As the dust starts to settle on news of Kenny Dalglish’s removal from the Anfield hot-seat, I offer the following merely by way of a ‘holding piece’…
It’s from the end of last season; and revisits the whole Glasgow thing and punts the notion that City chief Paul Lambert is not so much ‘one of a kind’ as rather just the kind of character that owes his footballing ancestry to the likes of a Dalglish or a Ferguson; a Busby or a Shankly.
Where that may or may not leave him in terms of the succession at Anfield is clearly a completely different matter and, for me, sooooo much might depend on where, exactly, Dalglish ends up.
Back upstairs in the boardroom and able to influence the American owners decision-making process and Lambert – being one of the Bhoys – might have a chance.
Out on his ear without the ear of those that matter and Liverpool might look elsewhere…
But for now, May 11…
‘For those who caught the Radio Five Live interview with Paul Lambert last night, the interviewer opened with a very interesting statistic – one for those who like their football teasers.
One for Neil Adams, in short.
For in congratulating Lambert on steering the Canaries back into the Premiership on the back of a second, successive promotion campaign, the point was made that he would therefore become the seventh Glasgow-born manager to be plying his trade in the top flight of English football.
It was an extraordinary fact; that one of the most cosmopolitan, globally-focussed sports leagues in the world should boast seven managers drawn from just one British city. Arguably, the most divided city in the United Kingdom to boot.
Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United) and Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool) are the two obvious ones. David Moyes at Everton possibly slightly less so. Alex McLeish (Birmingham City) was, according to the records, brought up in Barrhead. But was actually born in the East End of Glasgow.
Barrhead, I learn, has a Glasgow post-code. That’s four.
To which you then add Owen Coyle (Bolton Wanderers) and Steve Kean (Blackburn Rovers) to get the six. Kean is the ‘trick’ one; I must admit, I’ve barely heard of the new Rovers boss; let alone twigged that he would be one of the ‘Glasgow Six’.
That duly became seven on the back of Lambert’s arrival last night. If Malky could have just kept Watford bubbling along, the play-offs might have even offered the chance of an eighth.
Even at seven, however, it has to be more than a coincidence that over a third of Premier League managers next season could be drawn from one city. Relegation issues permitting, of course.
Though if you perm any three from the current bottom four – West Ham, Wolves, Wigan and Blackpool – then it will be the seven next season.
It begs big questions. And important questions as everyone starts – hangover permitting – to ponder just want difference Paul Lambert has made to the Canaries over the last couple of seasons; what makes the man tick; what is it about these Glasgow-types that they can take to management so well whereas, say, Manchester produces, er, no-one? Nor for that matter does Birmingham.
I still suspect that the number of people in Norfolk who claim to really ‘know’ Paul Lambert well, you could number on the fingers of one hand.
He is very much a closed book; most of us haven’t ventured much beyond the introduction, let alone got to the very first chapter.
So, inevitably, much of what follows has got to be a slight stab in the dark. But one now helped by the Glasgow thing and the qualities that they, as a city-breed, bring to the table.
Look at Paul Lambert through the lens of a Ferguson or a Dalglish, and I think an interesting picture emerges.
They’re winners. And as products of the most ferociously, tribal footballing city in not just the United Kingdom but beyond, winning is engrained into their very DNA.
They have passion. Dalglish might be an exception in the sense of the generally calm demeanour he always brought to the touchline, but Lambert certainly shares with the likes of Sir Alex and Moyes his ability to let rip in the technical area.
He doesn’t suffer fools – particularly if they’re wearing black. And, on occasion, he will find himself sitting in the directors box as a result.
They have a temper. Which I guess could be classified as a ‘passion’.
Sir Alex’s ‘hair-dryer’ is famed, of course. Given the manner in which Norwich have – on occasion – turned their fortunes around on the back of a ten-minute ‘discussion’ with the Gaffer at half-time, you strongly suspect that Lambert deals in plain language when the situation demands.
He is, clearly, not one to cross.
As much as that Champions League winners medal demands instant respect off a player, he also brings an element of fear to proceedings. He’s tough. You don’t play in the position that he did and to the level that he did without being able to look after yourself. And that’s a Glasgow thing.
And they think deeply about the game. As in really, really deeply about the game. It isn’t even a game. It’s more important than that.
And there is another element to all this – loyalty.
‘You look after me, son, and I’ll look after you…’ Look at the way in which Sir Alex Ferguson first nurtured and then rewarded the likes of a Giggs, a Scholes and a Neville and you see how loyalty is a two-way street.
See me right and I’ll see you right, is the law of the streets. And for the likes of a Grant Holt, Wes Hoolahan, Simon Lappin, Adam Drury, reward has come in the shape of new and improved contracts; players are looked after; given their due reward for loyalty shown.
Determined. Driven. Ambitious. Single-minded. Hard. All laced with a high work ethic and a profound understanding of the game. It strikes me that these are classic Glasgow traits that serve the sons of that city so well in the brutal world of football management.
Because Lambert, McLeish, Coyle and Kean are hardly the first to tread this path. Matt Busby, Jock Stein and Bill Shankly all, likewise, have Glasgow in common.
For each and every one of them, football management is never just a job, it is an all-consuming way of life. It’s almost beyond a religion. It’s their everything.
And I get the impression that Paul Lambert is straight from central casting, Glasgow-wise. He’s the son and heir from Stein through to Ferguson; from Shankly through to Dalglish. With a large dollop of Martin O’Neill thrown in for good measure.
And why did Martin ‘get’ Glasgow? Because he came from another deeply divided community where passion and commitment flowed through the veins. Just as it does through another of O’Neill’s protégés, Neil Lennon.
You can find an archived interview with Bill Shankly here…
Watch it. And work out how much of that is Paul Lambert. How much of Glasgow runs through one and on through the other.
I think quite a lot.