GLF75: Geoff's view from the seaside
MOTHERWELL - European games really are the ideal way to start off a season. An increasing gulf in quality has faced us in each round, just like last year. As our fitness has increased so has our need to raise the tempo and that has surely been better than some pointless friendly against some lower league club. And what an adventure we’ve had this season already. Our draw took us to venues much more accessible than last year and many Well fans took the opportunity to travel. Ultimately what cost us was a lack of clinical finishing against Odense, something that they possessed and can afford and something which is outwith our financial reach at that level. But it was fun regardless. Paw Broon also took the opportunity to sharpen his boxing skills and came out the victor on points. The league has had a predictable start, we’ve won where we expected to and lost where we would anticipate losing. If we carry on like this, and when have we ever been predictable, then mid-table would seem to be the limit of our capability this season. It would have been nice to have taken something from the Celtic game but a soft penalty cost us. Well may we curse Shaun Maloney for going down but we’d have wanted a penalty under the same circumstances, although probably wouldn’t have got one.
DOUGIE MCDONALD - The one person who came out of the Celtic game with little credit was Dougie McDonald who chose to flash a straight red when a yellow would have sufficed, even if it would still have taken us down to ten. That’s the thirteenth red card McDonald has issued to a Motherwell player in his career. From a career total of 97 red cards he has issued almost one in seven to a Motherwell player! How can that be right or fair? Three of those have come against Celtic and he has been quite kind to them over the years giving them two reds but sending off ten of the opposition. As for Rangers he has sent off two of their players, both against Motherwell, but only four of their opponents. Statistics can be made to say whatever you like but if I worked for Motherwell I’d be questioning exactly what we are doing wrong when the number of red cards is so statistically skewed against us by this particular official.
BLACKPOOL - I can still barely believe it. The head of steam they built up at the end of the season was enough to take them to the promised land of the Premiership. But where do they go from here? Down, obviously. They are so far behind the other teams in terms of facilities and experience that relegation is inevitable. The ex-chairman’s refusal to accede to demands of agents didn’t make football sense but made sound financial sense. And that’s probably more important in the long term for Blackpool. Now it’s all about damage limitation and planning how to invest the riches available in such a manner that another bash at the top league becomes a possibility. When Oyston left his post Blackpool stuck rigidly to their wage structure and a top limit of £10,000 a week. Surely more than enough for anyone in this day and age but they still found themselves rejected in favour of Championship teams who would pay more. On the field it really has been a rollercoaster start to Premiership life and before the season ends the six goals lost to Arsenal will no doubt be bettered by other teams but it’ll be fun while it lasts.
SPL - Don’t go changing, said Billy Joel, but for anyone with an interest in Scottish football we cannot go on at the level we are now. When Rangers and Celtic can’t live financially with Championship teams and SPL teams struggle to match the money on offer at lower divisions in England then the game is in trouble. No matter what the powers-that-be decide, the lack of money coming into the game gives serious concern for the future. While we struggle our European co-efficient continues to fall meaning fewer Euro places and our national team shows little sign of improvement. Sure, give us a bigger top league, that is a must, but if there is no financial reward or increase in sponsorship then ultimately things will not improve. As long as the big two continue to cream off a huge chunk of the TV money where does that leave everyone else. Talking of TV, Sky’s money is useful but their scheduling remains Old Firm-weighted which is understandable in their case as they want to attract advertising. ESPN also put in money and between those two we are subjected to ridiculous kick off times to suit their scheduling. As for BBC Scotland, well the least said the better. I truly believe things were better in the past with BBC and STV covering just one game and showing extended highlights from it on Saturday night or Sunday afternoon. So how many teams in a new league and would we have a mid-season break, limitations on squad numbers, home grown player limits or even a bloody stupid end of season split with a mis-balance of home and away games. Whatever they come up with I hope they get it right because you can be sure that in a few years time they’ll be looking to change it yet again. Already this season after three games only two teams have max points. It’s oh so predictable. I mentioned to a colleague that St Johnstone had gone ahead at Ibrox, he replied that if Rangers didn’t score soon then no doubt they’d be gifted a penalty to help them along. And he wasn’t joking! We only have to look to our game the next day for more backing for his theory.
MAN CITY - Absolutely unbelievable. Of the two Manchester teams I used to have a preference for City. The influx of money and their willingness to throw it about at a ludicrous level have taken away what little affection remained. To spend over £100m in the successive transfer windows is sickening. To pay the wages quoted in the papers is beyond comprehension. Yaya Toure’s wages in particular are obscene. £220,000 is a hell of a lot of money. It’s not so long since football’s top players would earn that in a year. It seemed a lot then but most accepted it. Then £220k a month would have been looked on as disgusting, but £220k a week!? A week!? At a time when people are losing their jobs and struggling to make ends meet I cannot find the words to show my contempt. That money would pay the wages of all the staff in the five-ward hospital where I work. Instead some Arab bigwig with a whole lot of money to burn gives it to a footballer, and not even a big name one at that. Oh, and a huge chunk of that money will also have gone into the pockets of some agent and will be lost to football forever . Just think about that when you contemplate what Sky will do with that extra £3 a month they’ve bumped everybody’s bill up by.
SCOTLAND - Or Dundee United-lite if you prefer, and Craig Levein obviously does. The bigger the player thet harder he can kick someone, but that only applies if he can catch him in the first place. The recent trip to Sweden was a harrowing ninety minutes for those who journeyed but probably an idea of what life will be like for a good few years to come. It’s hard to spot emerging talent but surely there must be better long term options than to include the likes of Hartley and Weir. Look at Germany, granted they have more choice than Scotland but they threw out most of their old guard and built a new system and allowed players time to settle. I don’t think anyone could argue that they didn’t have a great World Cup and yet this is still early days for their team. Now how about Scotland making similar radical moves. You know what though, a couple of defeats and not only the press but a lot of Scotland fans would be clamouring to revert back to the bad old ways. Very few seem capable of seeing the bigger picture and you can even see that at Fir Park. How many times have you heard someone shouting at a player to boot someone up in the air or lump the ball forward? If the national team is to improve then we must all be in it together. Some people may have to change their views on how the game should be played. We won’t ever become world beaters but surely anything is better than the plodding soulless performances we are currently getting.
Come On Ye Well
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