By Hugh MacDonald
IT is not just a case of patting mates on the back. The PLZ soccer interview with Davie Moyes was a good, old-fashioned scoop. One that set the agenda for the sporting day and was lifted by other media outlets.
Its content was fascinating but so was its context. The football world is changing very quickly, certainly in terms of finance. It is, of course, important who manages the team but increasingly the problems for teams outside the big European elites is how to tailor their business plans to cater for a business plan that seeks to include them.
The cries for Ronny Deila’s head have been loud and oft times undignified, even crude. But Celtic’s problem – shared by those the Dutch, Portuguese and Belgian leagues among others – is how to live in a world where they have severely restricted revenue streams, particularly as regards television income.
The stark reality for Celtic, and others who once had ambitions of winning European trophies, is that it is not only player recruitment that has its problems but player retention. Celtic find it difficult to attract the players that would make entry into the Champions League a more reasonable prospect. This is not just about wages. It is about convincing players to earn their living outside the bigger league. Cameron Jerome, of Norwich City, for example, chose the Championship and the prospect of the EPL over a tilt at the Champions League.
But, crucially, it is about creating the talent that the team has developed or recruited. Many of the Lisbon Lions had been a Celtic for years before the European Cup triumph. All of them played their best football at Celtic before retiring or being allowed to leave. This simply would not happen nowadays.
It is impossible to develop a team because players want and have the means to move on fairly swiftly to the bigger leagues. Much has been spoken of Celtic’s relative plight in European terms and recruitment has been blamed. But how about this for a team playing for 4-2-3-1?
Forster; Lustig, Van Dijk, Denayer, Tierney; Wanyama, Ledley; Brown, Song, McGeady; Hooper (or Griffiths)
This side may not cause sleepless nights among those who seek to win the Champions League but it would offer a decent chance of qualifying for the group stages of the competition.
The fate of Deila dominates the agenda. But the challenges for teams outside the elite will not be fully solved by a mere change of manager.