Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blogathon: Willie McKay and window dressing

On what one must consider the plus side, we're a sixth of the way through.

Delighted that this topic has been suggested by one of Twitter's good guys @zerozero31

Seb's suggestion was: Willie McKay is onto a good thing. SPL clubs should be used as short-stay shop-windows for talented players. It'll improve the game no end. Discuss.

First up I have to say that if Willie McKay thinks something is a good thing then it is a good thing for Willie McKay and everyone else will be condemned to live off his scraps.

Yes, old wounds still fester.

But is there merit to the idea that SPL could thrive as a "shop-window" for talented players?

Yes. A very qualified yes.

Judicious use of loan deals and short stays can enhance SPL squads. I also like the idea of young, hungry, gifted players from other leagues - let's not cast our envious eyes to only England's top two tiers - can help develop our own young players.

It's exciting to see young talents develop over the course of season and I'd love it if the SPL could attract a few loan players each season that then went on to develop into top class European talents.

And I'm sure a lot of our Scottish players would improve through exposure to players raised in perhaps more technically gifted countries.

But. We must ca' canny.

As a blogathon treat I'm going to give you the first glance at something I've been working on.

It's called The History of Scottish Football Since 1945.

It's quite short.

Here it is:

"The history of Scottish football since 1945 centres on a long series of catastrophic short term decisions made by men guilty of incompetence at best. The end."

Willie McKay is the short-termist man's wet dream. And he's motivated by something more sinister than incompetence.

Turning Scotland into a petting farm for the talents of other countries, or at least embracing that as the central theme of our recovery, would be an ultimately futile exercise in short termism.

Welcome loan deals and short term signings from near and far. But don't welcome them at the expense of two massively important things:

1. Sorting out finances. If they're good how much are we going to pay for them? Loan deals might offer flexibility but a short-term signing is unlikely to be willing to occupy our shop windows for free. We pay them handsomely then lose them for nothing. That's not a business decision that our clubs can justify.

2. Our own young players. Developing from within is financially prudent, more attractive to (sensible) supporters and benefits the national team. Those are all GOOD THINGS. What I'm now going to call "shop windowism" is a BAD THING if it encourages our clubs to ignore what surely, if we're to pull our game off it's sorry backside, is their priority and their duty.

Player A is available on a short term deal. He's relatively cheap and the manager reckons that this Armenian Ronaldo will make a difference to the team and help develop other talents in the side.

Take him. Sign him up. And enjoy the difference he makes while you have him.

Player B is hailed by his EPL manager as a the next Messi. He's needing match practice though so the parent club will take a hit on the wages if your SPL side can give him some first team action.

Take him. Sign him up, watch in awe as he develops, take pride in the way he helps your own young players raise their own game.

Both those scenarios seem eminently sensible decisions made in the best interests of our clubs.

But they have to be isolated scenarios or they will stifle our own players and the orgy of short termism that has hamstrung our football development will continue.

We'd end up like the sort of store that entices you in with a magnificent shop window but has only crap and tat in stock.

So Willie McKay might have touched on something worthwhile. But it would be a cold day in hell before I gave him or his ideas the keys to the Scottish game.

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