Officially Crisis

10 Jan

Let’s get the elephant in the room out the way. Keyboard Gangsters and Death Threats involving Police Scotland to advise and Protect Officials and Pundits is frankly an embarrassment for the whole of Scottish Football. Personally I do not agree with BT Sport’s Chris Sutton on most things but give the Englishman credit he may be wrong he may need to correct some of his methods of delivery could even become slightly less bias in his Apparent Hate everything but one of his former Employers but he makes you think and consider. I was once told that the best thing you can do is read a newspaper you do not agree with because it will allow you to form a rounded opinion. The Norfolk Tractor boy often barely hides his alegancies but he joins the debate and allow fair minded people not only to dismiss his opinion but form or cement their own opinions. In any debate there is always a lunatic Fringe take Brexit for example seems the Extremists have squeezed out the common ground in the middle. Polarisation is rarely the way forward. Ask Teresa May

And I guess that’s the point. Please by all means disagree with Mr Sutton or anyone. Feel free to use his views as a basis for your own. Agree disagree think he is Cutting through the Crap or convince yourself he is full of S**t by all means sign up or sign out. But death threats, I imagine that Mr Sutton’s thick skin was not concerned with being called an Ar**hole I would also envisage that Police Scotland thought there was enough Creditable Risk to become involved themselves. Threats against a person any person is simply not the way to behave or is it just me that considers that resorting to low life low level Terrorism is wrong. If I am wrong in this then I really don’t want to be right.

Do I think there is a Conspiracy or agenda held against any Club by any official? I think some officials seem to have more regular bad days when officiating some clubs? Yes do I think that is a reason to question their motives? NO and sometimes in life we just encounter situations that bring out the things we didn’t want. They are pubs I personally have never enjoyed being in even though Freinds think the Bar is amazing. This is same for all Humanity sometimes we just hit same barriers no matter how hard we try to avoid them. As stated above I do not think that it’s a reason to threaten or cause fear.

For me it’s very simple Officials will make errors, they will apply rules in different ways in different circumstances. The same way a Player will make errors, passing to the right when the better pass is to the left, mistiming a tackle when holding off would be more appropriate. Managers will make errors playing a formation that weakens their chances of winning, selecting a starting line up and keeping star striker on bench. And Chairman and Board Rooms well hindsight is perfect vision if some of the clowns who inhabit the Directors Box think for one second they are beyond scrutiny then ask your self one simple question. Have they Sacked a Manager? Binning a Coach they employed to provide success is clearly the Board Room admitting they made a mistake employing the Person in first place. How many points has a woeful and lengthy Board Room deliberations cost a Club. Many more than a simple error in a split second that is for sure.

To return to Officials. These highly motivated People are in fact the bedrock of the Game. No Officials no Game! Does it mean I think the current crop of Officials are beyond Criticism? Not in the slightest. I do actually have some questions that need answered.

So where to begin seems to me that since Linesmen were replaced by Assistant Referees on Touch Line that we have a major failure. Too many times I have witnessed these Flag Jockeys doing anything but Assist the Whistler. A ball goes out 3 metres from the Assistant Referee,. The Assistant has clear view the Referees view is obscured by two or three players and the Referee is 12 metres away. All common sense says the Assistant is best placed to make the call you would think. Yet time and time again the Assistant refrains from making the call pointing the flag in air and Assisting the referee to enter into what looks like asking for advice from the Whistler before making what everyone can see is a simple call. What is stopping the Assistant doing the Job of assisting the Referee? Is it a fear of removing the Referees Authority? I seem to remember Linesmen having no trouble raising their flags and Referees believing their Colleagues without discussion. No these flag Jockeys are wired up on intercom system with buzzers, voice and digital communications yet the basic running the line determining if ball had left field of Play and whom got last touch (basic Linesman duties). Has turned into asking the one person who is in worse position to determine what they think? Where is the assistance?

The fourth official, A bouncer and display holder? Possible sub should an Official go down with a torn Hamstring? Is this their purpose?

Additional Assistant Referees. A great idea badly delivered. Surely they run the wrong by-line. I mean why have the Assistant Referee and the Additional Assistant converge at same Corner Flag surely it’s advantageous in assisting in reaching a higher standard if this official stood on the other side of the Goal than currently. It’s maybe the emergence of that rarity of Common Sense with this one. For me potentially we have a minimum of two officials with different angles looking at Play in addition to the Fourth Official and at least one other with a wider view of what’s happening. Remembering we also have the eye in the sky. The Mysterious Referee Supervisor. This person seem to be there to grade officials performance.

Love then or loath them the Officials are being hampered by Powers in Authority.

Expensive VAR I have heard talk of Clubs baulking at potential loss of income due to paying for this and we then are faced with more officials who seem to have to slot into the In Play Referee Command Structure that plainly is already flawed either by Guidelines (FIFA, UEFA or SFA) or by what can only be classed as Whistler Ego.

