Scottish teams in Europe - or should I say - out of Europe

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exile
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Scottish teams in Europe - or should I say - out of Europe

Post by exile » Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:06 pm

Once again it appears the passports can be put away for another year, almost before the season has properly started - only Rangers are left and I wonder how long they will last. Any bets against them finishing last in whatever CL group they end up in?

The performances of Celtic have been particularly spineless this year - United and Motherwell tried hard but were out of their depth in not particularly exalted company. Hibs were well beaten by a team who actually didn't do too badly against Palermo - losing 3-5 on aggregate so might be considered a little unlucky in their 3rd round draw. And other than a reasonable spell in the mid-noughties for the OF (and Aberdeen in 2007-8) results have been almost uniformly dire for at least a decade.

What has gone wrong? I cheered myself up tonight by watching Kilmarnock walloping Frankfurt 5-1 back in 1964 on youtube. Can anyone imagine a Scottish club team other than Celtic or Rangers on a very good day doing over a top German side like that today? And we don't need to go that far back - the 1980s was an excellent decade for Scottish clubs in Europe. Explanations please....

Tiddlywinks anyone?

lbb
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Post by lbb » Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:50 pm

Felt sorry for Motherwell more than anything. Seemed to have given themselves a chance and it was a shame they couldn't make the most of it.

I wonder how many European games Dundee United have won since they beat Barcelona in 1987. I suspect it isn't that many. I never thought they would get through against AEK and whilst a draw on the night is respectable they're still oot.

Even I was surprised by Celtic's scoreline. I didn't think they would get it as easy as some of their supporters seemed to think but 4-0 is still a walloping. Part of the problem is the air of delusion that comes from their club management and spreads to the supporters. You might get rogered by Ross County and battered by Braga but, look, beating St. Mirren 4-0 means a new era is underway. A new era of pish by the looks of it.

I briefly caught Jim Spence on Radio Scotland mumble something about 'let's just rip it up and start over again'. Yeah, yeah, that'll happen. We'll talk about it for a couple of days and then next July we'll have the same conversation. It's terminal institutional failure in Scottish football and the media are part of the problem.

Everyone knows there is a problem but no-one wants to deal with it. Let's just accept this.

Alan McCabe
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Post by Alan McCabe » Thu Aug 26, 2010 11:21 pm

Our standing in European club football is now as low as it has ever been. And it's not even as if the conquering foreigners are top-drawer opponents!
While Dundee United and Motherwell put up decent, if fruitless, efforts in their ties, I cannot begin to fathom the truoly embarassing and perplexing happenings at Parkhead.
Not one to revel in our importation of 'Third Rate' foreigners, I was shocked to note that Celtic ended their earlier match in Braga with not a single Scot left on the pitch!
What happened to the conveyor-belt of talent once churned out relentlessly by the famed Celtic Boys' Club? Where the success stories of Lennox Castle? Why no rumaging of the lower leagues at home to cherry-pick those diamonds in the rough?
While no fan of either of the Old Firm, I can just about understand the religious leanings of those Celtic-minded individuals in our midst. After all, the club was created to help those of a particular persuassion.
Had I been a Celtic fan though, I would despair at this recent influx of, let's be honest here, sub-standard overseas players from the four corners of the globe. Is this the tradition of a once internationally-respected club?
And here's the crux of the matter....even with all those over-hyped, over-rated and undoubtedly over-paid imports, the net result is virtually the same. Another embarassing capitulation on foreign fields.
Would a team of Scottish laddies, versed in the honour of the jersey, do any worse?
While this is not unique to Glasgow's East End, it is the lack of emerging home-grown talent that appears to be the main excuse.
This all goes much deeper than footballing academies though yet few in the corridors of power, both nationally and at club level, seem either prepared to remedy it or even accept its existence.
A look through '100 European Cups' by Girault, Mislin & Marcault makes interesting reading. Scottish clubs actually finished Number 1 ranked in all European competitions in 1966-67 winning 23 of 34 matches played. Other noteworthy finishes from 1960 onwards included 1960-61 (5th), 1961-62 (5th), 1962-63 (4th), 1965-66 (4th), 1968-69 (2nd), 1971-72 (3rd), 1973-74 (5th), 1982-83 (4th but 1st overall in average pts per game), 1983-84 (3rd) & 1986-87 (5th).
I don't have tables of recent campaigns but would be surprised if we registered in the top 30 nations last season. This malaise will come to haunt us very soon though as we face as long a period of non-Champions League participation as we are presently undergoing in our efforts to reach a World Cup Finals.
Maybe then we will see a genuine desire to fix a badly malfunctioning machine.

