Is Scottish football finished?

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lbb
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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by lbb » Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:41 am

HibeeJibee wrote:The big issue is why Rangers and Celtic lost to Malmo, Maribor and Sion. They have far more money, and better players... Yet they were unable to translate such resources into victory. Was it their managers? Their tactics? Their style?
I haven't seen Celtic in Europe since Mowbray was manager so I don't know how well, or badly, they're playing but the results do seem to speak for themselves.

The thing with Rangers is that the record - 1 win in 25 European games, 1 win in 12 home games or whatever it is - is so bad that the games against Malmo and Maribor cannot be dismissed as one-offs. They are part of a terrible run that's been going on for some time. Ally McCoist has been part of the management team for all of that run so he has to shoulder a lot of the responsibility. The success of 2007-08 was great but the theory behind it has been tested to destruction. You can get away with playing very defensive football for a short while but eventually you will lose and lose regularly. To be fair to McCoist, he's not been too negative in Europe this season but mistakes were made in both first legs that cost both ties.

Aside from the wider problem within Scottish football, I sometimes wonder if Old Firm teams get complacent, start to believe their own hype. I don't normally listen to phone-ins but in the car on the way home last night I listened to James Traynor and Tom English on Radio Scotland. They made the point that Old Firm players and teams are hyped up, live in a bubble in the SPL. Of course, Traynor's other employer, the Daily Record, is one of the biggest culprits in this so he should know, I suppose. As I say, though, Malmo and Maribor (and probably Sion) were not, imo, any better than a top 6 SPL team. Perhaps they simply had no fear against the OF and the OF were taken aback at this. I don't know.

What was also clear from Rangers' European ties is that there is not much in the way of a Plan B if things aren't working out. It might just be a quirk of my psychology but I always felt more content when Advocaat or Le Guen managed Rangers in Europe. There was a feeling they knew what they were doing whilst Scottish managers don't. Advocaat spent a lot of money, of course, and had his share of bad results but you never felt the team were clueless. Le Guen navigated a UEFA Cup qualifier and group with relative ease and with a more inferior squad than McCoist has. I wouldn't be surprised if both OF clubs next managerial appointments are from abroad. The European results are embarrassing and financially damaging to them.

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by Skyline Drifter » Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:19 pm

lbb wrote:
Skyline Drifter wrote: Dundee United lost a tie they should never have lost. They should have made a round further.
Hearts lost 5-0 and Dundee United were dumped by a team whose name I can't even remember. As David points out, these two defeats are the latest in a long line of feeble efforts by the non-OF clubs in European competition. This whole 'plucky little triers' business is simply codswallop.
Dundee United should have won their tie and only have themselves to blame. No-one claimed they were "plucky little triers" so far as I can see?

As I've already said, Hearts lost 5-0 to a much much better side in the first leg. I don't think it was particularly "feeble". They were never going to win the tie and make progress. You can gnash teeth about the margin if you like but out is out at the end of the day.

Barring some half reasonable efforts from Motherwell and a single campaign of decency from Aberdeen (in which they largely progressed with draws and one superb win) non OF sides have done nothing for years and years though. Them doing nothing this year is no different. What's different is that the OF have not made any progress either.

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by Skyline Drifter » Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:37 pm

lbb wrote:Le Guen navigated a UEFA Cup qualifier and group with relative ease and with a more inferior squad than McCoist has.
Mmm.

Le Guen had the likes of:
McGregor, A Hutton, Rodriguez, Papac, Bardsley, Svensson, Smith, Hemdani, N'Diaye, Buffel, Rae, Sebo, Novo, Klos, Adam, Burke, Clement, Prso, Sionko, Boyd, Ferguson (yes, they eventually fell out)

McCoist has:
McGregor, Alexander, Bartley, Bocanegra, Broadfoot, Davis, Boughera (now gone), Edu, Goian, Healy, K Hutton, Jelavic, Lafferty, McCulloch, Naismith, Ness, Ortiz, Papac, Wallace, Weir (who is about 65 now), Whittaker,Wylde.

I don't watch Rangers very often but even allowing for a handful of overpaid foreign diddies in the Le Guen squad it doesn't look "more inferior" to me. At worst comparable, though I'd say the current one was inferior and European results would only strengthen that case. If you had to pick a best eleven from the combined squad what would it be? Again, I don't watch Rangers enough to judge properly, particularly the young players who I've seen little of, but I'm not sure I'd include more than Davis and maybe Naismith from the current crop (plus McGregor and Papac who are in both lists). There isn't a decent centre half in either squad to be honest (apart from the surely finished Weir).

