COMMENT by Graeme Macleod
Aiden McGeady’s recent spat with Celtic manager Gordon Strachan has confirmed one of football’s unwritten rules – don’t cross the boss.
The Republic of Ireland international has been fined two weeks wages and banned from all first team activities for a fortnight. That will rule the winger out of next week’s Old Firm derby, arguably Celtic’s biggest game of the season so far.
He may be regarded as the best player in the Parkhead squad, but an alleged foul-mouthed rant at manager Gordon Strachan after last week’s draw with Hearts could have cost McGeady his Celtic career.
McGeady is only 22-year-old but he seems to feel he is immune from criticism. He wasn’t the only player given a rollicking during the alleged bust-up last week. Experienced internationals like Gary Caldwell and Georgios Samaras were reported to have been on the receiving end of some rough criticism from the boss before the alleged row with McGeady. But both took it on and chin like men and were wise enough not to answer back.
It’s not the first time McGeady has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. Earlier this season, the wide man was caught up in violent scenes on a night out in Glasgow, with allegations that the player’s arrogant attitude was at the heart of the problems.
Being arrogant enough to answer back to the manager during the course of a verbal dressing down rarely does a footballer’s career any good. But it seems to be an underlying problem with young professionals in Scotland.
Earlier in the week, former Dundee United manager Jim McLean recalled the story of when a 19-year-old Duncan Ferguson had been omitted from the Scotland squad. It was 1991 and McLean said the striker was upset. The following Saturday, Ferguson played for United in front of watching Scotland manager Andy Roxburgh and had performed poorly in the first half. McLean reminded his young forward it was the perfect chance to prove the Scotland boss wrong. Ferguson, McLean says, replied with “I don’t have to prove myself to anyone.”
More recently, with Rangers struggling under the tenure of Paul Le Guen, midfielder Charlie Adam was interviewed about life as a footballer. The then 20-year-old replied that he found it hard to occupy himself after training each day, which lasted just two hours. With his side well out of the title race at the time, a young player anywhere else in the world looking to improve the fortunes of himself and his team may take it upon himself to put in a few extra hours each day on the training ground. Not in Scotland it seems.
And his Rangers teammate, Allan McGregor, is now almost as famous for his bedroom exploits as his goalkeeping saves. The shot stopper has seen his form dip this season and his playboy lifestyle has now been criticised by supporters.
Arrogance may be the reason why Scotland cannot produce world class stars like in yesteryears. Gone are the days of Dalglish, Law and Jordan. And unless young footballers in this country adopt a hard-working ethic and take on board what they are told by their experienced managers, it could be a long time before another Scot is capable of gracing the world stage.
And in the case of McGeady, he isn’t the first player to fall foul of his manager and face the consequences. Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United is renowned for moving on high-profile stars who don’t toe the line, most notably David Beckham.
And it proves that when a player and the boss cross swords, there can only be one winner.