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About this blog

Looking for some insight and debate about Scottish football? Don't get your hopes up. If you want to hear from a cynical, whinging Caley Thistle fan, on the other hand, you're in luck...

Entries in this blog

 

A Premiership season preview (of sorts)

In years gone by, I've knocked off individual previews for each top flight club and published them in the days leading up to the new campaign. Obviously, this hasn't happened this time around. There are reasons for that. These include personal circumstances, a lack of a League Cup group stage to give pointers on how clubs are doing, the fact that the extended transfer window is likely to mean big changes between now and October, and definitely an element of 'I just can't be a***d'. However I

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

 

The problem isn't Hearts, or Dundee United, or any other club. It's the system

It is not fair that Hearts, Partick Thistle and Stranraer were relegated from their respective divisions without having played out the full season, nor that as a consequence they face significant financial pressures going forward. They are quite right to legally challenge this decision. It is outrageous that there is any question of Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers being denied promotion. It is also outrageous that these clubs are having to fund legal teams of their own to defend th
 

The thirteenth annual Narey's Toepoker Team Of The Year (part 2)

Yes, I know, it's all a bit half-assed this year. Here's the midfield and forwards. And I explained last week why I don't consider Mohamed Elyounoussi a candidate for this. CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS: CALLUM MCGREGOR (CELTIC), ALI MCCANN (ST. JOHNSTONE) Honourable mentions: Alex Gogic (Hamilton Academical), Liam Donnelly (Motherwell), Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen), Marvin Bartley (Livingston) McGregor is the easy pick, of course. His form seemed to dip a little when Neil Lennon returned, but this season
 

The thirteenth annual Narey's Toepoker Team Of The Year (part 1)

Better late than never, I suppose. Usually my Team Of The Year goes up in April, but with everything else that's going on it had fallen by the wayside. But I was spurred into action by the SPFL's own 'voted for by fans' effort. Sake. I mean, Mohamed Elyounoussi made all of seven starts and three sub appearances in the league this season. Jeremie Frimpong played twelve games. I know the season was cut short, but I'm not having that...nor a vote that ends up with players from only the two c
 

My Euro 2020 Scotland squad

As you will all be acutely aware, in a Covid-free universe the Scotland National Team would have marched inexorably through the spring playoffs and into Euro 2020. Israel at home? Pah. We managed to beat Israel at home with Alex McLeish in charge. Israel are so cack that James Forrest scored a hat-trick against them. And then Norway away, probably. Sure, Erling Haaland looks like a bit of a player, but he looks to be the perfect size and shape for Charlie Mulgrew's back pocket. Besides, Norway
 

The SPFL's biggest challenge is yet to come, and there is little to suggest they can face it down

The phrase 'club statement' now fills one with almost as much dread as 'root canal surgery', or 'Andy Halliday at left-back'. There have been exceptions - Stenhousemuir and Kelty Hearts leading the way - but most cases have involved people who think they're cleverer than they are and who have too much time on their hands using the word 'dignity' whilst throwing it away spectacularly in a multi-paragraphed ranting word salad. It would be nice to think that the result of today's vote on having
 

Worst Signings of the 2019/20 Premiership season (part 2)

Part one of this, which counts down from 25 to 11, can be found here. As ever, the top ten is dominated by whichever club has drastically underachieved that season. No prizes for guessing which side occupies more spots than any other, though not the top one. And for the first time in four seasons, it isn't a Rangers player who 'leads' these standings. Onward... 10. SIMEON JACKSON (KILMARNOCK) The Canadian international hardly impressed at St. Mirren last season, but Kilmarnock were so des
 

Worst Signings of the 2019/20 Premiership season (part 1)

This is the eighth season we've done this. Whilst football has come to a standstill I don't believe it entitles these players (or the clubs that signed them) a stay of execution. The halt to matches has probably spared some - particularly January arrivals) - from appearing on this list simply because there wasn't enough evidence of them being crap. But that didn't mean we were short of folk to choose from... As a reminder, here are the previous seven 'winners': 2012/13 - Rory Boulding (K
 

Covid-19 and cashflow - how will Scottish clubs get through this?