Quick Idea NFL has SEVEN Officials on the pitch and some Video Officials. Any one of the Seven in field can Flag Foul Play. This is then communicated to main Umpire who communicates the decision. Now I totally understand that Soccer is more Fluid than American Football but surely with now a minimum of 4 Officials plus Supervisor and prospect of 2 AARs. We are getting into territory of each Official having the same skills to judge any incident on its own merits and alert the Lead Official (Referee with Whistle) to act accordingly and the Main Umpire Referee to believe their Colleague. After all they are all in constant Radio Communication. The command Teirs of Referee being in sole charge of a game has lead to Castrated Officials with Flags, in track suit in technical area or worse standing on wrong side of the Goal.

I have sympathy for officials they do the most difficult of jobs in a game that although remaining true to original rules drawn up in 19th Century have been let down as the speed of the game increases in the 21st Century. Scrutinised via television in super slow motion by so called experts who possibly requires a sharp eyed member of twiterati to highlight a possible Referee Error who probably like the officials did not see any infringement in real time.

Referees do not help themselves with a failure to engage after the match hiding behind Compliance Officers and official SFA statements.

It’s aloof at best and problematic. If the officials are being microscopically critiqued then it’s only fair that the Officials have a right to reply. Not answer a barrage of questions but at least defend their actions even if the reply is in the speed of the game and heat of moment I decided …… Subsequently I was shown to be wrong/right.

Finally and this probably does not affect you. To paraphrase Dennis Nordon “If you are the type of person who…” threatens when they cannot construct an arguement and seeks retribution via cowardly acts then you do realise that evolution has left you behind. Your presence is not wanted in any connection with Football, in fact society has left you in the gutter.

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Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership Predictions 2018-19

5 Aug

spfl prem

Well in what is now becoming a tradition? Once again it’s prediction time. With the skin of a hippopotamus and the bravery of a Lion I will once again stick my neck out like a Giraffe and try not to make a pig’s ear out of it. (Editor Note no more Safari Animal References Please).

1

Rangers

Rangers

2

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Celtic

3

Hibs

Hibernian

4

Aberdeen

Aberdeen

5

Killie

Kilmarnock

6

HMFC

Heart Of Midlothian

7

mwell

Motherwell

8

St J

Saint Johnstone

9

Dundee

Dundee

10

accies

Hamilton Academicals

11

STM

Saint Mirren

12

livi

Livingston

First of all Rangers sleeping giant with its troubles not to seek. From the Mexican Experiment of Pedro Caixinha moving glasses about a table to Jimmy Nichol looking after last games, including an honourable mention to Graeme Murty. It has to be said with all that on the touchline and off the field Legal Cases the writers of Hollyoaks must have been wondering who was writing the script and the Cast must have wondered how they didn’t get an audition for a part. Throw in a the mass Google of “concomitant” and safe to say the Ealing Farce fulfilled all of Lord Reith’s values to Educate, Inform and Entertain. Steven Gerrard has been given some funds to spend, investing wisely as well as releasing some of the lesser performing inheritance he got on his first day. Goldstone and Katic look solid with Croatian Katic looking a decent goal threat at set prices and Corners. Allan McGregor brings a solidity and trust between the sticks. Ryan Jack looks like he is spending every waking moment picking his Gaffers Brains. A little shy on the Striker with Morelos seemingly continuing his wasteful efforts in front of goal. The Ibrox faithful demand success and will not accept the sloppy loss of valuable points like last season. This time for Dave King and Rangers it has to work.

Celtic. Brendan Rodgers has had a quiet summer don’t be fooled by Back to Back Trebles it was a slog last season with records broken yet domestic defeat creeping into Celtics games. Domestic Football immediately after Big European Games being a particular sore spot for Hoops fans. The minimal action in the transfer market meaning that at time of writing Celtic effectively had the same squad as last year a squad that had not quiet reached the standards of the previous seasons Invintrebles. It will be incredible to see if Brendan Rodgers methods that failed at Liverpool will be beaten by Steven Gerrard’s instinctive Anfield boot room methods. Will Celtic concentrate again on Champions League trusting no one domestically can touch them or will this confidence be shaken by Rangers? They say winning is a good habit and it is but losing is not something domestically Celtic have been used to and whatever way you slice it the hoops will lose more points this season than last three seasons.

Hibernian. Hat tip to the Leith side. Neil Lennon has got the Huber’s playing some scintillating football. Keeping a hold of John McGinn is important and firming up their defence would be great moves for the Easter Road Squad. Free Scoring and questionable in defence makes Easter Road the place to go for Goals. But this type of play backfires as much as it works running the risk of losing five goals and scoring three. Never the less I predict Hibs in third.

Aberdeen. It’s strange but last season’s second placed team seemed to be there by default as much as effort. In the run in while Celtic cantered and Rangers faltered the Dons seemed to run away from grasping the nettle. Very much a transition season with Key players leaving Derek McInnes seemed to be developing a new game plan. Niall McGinn returning mid-season is a boon and eighteen year old Lewis Ferguson is showing signs of brilliance but he is only eighteen and can hardly be relied upon over the course of a season. Kenny McLean left for Norwich reportedly quadrupling his wages and in a strange move talisman striker Adam Rooney was sold to Salford City no doubt both will do well in England. Aberdeen need a defined Striker Stevie May is not it. Goals from Midfield won’t be enough. With strict budgeting restraints and a new stadia complex being built the question is can Aberdeen keep hold of second place, Players and indeed their manager. Last year’s approach by Rangers for McInnes was Keystone Cops stuff all round. The board saying No to Rangers then giving McInnes and Docherty two days off to think about an offer that the board had rejected. That does not imply clear thinking in the wood panelled Pittodrie Board Room. As a note George Yule leaving the Board due to Health reasons is a massive blow to Aberdeen he was The Dons Mr Fixit an energetic operator who would be missed by any Club.

