I’ve been wondering for some time, why does John Collins not have a more prominent role in the Scottish game? I can hear some of you sniggering already. “Because he lost the Hibs dressing-room.” “He’s obsessed with press-ups and six packs.” “He branded Hearts a pub team after they’d beaten his Hibs side.” “He signed Alan O’Brien.”
Yes, he did make misjudgements as Hibs manager and I can understand why these factors might make people think he’s a dud. But, for me, Collins is one of the few high-profile visionaries we have in this country and his talents are wasted in the television studio.
One of my favourite Scottish pundits, it’s high time this bona fide football purist got back into the game and started getting his hands dirty again. In an ideal world it would be managing an SPL team and trying to follow the likes of Kenny Shiels, Danny Lennon and Stuart McCall in encouraging our teams to play in a more cultured manner. If I was Geoff Brown, the St Johnstone chairman, I’d have been straight on the blower to the ex-Celtic, Monaco, Fulham and Scotland midfielder and demanding he come and talk to me. Likewise, if I was JC, I’d have been on to Brown demanding an interview.
I know a lot went wrong for Collins at Hibs, but were his 14 months in charge really all that disastrous? Having replaced Tony Mowbray in October 2006, he won the League Cup and finished sixth that season. After the player revolt against him, he left in December of the following campaign with the team in fifth, having topped the table just two months previously after a nine-game unbeaten start. In black and white, his accomplishments were relatively decent considering he inherited a squad which needed replenished on a shoestring as many of the big guns agitated for moves away.
However, his Easter Road reign will always be tarnished by the player mutiny. Just because players revolt, however, doesn’t necessarily mean the manager is wrong. There’s an argument that a man with Collins’ record as a player knew a thing or two more than a bunch of 20-somethings who had never accomplished anything significant in their careers to that point.
He was perceived to have been aloof and arrogant with his players, which, if true, is something he would have to address if he was to return to management, but, to me, all Collins seems guilty of was trying to change things too radically, too soon with a group of players who didn’t have the same drive as he had in his playing days. Collins clearly wanted to revolutionise the way things were done at Easter Road, and the players didn’t buy into it.
In essence, he had visions of a team of athletes who looked after their bodies and could pass the opposition to death Barcelona-style. Nothing wrong with that, if you ask me. The extra gym sessions and the press-ups may have seemed alien to many, but what is wrong with asking a footballer to strive for the best physique possible?
This is all part of ensuring they have the best chance on the pitch. We’re forever moaning about how far behind the times Scottish football is, yet Collins, who wanted things done the right way, was ridiculed for having high demands and insisting that the players avoided the bevy on a pre-cup final trip to Spain.
I don’t know him personally, but from what I’ve seen of him, if I was a footballer, he’d be the type of guy I’d like to work with. A confident man with the highest of standards who wants to play possession football on the deck in a country where the short-sighted, direct approach is, sadly, still holding us back.
In hindsight, Hibs, at that point, and then shambolic Charleroi were not the clubs for a rookie with big ideas to cut his managerial teeth. He’ll have learned many harsh lessons from those two gigs and, hopefully, with the likes of Mixu Paatelainen, Shiels and Lennon changing the ethos of unfashionable clubs like Kilmarnock and St Mirren, Collins might feel he can return to the game and start getting another of our clubs playing the right way.
Hearts manager Paulo Sergio has found that the insatiable demand for results over performance mean a cultured possession game is almost unattainable for our bigger clubs at present, but a club the size of St Johnstone, with less expectation and more time to implement his ideas, would have been ideal.
If he feels management is not the route he wants to go down at present, surely the SFA should think seriously about inviting Collins to help performance director Mark Wotte in his efforts to restructure our game. Either way, I’m convinced JC is wasted in the television studio.
League Cup proving little more than a minefield for SPL managers
If SPL managers could vote to change one thing, scrapping the League Cup would surely be right up there.
Seven top-flight sides have been dumped out this competition by lower-league opposition and, for most of that unlucky seven, those humblings will go down as their worst results of the season. This is the ultimate hiding-to-nothing competition for managers, as there’s no prize of European football for the winner, but plenty criticism in store in the event you crash out against lesser-ranked opponents.
In cup football – especially the League Cup where crowds are generally low – the big club will often be subconsciously underwhelmed by the occasion and the smaller clubs treat it as their cup final. Whether fans like it or not, a player’s mindset comes mainly from within – not from the manager.
There has to be a general acceptance that, unless the defeat is part of a wider malaise, shocks happen and don’t necessarily mean the beaten boss botched it. Instead of bashing the big gun, let’s concentrate on hailing Ayr, Falkirk and East Fife for fighting above their weight seven times between them.
WHAT the footballers have been tweeting..
“The clocks going back is of no benefit when you have kids, yet it’s a killer when they go forward. Abolish it I say.” Michael Owen wants clock-changing malarkey addressed
“Just have to say 12 o’clock kick-off is no good for players. Trying to force pasta down at 9 in the morning is not nice.” – Wayne Rooney
Hats off to . . .
. . . Arsene Wenger. Eight wins in the last nine suggests talk of his demise was premature. I’m sure he can guide the Gunners into the top four.
Not a fan of . .
Peter Houston’s job being in doubt at Dundee United. He’s lost the core of his team and is bedding in raw youngsters. Give him time.