GLF 26: Ricky's Viiew
So here we are head-first into another season of hopes and worries. If the pre-season was taken seriously we would all have been in straight-jackets by now, it just goes to prove that no matter the results in these Friendlies it`s when the real stuff starts we should worry (or be happy). So far, it has to be said, our performances have been inconsistent to say the least, fantastic against Dunfermline (second half), destroyed Morton and humbled Aberdeen; the other side of the coin was Saint Johnstone home, and the Caley match. Surely the lads can believe in themselves, they know they are good enough, and I am sure this will be bourn out by a much more secure season than the previous two. The last time we were sitting so well was 94/95, and we almost took the main prize then.
I think the main worry we have at the moment is the future of the club we all love, concerned we have a future. The present set-up at the top level is, so we are led to believe, desperate to sell-up and get out. However, this has been the case for a year now and we are still sitting wondering what is happening next. Rumours abound as to who is going to take over, but the longer this uncertainty goes on the more damaging the influence on the team, and also the support. Out with that, people who would want to put money into the club in terms of sponsorship are holding back and indeed pulling out, if reports I have heard are anything to go by. One I know of said Motorola are no longer keen to stay with Motherwell once their agreement is up.
At one time it was said Motorola were keen to increase their stake in Motherwell and pump massive amounts of cash into the club in order to put us on a more even keel with the Old Firm, now they appear to be going their own way. Of course, it could all just be a rumour, but it is a very strong one at that. A settled club breeds confidence from the top to the bottom, stability is a by-word for success, but we have neither and the longer it goes on the more concerned you have to be. We all remember the carry-on with Hibs wanting Eck almost 12 months ago now, what would happen if, say Aberdeen sacked Aitken and they wanted Eck to replace him? Not being under contract, and with nothing decided at Board level at Fir Park would loyalty to Motherwell as a team be enough to keep him here? I really would want Eck to stay, a lot of folk keep giving him flack even when results go our way, but don`t forget the results we have had under his wing. We`d never won at Pittodrie in the league since 1966 prior to his arrival, now we have won 3 times, drew 2 and lost 2, not a bad record.
We`ve also gone to Ibrox and won twice there, comfortably on both occasions. Agreed, there have been some howlers as well, but then every manager has these. The team is coming together, and for what he has had to spend overall I feel he hasn`t done badly. In all the time Eck has been here, he has had the best part of £2 Million to spend. Give Walter Smith or Vim Yansen a budget of £2 Million and see what they could do. Had the Bosman ruling been in force when Eck took over, with the O`Donnell cash he would have raided the Continent to our benefit. That`s not to take anything away from his signs, some good others bad, but with only £2 Million I reckon he`s done not too badly. I think a lot of the problems we have are of our own making, ever since we finished third we have expected the same every year. That`s not wrong to want that, but lets be realistic, Eck has had to re-build a team and that isn`t done overnight. Some bad moves yes, but as a first-time Manager of a big club (and in terms of Scottish Football we are) he has done all right.
The main problem at Fir Park, as I have said, is upstairs, and that is affecting other aspects of club business (mainly on field). That doesn`t excuse tactics on the park, but it does affect confidence. Mr Chapman risks losing all respect we have ever had for him. The reasoning for not selling to the consortiums who have bid thus far apparently is due to these groups "not having the best interests of Motherwell* in their bids. Is this true, or is it because Mr Chapman wants his own people (family or otherwise) in control? Also, we hear the bids don`t match Mr Chapmans` valuation, though to counter that is the accusation that the valuation is twice what the actual cost should be.
The supporters are being kept in the dark over this, and that is just not on. Without the many thousands of pounds we pump into our club year on year Motherwell wouldn`t exist, and we deserve the right to know what is going on. A meeting was sought with Mr Chapman by a group of Supporters, this didn`t go ahead. Make of that what you will, but it does seem slightly suspicious that Mr Chapman wouldn`t meet an organised group of supporters. There`s now talk of a boycott, and whilst it`s a small voice at present it won`t go away, it`ll just get louder and louder. All we want to know are the answers to questions about the future of our club, why that is a problem Mr Chapman should come out and tell us.