Kilmarnock. Steve Clarke quietly revolutionised Rugby Park. Turning Killie from mid table to shock troops. His tactical organisation made Kilmarnock more than the sum of its parts. Difficult to beat and free Scoring. The issue is with few new parts and the organisation tactic becoming predictable then Shock and Awe will be replaced by knowing Steve Clarke’s hand. They are few Aces available to Clarke so fifth place it is.

Heart of Midlothian. A wonderful Tale tags to riches the last few years with Hero’s and Villains. The problem with Hearts is you are never sure what team will come out like their Manager Craig Levin will you get mean and Moody Tyncastle or will you get smiley happy Gorgie. Some great youths mixed with experienced Pros exciting to watch and after an unregistered player incident and last year’s attempts to intimidate Scott Brown it will be interesting to see if Hearts can make the grade. I think they sneak barely into sixth.

Motherwell. Workmanlike, Robust Hard to play against and Harder to Beat. All terms used by fallen Managers about Stephen Robinson’s Well. The team that effectively Ended Pedro Caixinha’s term at Ibrox in a League Cup Semi Final was also subject to extreme scrutiny regards tactics. I do not think Scottish Referees will so understand this term and the absence of Louis Moult will consign Well into bottom 6. Some fine players at Fir Park but just not enough quality for top six and given their bad boy reputation I think seventh is about right.

Saint Johnstone. It’s very difficult to see the Perth Saints improving after last year’s fall out of top six. It’s a lot easier to see them stagnating mid table. So I took the path of least resistance. A small squad and really at times towards last season a tired looking Manage devoid of the ideas that brought European Football to Perth. It’s really difficult to see MacDiarmid Park ushering in the good times again. Too Many maybe men and maybe performances to think anything other than bottom six.

Dundee. Neil McCann has energised invigorated berated and at least tried to introduce consistency of performance into the Dens side. Satisfied Dundee are better than their City Rivals and with a miniscule Budget then Survival and bottom six suits most Dark Blues. Always able to provide a shock but never seemingly able to go on a run of victories a comfortable ninth seems a good season for Dundee.

Hamilton. Secure and organised Marin Canning has secured Accies future with sale of Lewis Ferguson. Will continue to survive in Premiership and hopefully develop another sale to secure next season. It’s the Accies way they make no bones about it and they on the whole are very good at it. Billy Reid started it and only when the stars go against them and they lose two prospects in a close season do they seem to struggle. Always hovering with disaster but staying up just in ninth.

Saint Mirren. Jack Ross their talisman Manager heading south and installing Alan Stubbs an untried manager at this level. Losing numerous of their best players and seemingly trying to copy Accies in the selling stakes. Fan ownership or not the departures from Paisley with untried Manager seems to put the writing on the wall. With just enough Quality as a hangover from last season’s Championship Victory the playoffs and roulette for Saint Mirren.

Livingston. Another promoted side this time despatching Partick to Championship. Again Untried Manager with meagre resources and not that much quality to start with. It difficult to imagine Kenny Millers first Managerial Job not ending in automatic relegation. The income will secure the club with Central Belt fans enjoying the short trip to away visits. That will bode well for the Club in its quest to financial security but sadly a quick return to the Championship with a nice Bank Balance.

Good News For Rangers (In Case You Missed It)

4 Nov

Rangers International Post Accounts and the spin from the usual outlets miss the actual news. Let no body say everything is perfect at Ibrox but the concentration on selecting figures shows at least why some Commentators are unfit to pass judgement on Finances.  The Headline Figures of £6.7 Million net losses look on the surface as terrible news for Rangers.

Sadly the devil is in the detail though and there is good news for Rangers Fans. News that unless you dig into the conditions of the Accounts then like so many in the Press you miss.

Season Ticket and Non Ticket Revenue went up 55% given that the now ended Retail Contract with Sports Direct deprived Rangers of around £3 million per year (Previous to Sports Direct Retail Deal the Retail Arm earned Net Profit of £3.2 million) and to end the contract cost in the region of £3 million then suddenly you have a £6 Million hole the red column that won’t be repeated. Think of the fans Retail Boycott, Customers who would are renowned for purchasing anything Rangers turned the Megastore and Online shop into a Ghost town.  The key dates are the Boycott was lifted a couple of months before the June 2017 report.

Remember the renegotiation of the Retail Deal was met with such enthusiasm from the Fans that Puma could not supply replica strips to meet demand. The lack of supply of Replica Strips was again only the headline as the rush to buy from Rangers Retail Outlets was akin to the Californian Gold Rush in 1880s.  This accounts for only part of the 55% increase in revenue.

