GLF76: Another view from Geoff Baby at the seaside.
MOTHERWELL After the defeat at Ibrox, Craig Brown suggested that we should be a bit tougher. Sadly I don’t think this has happened and it has cost us points, important points. Teams are beginning to latch on to how to deal with us. Tighten up on Humphrey and Blackman and bully us all over the park. Teams that have done this properly have generally been successful and have taken points home. It doesn’t help that we have a pretty lightweight team but rather that than a team of bruisers and we can name a few of them in this division. It would help if we had consistent refereeing, there’s a fine line between pressuring a team and fouling them. A fine line that appears to have been crossed several times this season and we have not been protected. I’m just glad that we haven’t picked up any long term injuries yet but I expect that to happen at some point (Easter Road came close to that with the added time challenges on Randolph and Reynolds).
Thanks to the cost of university education, my son is dwindling away any money I have. This impacts on my hopes of getting up to Fir Park for the footy. It’s expensive enough having to account for travel costs but the actual cost of getting into SPL football is prohibitive too. Sadly I don’t think we are getting value for money in the SPL but that is only going to get worse. Of course it could also be argued that nobody wants me to see Motherwell playing since it’s been so long since I actually witnessed a victory. I can officially confirm that I have seen a mere three victories in the last five and a half years. Perhaps it’s best if I miss out.
CELTIC AND REFEREES What gives them the right? Nothing. What gives them the coverage? Their size. Do they have a point? Well not particularly as they are more likely to benefit than everyone else except obviously Rangers. It was no surprise to see Dougie McDonald at the centre of controversy. Anyone who read this very column last time round will know precisely what I think of him. His arrogant nature on field does him no favours and his attitude towards Motherwell players puts him high on my hit list.
Back to Celtic and their complaint the main gist of which seems to be that McDonald lied to Neil Lennon. I bet poor Neil was heartbroken because he’s never told a lie in his life has he? If Celtic had cause to complain it should have been done quietly and behind doors but that’s not the paranoid Celtic way is it? Their friends in the media were quick to back them and to keep the story rolling on endlessly in print. Just a pity they weren’t so quick or keen to keep the anti-poppy banner at Parkhead story in the public eye.
To sum it up, when Celtic get as bad a deal as the diddy teams then they can maybe have cause for complaint. If the diddies put in a joint complaint about the number of beneficial decisions that the Old Firm had ever had against them we would be here till eternity answering them. So let’s just accept it and move on. Oh, and I still hate Dougie McDonald
BLACKPOOL Still it goes on. Pool have acquired some stunning victories this season but surely staying up would be a miracle that’s beyond them. Well, with Ian Holloway at the helm you never can tell. He has turned a squad of generally average players into a hard working team that are difficult to beat, even when they are charging forward recklessly. Olly has been a breath of fresh air in his interviews, not least his after match rant at the press after the Villa game when he defended his right to make ten team changes. He then threatened to resign if Blackpool faced a fine or suspended fine for those changes. The fact that Villa only won with a last minute goal would back him up but other clubs would ask why there is one rule for them and another for Blackpool if this happened. Be interesting to see if he is true to his word if Blackpool are fined.
STEVEN SAUNDERS Well done to young Stevie on his call up to the senior squad for the Faroe Islands match. His call up came after Craig Levein worked his way through every other player eligible for Scotland and was turned down. Levein then had to do the one thing he dreaded, call up a Motherwell player. No offence to Stevie but surely Mark Reynolds was a better and more deserving option. I do wonder just what goes through the Scotland manager’s head, and also just what state we will be in by the time we eventually do the right thing and get rid of this idiot. As for Saunders, this was a chance to raise his standing in the game and even to boost his own confidence and for that we will certainly benefit. We may not see the best of him at Fir Park until Mark Reynolds leaves and he moves across into his more natural centre back role. At least we don’t have too worry about replacing Reynolds as we also have Shaun Hutchinson waiting in the wings.
AMBITION/REALISTIC TARGETS As it says on the tin, just what are realistic targets for the team this season. With the size of our squad we are limited but we have shown in the league that we can hold our own against most teams. Such has been our start to the campaign that most of us would be very disappointed if we don’t finish in the top six. I don’t think that’s overly ambitious but there’s still a long way to go and anything could happen. The January transfer window may hold the key to our season. At the start of any season most of us ask for at least one cup semi final. This year we’ve got just that although the usual fiddling to keep the Old Firm apart makes progress more difficult. The Scottish Cup remains an option but again we will be relying on the luck of the draw amongst other things. Europe? Definitely within our grasp currently but there’s a lot of football to be played before that gets decided. We’ve been spoiled recently with European qualification and it would be nice to keep that going but it won’t be easy.
MARK MCGHEE Go on, admit it. You laughed your socks off when Aberdeen got humped at Parkhead and that was mainly down to Mark McGhee’s involvement wasn’t it? For all his good work at Fir Park, and there was a lot of good work, his standing amongst Motherwell supporters barely registers on the scale. He only has himself to blame for this state of affairs and it's likely that he could end up leaving Aberdeen with similar feelings from their fans. He comes across very badly in the media. No-one can blame him for being ambitious but his choice of phrase could be so much better. The manner in which he nearly left us after one year but stayed and, in doing so, worked himself and sidekick Scott Leitch sizeable pay rises definitely rankled. By the time he left us none of us were particularly bothered and we got the same impression from some of the players in their performances. So, sorry Mark, but even though we’d normally have a degree of sympathy with anyone humped by Celtic or Rangers, in this case we were very happy indeed
BAD MEMORIES While tootling about on the internet I found an old report of our match against Dortmund at Fir Park. I know we, as Well fans, often complain about Anders Frisk’s handling of the match but we are biased and maybe viewed this game through claret and amber glasses. What follows are some quotes from The Scotsman’s reporter at the match…
The manager (McLeish) refused, however, to make the referee's performance an excuse. That was sensible, but it should be pointed out how bad the man from Sweden, Anders Frisk, really was. He made so many mistakes or at least, inexplicable decisions and non-decisions, that by the end, it became a guessing game as to what he might do. And it has to be said that he showed no clear signs of impartiality, consistently punishing Motherwell for misdemeanours, but turning a Nelson eye when a man from Dortmund was involved. The Swede was dreadful.
Come On Ye Well
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