Sunday, January 31, 2010

Silver Surfers

Everything changes. Everything stays the same.

Walter Smith in charge at Ibrox. Jim Jefferies in charge at Hearts. Craig Brown back in the dugout. Kilmarnock turning to Jimmy Calderwood.

If the BBC was once called hideously white must we now call SPL managerial cabal as hideously old? (And hideously white as well, of course, but that's a whole different kettle of fish).

For a country that prides itself on exporting bright young managers across Hadrian's Wall we seem loathe to give them jobs ourselves.

Are we in danger of thwarting the development of young managers? Is the reliance on Scottish managers schooled at Largs robbing our players of exposure to different methods and approaches that have, undoubtedly, helped English players?

We find ourselves stuck in a situation where serious students of the game describe Ally McCoist as a bright young prospect who might one day, with a favourable wind, stand on his own two feet. Really? At the age McCoist is now most of us have cut the apron strings. Does he not sometimes feel frustrated about being thought of as a glorified Timothy Lumsden?

All the above examples can easily be explained away as clubs in varying amounts of turmoil calling on experienced hands to the steady ship. Stability and solid foundations before a new man comes along and adds vigour as the final piece of the jigsaw.

Fair enough. But the real reason is the fear that pervades every boardroom in the land. Clubs at the bottom of the league fear relegation. Clubs at the top of the league fear slipping to the bottom.

So they stick with what they know. The ignore the examples of Gus McPherson, Billy Reid or Derek McInnes bringing teams into the SPL and staying there. Of Tony Mowbray taking Hibs to third. Of John Hughes getting Falkirk up, keeping them there and taking them to two cup finals.

All this suits a press corps desperate to see their friends in jobs. It makes them feel closer to the story, even part of the story. So they recommend the same old faces for every job and treat anyone who is not a part of their gilded circle of old pals with suspicion. Often intolerable suspicion.

We sneer at English clubs looking to Scotland or Europe for their managers. We ignore the fact that our incestuous reliance on the same old faces is likely to result in the same dwindling of new alternatives that has happened in England.

Fair play to old these elder statesmen who are able to carve out a living in the game after all these years. But they will start to exit the stage sooner or later. The fear in those boardrooms might turn to shock when they realise that a new generation is not waiting to step into their shoes.

Unimaginative and dull. If those are the guiding principles of recruitment at our clubs is it any real wonder that those are the most distinctive features of the fare served up by those clubs week in, week out?