The Week In Scotland – The Spanish Heartbreak Edition
This week Dave focuses on Celtic, the national women's team going so close in Spain, Hearts going under a transfer embargo, and lots more news!
Another Manager Bites The Dust
Sackings in Scottish football are like…something that doesn’t come along very often but then lots of said things come along. Whatever, I’m tired.
Anyway, after Stranraer sacked their manager last week, Dumbarton have followed suit and sacked manager Alan Adamson with their side four points adrift at the bottom of Division One. Assistant manager Jack Ross has stepped up to take charge of the club while they seek a replacement, and although fortunes improved slightly at the weekend, they still lost 4-3 at home to fellow strugglers Airdrie Utd. A very interesting fact about Alan Adamson: Adamson never played as a senior footballer but represented Scotland at police and junior level before his first management jobs in charge of the Scottish and British police teams.
In fairness to Adamson, I’m confident in stating Dumbarton are slightly out of their depth at Division One level. The team have been promoted twice in two seasons and while that’s a fantastic fairy tale, the dream ends at some point and from what little I’ve seen of The Sons this season, they’re doomed for relegation.
Dumbarton have been inundated with applications for their managerial vacancy, but chief executive Gilbert Lawrie says 75% of them come from computer gamers! I cannot confirm at this time if I was one of them, but Gilbert took it all in good humour and said:
“I can tell you I’ve had dozens and dozens of applications and it takes a while to shift through the CVs of people who have won the Champions League on FIFA 12. Probably 75 per cent of the applications so far are from people who have taken a team from a low ebb to great heights on a computer screen, which is a great achievement for them but perhaps not what we are looking for at this time.
Thankfully we have had a good number of applications from people with genuine experience in the game as well and we will take our time going through them.”
Now let’s be honest. We ALL expected Barcelona to heavily punish Celtic in the Camp Nou on Tuesday night. Yes you did, don’t lie to yourself. I was one of those people too. And all the bookmakers thought so too. Never have I seen a team so heavily written off in a Champions League group game before, and the odds of 1/12 for Barcelona showed this.
The game started as you would expect, with Barca knocking the ball around at will. But then, something shocking happened. Something extraordinary. Something clearly not in the script.
Celtic took the lead.
The visitors went into the lead after the presence of Georgios Samaras helped force Javier Mascherano to divert a Charlie Mulgrew free-kick into his own net. Barcelona continued to pressure the Celtic defence without really doing anything, but Fraser Forster was alert when he was called into action. Just when it looked like Celtic would lead the match at half time, Andres Iniesta finished off a typically sublime Barca move to get a well-deserved equaliser at half time.
Celtic, and particularly Forster were immense in the second half. Forster frustrated most of the Barcelona team at one point, and pulled off two world class saves from Lionel Messi during the game, but Jordi Alba scored the winner to break Scottish hearts with the last kick of the game. All 14 lions in the Celtic shirt played to the top of their abilities and no one shirked the challenge of Barcelona. Everyone on the field should hold their head high and proud with that performance.
I was covering the game for Sports Tonight Live and my reaction (which erroneously got me branded me as a Celtic fan!) is below.In fairness, even Ian Payne looked gutted! Just remember the camera adds 10 pounds to you and all that jazz…
Heartbreak In Spain…Again
The night after the Barcelona-Celtic heartbreak, Scottish football looked to get some revenge as the women’s national team took on their Spanish counterparts in the Euro 2013 play-offs. After a 1-1 draw in Glasgow, the Spanish were favourites to win, but Scotland turned that on its head by taking the game into extra time! Scotland even took the lead in the 98th minute through a Kim Little goal to go 2-1 up on the night and 3-2 on aggregate, leaving the Spaniards having to score twice to go through.
Spain got one of those required goals in the 113th minute when Silvia Meseguer fired a rocket into the net past Gemma Fay, who had a fantastic game for Scotland. Fay came to the rescue yet again in the 120th minute when she pulled off yet another unbelievable save from Vero. However, just when it looked like Scotland would go through on away goals, Scottish hearts were broken yet again with the last kick of the game as the villain Vero became the Spanish hero and volleyed home.
Is It Time For Women To Go Professional?
After the game, Gemma Fay called on the SFA to give professional contracts to members of the women’s national squad. And why not? Gemma won her 150th cap during the game in Spain, yet is now believed to be considering her future in the women’s game. Most of the squad hold down full-time jobs yet train most nights during the week, and you have to believe if the women were in a position to turn professional, they could progress even further into these tournaments.
“If the SFA want us to continue to compete at this level they need to fund us. Our ranking in Europe and the world is ridiculously high for an amateur side. We’re ahead of teams of full-time professionals. All of that Spanish team are professionals and we played them off the park at times. There’s only so long you can continue to do that. A level playing field would be nice.
When we played France, who topped our group, they practically had the entire Olympique Lyonnais team [and] their annual budget is £2.5m. We’ve got a postie, a lab worker, an accountant and some students. That isn’t fair. I know life is not fair, but we need the SFA to believe in us a bit more and allow us to be the best we can be. If they do, we will give them blood, sweat and tears in return.”
And she’s right. I’ve watched the women’s team before, and they’re a LOT better than some of their professional rivals. We have the talent and the promise in women’s football to be a real force in Europe. The team WILL give 100% at every turn, something we frankly can’t always say about the men’s game.
Give them a chance. I don’t think we’d regret it.
Wanyama Knocks Back A Contract Extension
After a fantastic performance in the Camp Nou, Victor Wanyama is believed to have told Celtic ‘no’ to an improved and extended contract, according to his representative Rob Moore.
I have my doubts about Victor ever reaching that level, but he’s certainly not ready yet. His fantastic performances in the Champions League have shown he can certainly play at a higher level, but he needs to do it more consistently for me before he considers leaving Scottish football.
Rangers Finally Win An Away Game
This bit will be short and sweet. The Ibrox outfit finally won an away game in Scottish Division Three, defeating Clyde 2-0 at Broadwood in front of a capacity crowd of 7,000.
Rangers are finally starting to look comfortable in Division Three, currently leading the league by two points and a game in hand from Elgin City. I would expect them to stay at the top now on their march back to SPL football in a few years time.
Hearts Go Under A Transfer Embargo…While The Transfer Window Is Closed
It doesn’t seem like the worst punishment, does it?
The Scottish Premier League banned Hearts from registering any new players until 23 December for the delayed payment of October salaries. A ban on player registrations is now an automatic trigger when any SPL club is late with payments. The ban means that Hearts cannot sign free agents outside the transfer window, which put paid to any hopes the club had of re-signing Rudi Skacel…which is the main point of the ban really.
Personally, until the club show they can pay their wages on time and on a regular basis, not only would I have an indefinite ban, but I’d dock the club three points every time they’re late. Maybe then Hearts will live within their means like most other clubs do.
Still, ask the Hearts fans if it’s worth it and they’ll probably refer you to this…
Speaking of Rudi Skacel, he’s signed for Dundee Utd until January in a short-team deal designed to help him regain match fitness. Rudi has chosen squad number 51.
Now, I’m not suggesting that squad number has ANYTHING to do with the above scoreline…but think about it.
***Did I miss anything? Got something for me to add in next week? Any comments to either please me or destroy my soul? Post below or find me on Twitter @Manky365***