Monday, July 21, 2008

A Dismal Nothingness

Do friendlies mean anything at all? Most managers would say they're a valuable way of gauging a team's readiness for the season ahead. If they win. If they lose they'll write them off as merely a fitness excercise.

So who knows if they do mean anything?

But three events in Scottish football show that friendlies can have a far from positive impact.

Example 1

Peterhead 4, Aberdeen 0

A full strength Aberdeen humilated by their local rivals. This result is so cataclysmically bad that it can be written off as a freak, a unique conflagration of Jimmy Calderwood's worst nightmares. But it's an absolutely shocking start. Players have gone (some have bucked the trend and actually stayed) and the fans need reasons to come back. Losing 4-0 to Peterhead doesn't encourage people to come back.

Suddenly the start of the season is about as welcome in Aberdeen as the thought of a wet weekend in Skegness. Sharing a caravan with Jimmy Calderwood.

Example 2

Fulham 3, Celtic 1

Another bad result. In the long run probably one that means absolutely nothing but a crap result anyway. And, like everything at Celtic, nothing is quite as simple as it seems. Celtic have set off on a grand pre season tour to raise brand awareness/prostitute themselves to the highest bidder but it appears that at least some of the baggage of the last couple of years remains.

Allegedly Gordon Strachan was involved in an altercation with a Celtic supporter and had to be led away by stewards. Same old, same old. At least at Southampton the night before Stachan's name was chanted from the stands. Chanted by Southampton supporters, but it's nice to feel a little loved.

You'd have thought the drama, emotion and ultimate success of last season would have led to some thawing of relations. Not so, it appears. The Celtic job is like the Hearts job in reverse: Hearts have decent fans and a nutcase chairman, Celtic appear to have a decent board and mental fans.

Example 3

Hibs ?, Barcelona ?

OK so this game hasn't been played. And the minute Hibs took the game they lost all control and can't be blamed for the ticket prices or the venue.

But...between 8000 and 11000 tickets sold is a worry. Comparisons might be futile but comparisons will be made with the Hearts game last year - Hibs will not come out of that well.

Where are the fans? Voting with their feet, I guess. No signings, a new stand that the board can't seem to decide whether or not to build, problems, problems, problems.

The fans won't be at Murrayfield, they'll probably not be at Easter Road when Middlesborough and Wigan roll into town. But watch out for a large away support when Hibs kick off in the SPL at Kilmarnock. Rumour has it that a major fans protest about Rod Petrie begins then. Watch this space.

So friendly season continues to mean nothing. But for at least three SPL sides the silly season means getting off to the worst possible start.


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  2. Both Dundee Utd and Hibs got battered. Messi was awesome. I thought Feeney looked decent though!