Ibrox has been maintained to the highest standards again following a period of years that the infrastructure was neglected.   Even if this accounts for approximately £1 million then suddenly we find an operating loss of some £7 Million.

 

The operating Costs or if you like Buying Players on the books as £8million sees some 15 million pounds swinging from Red to Black. The Term “Soft Loans” hides the fact that these Loans are require less Service Charges than Hard Loans from Financial Institutions So whatever you consider of the Directors Bail Out to ensure their investment continues to trade then you need to think That given their intimate knowledge of accounts and their obvious wealth (gained through Business acumen) that they appreciate the need for and the continued Business strength.  Almost uniquely Ibrox Stadium makes money seven days a week twenty four hours a day.  Willie Waddell designed Ibrox to be an Office Retail Park that contains a Football Stadium and the assets of Rangers International are still under used the Car Park is available for hire 90% of the time and the Shadow of Edminson House still lies Empty behind the Coploan Road.  The plans for the former Rangers Pools Office will no doubt earn Income for the Board even if it’s a further Million Pound annually it’s still more than currently generated.

The real Headline surely is that a Corner looks like it’s been turned in G51, The Retail Deal alone will wipe out the current operating loss.  The further expansion of the other income streams and the reduced maintenance costs of Infrastructure will only improve the financial standing of Rangers International.  Take away the hidden costs of Legal teams fighting Sports Direct.  The main Fix seems to of happened in the Deals made by people who really have to be questioned on the Motives for Committing Rangers FC to Deals that did not benefit the Ibrox coffers.

The McInnes Merry-Go-Round. 

30 Oct

As everyman and his dog seems to have an opinion then maybe I should put the collar on and join in.  Derek McInnes is not only the Main Candidate for Rangers Manager he is the only Man for the Job.

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The Pedro Caixinha experiment has failed Rangers need a sure steady and as close to sure-fire Stalwart as possible and Derek McInnes is the prime candidate.

It is by no coincidence that in Old Firm terms the only Managers remembered as a success have been from three Countries; Scotland, Northern Ireland and The Netherlands.  From Struth to Stein, Waddell to McNeil, O’Neil, Lennon and the two Dutch Lads Advocaat and Jansen.  Paul Le Guen, John Barnes, Tony Mowbray and now Pedro Caixinha all confined in the forgotten failure files.  Managing the Old Firm is not just another Football Job it involves a quick understanding of the Pressures of winning.  The Men who have done well have either been brought up within the Environment or have very quickly got the picture.  Le Guen and Barnes for example looked at Managing in Glasgow’s pressure cooker as purely Soccer exercises and spectacularly failed.  Even Kenny Dalglish schooled in Glasgow forged as a player at Celtic, Shinning like a guiding star at Liverpool, Tempered Mentally by witnessing three Football disasters struggled to come to Terms with Managing the Old Firm.  So even when all the ingredients look to be there sometimes they never seem to be in right qualities.

McInnes has taken The Dons from Bottom Six looking over their shoulder at Relegation to top two looking over their shoulders at the rest of Scottish Football bar Celtic.  All done to a strict Budget and Wage Cap.  League Cup victory and succession of Semi Finals and Finals have brought the feel good Factor back to the North East.

Using smart signings and Loans McInnes has worked miracles and gained Cult Hero Status among the Dandies.   For three years now Derek could walk from Footdee to Torry across the harbour and not get wet.

There lies the dilemma for Derek, can he given the limited resources at Pittodrie take The Dons any further? No victories against Invincible Celtic in last seven games, not even a draw.  Rangers, Saint Johnstone, Dundee, the relegated Inverness Caledonian Thistle and most recently Kilmarnock have all arguably sneaked a Draw from Brendan Rodgers’ Men yet Aberdeen have not. Given the resources available to McInnes can anyone see any kind of increased ability for Aberdeen to mount a sustained bid for silverware.

That is not to say the Pittodrie Board are not doing everything they can to finance an increased Push for success.

Hampered by a solid steady fan base seems an unusual confinement but it is exactly what Aberdeen are.  Despite success on the field and publicly advertising for an increase in Home attendances, the Pittodrie average home crowd year in year out does not break sixteen thousand.  With “Debt Free” rules in place the options for Stewart Milne to back his Manager are severely limited if not bordering on impossible.
Aware of this Derek McInnes must consider at least that he has taken The Good Red Ship as far as possible.  A glass wall of achievement may not have been hit but it’s certainly on the Horizon and with little chance of being smashed.

Sunderland’s Summer interest was respectfully met with a polite “No Thanks” given the Basket Case Board Room on Wearside and the promise of New Stadium, Training Facilities and retention of Kenny McLean in Scottish North East then you can’t fault Derek’s logic.  Sadly for Dons fans a week is a long time in Politics and a quarter Season is a lifetime of changes in Football.

