Weir’s Week: 9th March 2013

Celtic will have to do better

Twitter gives players a voice they often aren’t so keen on letting the mainstream media hear.

Picture by Jon Candy
Picture by Jon Candy
Today. Leeds United and Scotland striker Ross McCormack (right) decides to use the social media platform to make his excuses for missing a penalty against Millwall. The former Rangers and Motherwell man said; “Ronaldinho missed a pen. Roberto Baggio, Lampard etc the list goes on. We won, I won penalty and was happy with my performance. #3points”

He is indeed correct to mention the famous Brazilian, the Italian legend and arguably the English Premier League’s all-time most consistent performer amongst the sinners who have missed from 12 yards out. It is also possibly the only time McCormack will ever have equality alongside that triumvirate …

In snooker, Mark Allen wins the Haikou World Open. The Ulsterman is a capable player, but for the Chinese, this is another worrying result for their structure. SnookerRemember just a few years ago how the Chinese were going to be so dominant in terms of titles, world champions and players in the top 16, that the World Championship itself would eventually have to decant behind the Great Wall.

Such predictions have proved optimistic if not completely unfounded. Instead, the Chinese are looking to improve their coaching and talent-spotting of future stars, proposing a youth training scheme geared to producing winners. There is something mildly amusing that even with 1.3 billion of a population to pick from (give or take a few million), China haven’t come close to finding a world champion.

Maybe they just don’t get the same rain as we do in Scotland …

Neil Doncaster attracts controversy whatever he does, from his disappearing routine when key questions have to be answered, to the barber with a sense of humour that he uses. Today, criticism is rife after its reported his annual salary is to rise to £200,000 a year. VFM (value for money)? You decide.

For one individual, it is all too much. “I would think most fans would ask how the directors can justify that inflation-busting pay rise,” said a spokesman for the recently formed SPL Fans United, a pressure group campaigning for reform of the Scottish game.

SPL Logo“How?” Because they can.

When was the last time anyone in power in the SPL ever listened to fans, except when they were looking for fall guys (or should I say customers) to help make a decision on Rangers. Don’t worry, You might have your say again very soon. It’s called Hearts.

Oh sorry, you won’t get a say. Because their possible fate is already set in history …

I first became aware of Dunfermline Athletic when they beat West Bromwich Albion to reached the Cup-Winners-Cup final in 1968. The next time I heard of them, they were turning down a £50,000 bid for Rangers for striker Kenny Mackie. What happened to him?

Today, the Fifers are making the news for unwanted reasons. They own the tax man £134,000 and could go bust within a matter of weeks.

Dunformline Athletic LogoThe Pars have been in trouble for years. The warning signs have been there for a while, even last season when alarm bells sounded when they were owed money by Rangers. That wasn’t obviously seen as being of any significance when the SPL decision makers decided that – despite Rangers’ demise – Dunfermline were still going down. As I say, Dunfermline had their problems before last term. But relegation has hardly been financially helpful.

On the same day, rumours are rife that Hearts have been warning staff that administration could be imminent, strenuously denied of course, as is everything of a financial nature at Tynecastle. Hearts need money, and selling players could be a way of generating some finance. In Scotland, buying players is a thing of the past, unless you are Celtic.

But Rangers could now be back in the market as buyers. Alas, they are still in the middle of that imposed embargo. Another decision arrived at last summer to penalise the Ibrox club, but which could indirectly now be harming another of this country’s great clubs. Of course, what I’ve said could be deemed speculative or hypothetical. But Hearts fans I’ve spoken to this week would be delighted to accept hypothetical pound notes, even if they arrive in weekly instalments from those with a bad credit history.

When you’re desperate, anyone’s cash is good.

And Celtic lose 2-0 in Turin to Juventus, completing a 5-0 aggregate loss. Plenty of plaudits for Neil Lennon’s side, plenty saying there was never five goals in the tie. I’m not one of them.

Needless to say, there is flak coming in my direction on Twitter, the majority of it no different than what used to arrive in snail-mail form 20 years ago. Originality ain’t what it once was. I was reliably informed that the 5-0 deficit wasn’t close, but apparently it did flatter the cynical and clinical Serie A giants. Sorry, I didn’t see that either. And it was also brought to my attention that Celtic were just unlucky over the two legs having had (so I was told) 32 attempts on Gigi Buffon’s goal. Sorry again, but if you can’t convert one opportunity out of that glut of chances, you deserve what you get.

Celtic LogoCeltic’s run in Europe was (and if you don’t understand this part feel free to invite someone to read it to you) a tremendous effort on a number of counts; to first come through the qualifying rounds, then the quality of opposition they had to overcome to reach the last 16, and in lifting the gloom that had beset Scotland, domestically and internationally.

It’s no slight on the manager, or the players, but against Juventus, Celtic were at times outmuscled, outplayed and outclassed where and when it mattered. That’s why it will appear as a record loss in the history books, not recorded as a ticket to the next round …

In rugby, Scotland and Glasgow Warriors flanker John Barclay announces he will be leaving the club at the end of this season. Or, as one rugby wag greeted the announcement; “That’s another testimonial dinner we don’t need to worry about …”

News breaks that Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez has been arrested on suspicion of driving while disqualified. The Argentine striker was banned from driving for six months in January this year after failing to respond to police letters about speeding.

Tevez is not the first to have regular correspondence with the locals courts, or DVLA in Swansea.

I remember back in the early 90’s when a well-know car dealership and sponsors of Motherwell donated a car to the player of the year. The worthy recipient then collected the keys and posed for pictures, before driving off with his new wheels. A few weeks later, his wife was doing all of the driving after lost the licence he never had in the first place!

Not-such a worthy recipient then …