Over the last week there have been some interesting football headlines. Top of my list has to be Gordon Strachan’s ‘manipulation’ comments.
Now not all Celtic fans appreciated him as a Celtic manager. I on the other hand was a firm supporter of his.
I enjoyed his dry, sarcastic character whilst others did not. His football style was equally as arid but also effective in getting results, particularly in the Champions League.
A friend of mine interviewed him not so long after he quit the Celtic job. He spoke relatively openly about Scottish football in general.
I wasn’t surprised to hear that his thoughts on the Scottish game were similar to those within my own circle. This was why when he was appointed Scotland manager I felt he could influence accordingly.
On the field of play, I was encouraged by the early efforts of his Scotland teams as the curtain came down on the World Cup qualifiers. The tournament was already beyond reach but Strachan went about each game with the future in mind.
Since the European Qualifiers have begun, its been a fairly positive start. With a touch of luck, perhaps Scotland could have done even better but I have to say I like what I’ve been watching.
When you consider that Strachan has put Scotland fixtures back in my diary it shows you the difference he has made. So why on Earth would he taint what he has done on the international scene by making such an ludicrous statement to propel three Scottish Championship clubs into the Scottish Premiership?
On first hearing, I was almost certain it was a joke. Strachan’s humour can be so dry it can leave you wondering.
Now I think we all realise what he’s getting at but this kind of talk can be your undoing. I personally wish he could take it back but he can’t.
Then I think about the interview he did with my friend. They talked about how poor Scottish football as a whole looked and that as a product it was difficult to sell.
Poor stadiums, low attendances, even amateur TV presenters and substandard coverage were amongst the debate. Scottish football looks bad so how can you promote something with such little appeal?
I agree to the extent that its good to have big teams playing in the top flight. Regardless of the crowds each of these three Championship clubs have, this is anything but a sane suggestion to solving Scottish footballs domestic issues.
There has been a lot of turmoil within the Scottish game in recent years. Though it remains a failure of those who govern our game that they didn’t take the opportunity to make the changes required to improve Scottish football.
I am still a firm believer in having a bigger league with more teams. More variety of competition where you play each team twice as seen everywhere else in world.
For me this is the first step to invoke change. I also believe that home and away fixtures would have more significance by playing each team twice.
The SFA are a dinosaur in the game. They have this old boys club mentality which think that a lick of paint is all that is required.
Re-branding seems to be the only solution they have in their locker at Hampden. What is really needed is a complete overhaul of league structure and negotiating sponsorship and TV revenue.
If Strachan’s suggestion was that the league should be bigger and create wider competition then I’d get where he was coming from. There was no mention of that in his ‘manipulation’ statement though.
Still, this season has witnessed a tighter competition in the Scottish Premiership. There are only six points separating seventh placed Kilmarnock and current league leaders Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
You could argue that this competitiveness is partly down to Celtic’s ‘transitional period’. At the same time though, clubs such as Hamilton and Inverness have both beaten Celtic this season and remain above them in the league.
Some may complain about Celtic ‘downsizing’ and not playing well enough, but don’t we want a competitive league? Of course I want Celtic to be a success, but Scottish football’s biggest problem is the lack of competition.
This seasons challenge is healthy and if it is in part due to Celtic’s inconsistency and rebuilding then so be it. However, I do still think that the league trophy will end up at Celtic Park.
What remains to be seen is how Celtic progress as a team as the season moves on. As the half way point in league campaign approaches seven teams are still in contention, but the question is how many will still be challenging for the title come May?