Murdo MacLeod explains his successful Celtic relationship with Wim Jansen
Since yesterday’s awful news about the passing of former Celtic manager Wim Jansen, tributes have come pouring in.
Perhaps though, at least from a Celtic context, nobody worked closer with him than Murdo MacLeod. A favourite as a Celtic player, MacLeod was brought on board to help Jansen navigate a potentially historic 97-98 campaign. It turned out to be an absolute masterstroke.
The duo were architects of a team that stopped Rangers from winning 10-in-a-row. After a decade of both near-misses and catastrophic failures, a generation of Celtic fans were given license to dream again. MacLeod and Wim Jansen were integral in that success.
And MacLeod says that their friendly relationship was instant. Speaking to the Scottish Sun, MacLeod said:
“We clicked straight away. It was just his second day at Celtic when he asked me to become his assistant.
“What followed was a wonderful time. We had a great year. Wim was such a nice person and his temperament from day one was incredible. He was calm and collected, never raised his voice at anyone. Everything all the time was about getting the team organised and focused.
“The most important thing is what he achieved — and his one achievement is up there with the best that Celtic have had in their history. You’re looking at the Lisbon Lions, lifting the European Cup.
“Then you look at all the titles won and what was the most important one? It was the one to stop Rangers winning ten in a row.
“Wim’s up there with the best. Just because he wasn’t at the club a long time doesn’t make him any less a manager for Celtic. He had one main job and he was able to achieve that.”
Wim Jansen is “up there with the best” in Celtic history
Murdo MacLeod is bang on, of course. That title was absolutely vital. It’s hard to imagine the repercussions had Rangers won that 10th title.
That they didn’t helped Celtic restore the balance, and become a dominant force later on. The knock-on effect from that title win was enormous. And Wim Jansen absolutely deserves to take the acclaim for that. But so does Murdo MacLeod.
Not every partnership Wim Jansen had at Celtic was fruitful, as his departure from the club would prove.
But the genial MacLeod clearly bounced off Jansen to perfection. The two built a team of winners, adding the likes of Henrik Larsson, Marc Rieper and European Cup winner Paul Lambert to the fold.
It may have been a single season, with new characters who left as quickly as they arrived. But what Wim Jansen achieved, with Murdo MacLeod by his side, was absolutely pivotal in the modern history of Celtic Football Club.
It really is hard to put into words what Jansen achieved at Celtic in such a small time. Yes, a League Cup and a League title, the records say.
But it was so much more than that.