Scottish Football Briefing 25th May
Aberdeen are going to be signing two Dutch players. They’re after Jeffrey de Visscher from De Graafschap, who is apparently a winger. And they quite fancy Robert Fik, who’ll be pitching up from WKE. Now my research, tells me that WKE are in fact an amateur side and further to that Fik is 26. Explain yourself James Calderwood: “People may be a bit sceptical because Fik is coming in from amateur football at the age 26.” They might be Jim, they just might. Oh there’s more: “But the amateur leagues in Holland are different to the ones here. Fik was also being chased by a host of other clubs because he was one of the most highly rated players over there.” Well that’s ok then, glad we had this little chat.
Russell Anderson kind of gives you a little bit of faith in footballers. There he is being chased by all and sundry and he’s after staying with the Dons for the rest of his career. Listen to him, just listen, well read it but you get the point: “These are exciting times to be an Aberdeen player, so I’m in no hurry to leave. I’m open to discussing a new contract and if it meant staying with Aberdeen for the rest of my career, then fine.”
Paul Hartley is reporting himself very much ‘up’ for the Scottish Cup final. Which to be fair, he bally well should be, it kind of being what he’s paid for. So we best let him trot out some clichs before he wanders off to do the kind of footballer things we mortals can only dream of. Here he is: “The mood has always been good in the camp and the whole place is upbeat. We know what’s at stake on Saturday and we realise we’ll have to work hard as teams always want to beat Celtic.” There is that, yes. There’s also the whole ‘they might actually feel like winning the cup’ factor as well.
Gary Caldwell also appears to have caught the ‘winning cups is a good thing’ bug. Look at these ground-breaking quotes: “Cup finals are the kind of games we all want to play in at Celtic, but facing Dunfermline won’t be easy. I came to Celtic to win trophies and it would be great to win the Double.”
Promises, my old grandfather used to say, are a dangerous thing, you make them to get some swine to give you what you want and then they go and demand you meet your end of the bargain. Which is why Craig Levein appears to be playing with fire this week. Here he is now, juggling with chainsaws: “All I can promise is that, not anything to do with league positions, we will improve next season. The players we bring in will be better than ones we let go – that’s my promise to the supporters.” Craig’s actually been quite clever there. See, he says they’ll get better regardless of the league position they end up in. So in a purely subjective sense he claims they’ll be better but the only quantifiable element of such an improvement, their league position, will not be an acceptable measure of this notional improvement.
Levein is hopeful of replacing the departing Collin Samuel, David McCracken, Lee Mair and Derek Stillie in fairly short order. He’s apparently going to sign a ‘keeper called Lukasz Zaluska from Korona Kolice, who you will be stunned to discover are a Polish team.
Mean spirited curmudgeons Celtic won’t be letting on-loan winger Jim O’Brien play for the Pars in the Scottish Cup final. For which they should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. If they think he’s that good, they should let him play for the Hoops and have done with it. But to be fair to Gordon Strachan he did say this about the whole sorry situation: “The arrangement was that Jim could not play against us at all this season. It’s unfortunate and it wasn’t an easy decision to make, but Jim was very philosophical about it.” Well as long as it was the arrangement and it was a hard decision to make, it’s all alright isn’t it Gordon?
Prior to the Scottish Cup final, Dunfermline have settled their rather undignified win bonus squabble. Here’s what John Yorkston, the holder of the big chair, had to say on the matter: “Bonuses are a touchy subject. With players it is an emotional issue.” Rubbish John, it’s a financial issue.
Karl Dodd who, I’m sure he will be devastated to know, I have never heard of, has left Falkirk to join New Zealand’s Wellington Phoenix – a team I have never heard of. Here’s what Ricki Herbert, a man of whom I have never heard, had to say about the unknown Karl Dodd in his guise as the coach of a completely mysterious football team: “Karl has played well in the top flight in Scotland and is technically very sound.” And there we must leave this heart-stopping item.
Craig Gordon must actually be made out of patience. He’s been knocked from pillar to post by the Jambos and he’s still prepared to say nice things about them when he’s linked with every Premiership side with a bit of cash to spend. Look at these things and admire the man: “I still have two years left on my contract and I’m not banging down the door asking to get away. If they decide to cash in on me and take some money for me, then that’s their prerogative and I’ll listen to whatever offer comes in, but if it’s a good offer for me I’ll be happy for that. If it’s not, I’ll look forward to the start of the new season here. There’s no rush for anybody, me or any of the clubs.” Run Craig, just run and keep running. You’re far too good for them anyway.
Hearts assistant manager Stephen Frail seems a little worried that the Jambos may start shedding players now they haven’t made it into Europe. Look here: “I think we need to ask Mr Romanov if it changes his budget in terms of the players he’s looking to bring in. Hopefully our good players – guys like Laryea Kingston and Craig Gordon – will want to stay.” Here’s a thought, stop pushing them towards the exit door with all your might. Then they might stay.
That’s Scott Brown off to Celtic then, last game played for Hibs and a cheeky wee goal against his new side. Well played there. And John Collins seemed quite pleased with the whole thing: “He has been a great servant to the club. He is a terrific player and a strong character. I had no fear about him performing. It was nice for him to score a goal. The fans gave him what he deserved, which was a great send off. He has great self-belief and on top of that he has a great work ethic. So there was never any doubt that the Hibs fans would be on his side.” So that’s all dandy then. Now, if you can just hold onto the rest of your squad John, it might not be a bad summer.