I don`t know about anyone else, but I am completely miffed off at the lack of coverage of our impressive start to the season. Aberdeen was the worst example, all the media could do was fall over themselves about how terrible it was Aberdeen were at the bottom. No mention of Motherwell being second-top, having a 100% record away from home, playing fairly well - why should they, after all, we aint the Old Squirm, are we? Now, whilst I realise it is an achievement for anyone to score five goals in a league match, but to devote a solid 45 minutes to that (Scumsport on the Sunday) then less than 2 minutes to our victory at Pittttttidrie was bang out of order. Guaranteed, had Owen Coyle or TC got five at Pittodrie (or even Fir Park) they would have spent about 10 seconds on each goal.
I remember when Kirkie scored four against Saint Mirren in 1989, we hardly got a mention. Yes, they are the top team (the Govan Bigots), they have the most expensive squad, and they practically own most of the Scottish Media, but surely there must be some rules governing the amount of coverage any one team or individual gets in what is a competitive market. Everything thrives on exposure, the more you get the more you are noticed and this in itself leads to an increase in the amount of interest in that particular product, in this case Motherwell FC.
Another thing I have noticed an alarming rise in is the sectarian songs being sung at Motherwell matches, coming, shamefully, from a section of so-called Motherwell fans. I had always taken pride in the fact Motherwell were a strictly non-sectarian club, but now it seems some are determined to ensure Motherwell are tarnished with the same vile brush that separates the Old Squirm from the normal, decent, football fan. That nonsense has no place at Fir Park, it really has no place in Scottish Football, though unfortunately it provides the finance to keep the Squirm at the top of the tree.
Being non-sectarian keeps us apart from them, and I for one never want to be talked about in the same breath as that bunch when discussions about the bile in Scottish Football are taking place. Why anyone should feel the need to walk, celebrating something which took place in another country hundreds of years ago with the sole purpose of telling everyone they hate another religion is beyond me, but if that is what some want to do, then keep it for those occasions, DON`T bring it to any Motherwell matches. It`s taken years to get kids coming back to football after all the violence of the Eighties, they will be kept away again by parents who do not want their kids mixed up in the hatred that goes with bigotry. I have spoken to a good few people who have kids of the age they are taking an interest in football, and they tell me they would rather have their children going along to Fir Park on a Saturday to watch Motherwell than running around with a Rangers or Celtic top on. Why? Because of the bigotry at both clubs, that`s why, and because at Motherwell they feel their kids would not be exposed to it. Lets keep it that way, lets eliminate the sectarianism, and we will have a support for the future. After all, we depend on it to keep going.
The Bosman ruling appears at last to have gave Motherwell a little bit of assistance, though it has to be said we still have lost out big-time thus far. Franz and Mario are beginning to settle in, Eliphas Shivute will be a BIG star at Fir Park (from what I know Namibia revolve around him) and to have 30 caps at 22 is almost unheard of. However, we must have lost out on over £2 Million so far, which would have helped us no end. I had heard it said the Bosman ruling would be a great leveller, though just how that could be true is a mystery. We cannot compete with the rich clubs in terms of signing-on fees, or transfer fees, so it makes it even harder for Motherwell and clubs like ours to attempt to get anywhere near the fat cats of football.
Transfer fees have kept clubs like ours going for years, though I would have to say at Fir Park in recent times that doesn`t apply so much, but now that this "money supply* is dwindling it`s difficult to see how Scottish Football will keep going with 40 teams. Some type of compensation scheme must be put in place, even if it is just a nominal amount relating to age, appearances and wages. Being a Dortmund fan, I am somewhat disappointed at Borussia`s reluctance to pay Motherwell any money despite being "extremely sympathetic* with our position at the time. The only safeguard at present is to let an asset go prior to the end of his contract (as in Mitch, whose new side lost 7-1 to Ajax at the weekend - still glad you moved, Mitch?) to get a fee for their transfer. As to where that money has gone, well, that`s another question for Mr Chapman to answer, and as we all know, he aint gonna.
It`s perhaps the best start to a season we have had for some time, and although other teams have strengthened we have too and will even further. The saga of a new Chairman has dragged on far too long, though I have a feeling it will all come toa head quite suddenly, and to our advantage as Supporters. Keep cheering the lads, and we`ll be all right.