Kingsford Stadium Planning Submission stalled mysteriously and Kenny McLean indicating like Nial McGinn and Johnny Hayes last year his desire to seek higher wages elsewhere.  Joining a list of top players McInnes has lost for no sale value on Bosman’s.  That is a double blow, to lose a top player but to lose an Asset and not receive any funds to identify a replacement is Treading water of the highest standard.  Nor can you blame Players on AFC maximum wage seeking a wage rise after delivering success.  In any work if you as an employee work hard and bring accolades to your employer then of course you would expect an increase in your top line.  In addition to Loan Players at mercy of recall (Danny Ward & James Maddison) from parent Club or ineligible for over 10% of your League Games (Ryan Christie).

So on to Rangers.  Well the Ibrox Club have not their Troubles to seek.  From a standing start having been ripped apart Rangers have at least formed a resemblance to a Top Flight Football Club.  Make no mistake Dave King’s Chairmanship is staked on this appointment,  the loyalty and gratitude of the Ibrox Loyal will not last another failed Manager.  The stakes are high for King, get this right be a Hero get it wrong and Craig Whyte will have a Cell Mate in the eyes of the Coploan Road.

When McInnes was last mentioned in regards the Office atop the Marble Staircase, Edminson Drive was shrouded in the Fog of Merchandise deals, Court Cases and Board Room bedlam.  The Simmering Sports Direct Standoff was resolved in the Summer immediately prompting an Income Boost for Rangers and Puma Factories all over the world to look out Rangers merchandise Patterns.

Is there money at Ibrox for a new Manager to spend? I believe there is.  The War-chest promised to Caixinha in Summer still has a few Million Pounds in it only because of the Queues outside the Rangers Megastore.  That income was not budgeted for when Pedro Caixinha took over or even in the begining of the last Transfer Window.  That cash is still floating and that along with additional funds will be earmarked for Squad development in January.

Derek McInnes must consider moving back into his Family Home full-time.  Having a fully built Stadium attracting crowds of forty-seven thousand, world-class training Facilities all within thirty minutes drive of your Family simply must be a tempting offer.  Rangers rarely ask twice and for first time ever are asking the same question in less than a year.  It’s now or never for McInnes.

If and it’s still an If McInnes heads down the M90, M9 and M8 then his ideal replacement should pass Him coming North.  With Craig Brown in Non Executive Role at Pittodrie then Jack Ross is the ideal replacement to continue the stability of the Dons while enjoying working with an increased Wage Cap , Better Players, similar ethos and sea views.  He might even bring the Hot Young Prospect of Stevie Mallon with him.  It would pay even the most dissapointed Don’s Fan to remember the last Manager they took from Paisley worked out rather well for them.

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Kingsford Stadium Aberdeen’s Last Hope

17 Aug

I have real issues with Anti Kingsford protesters. I have lived within a mile of Ibrox for 22 years. Never have fans rioted past my house. 

Traffic congestion is manageable and predictable. Rangers Games keep the area vibrant and functioning. If you look around Ibrox you see many more thriving small businesses ran by Local People than anywhere else in Southside. As a Former Westhill Academy Pupil I understand the local area as good as any. I am not a Dons fan but I do believe that Kingsford is an ambitious project that will benefit Aberdeen Football Club, enhance Scottish Football and give the area the kind of Profile it deserves.

Strikes me that the people who complain actually do not like any football probably visit Westhill Golf Club thinking this counts as Sport or support Sir Andy Murray as long as he didn’t bounce a Tennis Ball in their Street. Everything by Proxy. 
It’s a Strange fact that no one complained when a Post Box in Westhill was painted Gold to reflect Tim Baillie’s Gold Medal. Snobbery is not an excuse; Elitism is not a valid Planning concern. 

Infact the only concern I would pass on to the ANTI stadia folk is not football related. By far the biggest issue with having a stadia and events on your doorstep is not to worry about football it is strangely the other events that can appear. The biggest hassles living in this area with events that have impacted on Freedom of Movement, Noise Pollution, security, litter and property crimes has been; Pope’s Visit, Commonwealth Games Rugby, Glasgow Sessions, Great Scottish Runs, 10ks, fun runs. Eminem is playing next week in Bellahouston Park and I am already worried. History says it will be carnage. 

It is a disgrace not unexpected as AWPR NIMBYs have caused many deaths due to their holding up a Bypass. As a City Aberdeen wants to looked on as Modern Metropolitan City yet is dragged back into dark ages by small minded. 

Not since 1903 when Football Authorities had to invite Orion FC, Aberdeen Victoria FC and Aberdeen FC to form a Senior Football Club has the rest of Scottish Football looked on the North East as a special case. The decisions took in 1903 have arguably lead directly to Aberdeen’s greatest days. Gothenburg in 1983, league Championships, Scottish Cups and League Cups. Days of Unity.  Not to mention Aberdeen being seen as a valid venue for Scottish international matches in both Football and Rugby. Putting Aberdeen firmly on the Sporting Atlas. 

Just as the AWPR will reduce congestion, lower inner city pollutants; reduce injuries and deaths, improving The City.  A new home for the Dons will drive Aberdeen FC, The City and Shire from the machinations of Edwardian times into the 21st Century. 

