The predictable demise of John Barnes


The sacking of John Barnes by Tranmere Rovers was inevitable and predictable.

After his failure in charge of Celtic the former England winger didn’t take time out to learn from his mistakes, he spent almost a decade re-assuring himself that he was right and that Celtic had got it wrong.
No other club in England ever considered Barnes as a potential manager until Tranmere appeared on the scene during the summer.
As a former internationalist who had started near the bottom, Watford, and moved on to be one of the best English players of the 80s and 90s he really should have been in demand, worth a try after his Celtic experience.
Rather than changing his attitude and attempting to learn from his Celtic lessons Barnes nursed a deep grudge that a great managerial talent was being deliberately snubbed by clubs across the divisions.
When the Tranmere job came up it was as if we were back to the golden summer of 1999 when the Barnes magic was poised to transform Celtic with an exciting new brand of football to blow the opposition away. A revolutionary concept that no ordinary manager had ever considered.
Barnes seems to exist in a footballing bubble where everyone is out of sync with the proper way to play football, the Barnes way.
A decade out of football appears to have taught him nothing, as the results at Tranmere showed.
Management is simple, it’s about managing, simple as that. It’s about getting the best out of players, recognising their limitations and working around them.
Transforming League One players into Galacticos isn’t likely, there is a reason that players, and managers are at Tranmere. That is their level, they aren’t top notch and no amount of coaching can transform players.
Barnes Celtic career was certainly lively, if Celtic could have played Aberdeen every week he’d have been a legend, if it was Motherwell we’d have been relegated!
Three games against the Dons brought 18 goals, two games with Motherwell brought two defeats.
Barnes Celtic management tends to be remembered for the Scottish Cup defeat from Inverness Caley Thistle and Henrik Larsson’s leg break in Lyon.
Larsson’s leg break came halfway through his 28 game Celtic reign and was quickly followed by a broken jaw for Paul Lambert in a 4-2 defeat from Rangers at Ibrox.
There were a number of issues rumbling along in the background which neither Barnes or ‘Director of Football’ Kenny Dalglish seemed interested in addressing.
Without exception Barnes signings, or the players signed for him were a disaster.
Top of the pile belongs to Eyal Berkovic with Raphael Sheidt not far behind, £10m plus invested for next to nothing in return on two players wholly unsuited to Scottish football.
Stan Petrov and Bobby Petta turned out to be important players under Martin O’Neill but the least said about Olievier Tebily, Ian Wright, Stephane Bonnes, Dmitrei Kharine the better.
Midway through his managerial reign Barnes sold Craig Burley to Derby County with the grapevine suggesting that Burley and a core of senior players had quickly turned on Barnes style of management.
The end at Celtic but inevitable and abrupt. After a winter break in Portugal the season resumed with a 0-0 draw at Kilmarnock followed by losing 3-2 at home to Hearts after being two goals up before the Caley Thistle debacle.
What happened in the dressing room at half-time has never been confirmed but reliable stories suggest that Viduka turned spectacularly on Barnes after being singled out for criticism.
With golden boy Berkovic and other Barnes signings immune from criticism Viduka was replaced by Wright for the second half with Barnes sacked the next day as Dalglish returned from a golfing holiday in La Managa.
Barnes sacking did in a roundabout way bring around the successful Martin O’Neill era to Celtic, avoiding relegation is the aim for Tranmere with Barnes very unlikely to ever resurface in the management game.
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