Having commuted to the outskirts of Utrecht for the best part of a year from my digs in Amsterdam, I have an insider’s take on The Netherlands. I loved nothing more of a Friday than cycling to my local to meet up with a toke-smoking narcotics division police officer and a former colleague from Airdrie as we made our way to watch a band at the Milk Weig. Slightly the worst for wear we would meet our girlfriends and in the wee small hours we would all walk our bicycles back home via an undreground reggae club. In all the time I dated my Dutch girl she never ever wore a skirt or dress. The Dutch take gender equality seriously.
On Saturday lunch times we would reconvene to watch FC Utrecht at home and away, which is relatively easy in a country as compact as The Netherlands. I had a close look at Giovanni van Bronckhorst during his second spell as a player at Feyenoord. I remember the first occasion well as I was impaled by a dart that had made its way, in club colours, from the visiting fans enclosure.
I only saw Van Bronckhorst once as a manager when he led Feyenoord to win the 2015–16 KNVB Cup. Feyenoord defeated my adopted club Utrecht 2–1 in the final. In his second full season as first team coach, Van Bronckhorst won the Eredivisie title which was Feyenoord’s first in 18 years.
His third season has been inordinately problematic. Feyenoord have only won one of their last six games and are 12 points adrift of leaders PSV Eindhoven after 11 games. They have slumped to sixth position.
In the Champions league they have been thrashed 4-0 by Manchester City at home, outplayed by Napoli and well beaten home and away by Shakhtar Donetsk. Next up is Man City at The Etihad. If Feyenoord lose this tie as convincingly as they did at home, Van Bronckhorst won’t be in the dugout for the visit of Napoli. The writing is on the wall for Gio.
Has he tossed his hat into the ring at Ibrox? You can bet your last Euro on it. With just under two years left on his modest contract, Feyenoord would be easy to deal with. Lite would be doing them a favour by taking Gio off their books.
However a rumour that has grown arms and legs and is now running around Glasgow like Captain Incorrigible Richard Gough in a gloryhole frenzy is that Neil McCann EBT (£500,000) will be his number two. Van Bronckhorst has as yet never been linked to the EBT scandal. However with several names yet to be disclosed he may not be whiter than white, which is probably not politically correct given his Indonesian heritage.
The source of this exclusive news is a conversation that was overheard in a Glasgow restaurant where the barber’s model was holding court. Now Murray could be flying a kite for Slim Shady Traynor, but the idea of McCann as Gio’s number two is so left-field that it adds to the probability that this rumour is credible. No-one needs a lifeboat on the Tay more than McCann and should Van Bronkhorst navigate his way successfully through the canals he might chance the hazardous voyage across the North Sea to answer McCann’s Mayday.
The Gullibillies are tumescent at the news. The bombast and hubris has returned. Some are predicting that they will win the title this year. Have they been eating some cookies from a coffee shop in Gio’s homeland? Lite could hire Steve McLaren and Sam Allardyce as number one and two and still not lay a glove on Celtic.
By pinning their colours on McInnes, the SMSM, true to form, have cocked this up. If Chris Sutton had looked in on this site three weeks ago he would have been apprised of the prosaic fact that Lite did not have the wherewithal to engineer McInnes’ release. Big Fat Derek Johnstone, who Sutton described as a ‘charlatan and Rangers cheerleader’, was all over it like a Saturday evening run-through with his Pirelli calendar outtake. Jackson was hanging on Stephen Kerr’s every word. The Sunday Post got in on the act when their Beechgrove Garden correspondent read Jackson’s copy and duly plagiarised it. They were all wrong.
Sutton is a curious breed. He is one of a band of former Celtic players, turned pundits, who seem to be suffering from a West Of Scotland ‘ Stockholm Hun Syndrome.’ It would seem that the more they criticise their former employers the more their stock rises in blue pounds. Sutton rag-dolled Ronny Delia relentlessly. Delia might not have been ‘all that‘ but he did not need Sutton’s monkey on his back. Should Vålerenga ever make the CL qualifiers and face Celtic, Sutton will be less than welcome in the visitor’s dressing room.
No-one sums up this malaise more than Andy Walker. As Dermot Desmond would say ‘Are you a Rangers supporter?’ Walker takes his sycophancy towards Lite to a new paradigm. Is he a victim of editorial control or an unabashed Hun? Walker gave Sutton such a good run for his money in his rag-dolling of Delia that Scott Brown opined:
“Andy Walker is a poor man’s Gary Neville. He does my fucking box in.”
Someone who has recently got into the act is none other than Tony Cascarino. He has the name of a Latin-American professional dancer, and seemed to be moonlighting minus the sequins at Celtic Park. I’m sure he could do a passable Paso Doble, but he could only find the onion bag on four of his twenty starts. He was no ‘Ballroom Blitz.’
As Celtic set a new British record, Cascarino did his utmost to pour his sour grapes all over The History Bhoys. After he flopped at Celtic, he was a dud at Chelsea, Marseille and AS Nancy. He retired seventeen years ago. Is he trying to make his name as a prospective Scottish pundit? Does he have any history of tax-evasion? If not he need not apply to BBC Scotland EBT.
However he might find a Celtic-hating habitat at Radio Clyde where Hugh Keevins, who started life as a Celtic man, has overcompensated to the point of being one of their harshest critics. Giving Celtic a verbal caning is good radio box office in Clydebank.
I wonder how Gio and Neil, if the rumour holds true, will fare in the media? Will rose petals be initially strewn in their path, or will the invective be as barbed as the wire being rolled out as they discover Caixinha’s squad stinks to high heaven?