It's been, what, two weeks without football? The withdrawal is already so bad that I gave in to the Football Manager 2020 free trial; after 12 years on the wagon I'm now obsessing about how to get Weymouth out of the National League South. Either I pay full whack for the game or I face being locked in my childhood bedroom for a week being fed nothing but pea soup. Choose life, choose a job, choose a career, choose '4-2-4 wing play custom route one'. But my tremors and nightsweats are nothing co
 

How coronavirus could affect Scottish football

In case you haven't noticed, Covid-19 (let's be a bit pedantic and call it that, since there are plenty of other coronaviruses of varying severity, including causes of the common cold) is coming. At the time of writing there are 27 cases in Scotland, but that number is going to increase impressively. For what it's worth it seems to me (from my day job perspective as a GP) that the powers that be are dealing with things pretty appropriately at the moment. I'm not an expert in virology or epidemi
 

Scottish football finances - 2020 edition

On the one hand, it must be noted that these figures are essentially a year old, as they are for the 2018/19 season. There can also be pretty legitimate reasons for clubs either losing money or not making as much as expected, such as investment in infrastructure. On the other hand, we now have access to the 2018/19 season accounts for eighteen of Scotland's twenty-two full-time SPFL clubs (assuming no-one is counting Airdrie as full-time yet). We also have an idea of what's to come in two other
 

Doing right by James Keatings will just cause the SFA more problems

In case you haven't heard, the Caley Thistle One has been freed. To recap: a couple of weeks back, ICT forward James Keatings was shown a second yellow card in the Challenge Cup semi-final against Rangers Colts after referee Greg Aitken felt he had dived. It was a terrible decision; even without the benefit of multiple forensic camera angles, it was clear as day that he had been bumped and knocked over. The resultant suspension would rule him out of the Challenge Cup Final which, for the sake o
 

This summer's out of contract Premiership players

So there's only, what, three months of the season left? We're getting to that time where managers are beginning to think of who will be in next season's squad, where some players are either getting their agents to try and get them a move or panicking that they might be unemployed by the end of May. Going by the information available, 117 players with first team experience are out of contract in the summer. Let's break them, and their likely fates, down... ABERDEEN Luc Bollan, Tomas Cerny, Dan
 

What's gone wrong with Aberdeen?

To be fair, Aberdeen fans probably aren't alone in suffering from a kind of collective footballing dementia. On the one hand, their long-term memory is generally outstanding, especially when it comes to the 1980s and the word "Gothenburg" is mentioned. More Aberdonians claim to have been there than hippies at Woodstock. And you can hardly blame them for suppressing any recollection of the early part of the 21st century, the era of managers such as Ebbe Skovdahl, Steve Paterson, Jimmy Calderwoo
 

Caley Thistle: Promotion or bust?

Okay, so in terms of finances the headline is just an eensy weensy bit OTT. Inverness Caley Thistle should have enough cash to get through the season. And given that a club of the size of Queen of the South can still manage to stay full-time there's not really any likelihood of ICT having to go part-time in the near future. Still, they have suffered losses of £2m in the last three years - £400,000 in the 2016/17 relegation campaign and £800,000 in each of the last two seasons. That's really qui
 

Fans would rather stay at home when Rangers and Celtic are in town, and that's not a good thing

The reaction to St. Johnstone's decision to give three McDiarmid Park stands to Rangers and Celtic fans was somewhat mixed. There was, for example, this piece from the Daily Record's Michael Gannon claiming that they were trying to 'make a quick buck' by exploiting the biggest supports in the country - because giving said supports more tickets is, apparently, 'exploitation'. Especially when said tickets are £28 a pop. Sure, we'd all like to pay less for football tickets, but criticizing the pr
 

plus ça change: the decade in Scottish football

Outgoing Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne gave an interview a few weeks ago where he criticized the refusal of Rangers and Celtic to allow change in Scottish football. It was almost as ridiculous as the toupee he sported at the start of his 21 year reign at Pittodrie. Many, including former St. Mirren chairman Stewart Gilmour, were more than willing to lay into Milne for his hypocrisy and his apparent attempts to rewrite history. It's no secret that other Premiership clubs were willing to use Ra
 

