GLF78 - Ricky give us his view of the early season.
After one of the earliest starts to a season I can ever remember, it’s been almost our best ever beginning to a league campaign as Motherwell sit proudly second top of the table.
I don’t think anyone of us could possibly complain after the first half-dozen games as we sit where we do. It’s been a brilliant start and, apart from the Rangers game at Fir Park, few complaints if any. When Stuart McCall was first appointed there were few who actually welcomed it though, with any new manager, he deserved time to see what could be done.
Three appearances at Hampden Park in three months and a Cup Final to boot, this team is proving one to be feared to be honest. Although the squad is perhaps a bit threadbare, given what Stuart has had at his disposal money-wise it’s unsurprising to me that we haven’t got a deep pool to draw on. That said, those on the bench aren’t to be underestimated and I honestly feel we have a really talented bunch of youngsters coming through.
Those who have already played a part, Lawless to name but one, have proven they will in time become valuable additions to the squad. Of the signings that McCall has made, Nicky Law is the masterstroke without a doubt. He has what we’ve been missing for quite a while in the middle of the park and that is a player who can make that defence-splitting pass to set up the strikers. That’s no disrespect on who we already have in the middle, they are different types of midfielders, but Law has that special touch and given he’s top of the assists table in the SPL already backs this up. Would love to see us extend his contract as you can’t help but wonder if he will be here in a year’s time.
I’d like to think we can go one better and win a trophy this season, and this team, if it steers clear of injury and suspension to crucial players at important times, is clearly capable of doing exactly that. Of the one game we’ve lost thus far, that day a couple of absolutely pivotal decisions, and getting caught on the break by a side built to do just that, saw us lose more heavily than deserved. I’ve lost count of the amount of times that kind of handball is not punished, and then a more blatant one by Ortiz in the second half is completely ignored when it should’ve been a penalty. What concerned me more, perhaps, was the level of abuse some of the team got during that defeat. Look at what we’ve achieved as a side and what the backing in the other games has gained. Yes it was a bit of a downer to lose to them, but it was one of those days where the end result had it been done on paper wouldn’t have come up with much of a different result.
To bounce back the way Motherwell did in the next two matches says a lot about the resilience of the team both on and off the park. The guys picked themselves up, forgot about the Rangers game, and went out and destroyed a previously unbeaten Dunfermline side (who were on the back of two away wins at Perth and Tannadice, impressive results indeed) after comfortably seeing off what was usually our banana skin – an away league cup tie against a side from a lower league. Lot to be proud of, give the guys the backing they so richly deserve.
After the Old Firm once again embarrassed us all in Europe, the newspapers were agog with stories that Scottish football was at its worst in history. Instantly it’s the fault of the rest of Scottish football when it’s conveniently forgotten the big two with their massive budgets are the ones who continually let us all down. Compare this; Motherwell’s turnover is around, what, £4 million which Rangers spent last season on Jelavic alone. Yet last season Motherwell played as many games in Europe as the rest of our participants put together. Same the season before. The blame must be put squarely on the two biggest sides in the country who have failed time and time again to boost Scotland’s co-efficient. Thing is, they will blame everyone but themselves pointing to a lack of competition which has been created by themselves! Celtic now appear to have a reprieve after Sion playing five seemingly ineligible players, though this is subject to appeal, but I can’t imagine they are going to win that. Even that is another bugbear of mine, being knocked out of the “Champions” League (where some nations have four entries, they can’t all have won their domestic title that season) and being allowed to take up a slot in the Europa League. Things used to be simple, European Cup for winners of the domestic league and the previous year’s winner, Cup-Winners-Cup for domestic cup champions, UEFA cup for the top placed teams in domestic leagues. Now, thanks to greed, there is the £Champions£ League and the Europa League, both created simply to make money and not for any other purpose.
The current standard of referees in Scotland fails to improve year in year out. Thompson, one of the most highly-rated by the SFA, once again failed clamp down on some rather pathetic theatrics during the Rangers game and missed Ortiz’s handball despite this happening right in front of him. I know it’s a difficult job but for a little less than a grand a match you’d think they could be able to tell the difference between an accidental handball (Murphy) and basketball from the Spaniard. Yes they are as capable of making mistakes as anyone, but some of the things which are ignored and then pulled up for in the same game just leave you with anger and frustration, and I can’t imagine the players feel any different. Referees want respect from players, but some seem to go out of their way to rub folk up the wrong way. Don’t know if it’s just my imagination, but when I first started to watch football back in the early 1980's it seemed to me referees back then not only could referee a game with common sense, they knew what it was like to play it as well. Now we’ve referees who don’t seem to have a clue, and that’s not helping.
With only six games gone, there’s a long, long way to go before the end of the season but I doubt we’d have said no to being on thirteen points and well clear of the bottom. As long as the players believe in themselves, and we continue with the support (especially at away games which has been outstanding), it promises to be an amazing season. Keep it up everyone!
Best wishes, Ricky
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