A weekend of massive games. Oh and a cup final.

Well, there’s some BIG games in Scotland this week. It all starts with Motherwell Vs. Hibs tonight in the SPL. Considering the form of Well’s Michael Higdon (Boo! His goal got us relegated.), Hibs’ Leigh Griffiths and the fact the last ten games between these two sides has resulted in 45 goals, an entertaining game is in order. Mind you, now that I’ve said that, it’ll be 0-0. I’m wanting anything but a Motherwell win tonight, only because we’re competing with them!

Then tomorrow we have possibly the biggest Highland derby (“El Kessocko” still doesn’t sound right to me and I shudder at “Cold Firm”) of ALL TIME with both teams fighting to cement a top 6 place and make a charge for European football! If you’d told me that at the start of the season I wouldn’t have believed you but both teams have been absolutely fantastic. Being a loyal ICT fan of course, I’ll be there, cheering on Terry and the boys. I’ll be doing a post on the atmosphere and game tomorrow, so watch this space. Especially if you’ve never experienced it. It promises to be an absolute belter.

In fact if you are able to go, GO! Scottish football needs your support!

Celtic host Aberdeen on Saturday in the other SPL game. There are some rumours going about that this could possibly be Craig Brown’s final game in charge, if Aberdeen are able to find a new manager soon, since he decided that he will be retiring at the end of the season. I personally can’t see that being the case and I reckon Brown will stay on for the remaining games of the season, due to the fact there’s not that many left.

Then on Sunday there’s a Dundee Derby at Tannadice. I’d imagine United to be the strong favourites, but some are saying that Dundee are having a mini revival.
It seems that the Dark Blues will be replacing Rab Douglas in goals with new signing Steve Simonsen, the former Stoke goalkeeper. There’s stories going around that new Dundee manager John Brown told Douglas to pack up and get out. If this is the case, it’s a pretty disgraceful way to treat a loyal servant of the club, regardless of his sub-par performances this season. The official line is that Douglas is carrying an injury and is being given time off to recover. Only time will tell as to what the truth is.

There is another game on Sunday. Just the small matter of the League Cup final. St. Mirren take on Hearts for the first trophy of the season at Hampden. St. Mirren will be attempting to win this trophy for the first time in their history, whilst Hearts are after their 5th. Given both teams form, I’d say the men from Paisley might be slight favourites, but the Caley Jags were favourites to beat Hearts in the semi-final and we were knocked out. I’d have to say I’d prefer a Saints win, if only because the Jambos knocked us out and the fact my great grandfather played for St. Mirren in the 1940’s.

It promises to be a good weekend of football in Scotland, so if you can GET TO A GAME!

Thanks for the memories Craig Brown.

So the big news today in Scotland is that Craig Brown will be retiring as Aberdeen manager at the end of the season, and moving upstairs to a non executive role on the board. I had a hunch that this would happen, seeing as he’s the oldest manager in the UK and this season has kind of fizzled out for Aberdeen. I’d like to wish him well in his “retirement” (we’ll no doubt still see him on the telly) as he’s always come across as a decent bloke and he took our national team to their last two major tournaments.
Thanks Craig. Definitely one of the good guys in Scottish football.

So who’s going to replace Broony? I doubt history will repeat itself and Aberdeen appoint another manager straight from Motherwell! Considering Stuart McCall’s record at Motherwell so far, I can’t see him moving to a club that has finished below his team 2 years in a row. Also he’s an ex-Ranger, so that might not go down too well with the Red Army!

There’s very strong rumours linking Ross County manager Derek Adams to the club he began his career at. I think he might be the bookies favourite, as he’s proven himself at this level with a limited budget, however a couple of other names to consider could be Alex McLeish and Owen Coyle. The former could be a really good shout, as he is an Aberdeen legend, but that’s not to say that Owen Coyle wouldn’t also be considered an excellent choice. Coyle’s record at St. Johnstone and Burnley would hold him in good stead.
The reason I think that Derek Adams will be favourite for the job is purely down to financial reasons, as McLeish and Coyle wages could be a bit higher than what Adams would cost.

