Darren Tullet : "The battle that would not be won"

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Darren Tullet : "The battle that would not be won"

Message par Nantais® le Dim 07 Jan 2007, 11:25

http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/sport.cfm?id=32712007

The battle that would not be won
DARREN TULETT

PAUL Le Guen will be back home in Brittany this weekend, but any suggestion he will be putting his feet up and cracking open a bottle of bubbly are way off the mark. For while a part of Le Guen will be only too glad to turn towards contemplating pastures new, another part will be unable to ignore the regrets he leaves behind in Glasgow.

Before examining them, let's set a few things straight, and put a swift end to some of the ridiculous rumours being parlayed around Scotland. Firstly, it was Le Guen who quit, three weeks after a previous offer to resign had been rejected by his chairman. The manager agreed to sign a 'by mutual assent' document at the behest of David Murray.

Secondly, Le Guen did not 'engineer' his departure, as some suggest, because he had another job awaiting him. He walked away because he'd had enough. Speculation linking him to Paris St Germain is precisely that. There has been absolutely no contact.

Thirdly, and most importantly to Le Guen, he left without a penny in compensation, but with, he believes, his dignity intact. He did not ask for a pay-off. Indeed, having returned his Rangers suit and tie, at the club's request, the only tab being picked up by Murray is the cost of his move back to France.

When considering Le Guen's spell with Rangers, it might be wise to begin by turning the clock back to last spring when, impressed by the discourse of Murray and Martin Bain and enthused by the challenge ahead, he agreed to replace Alex McLeish once the season was over.

Having won three straight league titles in France with Lyon and taken them to consecutive Champions League quarter-finals, Le Guen was hot property. Lyon hadn't wanted him to leave - chairman Jean-Michel Aulas said his manager was 'the next Arsene Wenger' - and he had plenty of other opportunities. But Le Guen chose Rangers over the likes of Benfica, Bordeaux, Lazio or Stuttgart because the task of rebuilding a big club with tradition appealed to him. He was in it for the long haul. Le Guen understood back then that he faced a sizeable test.

Rangers were in a mess. The squad had given ample notice they weren't good enough to compete with Celtic, and Murray could no longer fund extravagant forays into the transfer market. The new management team had to look for cheap players, hence Le Guen's recruitment of foreigners, mainly youngsters - footballers he could groom for Rangers' long-term future.

Problems were quick to surface though. The cultural differences Le Guen expected to confront rapidly turned into mini-battlefields. Early training sessions were very physical. Le Guen and his staff determined to improve the overall standard of fitness, and not everyone appreciated the extra miles they had to run and the onus on stamina. Le Guen was also aware that some Scottish players, and key ones at that, were not exactly living the way athletes should.

Le Guen knew that the drink culture, as we have come to term it, is alive and kicking in Scottish football. While the new management team weren't surprised by that, they were very concerned by the extent of some of the drinking. For most new recruits, it was simply something of which they could not conceive.

Murray was aware of some of the problems facing Le Guen and encouraged him to tackle them. Barry Ferguson, though, quickly found himself at loggerheads with the new regime. Perhaps the club's iconic figure and captain felt personally menaced. Or maybe he simply never liked nor got along with Le Guen from day one, or liked what the manager and his men were trying to do. That was his right. For sure, Le Guen had realised the extent of Ferguson's influence, both within the club and in the media, and wanted to reduce it.

Whatever Ferguson's reasoning, he had soon appointed himself defender of all things he felt were being threatened, and particularly of his pals in the team. While his sentiments can be understood, his reactions inevitably led to dressing-room divisions. Rather than doing all he could as skipper to help the foreign players settle, Ferguson's negative vibes towards the management team helped foster an 'us-and-them' atmosphere that ostracised the non-Scots. Le Guen, disappointed and taken aback by the hostility with which he was confronted, watched team spirit disintegrate. Confidence, a key element in the make-up of a successful sportsman, seeped out of the likes of 22-year-old Filip Sebo, the Slovakian striker who often watched his partners in training prefer to pass to Kris Boyd.

In recent weeks, as hostilities became more apparent and more open, players have come close to outright brawling. Training was not something to be looked forward to anymore, simply because of the prevailing atmosphere. The foreigners became more and more downhearted and dispirited. Some of the Scots will have shared their pain.

Dado Prso, after two-and-a-half years with Rangers, is probably the best current example of a foreign player who has fitted in successfully both on and off the field. One of the best team-mates anyone could hope for because of his whole-hearted approach, and the life and soul of many a party both in Glasgow and back at his previous club, Monaco, the striker has been struggling to keep a smile on his face of late. And a lid on his emotions. According to sources at Ibrox, the Croat nearly came to blows with Ferguson recently.

