" WHEN Alex Ferguson realised the scale of the shambles he’d inherited at St Mirren he came to two conclusions.
One, that he had to shake the place up from top to bottom, no matter how many players or directors it riled.
And two, that wherever he wanted to take the club, he’d get nowhere unless he dragged the fans along with him.Now 41 years on, a new Saints manager facing similar challenges has blown the second before he’s given himself a proper crack at overcoming the first.
It’s a mistake from which Ian Murray might never fully recover.
Because when he told the freezing band of travelling supporters who’d booed Tuesday’s scrambled 1-1 draw at Raith Rovers that “I know more about football than they do”, he lost the best allies any gaffer can have.
Ask Fergie. In his early days, when the team was rank rotten and the directors were stuck in the 1930s, he went round Paisley bawling through a megaphone to sell the idea that we WERE worth watching.
I’ve been listening to his memories of these times in the audio version of his latest book — though, to be honest, it’s all as fresh as new paint in my mind, because I was there.
As a 13-year-old, I was one of those who hung on a budding genius’s every word as he turned gates of 1,500 into close on 15,000, turned chumps into champions.
Fergie genuinely did create a 12th man. Murray, unfortunately, has left today’s side down to ten.
See, just as the self-styled office joker turns out to be the unfunniest person in the universe, and anyone who starts a sentence “no offence, but...” is about to offend everyone within a five-mile radius, a true expert doesn’t have to tell you how much of an expert they are.Yet that’s what a young guy under pressure has tried to do.
Prefixing his statement by saying he “wasn’t being patronising” only made punters feel more patronised. Later admitting he picked his words poorly only made him look desperate.
Sorry if he reads this and feels like I’m having a pop, but it’s just the way it is.
I was at Stark’s Park on Tuesday and not even the last-gasp free-kick from Stevie Mallan that rescued a point could disguise how poor a display it had been.
At times like these, a smart manager pulls the punters closer to him. He asks them for patience. He thanks them for giving up their time and their money to be there for a horrible midweek fixture.
Even if he doesn’t believe it, he tells them how wonderful and invaluable they are.
It’s either a sign of just how much pressure Murray is feeling right now, or how little he gets the situation, that he misjudged his post-match comments so badly.
As for the assertion itself, that he does know better than the fans? Well, it’s another argument altogether. And one you’d need to be a very confident man indeed to win.
I mean, how does he know who’s in the away end? How does he know he’s not being booed by a Uefa Pro-Licensed Coach?
The assumption that all fans are less educated about football than someone who happens to earn a crust from the game is a dangerous one indeed.
For instance, the previous Friday I’d been at another fairly woeful 1-1 draw, this time at home to Morton.
Within half-a-dozen seats of me were Tony Fitzpatrick and Tommy Turner, two guys who skippered the club to titles, who played more than 1,000 career games between them — and who were both raging at what they’d just witnessed.
Does the manager know better than them? Do THEY have the right to complain?
Fact is, it doesn’t take a professional to know the most basic things are going wrong; like a team going in 1-0 up at half-time, as we did against Morton, then coming back out 15 yards deeper and inviting an equaliser which eventually came.
You don’t need badges to understand this, just as you don’t need to have been in the dugout to know how meekly St Mirren went down at Ibrox on Saturday.And you don’t need the manager’s permission to shout the odds about it.
I hope Ian Murray turns things round and at the very least gets into the promotion play-offs, because the last thing we need is more upheaval.
But if he does, he’ll have to go at least as far as reading the title of Fergie’s manual on management. It’s called Leading. Not Ostracising." Bill Leckie's view in today's Sun