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by lbb » Fri Aug 26, 2011 6:48 pm

Skyline Drifter wrote: I don't watch Rangers very often but even allowing for a handful of overpaid foreign diddies in the Le Guen squad it doesn't look "more inferior" to me.
I think it is, SD.

Le Guen had McGregor, certainly, but McGregor in his debut season and was not the confident, experienced keeper we see today. Stefan Klos was effectively finished by 2006-07 so that leaves Leitizi or Neil Alexander as backup and most people would plump for Alexander. In fact, there's a lot of inexperienced players in Le Guen's squad. Players like Hutton, Adam, Burke and Smith went onto better things, maybe, but most of them were still raw talent at the time. If I was to pick a XI between both squads, only Ferguson and Prso would make the cut from Le Guen's team. You wouldn't take any of his defence over the current one (including Weir), Sebo/Novo over Jelavic or Sionko/Buffel ahead of Ness and Naismith. Of course you would have McGregor but, as I say, a very different player.

Something like - McGregor, Whittaker (Hutton is a far superior player but not Hutton in 2006), Wallace, Goian, Bartley, Davis, Ferguson, Ness, Naismith, Jelavic, Prso.

So McCoist certainly had the players at his disposal. There have been noises that McCoist has been let down financially in some way or Craig Whyte is to blame for not 'putting his hand in his pocket'. For one thing, the 'sugar daddy' model is finished even if it ever existed. David Murray might have spent the cash but he left us with the debt. Whyte hasn't promised he would spend his own money but that the club must fund itself as much as possible. No European money will severely impact on that. The problem might be that McCoist, like Walter Smith, simply wants a return to the 1990's.

Le Guen - and Advocaat - seemed comfortable in the European environment. Scottish managers seem, too often, petrified. O'Neill did well at Celtic but he came from a Premiership background, which helped, and he had Henrik Larsson. It's probably desperate and pathetic, on my part, but I don't see much future in appointing a Scottish-bred Scottish manager again. If we accept the European 'style' originates from the collective of Spain, Germany, France, Italy and Holland then I think you need someone immersed in these ideas to really make it work. Even the English clubs don't play a 'traditional' British game anymore. Three European trophies in 50 years of trying suggests we need input.
Skyline Drifter wrote:They were never going to win the tie and make progress. You can gnash teeth about the margin if you like but out is out at the end of the day.
That is what the history books will show, of course. I just wish it hadn't been so embarrassing. Hearts did get some credit by drawing last night - I don't know if Spurs played their U-15 team or not - but I wish they'd offered stronger resistance at Tynecastle. I really do. You remember Dundee United going to Old Trafford and drawing and then only losing 3-2 at Tannadice? Amazing. Maybe I had some fantasy that Hearts could rattle them at Tynecastle.

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by HibeeJibee » Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:04 am

Hearts were always losing the tie once Rednapp decided to field his first XI in the first leg; however the margin of victory was due to the poor organisation and application of Hearts. In the 2nd leg they were much better organised - despite fielding a weakened team of their own!! - which, combined with their opponents fielding a weaker (but still strong) line-up, helped them get a draw. Infact they had chances to score.

If you had said before the tie that Hearts would take a draw and loss off Tottenham, that would've been a fair return. It's the nature of the 1st leg capitulation causing the embarrassment.


The story of the campaign has really been clubs losing ties they should've won.

Dundee Utd should've been the team progressing after the 180mins, but they retreated into uber-defence... a tactically naive mistake... and went out on away goals. Over 2 different ties, Rangers have struggled against beatable opposition, not helped by indiscipline in the Malmo tie. Celtic for the second season running have stuttered really badly against a poorer side, grinding out a tepid 0-0 at home - then being up against it from just 3mins in away from home, reduced to 10men and a penalty making it 1-0.

The irony is the best performance and result was perhaps Hearts away draw in Hungary, achieved by the only manager of the 5 with any notable experience taking Scottish clubs in Europe, and he got sacked a few days after... His successor then came in to solidly won the home leg, having barely met the players - then got it all wrong v Spurs.


If there's a crisis in Scottish football - and I don't believe 1 or 2 bad seasons make a crisis - it's two-fold. Firstly, why our clubs are unable to finish-off teams they have the resources, players and match opportunities to defeat... Wroclaw, arguably Malmo, Sion, Maribor. Secondly, why Rangers (wins) and Celtic (away results) are doing so badly.

