Jim Gannon spoke frankly after the match. " In many ways, that was a lesson. I think continental football is miles ahead of the British game. It was a fantastic learning experience but it reinforces all my thoughts about the game. British players don't know how to play outwith their shape. They are technically not good enough and don't have enough awareness and sharp thinking. That was evident between the two teams tonight."
A nice touch by Steaua
Results elsewhere only serve to reinforce his view that the British game (and even more so, the Scottish game) is far behind that of our European neighbours. As was apparent last season when we played Nancy, we are deficient in areas related to physical development, fitness levels and, most certainly, in respect of the technical ability needed to control the football. Without these attributes the higher skills of vision and awareness are severely compromised.
A late chance wasted
These fundamental weaknesses affect not only Motherwell. The season has yet to get underway but already Falkirk, Aberdeen and Celtic have fallen to what are, at best, average continental teams. Unfortunately, none of this is new. For many years it has been apparent that we have fallen behind the continentals in our approach to the game. Part of the problem is that we can have tense and exciting games without high levels of skill. A traditional 'blood and snotters' affair in the middle of the Scottish winter can provide entertainment, but little in the way of silky soccer.
Clubs are spending money on youth development and the SFA channels millions into a host of initiatives designed to increase the player and coaching base but, as yet, there are few signs of a change in the culture of Scottish football. Would a move to summer football help? Should clubs insist that their training academies become residential to remove youngsters from unhelpful peer group pressure? Is Dundee United's new skill based training a philosophy which will help us turn the corner?
Whatever the solution, we need to find it soon!