As a last point why are the property values going to drop with the infrastructure of an area receiving hundreds of Millions of Pounds of Investment then any estate agent would tell you that unless the investment is a nuclear power plant House prices will only rise.
Aberdeen and the Shire have to wake up the specter of Aberdeen Football Club playing European Fixtures out with the City and Shire even in the Central Belt this defies reason. Pittodrie is a stadium in need of demolition it is simply uneconomic to bring up to specification and in fact given its location it is simply impossible to expand. Following the shambles of the Lorrison planning application and now the Kingsford complaints the impression that Aberdeen is not open for inward investment and development is a real possibility that will directly harm Jobs and all so that some locals do not have to drive past a Facility. 

Kingsford is not in any Westhill Back yard it’s not even in the same Postcode. It is time that sections of the Oil Capital of Europe sucked it up and realised that money won’t just bubble out of the ground anymore. Aberdeen needs to become a Modern City with a Modern Outlook or it will become a DRY COUNTY of Despair. 

  

City’s only get one chance in a generation failure this time round will cut Aberdeen (shire) adrift in North Sea for many years.

Scottish Premiership Predictions 2017-18

4 Aug

 

Well it’s that time again that Fools go where Angels fear to tread.  My now annual stick my neck on the chopping block and predict a whole season worth of fixtures, injuries and dodgy decisions in an attempt to predict where Clubs will finish in the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership League Table in May 2018.

 spfl prem

SPFL Premiership Predictions 2017-18

1  wpid-2014-10-30-16-42-23-1807006305.jpeg Celtic
2  Rangers Rangers
3  Aberdeen Aberdeen
4  Hibs Hibernian
5  Killie Kilmarnock
6  St J St Johnstone
7  HMFC Hearts
8  Part Partick Thistle
9  RC Ross County
10  Dundee Dundee
11  mwell Motherwell
12  accies Hamilton Accies

Celtic have to be favourites the Invincibles of last season start with the deserved tag of Favourites.  Brendan Rodgers has built and kept a strong squad that has the happy habit of winning or at least not losing.  Bren RogA decent start in European Qualifiers with no Gibraltar style slip up has only enhanced the thought that the trophy will settle in the East End of Glasgow next year.  That’s not to say a repeat of all conquering season, like season 1988 it is difficult to keep up the standards of going domestically unbeaten.  With Fans Groups vocally grumbling and various off field Inquiries the only chance for the rest of Scotland is if these issues grow and begin to implode Celtic.  Celtic Fans have grown accustom to sweeping aside all that stands in their way.  Just as it’s a happy habit not losing one wonders how Brenan Rodgers Bhoys will react to the strange feeling of Losing should it happen.  Celtic to win the league but not as comprehensively as last term. Players In: Olivier Ntcham, Jonny Hayes, Kundai Benyu. Players Out: Emilio Izaguirre, Efe Ambrose, Gary Mackay-Steven, Saidy Janko, defender (St Etienne); Logan Bailly, Kris Commons. Loan: Scott Allan, midfielder (Dundee).

Rangers in Second after the debacle of no progress in Luxemburg but Sadly for Scottish Football the low standing of our game in UEFA lists means that Scottish Teams are going to have to get with the program and be up for the Europa Cup in early July or else. Pedro Caixinha building a team from the ashes of the Warburton experiment.  

The common theory is that Rangers have good players just not a good team.  So far Pedro’s Rangers version one has lacked game time.  A lot of work is needed you have a Managers vision needing cemented on to Players who are either used to Last Seasons unchanging Tactical Standard of Warburton or new players finding their feet at Ibrox.  So far Rangers have flattered themselves.  At times they have looked like they were not even aware of each other’s names.  The importance for Rangers is to tune into to each other.  Brendan Rodgers managed to gel a rag tag group of Ronny Deila’s squad and supplement it with fresh quality players last term and the little Portuguese Ibrox Gaffer has to do the same.  The early exit from Europe means if Rangers are detached in the League in October then there is a real chance of Rangers finding a fourth Manager to take the reins in one Calendar Year. With off field issues becoming clearer and the boost of Merchandise Money coming in Rangers need to Challenge for everything and Challenge closely.  The excuses have run out.  Rangers in second for me as Project Pedro needs to bed in.  Players In: Bruno Alves, Graham Dorrans, Alfredo Morelos, Ryan Jack, Fabio Cardoso Daniel Candeias, Carlos Pena, Eduardo Herrera. Loan: Dalcio. Out: Barrie McKay Joe Garner, Matt Crooks, Billy Gilmour Philippe Senderos, Rob Keirnan, Clint Hill. Loan: Andy Halliday, Michael O’Halloran.

Aberdeen in Third seems a strange choice given their summer.  Management team sign new contracts and already a good start in Europa League Qualifiers.  The sad truth is though that Aberdeen last year’s Brides Maids in chief are in a similar position to Celtic. 