We have a chance next season, with a still high coefficient and both Old Firm in the Champions League, to repair the damage of their underperformance. Blow that chance and we've a bigger problem.

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by HibeeJibee » Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:08 am

I should add that if as seems likely Celtic are now reinstated at Sion's expense, they are going to be really up against it to do anything... Sion were in Pot 4, Celtic would've been in Pot 2 - and in drawing sides from the Big 5 (in Atletico Madrid, Udinese + Rennes), it'd be a really tough group for Celtic unless they sort themselves out quickly.

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by Scottish » Sat Aug 27, 2011 11:27 am

HibeeJibee wrote: If there's a crisis in Scottish football - and I don't believe 1 or 2 bad seasons make a crisis - it's two-fold. Firstly, why our clubs are unable to finish-off teams they have the resources, players and match opportunities to defeat... Wroclaw, arguably Malmo, Sion, Maribor. Secondly, why Rangers (wins) and Celtic (away results) are doing so badly.
It's more than one or two seasons. A lot more for non-OF clubs. As SD pointed out the only decent performance in recent years came from Aberdeen and that was built on the back of one win in eight games. The OF problems you identify go a long way back- the Rangers run of one win in 25 dates from their UEFA Cup Final season and Celtic's away results were as bad under Martin O'Neill as they are now.

For the OF this is not a matter of clubs from a small country with a lack of cash coming up against the big boys but teams with 50,000 or so average crowds, eating up the lion's share of what is a far bigger TV deal than their opponents, yet still losing to clubs that by rights should not be able to compete over two legs. Of course there is the additional problem for the OF that things that go unnoticed and/or unpunished domestically can result in sendings-off and penalties in Europe. Or penalties conjured up out of thin air in the SPL aren't awarded in Europe. But there's not much sympathy for them on that score.

As for Dundee United you may well be right about their tactical approach but it remains a fact that the only teams they have beaten in the past quarter of a century have been insignificant ones and they haven't won a tie since they beat the Andorrans.

You have a point about Jefferies having a decent managerial record in Europe (away goals defeats to Stuttgart and Red Star Belgrade, narrow loss to Real Mallorca, decent wins over Cypriot and Icelandic sides) but it had been eleven years since his last match in Europe and I think it's safe to say he would approached the Spurs game the same way he approaches OF games in Scotland - assume the worst and try to keep the score down. It's never worked particularly well domestically and I doubt whether it would have been any more effective here.

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by HibeeJibee » Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:49 pm

I think Motherwell has done well in recently too, won several ties and only lost when unseeded and to decent opponents (Nancy/Steau Bucharest/Odense). The non-OF clubs for me fall into 2 camps - the inexperienced like Falkirk/Dunfermline/Gretna/QotS, often lower-league qualifying via the Scottish Cup who we shouldn't have pinned hopes upon; and the better-quality sides who have done poorly, often when seeded.

The latter category comprises Aberdeen (Sigma), Dundee Utd (MyPa + Wroclaw), and Hibs (Maribor). They're the main let-downs.

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by macjackb » Sun Aug 28, 2011 4:45 pm

I see too many posts here effectively dismissing how poorly our teams perform if the odds are against them anyway. If 0-5 against Tottenham is just how it is, are we saying that 0-9 against Man City would have been ok? And what if it were Barcelona? 0-12 before the eyebrows are raised? The comparative budgets and economics of our clubs and those of larger nations affects the likely outcome of ties of course, but is irrelevant to HOW we play, to the attitude we adopt. Far from the stereotype of the underdog playing with nothing to lose, the attitude of Scots clubs for years now has been to use their lower status as an excuse not to try that hard and not to be that bothered about the result. As if further evidence were needed that this is neither recent nor just about a handful of particularly and randomly poor performances, we only have to look at how often non-OF teams have taken the field against the OF with no real interest in giving it a go; damage-limitation has been the priority, as though, instead of relishing this sporting chance and the opportunity to take on the big boys in front of a huge crowd, they really just don't want to be there. This is about a negative and self-destructive mindset, which can be ignored among our own little bunfights but is then shown up all the more dramatically and consistently against teams from elsewhere who just don't think this way.

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by HibeeJibee » Sun Aug 28, 2011 5:02 pm

I certainly never excused Hearts losing 5-0 at home, that was *totally* unacceptable and avoidable. They were poorly organised, lacklustre, at 6s and 7s and wholly inept... at the same time, if you'd said 5-0 on aggregate after the draw, many wouldn't have been surprised (say 0-2 at home/0-3 away) owing to the resource disparity.

