Socrates MacSporran

Socrates MacSporran
No I am not Chick Young, but I can remember when Scottish football was good

Thursday, 26 October 2017

If Carlsberg Did Football Teams In Crisis

LAST evening, Celtic put second-placed Aberdeen to the sword at Pittodrie, while, at Ibrox, in spite of the normal free-gift penalty, Rangers were unable to beat second-bottom Kilmarnock, and, to add insult to Rangers' injury, it was an Ibrox outcast who scored Killie's very-late equaliser.

Chris Burke's late goal was a case of insult to injury

This morning, we read that Club Captain Lee Wallace, totemic striker, regular vice-captain and former Scotland captain Kenny Miller, along with influential midfielder Niko Kranjcar were apparently told to stay away from the ground last night. Meanwhile, manager Pedro Caixinha had to watch the match from the stand, after being sent from the technical area during Sunday's Betfred League Cup semi-final.

You know, their might be something in this: “The Old Firm is dead” malarkey after all, such is the difference between the two traditional dominant forces in Scottish football these days.

I watched the Aberdeen v Celtic game on TV, and yes, Celtic were impressive. However, such command in a domestic match merely underscores the club's big problem – such easy wins, and remember, this 3-0 victory was achieved on the home ground of their closest-challengers in Scotland, in no way prepare Celtic for the Champions League. This is Celtic's problem, how do they transfer domestic dominance into European success?

Let's be honest, the best Celtic can expect from Europe this season is to finish third in their Champions League group, and thus drop into the consolation prize of a place in the last 32 of the Europa League. Even if they were to win the Europa League, it would still only rank the club 17th in Europe – a good place, make no mistake, but, the club officials would surely wish to be ranked higher than that.

As for Rangers, what can we say that has not already been said? Anywhere else, and most-certainly in England's top flight, the manager would have been handed his cards a couple of games ago. I would not say Pedro has: “lost the dressing room”, but, he has certainly lost – if he had ever even found – the British players therein.

Of course, if “the Donegal Blogger” as he of the four names is known in the Blue Room is correct, and in the matter of Rangers' finances he usually is, then the only reason why Pedro is still in situ is, the club cannot afford to pay him off. That said, there is a “crisis – emergency” board meeting today, so perhaps some well-heeled Rangers fan will be found, able to come-up with the cash it will take to be rid of the manager. Things are in such disarray at Ibrox, you can never say never about anything.

 Pedro Caixinha, big question for the Rangers' board: can we afford to sack him?

Well, the question I asked in that photo caption was answered fairly quicky - they have indeed sacked him - now there's a surprise.

I see more pain for no gain down Ibrox way for a wee while to come, with potentially further storms set to batter the already listing vessel.

Scottish football history, at least according to the stenographers on today's sports desks, only runs from that day in 1986 when David Holmes unveiled Graeme Souness as Rangers' new player-manager – before then, apparently nothing happened – well, Celtic did win the European Cup in 1967 – but, you get my drift.

From 1938 until Jock Stein's return in 1965. Celtic were further behind Rangers than Rangers are behind Celtic today; they even flirted with relegation in 1948, but, times were different then. The football writers of those days – Rex Kingsley, Waverley, Jack Harkness and so on – were more than mere cheer-leaders for the big two. There were other teams and players to follow. Hibs, with the “Famous Five” and Hearts with their “Terrible Trio”, Dundee with their great teams – the Billy Steel-inspired one and the 1962 title-winning team, the great Kilmarnock teams that Willie Waddell and Walter McCrae built, the Motherwell sides of “Paton, Kilmarnock and Shaw” and the later “Ancell Babes”, even the terrific East Fife side which Scot Symon built, they all ensured that, even with Celtic being held back by board room interference, Rangers were challenged.

In part, this was because, with the maximum wage in England, full-time Scottish players were just as well-off staying at home, as heading south. Rangers' players were reportedly the best-paid in the UK.

 Hibs' Famous Five - these days all of them, not just Bobby Johnstone, would have been sold to England

If the wealth currently sloshing around in England had been available (even comparatively speaking from the far-lower wages of the immediate post-war era), Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Lawrie Reilly, Eddie Turnbull and Willie Ormond would have been sold to top English sides, as would Alfie Conn, Willie Bauld and Jimmy Wardhaugh across the city; Dundee could never have repatriated Steel from Derby County. The sides which were developed to challenge Rangers would never have been built, since the clubs would have sold their best assets to England a lot sooner.

There was always a cross-border transfer market, but, the end of the maximum wage down south saw Scottish provincial clubs lose their best players to a greater degree than before, and we have never recovered. Perhaps Independence will offer a means to counter this, I don't know, but, for as long as English football is rich and Scottish football is comparatively poor, we will struggle to compete.

In the above piece, I mentioned a Mr Graeme Souness. I see Mr Souness has a new book to sell, so, he has been giving us his unrivalled opinions on Scottish football.

For all his service to the Scotland side, I see Souness as: “A proud Scot – but”, one of those Scots who perhaps yearns to be something he can never be – English. In my view he, encouraged by David Murray, was the one man who, more than any other, ruined Scottish football. I will not be rushing out to buy his tome.

AND FINALLY, for reasons which will be quickly apparent, I call this the “Dead Donkey” segment of this blog.

 Ryan Jack: "It takes real stupidity to lose a battle of wits with Kirk Broadfoot".

Last night at Ibrox, Ryan Jack was red-carded for “pittin' the heid oan” Kirk Broadfoot, thus allowing a Kilmarnock supporter, on facebook, to hail Mr Jack as: “The only player in Scotland stupid enough to lose a battle of wits with Kirk Broadfoot.”


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