Annually, every close season, I attempt to reflect upon the top flight season as a whole, in order to assess how the national sport is coming along.
Despite the overall outcome and the fact the league title destination wasn’t settled until the penultimate fixture, and even with one club making it all the way to a European final, it wasn’t a vintage season.
Not in these eyes.
The biggest disappointment is up for debate, but I’ll be awarding the Dandy Dons that particular honour.
Aberdeen were looking good, on paper.
It didn’t translate to the pitch though.
Scott Brown flopped there, couldn’t even last a season, which is a sign he was retained too long by Celtic although the quest for ten also played a part in that decision.
Their big name striker Ramirez didn’t set the heather on fire either. Ten goals is a paltry return for an International striker in his prime years playing in a poor league. I expected double that at a minimum, with interest from the league’s giants to follow.
Twas a foolish notion I now understand.
Usually the manager is the most important person at a football club, and poor old Aberdeen got their appointment wrong. Stephen Glass was given less than a year in the job, meaning he was the wrong man at the wrong time, or just wasn’t very good at his job. Or both.
He was a young man with an aging squad (Considine, Hayes, Brown, and Ramirez are all in their thirties now) and wasn’t even afforded the opportunity to mold the squad over the course of several transfer windows. The board has moved for Jim Goodwin, but he shall face the exact same problems, however in Ferguson and Ramsay they have two saleable assets to help with the war chest.
He has a footballing philosophy, no more boring games he exclaimed two days ago, but shall need luck alongside effort if he is to succeed at that club.
I hope he gets it, as the league could really do with a strong Aberdeen.
Hibs were almost as equally disappointing last season. Shaun Maloney’s managerial career in his homeland simply did not go as planned and he’s now damaged goods, even if turning Hibs around was mission impossible. Their home fans aren’t a happy bunch, watching their city rivals get stronger as they regress has helped many make the choice of staying away, very little spend didn’t help either.
In an effort to rejuvenate the club they have turned to Englishman Lee Johnson, but he’s hardly vastly experienced at forty years of age. He’s a better choice than Roy Keane, but somehow I just can’t see him fixing all that club’s problems, such as a drinking culture. I hope he does, but I suspect it shall be another period of obscurity for the Hi-bees.
One manager did impress, but unfortunately he’s not a very likeable character. Ross County’s sixth place finish was a very impressive piece of work, and their manager clearly has something other than racist tendencies, but his past history precedes him and as such opportunities shall be very limited. Our rivals wouldn’t care, he could end up there someday.
Speaking of 40 year olds, the man who guided the Tangerines to an extremely respectable 4th place finish in his debut year as a head coach, and upon their return to the top flight, should have been in with a shout of manager of the year. Infact, should Ange not have claimed the title, I suspect he would have been the majority choice. Tam Courts is doing a wonderful job, but it will be hard to repeat. It’s nice to see Tony Watt torment defenders again, hopefully his manager gets the best out of his talent, and he is talented. Tams career path shall be interesting to watch.
Our rivals in light blue had a mixed season, which they shall file under successful, though I believe when a league winning squad is bested by a newbie things didn’t really go well, cup win or not.
The much predicted riot (I admit I anticipated one) didn’t materialize despite the very testing circumstances, while putting Scotland back on the footballing map by reaching a major European final.
That truly is a feat, credit where it’s due and all that.
Of course it wasn’t all good,,,for a start there’s risking the entire leagues sponsorship income due to a personal dispute with the company involved. Songs of hate are still aired, their support still ignore laws, they are still thuggish on the field of play assisted by their twelfth man who wears black. That’s before the cost to each and every tax payer, which continues to rise.
It’s ironic their board are desperately clinging to the Old Firm label, even insisting upon the name being used for the proposed Australia derby clash, after their club went and killed the fixture in the first place. This situation reminds me of a bickering couple, unable to get along yet unwilling to break up.
“I’ll go if he says,,,”
“I’m not going if she says,,,”
Foggy and Nora Batty eat your heart out.
Do I expect serious challenge from that direction next year? I’m not sure.
Their ‘keeper is flirting with retirement while the decent Bassey is being touted around.
Their Colombian striker is the biggest hype job going, and clearly Goldson doesn’t want to be there, hence attempting to move on.
Even if they make it through the qualifiers, most of the money won’t be going towards the warchest, we all know this and their manager certainly does.
There remains the bones of a decent team at Ibrox, and with a few quality additions qthey could be a force, but this Celtic team are young, relentless, and improving constantly,,keeping the pace with them will not be as ‘easy’ next time.
Not easy at all.
Referees remain an issue. Their assistance couldn’t stop the green and white Hoops emerging victorious, but they tried hard. With VAR to shield them I’m not expecting their ways to change.
Hampden is still a cesspit. Not much more needs said.
As for our beloved Glasgow Celtic, while they got it right on the pitch, issues did arise.
The Higgins appointment was contained before major disruption, but it’s still evidence of a philosophical split between support and boardroom. The latter have attempted to forge some type of supporter relationship by initiating supporter forums, but these are mostly football based with Ange and some team members the main focus.
That our board sanctioned the first ever derby clash overseas tells us a lot regarding their priorities,,that it backfired is a blessing in disguise but it still displays a split.
We hired a good manager, but the club remains a reactionary puppet on a string for an absentee landlord.
Given that the season just ended went almost to the wire, allied with the fact the cups were shared and one team made it to the UEFA cup final, it could be called a success, a good season overall.
But it certainly wasn’t all good.
The Tims had to endure a torrid time outside Tannadice where a crush almost developed, the whistlers still have an agenda as do the cops and the media, there’s still no drug testing nor financial fair play regulations, and some poor punter in The Vogue suffered a bad beating for the crime of being a Celtic fan.
The national sport is clearly not trying to improve nor right it’s many wrongs, those calling the shots look to be more interested in personal power and jollys rather than leaving a legacy.
In many ways, the season just past was a very typical Scottish football season, providing a little bit of everything. Plenty of talking points, drama galore, dodgy calls, some actual football at times, there was a little bit of something for everyone.
Perhaps that’s the aim.
Other leagues would put the SPFL to shame with their professionalism, many must roll their eyes dumbfounded by the numerous unsavoury incidents that accompany being a football fan north of the border.
Even still, some four million souls crossed turnstiles last year, a sure sign the passion for football remains strong.
Most would have opinions on how the game is being run, yet no one asks.
Most would wish for better, yet no one cares.
Most have sorry tales to tell involving attending games, yet no one listens.
August shall begin the cycle again, millions will go out and support their club, and the problems that haunt the game shall reemerge.
As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they remain the same.