Personally, I would like to see Adams remain at County, as he just seems the right “fit”. He left them before, to become assistant manager at Hibs (never understood that) but since his return he’s continued to take County from strength to strength. However the lure of one of Scotland’s biggest teams might be just enough to tempt him away.

Whoever Aberdeen’s manager will be next season, they’ll surely be tasked with getting Aberdeen back up to the top end of the table. It’s been a while.

There was some other news I saw today but I don’t want to talk too much about whining Rangers supporters clubs. It’s just getting old and boring. I’m not going to waste any more time on it, so if you want to read about them, the link is below.

http://www.scotland-mad.co.uk/news/tmnw/rangers_fan_group_threaten_sfl_clubs_787477/index.shtml

The difficult second post

Football. It’s our national game. We turn out in droves to watch our national team play the finest teams Europe and the world has to offer. We sometimes win, we sometimes lose, but we remain loyal to following Scotland, wherever it takes us. We love our game.

So why is it in the shambolic state it’s in now?

Just yesterday, Dunfermline Athletic held a meeting to discuss how to save their club from crippling debts of around £8.5 million pounds. How does an SFL club get to having debts of that magnitude? Now I’m not a financial expert but that’s just screams “poorly run”. Dunfermline haven’t been the only club either who haven’t been able to balance the books.
We all know about Rangers’ problems (so much so that that’s all I’m saying about it. The details are on the net for you to find, if so inclined), Dundee have been in administration twice in my living memory and Motherwell have also struggled badly in the past. That’s not even mentioning the case of Clyde, who are rumoured to be moving to East Kilbride and renaming themselves to EK Clyde, for financial reasons. I haven’t even mentioned Hearts.

So can it be said that money is the root of all of our problems?

I’d say no. Financial mismanagement is. Most fans in Scotland are understanding of the situation we’re in. We’ve got the worlds biggest spending league on our doorstep in the English Premiership, and for a few years in the 90’s some of our clubs tried to compete on that level. It couldn’t last. To remain competitive against a VERY strong Rangers team at that time most clubs started to spend outwith their means a bit. Instead of strengthening our infrastructure, there were a lot of foreign imports. I don’t think our game has fully recovered from this time. How many international tournaments have we qualified for since then? I believe that’s part of the reason why.

However, I still think the future can be bright for our game, but I find it hard to believe we will ever be as strong as we were pre 1990’s. There are some clubs that in my opinion are going about the game in the right way. St. Johnstone, Saint Mirren, Ross County, and my beloved Inverness CT for instance make a point of living within their means. I also think it’s interesting to note that the two Highland clubs haven’t yet been in the league structure for 20 years but are both challenging for Europe now, with players from both clubs pasts having made names for themselves in Scotland or within the English Leagues.

(I find it interesting how Neil Lennon was grumbling about being a “feeder” team to bigger clubs. OK, he wasn’t really grumbling but he wasn’t happy he had to accept the reality. That’s how other Scottish clubs have felt for years.)

So what does the future hold for our game? At the moment anyway, it seems that league reconstruction is going to play a part. Reconstruction is inevitable, but we really need to make sure we do it right. The current proposal of 12-12-18 doesn’t sound like the way forward to me. It just doesn’t sound like there’s enough for fans to shout about there. Meaningless seasons become a possibility, which will lower gates and interest, which is the last thing we want. I personally would like to see something akin to the Portuguese league. Not the largest league, and also not the smallest, in recent years the standard of football there among the “lower” teams has risen. And they don’t play each other 4 times a season.

I hope common sense takes hold and the right solution for the future of our game is reached. However, this is Scottish Football, I wouldn’t be surprised if the league structure facilitates the ascension of Rangers so that the old status quo can resume and in another 20 years we’ll still be having the same conversation about how to change our game for the better.