FOOTBALL: Leggoland: ROLL OVER; That's What Celts Did for O'Neill

Article excerpt

Byline: David Leggat

IF there is a gambling culture in every dressing room, as we are led to believe, then I wonder just where the Celtic stars are placing their bets this weekend.

At the end of a week in which the new in-vogue phrase became "rolling contract", those Parkhead players are left scratching their heads as they survey some of the odds on Martin O'Neill's future.

Should they, for instance, grab a slice of the newly shortened 7-4fav on offer about O'Neill to become the next manager of Manchester United?

That, though, must take second place behind the argument which has exploded in the wake of O'Neill announcing he has signed a new one-year rolling contract to take effect from January 22.

The row is simply whether the new arrangement is of greater benefit to Celtic... or the Ulsterman.

Whatever a whole host of outsiders may think, the man himself is pretty sure where the balance of power now lies.

O'Neill would appear to be in no doubt whatsoever that balance is now firmly weighted in his favour. He made those feelings clear enough when he said: "My contract had run down so much that this contract is better for me."

There is, of course, nothing wrong with O'Neill making sure that whatever deal he signed was the best one for him personally.

Just as he is absolutely right in his assertion that Celtic - just like any other club - would be quick enough to sack him if results turned sour.

Some misty-eyed supporters argue against that.

They may belt out their "And if you know the history" anthem, but are content to ignore the chapter which tells them even Jock Stein wasn't immune from the axe. Not just Stein either.

Billy McNeill, Davie Hay and then McNeill again were booted out as bosses.

What has been uppermost in the minds of that section of the fan-base is the fact Martin O'Neill, by signing, appears to have put one over on the media.

More discerning supporters have tended to agree with two of the club's legends, Kenny Dalglish and Davie Provan, who have voiced what look like their doubts about O'Neill's long-term commitment to the cause.

O'Neill can argue, as he has done, that such roll-over deals, are now commonplace.

Though when Terry Venables moved in at Leeds United as recently as the autumn he signed a two-year contract. …