That's Amor -
Confession time (don't worry any Rangers fans reading,
not THAT sort of confession). When you heard the news that Livingston
had bust a gut to sign Guillermo Amor did you think,
like Jim Leishman, that this was the biggest signing in Scottish
football history? Did you sit back and say to yourself "Well
done Livvy. The Old Firm may have had their Laudrups
and their Larssons but the plucky little lions from West
Lothian have outdone them all with this stunning transfer coup."
Or did you think, as I did, "Willie Who?" Livvy
say they've signed a European Cup winner. Well, they haven't. Amor
was in the team that won the Cup-winners Cup in 1989 and
1997 but didn't appear in the side that won the big
one in 1992. He was however part of the outfit that were taken apart
by AC Milan in the 1994 Final. In any case signing European Cup
winners - real ones - isn't new. Kilmarnock landed Gary Shaw,
once of Aston Villa, over a decade ago. But Shaw was by then a spent
force - his career ruined by injury.
And that's the point. Anyone who seriously believes that a top class
Spanish professional at the peak of his game would come and play
for Livingston hasn't been taking their medication. Amor is - and
there's no kind way to put this - a busted flush, a has-been. Yes,
the guy was a solid player for top clubs like Barcelona and Fiorentina
in his day. But that day was a long time ago.
His last club was Villareal - perennial strugglers in La
Liga. Amor did play almost a full season for them in 2001-02 - 29
League matches - but picked up eight yellow cards (four
in his last five games) and a sending-off. His last match was
in May 2002. HE HASN'T KICKED A BALL FOR ANYONE THIS SEASON.
Didn't that last fact set any alarm bells ringing in Livingston's
ears? This is a player who - despite his reasonable pedigree- no
Spanish club, no club anywhere for that matter, wanted to sign.
Here's the deal. A 35-year-old player of average ability and with
a questionable temperament has signed for Livvy until the end of
the season. Two factors make this signing stink. Firstly, the pathetic
attempts of Leishman to make it sound like they've captured Raul
or Zidane. Secondly, and most importantly, is that Amor's
signing shows that Livingston have reverted to type.
We all thought that the days of bringing in so-called big name stars
on excessive wages were over. Even Rangers spent the winter
break chasing bargain basement players whose signatures wouldn't
have raised an eyebrow at Tannadice or East End Park not long ago.
But Livingston have resurrected the process. You might have thought
that the Nicola Berti business would have taught them a lesson,
but evidently not.
And just how do Livvy propose to pay Amor's wages? Well, they've
sacked youth coaches Gordon Wylde and Jimmy McGarrigle
for a start. Their under-16 set-up has been axed and a proposed
youth academy has been shelved.
Excessive salaries for foreigners closer to their pensions than
their birth. No attempt to foster local talent. This is Livingston's
vision of the future of Scottish football. And it stinks!
Sad commentary on the plight of our game: On January
18th, during the SPL winter break, there was a full set of Scottish
League fixtures. There was also an under-21 match at Ibrox between
Rangers and Newcastle. You know what's coming next.
The attendance at Ibrox was 10,176. That was higher than
the 2nd and 3rd divisions combined. It was higher than the entire
1st division put together. There wasn't another gate in the country
above 2,500. And the Ibrox punters were all paying customers. The
cash-strapped club wouldn't permit season ticket holders to get
in without paying.