 They have a habit of doing well in some games yet inexplicable losing points to lowly teams in League.  It’s a more difficult habit to shake off too.  Ryan Christie’s loan is a strange set of circumstances that makes me think all 12 points in Games against Celtic will go with the Hoops.  You have a talisman in Christie scoring for fun against all but his parent Club when he is sitting in the Stand looking enviously at all in front of him.  His place in starting line-up taken by someone who knows that no matter what they do next week Christie is in and they are on the bench.  It’s the rules of the SPFL but it sure makes you think what ambition Aberdeen has.  Pittodrie is also distracted by various off field issues, Planning Permission for new Stadium version two at Kingsford in addition to the stories that won’t go away regarding Kenny McLean and Derek McInnes.  In spite of strong statements by Aberdeen Football Club and McInnes these stories keep resurfacing.  That is not an accident.  New Funding in the Boardroom means that unless careful Demarcation exists then with Stuart Milne, The Donald’s and now Cormack are we looking at a three headed Monster ready to explode painting the Pittodrie Board room Red with Blood?  It’s my gut feeling that the Dandies are not as strong as previous two seasons and will finish third in May. In: Gary Mackay-Steven, Kari Arnason, Greg Tansey, Nicky Maynard, Loan: Greg Stewart, Ryan Christie. Out: Jonny Hayes, Ryan Jack, Niall McGinn, Ash Taylor, Peter Pawlett, Neil Alexander, Cammy Smith, Lawrence Shankland.

Hibernian in fourth and its tight but the often snarling driving force of Neil Lennon can not be under rated or ignored.  

The massive Leith Legions still on a high from Cup and League wins in last two years backing a typically Attacking Lennon Team simply is not going to quietly bed into the Premiership.  Good Signings from Lennon over the summer means that a very Creditable fourth and European place goes down Easter Road.  In: Vykintas Slivka, Efe Ambrose, Ofir Marciano, Danny Swanson, Deivydas Matulevicius, Steven Whittaker, Anthony Stokes, Simon Murray. Out: Jason Cummings, James Keatings, Chris Humphrey, Grant Holt, Fraser Fyvie.

Kilmarnock have assembled a Dream Team in lots of ways On the Park in the Dug out but ranker still enhabits the Rugby Park Board Room.  Billy Bowie has yet to cleanse the spectre of Michael Johnstone, the signs look good for the Tanker Millionaire but its time to repair the damage done by others over a decade.  Lee McCullough is a exceptional young manager he has without doubt learned from masters and has acquired a good selection of Players who will often shock in both winning games they should not but sadly for theKillie faithful losing points they should of secured too.  That is the Killie way its built in to the bricks.  I do feel though that McCulllough will have more positive shocks for his club than negative ones.  Pleasing for the You Tubers in Ayrshire but a solid fifth for Kilmarnock. In: Chris Burke, Cammy Bell, Gordon Greer, Kirk Broadfoot, Lee Erwin, Alex Samizadeh, Dom Thomas, Stephen O’Donnell, Calum Waters, Daniel Higgins, Alan Power. Out: Dapo Kayode, Jack Whittaker. Loan ended: Kristoffer Ajer, Conor Sammon.

St Johnstone Tommy Wright is a brilliant Manager with a Cup Win and solid league Placings but you got the feeling last term that a era was ending.  Suddenly Cup Winners got outnumbered by new personel and the spirit of the saints had lessened.  Its for this reason I think The Perth Saints will land in sixth next year.  McDermid has all the feel of a rebuilding project.  No doubt St Johnstone will be solid well organised and able to punish you for mistakes as is the Tommy Wright Signature Team but I feel they wont be able to hurt or create as they restock the squad to revisit the glory days.  In: Stefan Scougall, Kyle McClean, Scott Tanser, Loan: Michael O’Halloran, midfielder (Rangers). Out: Danny Swanson, Tam Scobbie.

Hearts in seventh.  No one is sure how the Structure at Tyncastle works with Craig Levin it is not a clear as the metal structure of the New Main Stand in Gorgie.  It is possible that now good players are not being taken down the Cul De Sac of Cathro Place that they might be able to walk down Gorgie Road.  Confusing at best of times and that sums up Hearts on the field of play.  You are never sure what kind of performance you will witness from minute to minute.  You are never sure who is making the tactical changes and you are never sure whos hand is on the tiller.  This appears to affect players too.  The rebuilding Tynecastle means that no Home Games in first month of season could find The Jam Tarts pitiful away form meaning they are detacted eight games in. In: Kyle Lafferty, Christophe Berra, Rafal Grzelak, Michael Smith, Cole Stockton. Loan: Connor Randall, Ashley Smith-Brown. Out: Bjorn Johnsen, Callum Paterson, Perry Kitchen, Sam Nicholson, Gavin Reilly, Billy King.

Partick Thistle what can you say about Partick they are just solid well organised and a true team.  Unity of purpose, Singulary Focused on the same Goal.  Alan Archibald sells his squad a vision that the whole club signes up too.  I do not think they will repeat last years top six place but I do not think they will trouble relegation in Eighth. In: Niall Keown, Blair Spittal, Jamie Sneddon. Loan: Jordan Turnbull, defender (Coventry City). Out: Liam Lindsay, Mark Ridgers, Ade Azeez, David Amoo.