And yet, despite this lack of harmony, there have been signs of promise on the field lately. In between the catastrophic League Cup loss to St Johnstone - the low-point of Le Guen's reign - and the humiliation of a second defeat of the season to Inverness CT, Rangers had lost just once in nine games, to Falkirk, a streak that included worthy wins away to Hearts and Aberdeen, qualification for the next phase of the UEFA Cup and a 1-1 draw with Celtic.

The victory over Aberdeen two days before Christmas was of particular significance, or so it seemed. Rangers looked set to give themselves some breathing space in second place. The following games, against Inverness and St Mirren, should have seen Rangers confirm their progress. Instead, they brought just one point and heralded the now infamous clash between Ferguson and Le Guen.

The clash had been coming. Le Guen had already broached the subject of Ferguson with his chairman several times. Then, three weeks ago, tired of what he saw as Ferguson's continued insubordination, Le Guen went to see Murray again. The Frenchman offered his resignation. Murray refused it, reminding Le Guen that he had a contract to serve. The manager warned his chairman that he considered Ferguson and, to an extent, Boyd, as 'undesirables', that his work was being undermined. Le Guen felt he would get more out of the remaining players if he could be rid of his two stars, in spite of their qualities.

Although Murray resolved to speak to Ferguson, Le Guen was convinced a talking-to would not solve his problems. Things came to a real head after Le Guen and Yves Colleu, his right-hand man, went back over the tape of the Inverness match. A second viewing only served to bolster their belief that Ferguson had deliberately ignored Le Guen's pre-match instructions. The Frenchman wanted Ferguson to play further forward, where he felt his eye for the final pass and ability to get into shooting positions would be more beneficial. Le Guen was happy for Jeremy Clement to sit in front of the defence, bring the ball out and look for Ferguson up-field. The Rangers captain, however, kept running back and taking the ball off Clement's toes, his all-action style certainly not lacking in energy but not at all consistent with his manager's tactics.

After seeing little improvement in the St Mirren match, Le Guen decided to act. He called Ferguson into his office and told him he was no longer captain and would not play against Motherwell. Contrary to some rather emotional accounts, there were no tears. Then, Le Guen called Murray to inform him of his decision. Without Ferguson, Rangers scraped a vital win away to Motherwell. The fans, though, made clear where their loyalties lay with the chanting of the captain's name. And when Boyd struck home the decisive penalty kick he, as we all now know, celebrated the goal by dedicating it to his favourite No.6. It was clear to Le Guen that he had failed to solve his conflict with Ferguson, that the captain was unlikely to want to leave Glasgow and that the unhealthy climate at the club would, therefore, continue to fester.

The manager regrets today not taking decisive action earlier in his 'him or me' saga with his captain, and we shall never know whether that would have made any difference. What we do know is that Le Guen went to see Murray on Wednesday night to tell him he was quitting. A sad ending to a story that had seemed so full of promise just last summer.
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Re: Darren Tullet : "The battle that would not be won"

Message par Nico56 le Dim 07 Jan 2007, 16:23

You don't hire Le Guen like you Hire a Halilodzic, Le Guen was there to build something, if the supporters prefer Barry Ferguson to Le Guen, they just must be silly. Le Guen will find easily a better club to do his job and with confidence.
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Re: Darren Tullet : "The battle that would not be won"

Message par Broonster le Dim 07 Jan 2007, 22:08

To be fair, this is just one side of the 'argument', one journalists view who is 'close' to Le Guen. There are many, many other journalists in Scotland who have a different version of events.

At the end of the day, I don's we will ever find out the true rights & wrongs of the situation.

My view? Well, I think there were mistakes on BOTH sides.
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Re: Darren Tullet : "The battle that would not be won"

Message par Nico56 le Dim 07 Jan 2007, 23:26

Broonster a écrit:To be fair, this is just one side of the 'argument', one journalists view who is 'close' to Le Guen. There are many, many other journalists in Scotland who have a different version of events.

At the end of the day, I don's we will ever find out the true rights & wrongs of the situation.

My view? Well, I think there were mistakes on BOTH sides.

We forgot something :

Happy Birthday
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Re: Darren Tullet : "The battle that would not be won"

Message par Nantais® le Dim 07 Jan 2007, 23:43

http://sport.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=63&id=33262007

Players were oceans apart on training field
DARREN TULETT

BRAHIM Hemdani, in an astonishing interview, has revealed the true extent of the rift between the Scottish players and the foreign ones at Rangers - a division that had a great influence on French manager Paul le Guen's decision this week to throw in the towel.