That's just being honest about things, rightly or wrongly.

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by the hibLOG » Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:10 am

So what to do?

From the discussion so far it seems to me there are certain inescapable facts:

1 - Scottish teams have lost ground relatively speaking with the rest of Europe - this is not a momentary blip but a fairly long and steady decline.

2 - Scottish football has very limited capacity to increase its income by the kind of margin that might effect any improvement in the quality of player available to it. You could squeeze a bit more money from TV rights but that's about it.

3 - You can argue all you like about relative incomes, gate money, league reconstruction, summer football, league competitiveness and the rest, but none of them alone are going to provide the magic bullet to make Scottish football 'great' again.

It seems to me that any solution has to centre on getting more out of what we've got - that is, producing a better quality of homegrown footballer. It's the only resource we have which doesn't require vast extra sums to procure and which will have a direct impact on the quality of our teams. So that to me means investment in coaching and youth development, and yes it means learning from other comparable countries, seeking to emulate their systems. Because it seems to me that a lot of the debate is circling purely around the question of money when it is obvious that we are losing out to teams and leagues with even less financial clout than us. What is it that they are doing right? What can we learn from them? I don't want to hear anyone else bleat 'Oh if only we had access to the EPL's money...' If your auntie had balls, as the saying goes...
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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by the hibLOG » Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:45 am

Aw look, the Herald agrees with me - I must be right ;^)

http://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/mor ... -1.1120145
Fraser

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by Skyline Drifter » Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:41 am

the hibLOG wrote:It seems to me that any solution has to centre on getting more out of what we've got - that is, producing a better quality of homegrown footballer. It's the only resource we have which doesn't require vast extra sums to procure and which will have a direct impact on the quality of our teams. So that to me means investment in coaching and youth development, and yes it means learning from other comparable countries, seeking to emulate their systems. Because it seems to me that a lot of the debate is circling purely around the question of money when it is obvious that we are losing out to teams and leagues with even less financial clout than us. What is it that they are doing right? What can we learn from them? I don't want to hear anyone else bleat 'Oh if only we had access to the EPL's money...' If your auntie had balls, as the saying goes...
You're right but there's a limit to how far chucking resources at coaching and development will take us whilst we, as a nation, have a wholly unhealthy lifestyle, a youth drinking culture, etc. As HJ touched on earlier in the thread, football cannot possibly solve social issues.

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by Skyline Drifter » Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:45 am

HibeeJibee wrote:I certainly never excused Hearts losing 5-0 at home, that was *totally* unacceptable and avoidable. They were poorly organised, lacklustre, at 6s and 7s and wholly inept... at the same time,
I did. And still make no particular apology for it.

Spurs are on a different planet to Hearts (just as the Manchester clubs are in a different class to Spurs at the moment). With both teams playing their first team and playing well Spurs are going to annihilate Hearts. Yes, they could perhaps have packed the defence and held out for a 2-0 or something but I don't really fault them for at least trying to entertain. Maybe they should have shut up shop after the first ten minutes when it was obvious the game had already gone but I guess the personnel wasn't right for that.

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by HibeeJibee » Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:14 pm

Skyline Drifter wrote:You're right but there's a limit to how far chucking resources at coaching and development will take us whilst we, as a nation, have a wholly unhealthy lifestyle, a youth drinking culture, etc. As HJ touched on earlier in the thread, football cannot possibly solve social issues.
The problem is that we've had 6 months of Henry McLeish telling everyone that "we deserve better", and "we can be great again"; and moreover, that it's attainable - if we would only "all pull together", "everyone play their part", "don't let the past hold us back", "due to our passion", and suchlike. I feel this has given a genuine impression, for many people, that's its simply a lack of ambition, self-interest, pessimism and short-sightedness keeping Scottish football from its rightful place among the big-guns.

In reality, McLeish and everyone else at Hampden (whatever office) must know that only so much can be done... 'Youth development' can be done better - but only so much better. It will also take ages. (Plus, the talent produced will only be in the SPL for so long). Having 10-team SPL as opposed to 12-team SPL is, actually, going to make next to no difference. We may need half a billion £s worth of football facilities - but the government isn't going to pay, particularly in times of economic strife, even though McLeish states we "need them desperately".

Ultimately there's only so much cash; we only have so many people; there's issues which far transcend football; and ambitions only go so far before they become unrealistic.

Many things can be improved, but there's a limit.

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