There will be few transfers at Inverness Caley this summer. And if you’re still standing after that shocker, let us look deeper into the issue. Darren Dods is away, we know that, that one’s done. And Craig Dargo could well be off. Let’s hear more from director of football Graeme Bennett: “We will only be looking for two or three players and we’ll be taking our time about that.” Don’t wait too long Graeme, all the best ones’ll have gone. “We need a centre-half as Darren Dods has gone, one forward – two, if Craig Dargo goes. With three of the youth team stepping up, we feel we’ve got a well-balanced squad. Continuity has served us well in the SPL so there will be no major disruption.” It’s a white-knuckle ride with Caley and no mistake.
In a bid to make replacing Craig Dargo a moot point, Caley are throwing everything they’ve got at keeping him at the club. Charlie Christie said: “We are still hopeful – we spoke to him again briefly on Friday and we made him the best offer this club has ever made a player. The club has been great for him and I would be delighted if he stayed.” I think Charlie might have a little weep when he eventually goes to the Championship you know.
BBC Sport have gone for another of their vague statements again. But instead of the usual ‘BBC Sport understands’ they’re giving ‘BBC Sport believes’ a spin. Anyway, they ‘believe’ that Steven Naismith has got a 1.5 million release clause in his contract at Rugby Park. Which of course means, he’ll probably go to Rangers or Aston Villa fairly shortly.
Smiling Jim Jefferies seems thrilled that Killie took more points than any other team in the top half after the split. Which rather brings into focus his incessant moaning about how the post-split home and away games ratio wasn’t fair. Let’s not spoil it though, Jim tell us of your joy: “We lost David Fernandez to a bad injury and, if he had been fit, we would have challenged Hearts and Aberdeen a lot closer. Three wins on the trot in the top six, that’s a terrific achievement.”
Kevin McBride is on his way out at Motherwell, apparently to go and sign for Darlington under freedom of contract and all that. He’s even turned down a new contract to go and play at Darlo’s empty stadium week in week out.
The new owner of Motherwell will apparently be giving his full backing to Maurice Malpas. And quite rightly since, and I’m talking to you here Motherwell fans in all your booing-him-cos-we-lost-a-gameness, he’s done nothing wrong. Tell us more Maurice: “I have spoken to the new owner and I have been told to get on with it. I have had great backing from the existing board and I have the backing of the new owner, which is all that really matters.”
In my experience of Rangers fans, and it’s reasonably extensive, they split into two camps over the possible signing of Lee McCulloch. Some can’t see the point and would rather money was spent elsewhere and the other faction REALLY, REALLY don’t want him. But that’s so much Bovril in the wind since it’s looking all but nailed on that he’s going to be pitching up at Ibrox in the next few weeks. This is what the man in question had to say for himself: “Rangers are a massive club. The kind of club who should be winning trophies every year. They are in the Champions League, have a fantastic manager and everyone in their career wants to step up.” Fairly conclusive there then.
Kris Boyd scored in LA. But sadly in not nearly as exciting a way as that sounds. He netted for Rangers in a 1-0 win over Los Angeles Galaxy in front of a magnificent 15,000 SOCCAH fans. This is the way the world ends you know. Americans going to a football match.
Swansea are supposedly chasing John Sutton and David van Zanten. So they must be almost cock-a-hoop by now. Roberto Martinez is apparently the manager of Swansea and he had this to say about it all: “The Scottish market is thriving and more affordable than the English league and it’s something the club should tap into.” Clear off Martinez and tap into the Welsh market, you can’t have any of them. They’re not for you.
David O’Brien has left Stirling Albion to join Dundee it says here. Stirling Albion, the Binos, the only club with a nickname worse than Wycombe ‘the Chairboys’ Wanderers.
In a rather odd development, Ross County are sort of in talks with Mohammed Al Fayed over ‘helping’ the Dingwall side get back into the First Division. Look at these frankly bizarre quotes from the Harrods owner: “I was very sad to see Ross County relegated to the Second Division, particularly when they appeared to be challenging for promotion to the Scottish Premier League last year.” Now, I’m a dreadful cynic at the best of times, but there’s no way he actually said that surely?
Rather upsettingly, wing wizard Ryan Borris is leaving the Sons to go to Raith Rovers where he’ll be joining Craig Winter who the Fife side swiped just last week.
Right then, readers of the Sun will note that Manchester United are about to launch a 39 million bid for Dimitar Berbatov. At the risk of seeming obsessed with Tottenham, which is probably true, it might be interesting to see how this whole story came about.
Yesterday a Bulgarian newspaper printed a series of completely unquoted claims that Berbatov would be moving to Man Utd for 27 million. Within about 37 seconds of this appearing online it had been appallingly translated using Babelfish and seemed to contain some mention of another player being included in the bargain. This then moved onto the thrilling concept of ITK internet posters claiming to have heard all about it. ITK for the non-geeks among you means In The Know.
Later a ‘leading ITK figure’ came up with Louis Saha being part of the deal, which then lead to the deal being valued at 39 million with the French striker tagging along.
Fast forward to this morning where it all appears in the Sun along with a quote from Berbatov’s agent Emil Danchev along the lines of ‘anything is possible in football’, something he’s been saying for weeks now.
Best Laid Claims
Just a quick mention to everyone who texted me to say the Gareth Bale to Tottenham deal is ‘all but done’. That’s great, but I understood the concept the first time I saw it, there really was no need to tell me on 932 occasions.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
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