Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Sweet FA


It's great when club football comes back, right? If, like me, international weeks bore you, it's magical when the club games appear on the coupon once again. I've had a chequered history with international football. In the 80's, I was all over Scotland, went to as many games as possible and could easily be described as a fervent fan. Things changed for me on May 19th 1990 when I went along to a friendly versus Poland. I was with my mate Gregory and we stood in awe as the Scotland team bus pulled into Hampden. Anyone connected with Celtic was roundly booed by the fans around the bus. Last off the bus was Alan McInally who looked really shocked by the abuse. As he passed me I said "Good luck Rambo" and he turned to me and said "Thanks"  That made my year.

For some reason, half the Celtic end was shut that day meaning I had to go into to the Rangers (IL) end. All I heard for 90 minutes was abuse of Celtic's two Polish players and desperately exaggerated praise of Ally McCoist. It really sickened me (and, it has to be said, my mate Gregory who is a Hearts fan) and made me question why I was going. Not long after that, Scotland started playing all their home games at Ibrox and there was never a chance I'd attend any there.

Since then?

I've seen Scotland against England (twice), Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Argentina and Australia (the last time I was at a game, a 3-1 win at Easter Road, in 2012) Thing is, despite the corrupt SFA, the procession of crap managers and the general malaise around the national team, I still want them to win as many games as possible.

It's the same every time Scotland games come around, we get a few days coverage before the games and then the autopsy after them. Pundits from all over the place give their views, fans seethe and roar and then it's all forgotten about until the next round of fixtures. Quite honestly, I don't understand why it's not mentioned every single day that Scotland have not qualified for a major tournament in 21 years with no change in sight. The SFA have changed managers at will, those managers have tried every player and every system yet still can't qualify. 

Call me old fashioned but, with that all being said, maybe it's time the folk making the decisions were changed?

I've said it before and I'll say it again, it was David Murray's reckless criminality that ruined Scottish football. His systematic cheating inspired Celtic to get their act together and move past his house of cards and leave the rest of Scottish football for dead. Other clubs reacted by spending big money on big foreign players they could not afford and whilst this led to financial problems down the road, it completely stifled a load of Scottish talent who found their road to the first team blocked by the likes of Fabrizio Ravanelli and Claudio Caniggia. 

And that was just at Dundee.

There was also that fact that renowned singer Craig Brown had ran players into the ground for years and left a huge gap after those players retired. These are the reasons the much-maligned Bertie Vogts had to flood the squads with so much rough in order to find the odd diamond. 

Fast forwarding until nowadays and the big solution was "Project Brave" with Malky Mackay at the helm. All the noise around him was, in the main, designed to ensure you didn't focus on the fact that the main factor in him getting the job was nepotism (his father to be precise) Two years on from all the hoo-ha, where are we? I'll tell you, nowhere progressed from two years ago.

Ian Maxwell is now CEO of the SFA and merely a pawn of the board. A fanatical Sevco fan, he should have gone with McLeish, McFadden and Grant (The worst trio in Scottish football since John Gordon Sinclair, B.A. Robertson and Christian) but he remains doing God knows what. The appointment of Steve Clarke (one I said from day one was the wrong one) remains recent but has offered no hope as yet. For me, Clarke is a day to day coach who needs that regularity on the training pitch to get his ideas across. I don't think he can do that with an international team who are probably already pretty sure, as players, as to how the want to play.

This campaign is over and the fabled play offs await. Maybe it's just me but I think I've got more chance of replacing Ian Maxwell than there is of Scotland qualifying. I know the SFA constantly hide behind the "we are members organisation" mantra but only a few in there make the decisions.

The reality is, until the SFA is completely disbanded and a new set up is put in place, then sweet FA is going to change.

Monday, September 2, 2019

The Unsung Hero


A word or two about Nir Bitton. Yesterday at Ibrox proved, once again, what a class act he is. It was clear from the get go that Sevco had identified him as a weak link hence picking Defoe and thinking he would run rings round him.

Which makes you think no one from Ibrox ever scouts Celtic.

The big man strolled through the game right up until a freak injury ended it. The telling part of that for me was the anguish on his face, You could see he felt he was letting his team down and that's how I want my players to feel.  Mane at Liverpool went berserk when subbed at Southampton on Saturday because Salah shot instead of passing. The faux outrage ensued with the point being missed, he cares.

So does Nir Bitton.

*You can watch a short interview I did right here about my forthcoming memoir TFOTB Interview