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City Slickers

I didn’t see the 5-1 victory of Manchester City over Spurs last night but their impressive form continues.

I recall when I was in London more than 30 years ago (1979-80) going to see City play at White Hart Lane. That season City finished 17th in the old first division and it was their North London opponents who had the star players – Ardiles, Villa, Hoddle, Jennings, Perryman etc. Mind you Spurs only managed 14th place despite such a playing staff. Spurs as I recall won 2-1 on that occasion.

I really can’t see how anyone is going to stop City on their march to the title. They are a very impressive outfit; bankrolled by UAE billionaire Sheikh Mansour who is paying his squad of players £233m a year according to City’s last published figures.

To put these figures into some sort of perspective, the entire annual turnover of the club I support wouldn’t even approach City’s wage bill, (£639,000) for a single day.

Rough Diamonds

Just watching the Airdrie v Rangers game on BT Sport.

I am struck by the similarity between the Airdrie manager and chairman.

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Gary Bollan

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Jim Ballantyne

Malkied

I can’t believe the way that Malky MacKay has been treated at Cardiff City. The man who got the Welsh side into the top league for the first time in 51 years was given his thank you bonus today – i.e. the sack.

I’m sure former Celt MacKay will lick his wounds and will find another top job in football before long.

He has been the victim, it would seem, of unrealistic expectations from the club’s owner.

On checking out Cardiff City’s history I found that they are the only non English side ever to win the FA Cup (in 1927). The scorer of Cardiff’s winning goal that day against Arsenal was Hughie Ferguson, a Scot. He later transferred to Dundee for £500 but failed to live up to the Dens Park side’s supporters’ expectations.

After a training session at Dens in 1930, Ferguson gassed himself having been dropped from the first team.

The fitba’ can be a hard game – and that’s not a new thing.

Show Some Respect?

On Remembrance Day last week there were symbolic two minutes silence held at sports grounds all over the UK. It is interesting how observation of remembrance or respect has changed over the years. Quite often there will be a minutes applause instead of silence (Originally thought of when some eejits would spoil the silence).

Over recent years players have changed from the ‘stand up straight to attention’ mode to standing with their arms around each other.

And then there’s the mascots.

How do you think West Bromich Albion’s ‘Baggie Bird’ contributes to this picture of solemn remembrance?

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Or Arsenal’s ‘Gunnersaurus’?

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There are more here

No Bonus for the Game

I’m reading with complete incredulity that David Longmuir had a £100,000 bonus drawn into his contract with the SFL. Now don’t get me wrong, Longmuir has done some good things during his tenure. Sponsorship deals with Irn Bru and Ramsdens during tough times were a credit to him.

However £100,000 seems way out of proportion to the job he’s in.  Longmuir and Neil Donkeyster are now in a tussle to see who will be the new Chief Exec of the new SPFL.

As Keith Jackson puts it succinctly in this morning’s Daily Record, “Rome is burning. And the men in charge are fighting for the fiddle.”

Broken Hearts

A sad day for one of the country’s biggest fitba’ clubs but something that in all honesty has been coming for a long time

Stoking Resentment

Because my wife has a family connection to Mark Hughes we always keep an eye on his career. I notice that 13 minutes ago it was announced that he is to be the new manager of Stoke City.

It seems that some Stoke fans have already made their minds up about the appointment. This is from their stadium car park…..

hughes out!

Scottish Football = Car Crash

Quite a weekend for the fitba’ with St Johnstone qualifying for the Europa League and SPL deciding not to ‘kick out the jams’.

Of more interest to this blog though was the result from East End Park Dunfermline where the home side failed to overcome Alloa’s 3-0 advantage from the first leg of the play offs and thus were relegated to the second division.

A big deciding factor in the Pars’ plight was the 15 point deduction they received for going into administration. The main reason for this was that for years Dunfermline have overspent in a vain attempt to maintain SPL status.

Dunfermline boss Jim Jeffries doesn’t see it like this. In a radio interview after the game I heard Jeffries brand the points deduction as ‘a disgrace’ and recommending that the people who made the decision ‘hang their heads in shame’.

Whaaaaaat?…….

Jeffries has always been a bit of a dour, ungracious sod but this takes the biscuit. Personally I’m delighted that a seemingly well run part-time club has taken the Pars place in division one.

That is where the future lies for clubs at the intermediate professional level in Scotland. Living on the credit card and binning the bills when they come in hasn’t worked in the past. In the reality of the current austere financial climate it ain’t gonna work any time soon.

So Mr Jeffries, when you’re looking for people to blame for your club’s plight, cast your eyes and your thoughts towards the boardroom at your own club.

The 15 point deduction was fair. Dunfermline spent money (in industrial quantities) they didn’t have in trying to seek unfair sporting advantage over their neighbours. Now they are paying the price (sic) for that.

Wigan’s Chosen Few

Absolutely amazing achievement by Wigan Athletic to defeat their illustrious neighbours Manchester City in the FA cup final by virtue of a last minute goal.

Even more of an achievement when you consider that they were not even a football league club until 35 years ago.

I can vaguely remember Wigan, having been turned down more than thirty times in their application to join the Football League, applying for Scottish League membership in 1972. In those days election to the Football League was by application and vote rather than the pyramid system which was adopted in 1987. Wigan it seems were making a point about southern bias in such matters.

In 1978 they eventually were elected to the Football League at the expense of Southport. As recently as 1995 they were struggling in the bottom tier of the league and playing to crowds of under 2,000.

Then Dave Whelan, millionaire owner of JJB Sports, took the club over and they embarked on a spectacular climb through the leagues culminating in arrival in the Premiership in 2005.

It would seem therefore that Wigan have bought their success but in a far more modest fashion and location than their oil rich neighbours at City.

It was another of those ‘I never thought I’d see the day’ moments when I heard the result come through.

They’ll be dancing on Wigan Pier.

Shares in Wrigleys Plummet

So Sir Alex is to retire after 27 years as manager of Manchester United. During that time United have won an astonishing 38 trophies.

It was though his winning of the European Cup Winners Cup 30 years ago in a final against Real Madrid whilst with Aberdeen that remains his greatest achievement.

The best football manager ever? In terms of trophies that’s almost certainly true.

It looks like another Scot, Everton’s Davie Moyes could be named today as Ferguson’s successor. Moyes is a guy who appears to be in a similar mould to Ferguson with the added advantage of being quite likeable.