Alex McLeish has called Celtic’s dominance “embarrassing” for the game here, and has suggested that we require some form of handicapping before next season starts. Those comments echo what numerous hacks south of the border have been saying, in their pig ignorance, for months. They can be forgiven for their myopic arrogance. They believe their overblown league is the centre of the universe and no sequence of humiliating defeats for their top clubs in Europe can change their minds. For someone who spent the best years of his career up here and who considers himself a good advert for the Scottish game, those remarks are disgraceful.
“They’ll have to have what they do with the racing driving, put weights on their legs or something to handicap them for next season,” he said, “Because it’s been pretty embarrassing the way the Scottish league has gone this year with Celtic’s total domination.”
First, he does know that you can’t put weights on footballer’s legs, right?
Or does he?
I mean, is this a real suggestion or is it just spouting? With these people you sometimes can’t tell the difference. Pedro Caixinha has said he quite fancies Alves, Messi and Ronaldo for next season. Is he serious? Half serious anyway. I suspect McLeish thinks this is more realistic.
I keep on hearing this talk of people being embarrassed by the “poor standard” of Scottish teams; nowhere in all this talk is there any acknowledgement that this might just be an exceptional Celtic team with a top class manager at the helm.
And you know what? That’s exactly what it is, and not only can I prove that but anyone with half a brain could do the same. Which excludes the whole of the Scottish media, which is why so many of them have consistently trotted out this drivel.
None of this talk was being bandied around last season, where the hacks were wetting their pants about how close Aberdeen were running us. They only changed their tune late in the day when we surged ahead, finally finishing 15 points in front.
Celtic finished that season on 86 points. Second place Aberdeen were on 71. Celtic’s goal difference was plus 62. Aberdeen’s was plus 14. This season, second place Aberdeen have two points more than last season, with a goal difference of plus 33. They’ve clearly improved. The problem for them, and for the hacks, is that so have we. Massively. We’re on 103 points at it stands, with a goal difference of plus 79.
In third and fourth place are Sevco and St Johnstone, on 64 and 58 points respectively. Last season the clubs in those positions – Hearts and St Johnstone – finished on 65 points and 56 points. St Johnstone have already beaten their tally from last year; if they win against Sevco at the weekend they’ll be a whole 5 points better off. If Sevco wins the club in third will be two points better off than last year, whilst a draw would bring them level.
The teams in the top half have improved; that’s beyond any shadow of a doubt. Even this miserable Sevco team looks as if it will improve on, or at least equal, Hearts performance of last year and there’s not much of a gap between fifth placed Hearts and sixth placed Thistle’s total’s this season (46 and 42) and where Motherwell (50) and Ross County (48) were in the last campaign.
The difference, this time, is that no-one is complaining about any of this.
And there’s an obvious reason why; because last season we struggled in a lot of games.
Last season we looked like we could be caught, and with Sevco coming up a lot of the hacks thought that’s exactly what would happen. Don’t listen to a single one of them who says they would be bemoaning the state of the game if that had happened … the quality of the other clubs would not have mattered a damn to them. If the “league race” turned into a contest where two teams were stumbling towards the finish line and the winner was the one who clawed across it first they would be talking about how exciting it was (as long as Sevco were involved) even if the standard was right off the public football pitches of Yoker.
These people are embarrassed only because their favourite club is languishing in the doldrums and shows no sign of life, except for the occasional twitch like a corpse being jabbed with a cattle prod. This kind of commentary, from people who see themselves as ambassadors for the game but who talk it down every chance they get, is lamentable.
And I cannot take it seriously when it is so shamefully unsupported by facts.