Football Briefing - 27 April
Jimmy Calderwood, an unhappy man – discuss. I can’t speak of anything else but his attitude to his side’s recent 2-2 draw with Hibs, but he’s certainly not pleased about that. Let us join him in his despondency: “Defensively we are normally very strong, but we don’t look like that at the moment. We keep giving simple goals away and bad individual mistakes are costing us, which is very unlike what has happened in the three years I have been here. But it has happened quite a lot in the last few weeks and it makes it very difficult to win football games.” It does Jimmy, it does.
Right, we should probably get the whole ‘Celtic have won the title’ thing out the way. They did it, they’d pretty much done it months ago, but at least now they can relax a bit. Indeed Neil Lennon would appear to be relaxing so much, he’s slumped from his chair and slid all of the way out of Parkhead. What I’m trying to say with that tortured little prose nugget is he’s leaving at the end of the season. It’s another one of those ‘the BBC understands’ efforts, but they seem pretty confident about it so I shall be treating it as fact and bellowing it to anyone and everyone I meet in the pub, street, post office and roller disco. He’s apparently keen to try his hand at coaching in England and according to the BBC has enjoyed a ‘colorful career in Scotland’. Yep, mainly ginger but several other colours as well. Oh look at that, he’s definitely off then. It was all over Sky Sports News but I was in the pub and the sound was down. Good luck to him anyway. And so on.
Jiri Jarosik would apparently welcome a move to Tottenham, and who can blame him really, he’s done naff all at Celtic. He supposedly read in the paper that the Lillywhites are interested in him. I have no idea which paper we’re talking about here, I can only imagine it was the newspaper in his head since there is absolutely no truth in it whatsoever. Tottenham indeed.
There’s far too much Celtic stuff this week. Suffice to say Shunsuke Nakamura is staying. If he was younger he’d go to Spain. And John Kennedy’s signed a new three year deal after his impressive comeback from a detonating knee. That’s it. No more.
The Arabs have finally settled with Ayr United over the transfer of Craig Conway. The Somerset Park outfit were less than impressed with United’s first offer for the winger and now claim victory, VICTORY, in the ensuing transfer tussle. They won’t say how much they got in the end, but apparently it was 60% higher than the original sum on the table. Here’s a statement from the Ayr website: “Agreement was reached based on a guaranteed fee 60% higher than the guaranteed offered by Dundee United at the time of their signing the player. In addition, a 20% sell on clause was also agreed. 10% sell-on had originally been offered. Craig’s good form and regular appearances earlier in the season succeeded earlier in this year in transforming into guaranteed fee that part of the fee which was offered conditional upon appearances.” Sorry Ayr United, that might as well have been Aramaic for all the sense I made of it. No wonder people argue with you.
Craig Levein is frustrated, he tells me. Well not me, someone who actually bothers to leave their house now and again. The Arabs got turned over by Dunfermline and the man in the baseball cap is concerned his side are missing a spark, a moment of genius and/or the ability to not lose football matches. Listen to him, listen: “I couldn’t honestly sit here and say we deserved to win that game. We weren’t anywhere near our recent performances. The last two times we played Dunfermline I felt we deserved to win the game but I don’t think that was the case today. That would have been an injustice to Dunfermline. Our creative players were poor.” If you can’t honestly say you deserved to win, just make something up Craig. None of us would know the difference.
Well now, Dunfermline eh? Teetering on the brink of relegation and then they manage to get themselves into the Scottish Cup final. And, AND, guarantee themselves a place in Europe next season. In a rather groovy development, manager Stephen Kenny could also win two cups with different teams in the same season having lead Derry City to the FAI cup. But ever the shrinking violet, Stephen will hear nothing of such babble. He had this to say: “I’m just delighted for the players. It really is remarkable how it has gone for us in the cup and I thought we deserved our victory. Hibs were tremendous, but we showed real guts and kept the ball well.” It would be interesting to know if he’s the first man to qualify two teams for Europe in the same season. I did try to find out but I only managed one Google search before I gave up and just put in “Jessica Alba + custard”.
Jim McIntyre, he of the penalty what done won the game, says he’s not going to be chipping the next penalty he takes. He performed what we like to call a Lineker, except he managed to score it. Anyway, he said this: “I’ve done it before a few years ago and in a couple of reserve games, but I’ll not be doing it again that’s for sure. It’s been televised. You usually either pick a corner or blast it. I could have had egg on my face, but it took a bit of balls to do something like that. Either that or stupidity.”