The Championship at halfway

Aside from a game between Morton and Queen of the South that needs rescheduled, the Scottish Championship has reached its halfway point. Eighteen games down, eighteen to go. It would be a stretch to say there is a title race. Thirteen points clear with eighteen games left? Surely Dundee United can't blow this. United haven't been perfect (their three defeats include a loss to Alloa and a 4-0 trouncing in Dumfries) but they have been close enough. At the time of writing they've won nine st

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

 

Ranking Scotland's qualification campaigns 1990-2020

Scotland's Euro 2020 campaign was pretty much a disaster. The only thing good about it is that it's over now. It's now twenty-two years - nearly two-thirds of my life - since Scotland made it to a major tournament. That's eleven qualifying campaigns we've failed in. But was the most recent debacle the worst of the lot? My own football awakening was in 1991, aged seven. I'm not old enough to remember Italia '90, but I am old enough to remember what came after it. So let's rank, and remini

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

 

Rangers' accounts: is it 'help ma boab' time?

So yeah, this tweet about Rangers' finances got some serious traffic and clogged up my mentions for a couple of days. Is it worth noting that not one of however many hundred people who saw that tweet noticed the mistake? Apparently I'm not the only one who can't count to seven... The numbers there though. Ooft. You don't have to be an accountant - and I'm not - to know that companies don't publish accounts late on a Friday evening if they want attention drawn to them. Though last year Ran

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

 

Where do Scotland and Steve Clarke go from here?

Another international week endured, and the national team came remarkably close to accomplishing an impossible task - increasing the apathy already surrounding them. It started in Moscow on Thursday night, where Scotland survived a first half onslaught mostly through luck rather than ability and then started the second period with purpose. And inevitably their best fifteen minute spell of the match culminated in a goal...for Russia. The subsequent collapse felt like just another humiliation to

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

 

Thoughts on the Championship - 21/9/19

Why would McCall want to leave this behind? Ayr United are in glorious form right now. Ian McCall said himself afterward that their first half performance at the Indodrill was as good as any he'd ever managed. Alloa were completely outclassed, unable to cope with United's passing and movement in open play or their physical presence at set plays. If anything, the 4-0 half-time score flattered the home side. As their victory over Dundee United last week showed, this sort of performance is current

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

 

Thoughts on the Championship - 13-14/9/19

McCall enjoys getting one over Dundee United and Shankland As post-match trolling goes...wow. Just, wow. Aye, so Ian McCall really doesn't like Robbie Neilson then. He certainly seemed to rather enjoy shackling Lawrence Shankland, who was anonymous against his former club; I bet other Championship coaches will be taking note. Shankland wasn't the only ex-Ayr player feeling grim after this one. Liam Smith got burned badly by Daniel Harvie when the left-back metamorphosed into a rampaging centr

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

 

The Russia post-mortem

It's the hope that kills you. Any Scotland fan knows that all too well. And yet, and yet. For the first ten minutes last night, Scotland ripped into Russia. The sheer energy and will took the visitors - and the Hampden crowd - by surprise. The full-backs flew down the flanks; Callum McGregor demanded the ball at each stroke; John McGinn snapped at every Russian heel; Scott McTominay bestrode the midfield like a colossus. Steve Clarke's lineup and plan were absolutely perfect for the occasion.

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

 

Twenty Premiership players who need a move in the next ten days

At the time of writing we're ten days away from Deadline Day - in Scotland it's midnight on Monday 2 September. Plenty is going to happen between now and then. For a start, the window has been closed for English Premier League and Championship clubs for more than a fortnight and so there are players who (in the Fraser Forster style) need to get out if they are to play at all between now and new year. That should mean some decent pickings on loan or permanently for Premiership sides. The flip si

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

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