Chris Hutton prefers a stable team.
After a sluggish start to the season, the magnificently spirited performance against Aberdeen lifted our hopes that the team could put last season's dismal efforts firmly behind us. The victory was all the more impressive due to the fact that we were missing Nijholt, Griffin, McCart, 0'Donnell and new signing Paul Baker. So the following Wednesday, a good crowd turned up at Fir Park to see a repeat performance of both the determination and the success of Saturday's side. Unfortunately for us, but importantly for Falkirk, the same eleven men weren't there.
One of the oldest unwritten laws in football is "never change a winning team". So why was there THREE unforced alterations to Saturday's line-up. Obviously we all want players of the calibre of Luc Nijholt and Philip O'Donnell in the team as soon as possible, but surely there is a case for the man in possession keeping his place if he is performing well enough? It can be understood why Tommy McLean threw Phil in at Parkhead in a calculated risk that went wrong, as the team was in the doldrums and crying out for some inspiration. But surely Ian Angus should have been given the chance to follow up his tremendous performance against his old team, against whom he had also scored his second successive goal. As the Cup-tie drew to a close, Phil was clearly struggling, and what if it had gone to extra-time with both substitute's committed??? The quality display from Angus could surely have accommodated Phil a couple of weeks extra to train himself back to full fitness.
While Alan Sneddon hasn't set Fir Park alight with his performances thus far, he had turned in a creditable ninety minutes against what is regarded as one of Scotland's most exciting forward lines. Luc Nijholt has not hidden the fact that he does not relish the right-back position and facing the likes of Kevin McAllister in his first match back after injury was a stern task to set him.
I have long argued that Iain Ferguson was well worthy of a place in the starting line-up, so I was obviously delighted (not to mention downright smug!) with his long overdue "comeback". Not only because of his half- hour hat-trick against Clyde, but because of the tremendous work rate that the allegedly "lazy one" was producing. His parnership with Dougie Arnott was also shaping up well, with the wee man scoring his first goal for a while. I cannot understand why Fergie was only on the bench as a debutante was played. People complain that he has no loyalty and quickly loses interest if things aren't going his way, but how would you feel if you had run your guts out for two hours of football, scoring three goals in the process, to then be told that you were being demoted to the bench!!!!!!
It has become something of a war cry of Tommy's that he is unable to field his best team, and is forced to bring back players before they are fully fit. Surely the eleven who started out against Aberdeen merited being his best team to turn out again a mere four days later. Obviously we want to see our new signing in action along with our established "stars" but how are injuries going to clear up if players are rushed back to re-claim their places. And how are we going to cultivate a competitive pool when the lesser names turn in first-class shows only to be inexplicably overlooked for the next match??????
by Christopher Hutton
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