Ross County will miss a top flight Highland Derby with Inverness Caledonian Thistle Dropping down to the Championship. The Closest Away Game to Dingwall being a trip to Aberdeen. Not the biggest Home Support and a small core of away fans some you cant imagine Atmosphere being a big part of Ross County’s game plan. No one will like a trip up to the Highlands at any time of the season and this travel might just secure enough points to keep Ross County up and clear of the dreaded Playoff and Relegation spots. The Victoria Park team will have to wait til well into April before they will be safe in the knowledge they wont be at risk of following Inverness down a league tucked into Nineth place.. In: Billy Mckay, Thomas Mikkelsen, Sean Kelly, Jim O’Brien, Tom Grivosti, Loan: Jamie Lindsay, midfielder (Celtic). Out: Liam Boyce, Chris Burke, Ian McShane, Paul Quinn, Jay McEveley, Jonathan Franks, Oscar Gobern, David Brownlie, Chris McLaughlin, Matt Hall.

Dundee in tenth no matter what way you look at it Paul Hartleys left overs to ex pundit Neil McCann just seems to lack on all fronts. No talisman player, a real lack of Team Unity, No solid Defensive look and a untested Manager Tactically used to passing comment with no pressure in the warm surrounds of a television studio not when the heat is turned up in the dug out. In: Glen Kamara, Randy Wolters, Sofien Moussa, Jack Hendry Lewis Spence, Elliot Parish, Roarie Deacon, Loan: Scott Allan, midfielder (Celtic). Out: Rory Loy, Kevin Gomis, Nick Ross, Daniel Higgins.

Motherwell look like a Club on and off the field that are in the grasp of turmoil. The Fan ownership model they are using seems to be in need of restructuring with not enough hard Cash coming in to support the Club. Losing Scott McDonald to Dundee United seems to sum up whats wrong. The Drive of the Austrailian that permulated the Squad infecting his will to win almost certainly kept the Fir Park side up last term. Its more than likely that Moetherwell will meet Dundee United in a Playoff and with the loss of experienced campaigners Well do not look equipped to be a force even in the bottom Six. The rocky road of a return to the Playoffs for Motherwell. In: Cedric Kipre, Alex Fisher, Russell Griffiths, Craig Tanner, Gael Bigirimana, Andy Rose, Charles Dunne, Trevor Carson, George Newell, Dylan King, Liam Brown. Out: Dom Thomas, Scott McDonald, Craig Samson, Lionel Ainsworth, Joe Chalmers, Keith Lasley, Craig Clay, James McFadden, Stephen Pearson.

Hamilton are the perennial favourites for Relegation and this year is no different only complete collapses by other Clubs has saved them in the past. Not as organised as Partick, with good players but not standouts and barring the 4G Pitch no real Unique Selling Point. They are no whispers of outstanding youth players. Martin Canning is a good manager and brilliant Coach. He Manages the issues and Coaches the players with a unease at times but I feel that you cant keep hanging about at the bottom of the League dodging the Championship dragnet without being caught eventually and dragged down. In: Xavier Tomas, Ryan Fulton, Out: Gramoz Kurtaj, Blair Adams, Craig Watson, Jack Breslin, Alex D’Acol, Jesus Garcia Tena, Danny Seaborne.

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Evolvolution Trumps Revolution

11 Feb

Lets be honest the seeds for Mark Warburtons Downfall were sown in early 2016.  After a blisteting start to the all important Promotion or Bust season the other Nine Teams began to learn from their Homework.  To the degree that you didnt need to send a Scout to build a dossier on Warburtons Rangers all you had to do was check your notes from previous games.  

Warburton had the element of Surprise in his first round of fixtures in league.  Blowing Hibs away in Petrofac Cup first Round surprised many.  

Then a good first round of League fixtures for Warburton and the frailities of back Four with Wing Backs, a narrow mudfield three combined with a mobile front Three.  Starting from Deep keeping possession at almost all costs.  Warburton set rules and they mostly had the letter P as a key.

Possesion and play percentage passes. 

The problems came when other teams realised to defend against this Rangers team all you had to do was man mark in your own half with a chaser running down the Centre Backs in Blue. That lead to Rangers turning from a free flowing Attacking force who would score more than they let in, to a nervous uncomfortable squad in possession who leaked goals. In fact it seemed Rangers needed to go a goal down to begin to look like they were interested in putting the opponents goal in Danger. 

Countless examples of how to Play Rangers and win come right out of the Alan Stubbs Robbie Nelson Play Book.  Against Brendan Rodgers Celtic at Recent League Cup Semi Final with Tavernier in Midfield and Lee Hodson in at full back playing a solid looking 4-4-2 then it took some formation Changes from Celtic to win at Hampden.  

Warburton was is stubborn the joke was Mark had only read one paragraph of one page in one chapter of the Big Book of Football Tactics.  And like a Born Again Christian he believed every word to be Gosple.  Warburton seemed to fail in questioning his own ethos to the degree that he could not evolve.  From early 2016 the signs were there. First Game of Warburton Era versus Hibs at Easter Road a surpise drubbing of Hibs.  Last game of season a toe to toe battle at Hampden in Scottish Cup Final with Hibs winning by using only one page of Tactics.  How to beat a Warburtons Rangers. 

Flattering to decieve with some lovely moments but for me Warburton Plan A became a bust flush and the lack of a Plan B caused the downfall. 

The Warburton Revolution simply failed to kick on and Evolve.