Cooney and Black

THE madness has begun with the axing of Baraclough and McNamara,but, who’s next for the chop? Premiership sponsors Ladbrokes will be happy to quote you a price

Cooney and Black


THE madness has begun…barely two months into the season and already Ian Baraclough and Jackie McNamara have been axed.

Baraclough’s sacking by Motherwell owner Les Hutchison after just 25 matches in charge – including play-off wins over Rangers that preserved the Fir Park club’s SPFL status, despite the manager not having a proverbial pot to p… in – and McNamara’s departure just 72 hours later did not come as surprise.

Neither was Hutchison or Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson’s desire to quickly glaze over the fact that they appointed Baraclough and McNamara to their respective roles in the first instance.

Instead, Hutchison blamed the ineptitude of the Motherwell players in the wake of their League Cup defeat by Morton, claiming they had left him with no choice but to dispense with the manager’s services, adding a self-pitying whine that it was “an extremely sad day for Motherwell that a fine young man has gone back down the road to see his family having lost his job.”

What utter tosh. Just as Thompson’s crocodile tears over McNamara’s way-going should also have fooled no-one.

The jumped-up Tannadice martinet made life almost impossible for his former manager by flogging the club’s best players at the drop of a hat. It was also inferred by sources close to the club that McNamara was on a cut of the transfer fees and therefore had a vested interest in them moving on.

Talk about trying to pass the buck by attempting to sully a thoroughly decent man’s reputation!

But it was ever thus with football club owners. Ask Danny Lennon, who won the League Cup for St Mirren and kept the club in the top flight for four seasons before being given the boot.

Gary Locke was another shameful treated when he was shown the door by Hearts big-shot Ann Budge in favour of the Craig Levein-Robbie Neilson partnership after doing such a fine job of developing youngsters during administration at Tynecastle.

Instances of managers being treated shabbily by chairmen and owners living in La La Land is nothing new, of course. Jock Stein was demeaned to the extent that he was offered the job of pools manager when Desmond White imagined he had lost his touch.

Stein’s remarkable achievements in winning 24 domestic honours plus the European Cup were apparently forgotten in the blink of an eye.

Then there was Alex Smith. Less than a season after coming within a whisker of winning the championship with Aberdeen after also guiding the Dons to Scottish Cup and League Cup glory, he was dismissed as a failure. Interestingly, Smith was the last truly successful manager at Pittodrie.

So, who’s next for the chop? Premiership sponsors Ladbrokes will be happy to quote you a price despite being condemned by the aforementioned Smith, chairman of the Managers’ Association, who labelled it a conflict of interest.

One thing’s for sure, none of the current crop of managers is entirely safe.

Perhaps one who should be, for the foreseeable future at least, is Inverness Caley Thistle’s John Hughes.

Hughes has done a truly remarkable job on a shoestring budget, guiding the club to a highest-ever third place in the Premiership last season, also triggering entry into Europe, prior to winning the Scottish Cup.

He has since lost several of his best players to other clubs and also had to deal with a horrific catalogue of injuries. Yet, ICT succeeded in beating Aberdeen at the weekend with a performance that suggested that last season was not simply a one-off case of over-achievement.

But while Hughes has delivered big-time, he has not been bankrolled to rebuild his squad – even though I understand his employers have benefitted to the tune of at least £2 million in additional revenue into the club’s coffers on the back of the team’s success.

Ultimately, unless Hughes’ undoubted talents as a coach are recognised by the offer of a more lucrative posting, he will pay the price of success with his P45, for he has created a monster of sorts now that ICT board of directors and their fans have delusions of sustained glory far beyond their station.

And what will executive chairman Kenny Cameron say when Hughes’ time eventually comes?

In keeping with the tradition of those who run football clubs, it will most likely be something along the lines of the words a now deceased colleague used to utter whenever the excrement was about to make contact with the fan late on a Saturday evening approaching copy deadline: “Nothing to do with me, old son” – before putting on his coat and disappearing into the night.


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