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Omerta is a better policy for Shiels after Old Firm 'Mafia" claim

I nearly crashed my car when I heard Kenny Shiels had blamed an Old Firm "Mafia" for preventing him from getting a top-flight job in Scotland.

It is hard to be mad at Kenny for too long because he is not a bad guy and I enjoy working with him on the radio. But I know the way he works, and if he gets something on his mind, reads a stat or something, he just lets rip. He sees something as black and white when it is actually shades of grey. And if you ask me, this is another Kenny clanger.

He has obviously looked at the list of SPFL Premiership managers and seen the number of ex-Old Firm managers who are on it - a total of seven now after John Hughes beat him to the Inverness Caledonian Thistle job. And he is, of course, factually correct, there are a lot of former Old Firm managers currently in the game. There is Neil Lennon at Celtic, Derek McInnes at Aberdeen, Allan Johnston at Kilmarnock, Jackie McNamara at Dundee United, Terry Butcher at Hibs, Stuart McCall at Motherwell and now Hughes up in the Highlands.

But they are in there because they have worked hard, served an apprenticeship and are now reaping the rewards. You get the job because you go away and graft at the coalface, not because you used to play for the Old Firm. McNamara didn't get the Dundee United job because he played for Celtic, he got the job because he had a really good season at Partick Thistle. And you could go through the rest of them too: they are all managing in the top flight because they have proved themselves.

And if these managers are all getting jobs because they played for Rangers and Celtic, where would that leave the dozens of other former Old Firm players who are currently out of the equation, including myself?

Don't get me wrong, I am quite happy getting both sides of the game right now. I missed the boat as a manager, and nearly got back in a few times, but I am happy to work away down at Queen of the South right now.

Kenny's statement is a slight on all these boys - and also applies to guys like Paul Hartley, plugging away at Alloa - who might be the next ones. If it was all about his Old Firm days, why would he bother?

To be fair, Kenny has a decent managerial record and knows what it is like at the sharp end. He worked in Ireland for years, was an assistant at Killie, then moved up and won a cup. Anyone who has won a cup with Killie amid all the cutbacks and everything going on there is all right in my book and in time he will get a job, hopefully, because he is a grafter.

But he should maybe think before he opens his mouth about things like that Old Firm bias because he is miles from the truth. Perhaps knowing that he was in the running for the Inverness job with the likes of Hughes and Hartley, he was merely trying to be cute, and plant a seed in the mind of chairman Kenny Cameron before they made a decision.

Either way, Hughes ended up with the job and I can see why they have chosen him: in a way he is Terry Butcher MkII. He is another big personality who can hopefully attract the right players in. He had a decent record with Falkirk at Hibernian, and did well with Hartlepool before things tailed off. For me, he is in a very similar position to where Terry was when he went to Inverness, although not where he was when he left.

Yogi has a good network of contacts: you could throw in the likes of Anthony Stokes, Liam Craig and Paddy Cregg as impressive players he recruited from south of the border, and that is something they will need up at Inverness as well. He is a leader of men. There is no doubt in my mind that is why Kenny Cameron has picked him, not because he played for Celtic some 20 years ago.

NO-ONE used to get angrier at referees from time to time than me. On the radio the other night, Stuart Dougal, the former Fifa official, said that about me and he was right. But I never ever thought about manhandling the ref. It is the biggest no-no in the game and that is why I think Jackie McNamara is fortunate that Nadir Ciftci got away with a two-match ban, with one suspended, for the incident with the assistant referee during a League Cup tie against Inverness in October.

Having said that, after going away and watching the footage, I can see both sides of it. Dougal felt something in the region of an eight-match ban would have been appropriate, but for me that too is way over the top for the way Ciftci only momentarily seems to flick the linesman's throat with the tips of his fingers. The perfect answer is somewhere in the middle, say four games, but while referees are entitled to fight their corner, the last thing our game needs now is for people to be talking about another strike.

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