasance on the part of the officiating crew. This is where I think we should keep on it. Keep pointing out the errors, keep pointing out the injustices. Some might say, “Well, it has always been this way,” and that may be. But it doesn’t mean we have to accept it.
Call it out. Early and often. Every time it happens.
One more thing
First: Ghirls will be ghirls.
The Ghirls in Green won their first piece of silverware in a decade — the Scottish Women’s Premier League Cup on Sunday, dragging out a 1-0 victory over perennial women’s power Glasgow City. Fran Alonso has really gotten the women’s team to fire on all cylinders this season, and it’s good to see that he’s getting results. Congrats, ghirls!
Second thing: Why isn’t Tom Rogic ever in any of the Celtic Christmas videos?
Anyway, we have the fascists from Real Betis visiting Celtic Park in a Europa League match on Thursday. It might be a good time to give some of the bhoys a rest and let the kids take the stage, so to speak.
California and the West Coast of North America has just weathered a monsoon-like storm over the last two days, keeping most of us indoors and, speaking personally, keeping me staring out the window at the rain pelting the tree-crested ridge that separates me from the Pacific Ocean a few miles away.
Yet I didn’t come here to wax poetic. The point is that with nothing to watch thanks to intermittent power outages until the skies cleared this morning, and with the Bohemians battling Waterford — literally battling, as in they may exchange gunfire before 90 minutes are up — in the background because, well, that happens to be on at the moment, I started to think about a conversation I had recently with one of my football-following colleagues at work over the weekend.
The basic premise of the conversation went something like this: It’s really odd — but remarkably fortunate, too — how well Celtic ended up right now in the face of earlier uncertainty, with some of the personnel that graces this season’s Celtic squad, both on the field and on the sidelines.
Remember back when we were all wringing our hands about whether Eddie Howe was going to grace us with his presence on the Celtic sidelines, and the disappointment by most in the heel-dragging days that preceded Howe’s ultimate rejection? Well, that was a phenomenal blessing in disguise, because had Howe accepted the post, we would not have had Ange Postecoglou come to lead the club.
And the odyssey of Dom McKay? In his 40-day cameo appearance as club CEO — and prior to his departure for reasons we may never know — McKay ushered in not only the Postecoglou era, but the club had a phenomenal transfer window which essentially reinvigorated the lethargic and demoralized club.
The calculus is very simple: No McKay and Postecoglou, no Kyogo Furuhashi. No Joe Hart. No Liel Abada. No George Michael . . . I mean, no Jota. No Josip Juranovic. The list goes on and, sure, not every transfer is an instant success, but we are seeing improvement in the likes of new players like Carl Starfelt and Giorgios Giakoumakis.
Without Postecoglou’s guidance, there’s an excellent chance we don’t have a resurgent Anthony Ralston and Tom Rogic. Because of Postecoglou, we have call-ups like Adam Montgomery flourishing under a new system; an attacking style of football that was profoundly lacking — and profoundly responsible for a lackluster performance — last season.
Out of what could have been a disaster — a mad scramble for a manager and a patchwork transfer window that could have been a disaster — at the advent of this season, the end result with McKay and Postecoglou calling the shots may have been just the thing Celtic needed to get things back to normal.
Speculation is a funny thing, and while I would prefer not to think of where we might be under Eddie Howe’s leadership had he taken the Celtic post, I would be willing to bet we would not be as far along in Celtic’s recovery as we are right now under Postecoglou.
Well, the Bohs dropped one to Waterford 2-1 and we have Hibernian on Wednesday at Easter Road. Mon the Hoops!
One of the most remarkable facets of Celtic’s season so far has not been any particular performance on the pitch, but rather Ange Postecoglou’s performance off it, specifically dealing with the Scottish sports media.
Apparently, the Australian gaffer has taken to heart the words of warning from The Celtic Star’s editor when the gaffer met with non-mainstream media — that’s us, the bloggers and podcasters and the like — early in the season, when Postecoglou was told at the outset he’d have rough sailing with the Scottish mainstream media’s sports writers.
Coupled with the fact that, collectively, the sports writers and pundits in the Scottish press have the unique distinction of being a bigger joke than the SPFL officiating — clearly no small feat there — and Postecoglou’s performances behind the microphone have been, to this day, flawless.
On a personal note, the news media is something I know a little about. Until 2014 when I was part of the last layoff at the Santa Cruz Sentinel, I had been in news field — in various capacities and on two continents — since the day Jimmy Carter was inaugurated president. That would be 20 January 1977, for those of you keeping score at home.
That said, I think I speak with a degree of authority on the topic when I say, by any journalistic standard, the bias in both the reporting and punditry in Scotland when it comes to professional football is an embarrassment only eclipsed by the state of disrepair in the game itself. On all levels — from the daily newspapers to the BBC, initials which can now easily stand for “Billy Boys Channel” — the nature of distrust that, ironically, has replaced the hallmark of journalistic integrity serves as a cautionary tale not only in football, but the news industry’s role in society as a whole.
The fact that Ange Postecoglou is not having any of it is absolutely refreshing. Compare any Postcoglou press conference with that of his predecessor, whose fumbling through the questions was literally painful, and you can see that the Celtic manager is all business, all the while not suffering the media’s fools — of which, unfortunately, there are many. Ange’s straightforward manner and tell-it-like-it-is addressing of questions that are completely nonsensical is a breath of fresh air in the staleness that has become commonplace in SPFL coverage.