Hemdani, who lashed in a spectacular late effort to earn Rangers a 1-1 draw against Glasgow rivals Celtic last month, labelled the loss of Le Guen as "an enormous waste" for the club. And the 28-year-old French defender, in a telling anecdote, described the state of confusion among the overseas players on the morning Le Guen's departure was announced.

Thursday's morning training session was cancelled in light of Le Guen's resignation. The Scottish players knew it, and didn't turn up at Murray Park. But nobody bothered informing their foreign team-mates.

"It was all quite bizarre," a disillusioned Hemdani recounts. "Part of the squad turned up Thursday morning, thinking there was training, and the other half were sat comfortably at home. Clearly, half of the players knew it was cancelled, and the other half didn't. Let's just say it was a bit strange. We should have been told."

Hemdani's story goes to show just how bad the communication is between some of the players at Rangers, and further highlights the split in the dressing-room that has caused so much tension at the club this season.

Coming hot on the heels of David Murray's proclamation that there would be no more foreign managers at Rangers in future, Hemdani's revelations will leave supporters wondering how many of the current crop of overseas players will remain at the club after the January transfer window. Hemdani, who was signed by Le Guen's predecessor, Alex McLeish, says he can feel the winds of change sweeping through the Ibrox club.

"When you hear the chairman say there will be no more foreign coaches at the head of the club then it's pretty clear where the club's going now," says Hemdani. "Things are going to change. Obviously, the foreign players will be in a weakened position and it's no good pretending otherwise."

Jeremy Clement, one of the rare Le Guen signings to have won over Rangers fans in his first few months at the club, agrees that these will be trying times for the foreign contingent.

"I've got another two-and-a-half years on my contract and the way I see it is quite simple - I'm paid to do a job and I just want to get my head down and do it to the best of my ability," says the likeable young French midfielder.

"Of course, we're sad to see Paul Le Guen go - we've enjoyed working with him. But when you're a player, you just have to get on with it. I've been playing regularly, and I hope the new manager will want me in his side. But you never know. It's going to be more delicate, perhaps, for some of the foreign players who haven't been getting so many games."

The bust-up between Le Guen and Barry Ferguson seemed to crystallise the growing conflict between a largely Francophone group of foreign players and the Scots, led by their intransigent captain. An "us and them" atmosphere had grown in the dressing-room, leading to several heated moments between leading players and paving the way to the mess in which the club finds itself today. Le Guen's departure, when it came, was not so much of a surprise to Hemdani.

"Frankly, we knew it was a possibility because all the ingredients were pointing to it," the former Marseille man explains. "The situation was becoming more and more difficult, and made his leaving more likely. Some might say his departure is a victory for the Scots clan. All I can say is you have to try to remain objective.

"Since the start of the season there have been people trying to build it into a Scots versus the rest thing. If the manager decided to take the decision he did, it must be because he realised that he didn't have all the right conditions to work in the way to which he aspired."

We shall never know whether Le Guen would have been able to turn things round and build a more stable, successful future for Rangers. Hemdani, though, is certain his fellow Frenchman will be missed. Some of the side's recent performances made Hemdani think a corner had been turned.

"I think things were beginning to happen," he says. "We had enormously progressed in the way we were trying to play compared to what went on before. There was a clear improvement. Paul le Guen's departure is a huge loss, an enormous waste. When you have the good fortune to have a coach of his quality, it's a real shame to lose him. I think he didn't even have time to get started."
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Re: Darren Tullet : "The battle that would not be won"

Message par Broonster le Lun 08 Jan 2007, 20:21

Nico56 a écrit:
Broonster a écrit:To be fair, this is just one side of the 'argument', one journalists view who is 'close' to Le Guen. There are many, many other journalists in Scotland who have a different version of events.

At the end of the day, I don's we will ever find out the true rights & wrongs of the situation.

My view? Well, I think there were mistakes on BOTH sides.

We forgot something :

Happy Birthday

Weyhey!

Thanks mate!
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Re: Darren Tullet : "The battle that would not be won"

Message par Vinny le Mer 17 Jan 2007, 15:34

It's funny Nico, when you write in english I can feel your french accent
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Re: Darren Tullet : "The battle that would not be won"

Message par buddha le Ven 19 Jan 2007, 20:10

Vinny a écrit:It's funny Nico, when you write in english I can feel your french accent

Following Perceval, I say "it's not wrong"
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