I don’t talk about Scottish football much; I didn’t grow up here, and I don’t feel an emotional connection to it sometimes. But this week, how could I not?
Last year we saw Barcelona, incredibly, get beaten over two legs by a Chelsea side who appeared to have no idea when they were beaten, or indeed, what sport they were playing.
Fast forward 6 months, our (I use that word in the loosest possible sense) very own Celtic were cruelly denied a famous point at the Nou Camp thanks to a late Jordi Alba winner, only to, equally incredibly, bring (potentially) the greatest team of all time back to Parkhead and beat them.
On both occasions, we saw the victorious British side sit back and absorb an incredible amount of pressure, occasionally breaking out to snap a shot off on the counter-attack.
Given the poor press received by Scottish football over the last few months, not least from myself, Celtic’s performances, both home and away, are to be applauded, but do they cause us to reaccess Scottish football as a whole?
Celtic do not sit atop the Scottish Premier League at the time of writing, although they do have a game in hand over my beloved Hibernian, who are two points clear and having a laugh (or so the songs claim). If Celtic are indeed the world-beaters which some fans are now claiming, and if they “should be playing alongside the big boys in England”, as others have often claimed, then surely they should be cruising past such meagre opposition as St Johnstone, who succeeded where Messi and co. failed by holding Celtic to a draw on Sunday at Parkhead?
This is of course, an easy exaggeration, but the point stands. I am not going to take anything away from Celtic’s achievement on that Wednesday night, but I am going to bring them back down to earth.
It was in the cold light of day, with suitable hangovers, that Scottish football fans were reminded of the deeply troubling problems with the country’s footballing establishment. Last year it was Rangers, and now it looks like Heart of Midlothian are, for what feels like the 9th time, going to go very nearly bust.
Twenty clubs in Scotland have gone into administration in the last twenty years. This cannot be a coincidence, but Hearts are particularly guilty of time and again showing themselves not to be financially viable. Let Hearts die, at least in their current form. We cannot keep pushing our thumbs into the dyke in order to preserve what is a rotten state.
Andrew McQuillan’s excellent piece on the failings in the Scottish Rugby Union is particularly apt to compare with the SFA and the SPL. Heads must roll, changes must be made, or the magic game of football in Scotland will be lost on entire generation in a fog of administration, strikes, and of course, the taxman…