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Post by HibeeJibee » Thu Aug 26, 2010 11:46 pm

Motherwell and Dundee Utd going out wasn't a surprise - it was Scotland 3 v Greece 3, and Scotland 5 v Denmark 2. This is 2010, we don't expect to win those matches IMO.

More broadly: expectations are too high, and in general performances are about where they should be. Sometimes we get bad ones (= Hibs + Celtic this season) but sometimes teams exceed expectations (Rangers UC Final in 2008... Aberdeen's run the same season).

In 2010, Scotland is a small and middling European football nation. Whose history, however, was impressive.

What we did decades ago is irrelevant now.

lbb
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Post by lbb » Fri Aug 27, 2010 8:38 am

I thought it was just me that noticed Celtic seem to be run in a strange fashion nowadays. Mowbray brought in a pile of players last year and then a bunch of loan signings in January and now Lennon must have signed an entire team this summer. There's no way he's scouted all of those players. The turnaround in players at Celtic in the last 18 months is incredible yet it doesn't seem to get mentioned much in the Scottish media. I had a wry smile at one Celtic fan on a messageboard last night who lamented that the players played 'as though they'd just been introduced to one another.' The chances are that they have just been introduced.

HJ, I don't think it's true that expectations are too high. Dundee United and Motherwell did have tricky matches and gave decent accounts of themselves. No-one would say that we should beat AEK Athens and Odense every time but the fact is we never beat them. Let's be honest, United and Motherwell (or any other SPL club outwith the OF) could play those ties every year and still lose - bravely.

I don't accept that performances are where they should be. None of our teams know how to control a match in Europe - regardless of the opposition. We don't have the first clue about keeping the ball or creating space for opportunities. We rely entirely on industry and work-rate and have no concept of pace, flair or creativity in our game - and that's manifest in the SPL every week. European teams must pray to get drawn against Scottish teams the way we used to hope for a minnow in the early rounds.

Gunboat Briggs
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Post by Gunboat Briggs » Fri Aug 27, 2010 9:03 am

lbb wrote:I wonder how many European games Dundee United have won since they beat Barcelona in 1987. I suspect it isn't that many. I never thought they would get through against AEK and whilst a draw on the night is respectable they're still oot.
Steady on now, we did beat Borussia Mönchengladbach in the semis after that! But yes, that was the last time we beat anyone halfway decent, with victories only coming against opponents from Northern Ireland (twice), Malta, Iceland and Andorra ... yes, five whole ties in 23 years, and only one of those after 1990. Took a few years for the tabloids to stop referring to us as "Euro cracks", though.

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Post by lbb » Fri Aug 27, 2010 9:34 am

Gunboat Briggs wrote: Steady on now, we did beat Borussia Mönchengladbach in the semis after that!
That's true. It's just that I'm always fascinated by abrupt changes in fortune like that. When United won in the Nou Camp, you would never have believed that they would only manage 5 more victories in Europe in the next quarter of a century. They were at the height of their European powers at that time.
Gunboat Briggs wrote:But yes, that was the last time we beat anyone halfway decent, with victories only coming against opponents from Northern Ireland (twice), Malta, Iceland and Andorra ... yes, five whole ties in 23 years, and only one of those after 1990. Took a few years for the tabloids to stop referring to us as "Euro cracks", though.
Yes, I remember when United lost to the Tarty Pervos in the early 1990's under Golac that they went into the tie with the media expectation of a decent run.

Scottish
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Post by Scottish » Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:39 am

I tend to go along with the 'we'll never get back to where we were but we should be better than where we are' camp. The only decent result in Europe so far this season is Motherwell's win over Aalesund. Celtic's result last night was atrocious. This is a team which has won every domestic league match it has played under Neil Lennon - now, I think, ten in succession.

Dundee United got a good draw, aided by the lack of atmosphere, but as has been pointed out their record since the 1987 UEFA Cup has been poor.

Although we will lose the automatic CL place after this season other countries have taken advantage of Platini's alterations to the format. Hapoel Tel Aviv, FC Copenhagen, MSK Zilina all won through via the play-offs as did two 'big' clubs in Basel and Ajax. Others like Twente & Cluj have improved their ranking to qualify automatically. IMHO the OF should be capable of doing the same.

Perhaps the best chance to improve ranking points comes from the fact that no one other than Andy Gray seems to think Rangers have a chance to go through from their group. If they go into their games thinking 'nothing to lose' then there's just a chance there might be something to gain.

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Post by HibeeJibee » Fri Aug 27, 2010 11:23 am

I also hold a strong view that ourselves along with the Belgians, Danes, etc., suffer from the cyclical co-efficient syndrome. We get higher and higher and then we fly too close to the sun, and get lower and lower.

