GLF78 - Geoff Baby's thoughts from south of the border.
MOTHERWELL As starts to campaigns go then we can’t complain about this one. But let’s not get carried away. There’s a long way to go and a lot of points to be earned till we are safe from relegation and a lot of financial books that may require balancing. The loss of Stevie Saunders just highlighted how threadbare our squad is. Added to Lasley’s suspension we still coped at St Mirren but won’t be able to do that forever. If the players on our bench can’t be trusted to come on and do a job then our starting eleven is quickly going to get burned out. The arrivals of Clancy and Daley will give us a few more options and will maybe give Stuart McCall the spur to actually bring someone onto the park from the substitute bench.
JAMIE MURPHY Slowly but surely he is beginning to reveal more of his potential. If it’s a confidence thing then that bodes well for his future career as a footballer, if it’s a consistency thing then he might just encounter some problems. If confidence gives him the ability to take risks then, with his ability, he will flourish and do well. If he is just not consistently performing or disappearing for spells then he will undoubtedly struggle. Look at Faddy, we all thought he was God’s gift when he left us and look at how he fared in England. Jamie’s no Faddy in terms of natural ability but shows signs of maybe being a better team player. English sides would probably appreciate that more, after all they took Faddy’s natural instincts away and turned him into a team player … their loss.
BLACKPOOL No surprise they ended up relegated but just how close did they come to survival. They ended up gaining the plaudits of many but if they had just learned to shut up shop once or twice in the season then they would still be in the Premiership. Charlie Adam was quick on the move in the summer and was replaced by the equally exciting Barry Ferguson. Along with the signing of 110-year-old Kevin Phillips it makes me wonder about the long-term plans for the club. Both players will be on sizeable contracts yet neither could be relied upon to be fit & capable of standing up to the Premiership if Blackpool fluked another promotion.
SPL Welcome back to another season of the same old inevitable football from Scotland’s Premier Division. Nothing is more certain than Celtic or Rangers winning the league. It’s been that way for a long time and I can see no way it will ever end. Their financial advantage plus the money generated by their fans and the money they get from TV deals are more than enough to see them attain a 20-point advantage year upon year. And I haven’t even mentioned the possibility that our officials may be swayed to give big decisions their way. If you want to know why crowds are falling then there’s your answer … only two teams are capable of winning the league title and everyone else is playing for scraps. God help any team who bring about something approaching a challenge to the Old Firm domination. Your team will be picked apart on the front and back pages of the newspapers; there will be no-one building up your hopes, only the friends of Ally and Lenny eager to knock you down a peg or two. It is sadly all too predictable that any player of worth will be mentioned as a possible signing target for them, and even more predictable that it will occur in the build-up to a match facing them in order to unsettle. Paranoid? Maybe a little but there’s an element of truth about how often it happens. Even with a level playing field it would take a while for a credible challenge to emerge but without that playing field it never will.
POOR MAN’S SPL Interesting to see Spanish players going on strike at the start of their season. The reason for the strike was because players are waiting on unpaid wages. How very Hearts! Except when you read that the figure has climbed from 100 players owed £12m last year to 200 players owed £50m this year. There are no penalties, either in finances or points for financial mismanagement. A number of clubs including Betis, Zaragoza and Racing Santander are currently in administration. Perhaps we should have moved there years ago, take that Karl Ready! Players from the top two stood shoulder to shoulder backing the strike yet surely they are partly to blame. Barcelona and Real are allowed to negotiate their own TV deals and earned £120m while the third placed club, Valencia, earned only a third of that while Getafe, who finished sixteenth made only £5m. The rich are getting much richer while the others struggle in their wake, how very Old Firm!
STILL IN SPAIN Getafe may have ended up sixteenth in the table but have produced a video in order to build on their fanbase. Based in Madrid they struggle against Real and Athletico for fans. Their video is shot in the style of a 70’s porn film (ahem, not that I would know). It opens with an empty stand and the words ‘there aren’t many of us’. It cuts to a fan in a sperm donor clinic being given a DVD of Getafe’s Hot Zombies. Young women in Getafe’s colours drink a potion that turns them sex mad and the next shot shows a woman holding a baby, the next generation of Getafe fans! Full marks for humour and good luck to them in trying to overcome (sorry) the lure of their two bigger neighbours. Now where’s Leeann Dempster because I think we might have hit on a winner here.
RANGERS Just what is the mysterious hold that Rangers have on us? Our Boxing Day win in 2002 is our only victory in 43 matches stretching back from the start of the 2000/2001 season. No other club in the SPL seems to have much bother notching up an occasional victory yet we struggle to achieve one, even to the point of letting obnoxious footballers like Naismith and Lafferty score against us. Sadly it only serves to fuel those with an agenda who then refer to us as mini-Huns (can I use that word in the current climate?). I don’t think there’s anything sinister or any connection with our current manager or Terry Butcher, previously with Rangers. We just seem to fail to perform and seem to lack self-belief on the day. The result of the match seems already decided in our players’ heads before they take the field. Quite frankly I’ve about had enough of it and our players need to get that thought into their heads and get started on reversing this run of results as soon as possible.
STUART MCCALL No matter what he achieves at Fir Park there will still be an element of our support who will be critical of him. He’s not the messiah by any means and definitely does have his faults, my major bugbear being his reluctance to bring on subs during matches. If that turns out to be his only major fault then I’ll be quite happy. Sadly some among our support remain critical of the manager purely because of his link with Rangers. He played for seven years at Ibrox so is bound to retain some ties with them, especially with their current boss being a former team-mate. Perhaps those who are critical will be a lot happier when Stuart collects his first three points against them, and I probably will be too.
SCOTLAND We’ve only just resumed league business after an International break. I sit here writing this before that match and I don’t even have a clue who Scotland are playing during that break. Not a scooby. I would have to go on the internet just to look up our opponents and to see who else is in our group for whatever set of matches we are playing just now. My English friends were quick to text me to laugh about our World Cup group draw so I know that’s a tough one. I still couldn’t tell you who we drew or are in with now. That is a very sad state of affairs. I’m as proud a Scotsman as anyone else but the national team just don’t interest me. And it’s nothing to do with a lack of any Motherwell involvement either. I’m no fan of Craig Levein so he certainly hasn’t helped but this general disinterest has been going on for a few seasons now and I couldn’t put my finger on a singular reason. But you know what, I haven’t missed Scotland games at all and if I’m feeling that way, how many thousand others feel the same.
Come On Ye Well
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