This may come as a shock to many, but I’ve never actually been a professional footballer. However, what I do know is that from a pro’s perspective there can be few more alarming occasions than when your manager feels the need to apologise to the fans. It generally means you’re going to get a telling off. And when your manager’s John Hughes, eeeeeeeep. Here he is saying stuff after the 2-0 loss at home to St Mirren and then watching as his squad shuffle quietly away: “All the good teams go and compete and play off that platform, but we did not do that. I would not like to think that one or two of the boys put the tools away as supporters are paying good money to come and watch us. I would like to make an apology as we did not show how we can play.” More concerning is the fact Yogi appears to be sending his players out wielding tools. A screwdriver could definitely cause a nasty graze. And I’m told a spirit level to the bonce can sting.
In other news, Yogi is going to wait until the end of the season before trying to swipe John Sutton from St Mirren. Which only seems fair really. Here he is explaining it all: “We have spoken to John Sutton’s agent just to tell him of our interest. He is a player we admire, but I think it would be unfair if we were talking to John directly before any game.” Yes, yes it would.
Kasper Schmeichel wants to stay at Falkirk on loan from Man City. He’s a goalkeeper you know, you may have heard of his father. Anyway, he reckons the Bairns are aces and he should be staying. So that’s nice.
Roman Bednar’s on his way back from injury. It seems that after ten weeks on the sidelines he may pop up sometime soon. It says here that despite being out for aaaaaages, Bednar is still the Jambos’ second top scorer. Now there’s a damning indictment of the rest of the team. The chaps only got one working leg and he’s still scored more than them. Appalling.
Stephen Frail’s a little bit cheesed off after Hearts went down 2-1 to the Rangers. Here he is: “It’s an opportunity missed, especially when you’re 1-0 up. We have to show the same level of commitment and work rate next week and, if we do that, I think we can cause Celtic problems.”
Whoops. That’s the Hibees out the cup then, thanks to no goals in two games and a slightly controversial penalty. Hey ho. John Collins has his own theory as to why it all went wrong. A lack of killer instinct. Here he is explaining matters: “I’m bitterly disappointed. We had plenty of half chances, but we have not been hitting the target enough. In football you don’t always get what you deserve. All credit to Dunfermline. They were well organized and I wish them good luck.” Meanwhile, the Hibs squad will be running up and down Portobello beach stabbing sandbags with bayonets and shouting, until they BALLY WELL LEARN.
Jackie McNamara is waiting to see if Wolves still want him and/or make it to the Premiership before he decides what to do with what remains of his career. All this is of interest to the Hibees because they apparently quite fancy bringing the ex-Bhoy back to Scotland. Oh and Livingston might want him too. But he’d go to Hibs, as he’s not mad.
Bolton are apparently tracking Hibees left back David Murphy. It doesn’t actually say here how they’re tracking him, but I like to think it’s via some sort of device shot into his calf from a blowgun while he was playing in the semi-final replay. That would be cool.
Those zany Caley types are flashing the ‘come to the Highlands’ eyes at Hibs character Dean Shiels. His coat is apparently on a rather shoogly peg at Easter Road and the highlanders are ready to step in with offers of shortbread and a shot in Charlie Christie’s shiny sportscar. Here’s Graeme Bennett, Caley’s director of football, putting us right on a few issues: “Dean wanted to stay and fight for his Hibs place, but things appear to have changed. Manager Charlie Christie fancied him and he fits the bill in terms of what we’re looking for from a striker.” Why does Mr Bennett say ‘manager Charlie Christie’? We know who he is Graeme, no-one really thought you were talking about Huddersfield milkman Charlie Christie.
The Caley manager hopes that Caley Thistle can end the season with five wins: “It’s a big ask. I don’t think we got the plaudits for it last year. People talk about end-of-season games, but there are serious financial implications for where we finish in the Scottish Premier League. The main thing was to keep in touch with Dundee United and Falkirk.” Yes, I’ve often said that was the main thing.
Stephen Naismith is the SPFA young player of the year, presumably speeding his departure from Killie up by the odd notch or two. According to the awards he is therefore better than Scott Brown, Charlie Adam and Aiden McGeady. So there. I don’t really see it with Naismith myself but then I’m a bobsleighing man much more than I am football.
Jim Jefferies was gutted, gutted, by the defeat at home to Celtic that saw the Bhoys clinch the title. Come on Jim, show us the sunshine on even the darkest day: “Congratulations to Celtic, they’re deserved winners. Celtic stuttered a bit today because of a great performance by Kilmarnock and we lost from two set plays. We scored a great goal from great outfield play and I didn’t have a bad player out there today. We were undone by a cruel blow right at the end.” So what you’re saying here Jim is though you were by far the better team, Celtic were rubbish and all your players were fantastic, you still lost? I’d blame the manager then.
