Note to self … never, ever, ever place any bets on a Motherwell game. Such is our form that it is almost impossible to predict which schizophrenic form of Motherwell team will appear at any given match. The highs and lows continue with little warning of what lies ahead. Stuart McCall had a difficult January transfer window and seemed to have little backing from the board who swallowed up Mark Reynold’s transfer fee to maintain the running of the team. The squad still comprises a large amount of youngsters and with that comes inconsistency. On the other hand, if they were consistently good then they wouldn’t stay at Fir Park for long. Maybe once the summer arrives we’ll see just what Stuart McCall is given to play with financially, and I’m not talking transfer fees, and we might be able to judge his ability then. Of course we could be playing next year to try and avoid the drop, us and most other teams in the SPL, and that’s because of…
The powers that be seem to have only one thing on their mind, a 10-team league? That might just be enough to turn me into a permanent armchair football fan. Not only that but they are bending over backwards to suit the Old Firm and their paymasters at Sky. Never mind what the fans want. In fact I know what most decent fans really want, a fair deal from the Old Firm and if not then tell them to beggar off. No one seems to want to stand up to them. Not only that but they have also managed to acquire the freedom to postpone a game at the start of the campaign just to swan off and play lucrative friendlies. I can see, in financial terms, why a 10-team league may be preferred by some teams but if you piss off the fans you just might never get them back again. And if 7 or 8 of them are playing negatively to avoid going down then, frankly, the fans are not going to turn up in numbers, certainly not at current prices.
“This is the best trip I’ve ever been on” goes the song ringing round whenever Blackpool have played. Sadly at this business end of the season being everyone’s favourite club doesn’t win points. The cavalier attacking as displayed throughout the season may not be enough either and could in fact be the thing that sends Pool down. If they were to go then they have not spent lavishly and will not suffer a big hit although one or two players may well opt to stay in the Premiership. If, by some miracle, they stay up then it will be interesting to see if Ian Holloway changes his footballing policy or if the board loosen the purse strings a little more. There’s no way they could survive two seasons in the top league if they have a restricted top wage that limits their loan options to Championship level players.
So, let me get this right. Managers have been asked not to criticise referees after games. Players have been told that if they comment about referees on social network sites then they are liable to be done for bringing the game into disrepute. Meanwhile clubs have also been told that comments in matchday programmes or on official websites should not criticise officials in a way liable to imply incompetence or bias or to impinge upon their character. So, bearing that in mind, referees can carry on making mistakes and lording it up in matches and no-one will have any authority to complain about it or the poor dears just might go on strike again. That strike action has given them carte blanche to be as biased or as useless as they like and to be less likely to be pulled up for it. Nonsense. We need to be more open. If an official makes a blatant mistake then we can’t just sweep it under the carpet. It’s a tough job but they don’t deserve to be wrapped up in cotton wool and immune from criticism.
After 29 league games we have already lost seven home games. That’s a hefty chunk of dropped points and a lot of them to teams below us in the table. With tough games coming up against Aberdeen and Dundee Utd, never mind after the split against either top six teams or teams battling to stay up we could well add a few more defeats to that total. Since 2001 we have lost more than seven home league games only twice, in 2006/07 when we lost eleven and 2002/03 when only the state of Brockville kept us up despite our nine home defeats leaving us bottom. It may not have too much affect this season but we cannot afford to carry on losing this number of home matches. Granted, opposition teams are often set up to nick a goal and defend; problem is that too many of them are successful with that tactic here and even more teams could be set up that way next year and we don’t look to have the guile to break down a stubborn organised defence.
Just to add my tuppence worth after the recent Old Firm fight … er r… match. It was notable that the Scottish Parliament elected to discuss the problems posed by this game. What was even more noticeable for me was the police commenting on the vast amount of money it costs to police these games, both inside the ground and everywhere outlying that is affected by it. I also noted that they made a point of stating the amount of arrests at the game for sectarian offences. Well that makes a bloody change. If only they did this week in week out and the footballing authorites hit the teams with fines and/or points deductions then we might start to make inroads into the biggest problem affecting our game. I also took note of calls for Old Firm games to be played behind closed doors, imagine the atmosphere then. Drinking plays a major role in these games so why not deal with it as well, and not by affecting the general public. Don’t shut pubs and off sales before and after the game for a period of time, fans will just get tanked up at home, just move the kick off to something ridiculous like 8 o’clock in the morning.
Can’t miss a chance to say a few words about our departing benefactor. John was not everyone’s cup of tea and he made mistakes along the way. One thing we can’t dispute is that he had Motherwell at heart, the vast sum of money he put into the club is proof of that. Some of his (in)famous rants have become legendary, but again they show his passion for the club. We have a lot to thank him for; he could have effectively pulled the plug on Motherwell but didn’t. My worry now is that, without his financial backing, we are going to be in the hands of the moneymen and we are going to cut our cloth to an unbelieveable level. That could have a major impact on us and seriously affect our ability to stay in the SPL after next season. John Boyle stated that the club plan to bring in investment from a number of different sources so the club does not rely on an individual for financial backing. That’s all well and good but just where will that investment come from? If the club issued shares to fans I have very serious doubts that we would even raise the amount of money needed to carry out the process of issuing shares, never mind actually create a cash surplus. We are a club with a small fanbase, a fanbase that seems to get smaller season by season. Boyle says he and the board have a plan. I hope it’s a good one.
You know, that green stuff that we used to have at Fir Park. On the one hand we can claim that we have not had any games postponed this year. I should think so given the amount of money we spent on it in the summer, and just imagine what that money could have done for us if we’d been able to spend it on playing staff. On the other hand we have seen the pitch deteriorate again to the point where we again have as much sand as grass on there. I suppose it’s karma that our own bad playing surface cost us the game against St Mirren. We might be used to it as a team but it does us no favours. Since the Celtic game the surface has been re-seeded, it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any noticeable difference. While we have had no postponements other clubs have had several yet I have not seen them being abused in the media who continue to litter their match reports from Fir Park with comments about our surface.
Come On Ye Well
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