Jim Thornton: Levein should give Trappatoni a call

Written by Jim Thornton.

Who would have thought that Neil Lennon would spit out the dummy after Celtic could only draw at Pittodrie on Saturday?  The Parkhead boss blames it on his players coming back from international duty and having to face a lunchtime kick-off.  Ah, diddums.

Surely now is the time for the Ginger Whinger to smile and play the good guy.  He’s never going to get an easier ride from fans and the media as he’s getting now, so why not gather brownie points while he may.  Milk it for all it’s worth, Neil.  It won’t last forever.
The Accused
It’s always refreshing to see a manager admit that one of the opposition has been hard done by.  So it was good to see Kilmarnock boss Kenny Shiels stick up for Cillian Sheridan after the St Johnstone striker received a red card for diving against Killie at the weekend.  However, do you think Canny Kenny would’ve been so magnanimous if his son Dean hadn’t got his marching orders earlier in the game for the same thing?
Falling over with style. Photo by Gary McLaughlin
To Infinity And Beyond
And full marks to Richard Gordon on BBC Radio Scotland for coming out and saying Shiels and Sheridan dived.  None of this ‘going to ground’ or ‘simulation’ nonsense.  Clearly, diving’s diving, and cheating’s cheating in Richard’s book, and more power to his microphone.

Which reminds me of a debate on Richard’s programme last season, where the non-playing pundits all agreed that diving was cheating, whereas the former players on the show tried to make excuses for the practice.  Zander Diamond could have put up a better defence than they did.

And if we really do have to use euphemisms for diving, what about the quote from ‘Toy Story’ when Woody derides Buzz Lightyear’s attempts to fly?  “That wasn’t flying,” he claims.  “That was falling with style.”
Dancing With Wolves
Poor old Wolves took a 5-0 pasting at the hands of Fulham at the weekend, leaving them firmly stuck in the relegation mire.

You have to feel sorry for caretaker manager Terry Connor in particular.  If his team do go down, he’ll get his jotters.  On the other hand, would he get the job on a permanent basis if he works the oracle and keeps the Molineux side up?  Or would a bigger name be parachuted in over his head once Premier League status was secured?  Cynical?  Moi?
The Godfather
A question for budding managers.

One of your strikers takes the petted lip and (a)says he doesn’t want to play for you any more, or (b) claims he’s too tired to turn up to play in an end-of-season tournament.  In either scenario, you don’t pick the player in question for any subsequent games, and in the case of the latter you make it clear that he won’t be back in the squad for the forthcoming Euro finals even if the only alternative is playing Graham Norton instead.  Are you (a) criticised for being overly stubborn and lacking in man-management skills, or (b) lauded on all sides for being strong on discipline?

Perhaps Craig Levein should give Giovanni Trapattoni a call for some tips.
A View From The Bridge
I don’t know enough about Andre Villas-Boas to have an opinion on his apparent failings as Chelsea manager.  However, his departure from Stamford Bridge will at least stop me from wondering how many units of alcohol I’ve had on any given day.  I just can’t tell my AVB’s from my ABV’s.

Comrade Abramovitch’s latest former manager will no doubt walk away with a fair wad of redundancy pay.  And this’ll be on top of the £13m or so compensation Roman paid to Porto when they lured him away just last summer.  Even so, I don’t suppose the Russian oilygarch is exactly strapped for cash.
However, if he is short of a bob or two, and he doesn’t fancy asking Craig Whyte for a sub, there’s an income stream he hasn’t yet tapped.  Forget selling the naming rights to the ground; Mike Ashley’s brought that into disrepute.  Instead, bring back Wee Jose as manager and get some multi-national company to sponsor the deal.  ‘The Carlsberg Special One’, perhaps?
Babes In Toyland
Is it just me, or are James Traynor and Chick Young starting to morph into Scotland’s answer to Laurel and Hardy?  A big pompous guy who’s not as smart as he thinks he is, and a wee gormless sidekick who can’t work out how many beans make five.

As well as having the original Big O’s physique, Sunny Jim has also acquired his air of self-importance (but without the tie twiddling).   He doesn’t hide his light under a bushel, either - it would have to be a big bushel for him to hide under - and his pronouncements are given out with the same sense of gravitas as would befit a Papal Bull.  Not that you see many Papal Bulls in Airdrie; Coatbridge, perhaps, but not Airdrie.

His defence of Sir David Murray lately has been particularly impressive.  Yes, he admits Murray ran Rangers into £70m or so of debt, but he counters this by pointing out that the good knight then pumped in his own money to bring this back down when the bank started to get twitchy first time round.  That’s like praising a burglar for handing back the swag after he’s been caught red-handed.
Wee Chick, on the other hand, doesn’t have to work too hard to fill the Stan Laurel role.  Do you remember the film where Stanley is sawing through the mast of a boat, and nearly cuts his own head off?  Do you think Chick, a seafaring man himself, would’ve twigged in time and stopped?

The wee man might know a bit about matters on the pitch, though that’s debatable, but he’s clearly way out of his depth when he starts to talk about the financial side of the game.  He’s not so much a mover and shaker, more a pitcher and tosser; I doubt if he would know a secured creditor from a secure unit.   Mind you, if we were to restrict Chick to only talking about things he understands, he’d be the world’s best Marcel Marceau impersonator.

El Chico sometimes stands in for Jimbo on ’Your Call’ on the radio on a Saturday night.  It’s like replacing Packman with Orville the Duck.  JT treats callers with the disdain he truly believes they deserve, blithely cutting-off anyone who doesn’t show him enough respect.  No fluster, just bluster.  Chick, however, is easier to wind up than a fake Rolex.  Just mention his fictitious allegiance to Rangers and stand back to watch the fireworks.  Calm down, wee man, it’s only a phone-in.

But do you know what?  Traynor and Young?  Shearer and Lawrenson?  I take it all back, guys.
The King’s Speech
Talking of pundits, you should make the effort to catch Derek Ferguson doing his stuff on BBC Radio Scotland.  Yes, his grammar makes Charlie Nicholas sound like Oscar Wilde, and he could do with elocution lessons from Rab C, but as Jim White would say: “Why is he so good?”

Behind all the “has wents” and “by the ways”, he clearly knows the game inside out, and has the rare knack of being able to describe it all to punters like me without resorting to punditspeak or mindless statistics.

Andhedoesn’trabbitonbreathlesslyatahundredmilesanhourinanAberdeenaccent, Lewis.

He was also a pure better player than his wee bree, by the way, so he wis, know whit ah mean, man.
Rocky VII

Some say that the Premier League down south is the best in the world.  But last weekend’s ‘fracas’ between Alan Pardew and Martin O’Neill wouldn’t even have made the undercard at a McCoist/Lennon square-go.

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