It’s looking increasingly like Brian Kerr will be off to Hibs in the summer. John Collins has been dropping hints left, right and centre and the BBC definitely ‘understands’ he’s going to sign a contract with the Easter Road side. Bound to happen then, bound to.
It’s catching. First John Hughes was apologising to the fans and now Maurice Malpas is at it as well. They lost 2-0 to Caley and Mo was so upset he issued the mea culpa to each and every Steelman. See: “I have to apologise to the fans, it’s a long distance to come for a performance like that. I have an honest bunch of players but they did not turn up today, it was impostors that turned up.” It wasn’t Maurice, it was the same players they just weren’t very good. Had it been impostors I suspect we would have heard more about it.
Ugo Ehiogu is expecting a fairly sizeable squad rebuilding at Ibrox come the summer. And let’s face it, they need it. Here he is urging action on the worrisome situation: “The squad we have here isn’t the biggest and at Rangers we always need quality.” Yes, you do. “With the points gap between Celtic and ourselves as it is, that can never be the case at this club again. You want to finish on a high against Celtic, they’re going to be in upbeat mood, so we need to put a marker down.” Why can’t it be the case at the club again Ugo? And you’ve only been there five minutes. It all rings a bit hollow to me you know.
There’s a smiley, smiley Walter Smith to be found at Ibrox these days as the Gers pull away from the chasing pack, well Aberdeen, to secure second place. Here’s the cheery little fellow now: “I said last week that I felt points would be dropped by all the teams in the last five games. If you’re playing against the top five teams it’s unlikely you will come through unscathed. I would certainly hope we would do but it’s a big ask.”
All go for project ‘falling out of Love Street’ after Renfrewshire Council gave the Buddies planning permission for a new stadium in Ferguslie Park. They’ve already sold off Love Street to a supermarket so it’s just as well the council said yes really. They should be up and running about in the new ground by 2008-09, all debt free and shiny. According to Stewart Gilmour, he’s the chairman you know, the new ground is vital to ensure the long-term future of the club. They’d been at Love Street since 1895, I think they might have managed for a while yet.
It’s a right crunchy old tie on Monday night. Effectively St Mirren vs Dunfermline for the right to stay in the SPL and not have to play at Firhill where, in my experience, it’s always raining. Garry Brady, he’s a St Mirren midfielder you know, certainly seems to think it’s the clincher: “We’re four points clear and it’s going to be a hard game. But, if we can beat them next week, they will struggle to make the points up with three games left. But it’s a bit early to say and it’s going to be tight.” Nonsense Garry, it’s never too early to say and you were brave enough to step up to the plate and put it out there.
Livingston and Partick Thistle hopes that Terry Butcher might be arriving to shout at them a lot and bleed everywhere have been dashed by the news he’s been appointed the new coach of Brentford.
It looks like Ian McCall will be leaving Queen of the South in the summer. Apparently he’s dismayed that the Palmerston club won’t match his ambitions. I once left a job because the bosses wouldn’t match my ambitions. My ambitions were mainly to be paid a lot more. I wonder if there are any similarities here.
Great news for Brechin city as Iain Russell is named SPFA Second Division player of the year. To be fair he has scored 22 goals this season, so I suppose he deserves it.
Meanwhile five players have signed on for another year with Ayr United. Jerome Vareille, Andy McLaren, David Dunn, Mark Casey and Eddie Forrest will all be playing at Somerset Park next season. Surely Jerome Vareille and Andy McLaren now have a combined age of nine million and six. Surely.
Scott Chaplain of Albion Rovers ‘fame’ is the Division Three player of the year by dint of fact he’s netted 20 goals so far this term. They always give it to strikers, it’s always the glory boys.
Close examination of the Division Three team of the year reveals not one but two, count them two, Dumbarton players in the select eleven. So well played Stephen Grindlay and David Craig. I’m going to the Rock tomorrow.
There’s so little room left that I’m really not sure what we can squeeze in here. Apparently people aren’t so keen on the Premiership section anyway, so what do you lot care?
Right, West Ham could be relegated today without so much kicking a ball in anger. They’re waiting for an FA ruling on the deals that took Tevez and Mascherano to the Boleyn ground. It could mean a points deduction and they’d be dead and buried. And there’s to be no talk of ‘too good to go down’ like last time. They’re really not.
The word is that Manchester United are going to be making a fairly sizeable bid for Dimitar Berbatov come the summer, possibly including Louis Saha who is supposed to have fallen out with Ferguson. It makes no difference anyway, Spurs aren’t for selling.
And Arjen Robben might be leaving Chelsea. Possibly to Bayern Munich.
Best Laid Claims
It was good to see British West Hartlepool managing to clinch promotion the other week. I have no idea why, but I seem to have developed something of a soft spot. So there we are.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west