Today over on CQN there’s an article about Tam Courts leaving Dundee Utd for Croatia. The team fourth in the league in Croatia. Clearly, Dundee Utd has failed to keep hold of its boss but that boss had a win ratio of 33%. For years now, what this game has needed more than anything else is a genuine third force capable of winning consistently.
Dundee Utd did not provide that last season, so I am not terribly concerned to see Courts heading off for pastures new. United should be aiming for something better. But Celtic should still be watching this in disquiet. We have real problems in the SPFL which aren’t going away, and one of those problems is the lack of decent opposition.
Two years ago, before the Season Without Fans kicked off, I lamented the poor state of the rest of the teams. COVID had impacted on budgets to a scary degree, and everyone was scrambling to make cuts. Those cuts were, to a certain extent, reversed last season but you saw the impact of them continue to be felt at Hibs, Aberdeen and others.
Some will say that helped us win the league. Actually, it stopped us winning it by more because in an average season you expect teams to be able to take points off both the Glasgow clubs … and we were that bit more resilient, that bit stronger in terms of the squad and with better ideas about how to play our football. I think we’d have won the league even more handsomely had teams been a little better able to take points off of Ibrox.
What scared me about the state of the clubs before the Season Without Fans was that you could see that there was little for ourselves or Ibrox to fear.
Every defeat was going to be magnified. In a season like that, if you drop points on your rivals it’s really an uphill battle because you look around at the rest of the league and can’t see who’s going to take anything from them … and so it proved.
It’s in our interests to see that some of these teams emerge into next season as strong as possible. We should be loaning them players where we can for a start. We should be fine ambassadors for the game here in Scotland, talking it up at every opportunity, all the better to get sponsors and advertisers on board with it.
And we should be wishing our club sides well in Europe in the qualifiers. All but one. They don’t get the benefits of good wishes, not when they spend so much time doing the exact opposite of encouraging investment and sponsorship.
I am sad that Courts won’t be at United. They beat the Ibrox club last year and took points off us, and they did it because they pointedly refused to play the same defensive football as we’ve seen from other teams … so in that regard, his loss to the league is a blow. But overall, I just don’t think he did enough to justify much weeping except from their fans.
It’s Aberdeen and Hibs I’m really concerned about. Both of those clubs should have the ability to punch harder and accomplish more … Lee Johnson is an inspired appointment at Easter Road, but you have to wonder what level of ambition Aberdeen have in appointing Jim Goodwin; his jacket already seems to be on a shoogly nail and if they have to terminate his contract it will sum up a club that can’t seem to get anything right.
We have to hope that their next appointment is a better one.
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