You know it’s getting desperate now.
Last week, Sevco’s manager was in the papers with a not-so-subtle reminder to the SFA that the club’s survival will depend on them reaching Europe. If you thought that was pathetic, and dangerous, then Barrie McKay added to the nonsense yesterday.
He was warning that a player in his team will be “seriously injured” if other sides continue to rough-house them. Matthew Lindsay, of the Evening Times, swallowed this rubbish hook line and sinker, writing about how Ross County suffered six bookings for “aggressive” fouling, either utterly ignorant of the facts – Burke was booked for time-wasting and at least one other for what we’d term a “tactical challenge” – or simply content to trumpet the new party line regardless.
And this is the new party line alright. This is the excuse for dismal displays and a team that is weak, mentally and physically. It is not the job of the opposition to go easy, or for the ref to have mercy on a team which can’t handle the rough and tumble of the modern game, but McKay seems to think that it’s both. God, he can’t have lived through the Walter Smith era at Ibrox where thugs like Lee McCulloch and “enforcers” like McCall and Brown prowled the midfield like mad dogs, snapping at everything that came near them.
All this pitiful wailing out of Ibrox at the moment – if it’s not the players it’s Warburton himself – whatever happened to dignity? Whatever happened to suffering in silence, to taking it on the chin, to living with bad days at the office?
This is the kind of crap we’re going to get all the way through the dark nights of winter; how poor Sevco are the victims of refs who aren’t strong, of plastic pitches, of cut up conditions, of managers and teams which rag-doll them out of games. And it’s all cobblers, all just making excuses for their own ineptitude.
I watched that game yesterday; they were hopeless. Their passing was awful. Their front line too easily dispossessed. They lacked imagination, and yes they lacked bottle. But no manager worth his salt would persevere with these shirkers in the team. I laugh at guys like Andy Halliday, talking like a hard man to the press and who looks like a typical gutless fraud out on the park, backing out of tackles, not chasing fifty-fifty balls, pedestrian and slow.
I bet that’s the flavour of what Barton – a guy who might have added steel to that paper tiger of a midfield – said to him in the famous training ground bust-up. And what bothers Halliday to this day isn’t that it was nonsense, it’s that every word hit the mark.
Look at our own team at the moment. We did get rough-housed by Inverness; the injury count proved it decisively. But we got on with the job. Guys like Izzy fought like wolves for every break. Brown threw himself into tackles. Sinclair grafted to win the ball and Dembele held it up under every snarky elbow, shove and mis-timed knee.
This is a physical game, and the Scottish version of it especially so. Did nobody tell McKay that? Is Halliday just finding it out? I’m sorry if these guys aren’t tough enough to cut it (I’m not really, I’m loving every second of this) but hard lines.
At the end of the day, this isn’t rollerball we’re playing, but nor is it croquet on the village green. The Peepul have to stop whimpering. Their problems aren’t going away. Pressuring refs and the SFA might have some limited impact, but it will not turn Garner into a good striker, McKay himself into a top winger or Kiernan into a decent defender.
And nothing will make Wailing Warburton into Pepe Guardiola.
That’s where the real problems are.
That’s where they ought to be looking for the answers.