A few weeks ago Dunfermline Athletic manager Jim McIntyre spoke after his side’s Clydesdale Bank SPL encounter with Hearts. ‘I don’t think we were ever in danger of losing the game’ he said, ‘but for all we didn’t look like conceding we needed to threaten more’. An interesting analysis from the Pars boss, particularly when one considers Hearts won the game 2-0. Although the match statistics seemed to back up his need to threaten more - attempts on target 0; attempts off target 1.
Now the bold Jim was merely doing what any manager worth his salt does - he was backing his players and trying to accentuate the positive. However, losing two goals without reply does make his assertion that he didn’t think Dunfermline was ever in danger of losing the game a tad inaccurate.
The following weekend, Manchester United were giving something of a shock when their city neighbours gate crashed Old Trafford and trashed the place, City cruising to a 6-1 win. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said afterwards that it was the worst result of his career, as either a manager or a player. Naturally, this had many football anoraks out there trawling the record books for the last 50 years to see if Fergie was right. And, sure enough, it emerged that when Ferguson played as a bustling centre-forward for Falkirk, he was part of the team that lost 7-1 to Airdrieonians on the final game of season 1971/72. To be fair, you couldn’t really blame a shell-shocked Fergie overlooking a meaningless, end of season result from nearly 40 years ago, although it’s doubtful he’ll forget the Manchester derby hammering - no matter how hard he tries.
When Ferguson was a player, the managers he played under at Falkirk, Rangers, Dunfermline Athletic etc. didn’t have television cameras and microphones stuck under their noses five minutes after the end of a game. Sure, they spoke to journalists after the game but it was a much more informal arrangement in those days, perhaps a glass of beer in the boardroom and the knowledge that not everything would be reported. Nowadays, with television covering every top flight game and instant communication a necessity thanks to the internet and the advent of instant news, websites and blogs, a manager only has to look at someone the wrong way and it’s reported for the whole world to see.
McIntyre’s words after the defeat from Hearts brought to mind some other quotes from football managers from years gone by that are filed under ‘we know what you mean’ drawer. Former Aston Villa manager Ron Saunders was once asked about unrest in the dressing room and supposedly replied, 'Allegations are all very well but I would like to know who these alligators are.' A snappy response in some ways.
Former England manager, the late Ron Greenwood, once remarked that ‘playing with wingers is more effective against European sides like Brazil, than English sides like Wales’. Unsurprisingly, these comments didn’t go down particularly well with the Welsh nationalists. Another former England manager, Kevin Keegan, once said ’I came to Nantes two years ago and it's much the same today - except that it's totally different.’ Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has come under a fair bit of pressure recently. Bruce is one of those managers who is always good to listen to because he has a passion for the game that is admirable. Particularly when he says things such as ‘If you are in the six-yard box, standing in an offside position, then you are offside’.
Back in the 1960s, a Welshman, Ivor Powell, who successfully managed Bradford City and Carlisle, allegedly uttered these words after a good season on the field, 'Without doubt, one of the secrets of our successful season was the harmonium in the dressing room.' After a celebratory dinner, he was heard to say, 'We had a lovely meal. Lovely. We had a big steak with all the tarnishings.'
I’ll leave the final quote from the manager of Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Terry Butcher is another who has the gift of getting people to listen whenever he talks. His passion for the game and for his country is second to none (even if it is England…) Back in January 2010, during the week when the top flight clubs came into the Scottish Cup, Terry was quoted as saying ‘The beauty of Cup football is that Jack always has a chance of beating Goliath.’
I hope Jack isn’t a happy boy in a couple of weeks when the Highlanders visit the capital city...