Sky Sports Scotland: Honouring Cruyff, Or Just Promoting Sevco?

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Yesterday the great Johan Cruyff, one of the finest footballers ever to play the game, and a top class manager to boot, a guy whose life was in the sport, died aged 68.

Tributes flooded in from every top football club and manager in the world.

And from Sevco, and Mark Warburton.

How do we know that? How come that wasn’t lost in the rush? Why does that one stand out? Because Sky Sports made it stand out. They actually went over, live, to Warburton to hear what he had to say on the matter.

A former city trader, the boss of a second tier Newco, who’s been in the game for five minutes, whose previous experience was managing Brentford, whose senior playing career was a spell at Enfield and another at Boreham Wood.

In short, he never played against Cruyff or anyone approaching that level.

Indeed, it was probably possible to “Cruyff turn” him if you had the skill-set of an English third division player.

He obviously never managed against the Dutch Master either, or even against any side with which Cruyff had a connection, as neither Barcelona nor Ajax ever had reason to cross paths with a Scottish Championship side or one from the English second tier.

His experiences with Cruyff, if there were any, were probably limited to a brief nod during the time he worked on the NextGen series or visited the training ground of Barcelona during his much hyped “tour” of the big clubs some years ago.

What special insight did he bring to the discussion?

What anecdotes did he have to share?

What new information could he impart to the world, about how the great man influenced football?

The answer is obvious, of course; none whatsoever.

Did he base part of his football philosophy on Cruyffs?

If so, so what?

Every person who ever managed a club since that era has done the same; from amateur teams all the way up through the professional ranks, at every level. Indeed every Football Manager fan has tried to base their tactics on it!

This is not original thinking.

This does not elevate him into an elite group.

This isn’t just about Warburton. I don’t need anyone to tell me Cruyff was a genius, but there is some importance in hearing from those he played against or found himself opposite in the dugout. There is something to be said for reading or hearing anecdotes about his life and his work in the sport. For managers and players there is a value in examining what he did in detail, to learn more about the approaches he took, and how they might best be applied today.

All of that has merit.

But I got the distinct impression yesterday that Sky Sports Scotland breaking in to get the views of their favourite manager was more about promoting Warburton and his club than it was about examining the legacy of a true icon of the sport.

Today the tabloids followed suit, and that’s not unexpected.

But the satellite broadcaster’s Scottish football team has a habit for doing this now, a tradition of Sevco worship, of shoehorning Warburton and the club into as many major football stories as they can. Celtic, the champions of Scotland, don’t get nearly the same coverage and when we do it’s usually to have a talking head like Walker slating us.

I should be used to this now, to the point where it no longer bugs me, but it still does, and this time in particular.

Because standing on the shoulders of giants is one thing, but making Sevco look important by standing them on the corpse of one is another bloody thing entirely.

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