Celtic did themselves a favor — and can continue to do so — by allowing more access to non-mainstream media outlets in order to provide a more balanced and nuanced coverage of the club; coverage that is, and has been, clearly lacking in the mainstream media.
But meanwhile, there is this: Angeball is great, but Angepress is better.
Anyway, tomorrow we have Ferencvarosi TC at Celtic Park at the odd Tuesday kickoff time of 3 p.m. (7 a.m. here on the U.S. West Coast), so I hope we can grab a win in this Europa match.
One more thing
Speaking of the Europa League, one of Celtic’s opponents in the current group — Bayer Leverkusen — had its lunch eaten by Bayern Munich yesterday in their Bundesliga match, when Bayern scored five in the first half. I watched another match yesterday while that one was going on — Hammarby and AIK in the Allsvenskan, the Stockholm Derby featuring ex-Celt Mikael Lustig, which Hammarby won 1-0 — but thanks to the modern miracle of ESPN+, I was able to watch a replay of the first half of the Bayer-Bayern game.
Putting aside for a moment that Bayern is near perfection when it comes to 90 minutes of football or that even I could manage Bayern to the Bundesliga championship with their depth of talent, Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky — a proverbial thorn in Celtic’s side as of late — really couldn’t be faulted for the first three goals which seemed to come from woeful defensive miscues, while the other two could be placed squarely on his shoulders. There was even one Celtic-like Bayern shot that glanced off the post, so it could have been 6-0 easily at the first half.
The point here is that while Leverkusen could be Celtic’s strongest opponent in our Europa League group, Hradecky’s bad day at the office should not be misconstrued as anything but that, and Die Werkself are still an overwhelming adversary in advancing to the next stage.
Those who know me, to any degree, know that I hate to repeat myself. Let me emphasize this loudly for those in the back who may have missed it: I hate to be redundant.
But even after writing about Harry Hood’s American tour of duty with the San Antonio Thunder in an earlier blog post, this post bears repeating because Matt Corr — Celtic historian and author, master of Celtic European travelogues, and Celtic Star colleague extraordinaire, among other accomplishments — has written a definitive and official biography of the man they said was “twice as good,” and hence part of the title.
Corr’s previous efforts with Celtic Star Books have been outstanding. “Invincible” outlines in great detail the first of the Quadruple Treble seasons where Celtic went unbeaten (and, in a truth-in-advertising moment, I’ve also written about it here). And I have to admit to being remiss in not mentioning earlier how great his other book with Celtic Star Books is — that being “Walfrid and the Bould Boys” that he wrote with David Potter and Liam Kelly — in which the trio plumbs the depths of Celtic’s infancy to outline the foundation of the club we support today.
With the holidays right around the corner, I have to confess that getting an Ange Postecoglou black sweater/jumper is on the top of my list for Santa, but second definitely would be Corr’s book.
But for those of you who may want to forego the Ange sweater/jumper — because, unlike me, you may not share the Aussie gaffer’s physique — you can pre-order the book from The Celtic Star Bookstore already at this link. Bear in mind that pre-orders come with an autographed copy of the book once it’s delivered to you.
As an aside, in this upcoming holiday season, what could possibly be better than Elf on a Shelf?
Wait for it . . . Hood on the Wood.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen! I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitress . . .
Just when you think that the worst part of the International Break is speculating how long Kyogo Furuhashi might be out with an injury, now we have to deal with this: Dom McKay, after 72 days of steering hopeful and optimistic change in what was previously a dire situation at Celtic, is leaving the club for “personal reasons.”
Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, with our complete and unequivocal wish that McKay successfully navigates whatever personal business he needs to tend to in order to make right whatever it is in his personal life.
But there’s no denying this: McKay left a lucrative and successful tenure at the Scottish Rugby Union to take the reins at Celtic. This, of course, made him an outsider in a club where, quite unfortunately, an “old boys’ club” tends to be part and parcel of the Celtic board. McKay envisioned modernization, moving the club forward with unprecedented moves — hiring Ange Postecoglou and overseeing one of the most active transfer windows — and now he’s walking away before seeing these changes come to fruition.
That’s suspicious, even to the least skeptical of us. Evidence is a funny thing, and since we have so little of it, there’s nothing left but speculation. But at the outset, everything points to this: A culture in the Celtic boardroom that is as toxic as many have pointed out in the past. A culture that, when faced with change, became unmanageable for the CEO, forcing him to step down.
If this is, in fact, true regarding the culture of the Celtic board, it needs changing. Right now.
There could be other reasons, and until we know for sure, the suspicion will always be that McKay was forced out, either overtly by the board or covertly by the board’s resistance to McKay’s changes to enact his vision of a successful Celtic.
The lack of transparancy that sadly has been a hallmark of the Celtic hierarchy will always lend itself to such speculation. McKay was clearly on the right road to recovery from last season’s woeful debacle, and with the installation of Celtic’s director of legal and football affairs — and, as some have mentioned, Peter Lawwell clone — Michael Nicholson stepping in as interim CEO, what once seemed like a bright future in building a strong Celtic side has dimmed somewhat to the potentially lackluster business-as-usual that brought us last season’s mediocre results.
Time will tell. In the meantime, godspeed Mr. McKay, and let’s hope the back office hasn’t blown this one.