As we sink down the rankings, we'll be sending in 4 clubs, not 5 (= less odds of a weak team... especially since only 1 CL slot means less chance of a cup runner-up getting in). They'll be playing weaker opponent. Over a few years we will therefore improve our co-efficient, and start to rise again.

Hibs and Celtic have both had bad losses this season - but Motherwell over 2 seasons have done well. Also it's only 2.5 years since we were lauding Celtic (CL last 16), Rangers (UC Final) and Aberdeen (UC last 32).

So I anticipate more unfortunate losses in future... and more positive results too. And once we've sunk a bit more, we'll start rising again. 'Tis natural.

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Scottish teams in Europe - or should I say - out of Europe

Post by macjackb » Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:05 pm

The results make me sad, but the attitudes make my blood boil. Stoked up by the majority of our media is a feeling that any time we take a step outside our parochial muddy waters is almost a step too far, that we're basically out of our depth. We gaze in wonder, our humble collections of lads taking on the glamour boys. Instead of being interested in the game itself, we congratulate our boys for simply walking on the same grass as more worthy chaps. Being a small nation has somehow become an excuse for losing all sense of professional pride. One example: the AEK goal last night was an atrocious piece of defending, and whether you're big or small there ought to have been recriminations, gestures of frustration, just some sign that that really ought not to have happened. But we got little more than the team trudging sullenly back to the middle. We can accept our limitations and still make the best of what we have, maximise our resources and develop as best we can.

As for the we're just a wee country so we should expect to be as bad as this; do I hear Denmark? Norway? Croatia? I'm afraid I don't agree this is cyclical; all the teams that have had good results have had many more horrific ones over the last ten years or so.

It's interesting that HibeeJibee quoted Belgium as another nation whose stock has been in abeyance, and there I'd in fact agree. I've lived there and know that Belgium as an entity is in crisis, and it's small wonder to me that, inasmuchas the national mood affects people within, the confidence with which they express themselves is also altered. In Scotland, too many young people now simply don't play sport, and the extent to which our lifestyles are self-destructive is writ large in too many studies for it to be a side issue. You can examine why till the cows come home, but ultimately a sport that doesn't self-regenerate with sufficient vigour will always be in decline.

John Meffen

Post by John Meffen » Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:16 pm

I think we should just give up on europe [and football], and switch to cricket, either that or try to take australia's vacant place in oceania

Scottish
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Post by Scottish » Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:58 pm

John Meffen wrote:I think we should just give up on europe [and football], and switch to cricket, either that or try to take australia's vacant place in oceania
The latter would bring us up against the only side to remain undefeated at the 2010 World Cup. TBH we don't seem to doing that well in other sports either. Leave aside Chris Hoy and Andy Murray, both of whom relied heavily on facilities outside Scotland during their emerging days, and the well seems pretty dry.

In our 'other' national sport for instance it is almost 100% certain that there will be no Scot playing in the Ryder Cup for the second successive competition. The last time that happened was back in 1937. Yet in seven consecutive competitions spanning from 1975-1987 we had a minimum of three players in the team. And that was even after the side changed from Britain & Ireland to Europe.

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Post by nightfire » Fri Aug 27, 2010 3:18 pm

Celtic's downfall was in the 1st leg. Celtic were well on top and on the night proved to be far better than Utrecht, However, for some inexplicable reason and the Manager must take the blame, Celtic took the foot off the gas in the 2nd half.

The frustrating aspect of that was had Celtic scored another goal, I think Utrecht would have chucked it. So whilst the players were new to each other on that night it made very little difference.

For the 2nd leg there may have been an element of over confidence following the 1st leg performance but on the night the team were not focused and some players seemed disinterested in particular Fortune & Samaras.

That aside, the Manager got the team selection & tactics wrong and was not able to motivate them enough at half time to change the performance.

Rangers will be expected to lose out and maybe even finishing 4th again although the one bonus is that the money gained can go towards the forthcoming HMRC bill.

All in all if this continues for another few years, Scottish football is heading towards a standard similar to that of the League of Wales.

Scottish
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Post by Scottish » Fri Aug 27, 2010 3:35 pm

nightfire wrote:
All in all if this continues for another few years, Scottish football is heading towards a standard similar to that of the League of Wales.
You mean we'll be able to beat sides from the ROI and Finland and draw with CSKA Sofia?

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Post by nightfire » Fri Aug 27, 2010 3:51 pm

scottish wrote:
nightfire wrote:
All in all if this continues for another few years, Scottish football is heading towards a standard similar to that of the League of Wales.
You mean we'll be able to beat sides from the ROI and Finland and draw with CSKA Sofia?
A draw against CSKA is worth nothing unless you qualify as I quickly check that CSKA did qualify :D

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