“He’s given the opposition manager’s team-talk”.
This (or a variant) is one of the great football clichés. Usually uttered when a manager says something about the opposition that appears crass, rude, or insulting.
It was wheeled out earlier this season when John Collins remarked (amongst other things) that players in Scotland aren’t quick or clever enough to routinely punish Celtic for mistakes in the way that sides in European competition can.
[*Pause while Celtic fans reflect on this season’s abysmal European performances, and everyone else has a good cackle*].
As clichés go, its quite a good one, and is usually accompanied by references to “pinning the comments up on the dressing room wall”.
The ‘team-talk’ cliché came to mind today when I read this jaw-droppingly ill-informed and partisan piece from Derek Johnstone in the Evening Shark-Jump.
DJ is no stranger to appearances in this blog, such is the relentless quality of his column.
But today’s piece was extra-special.
Not everyone likes the moniker ‘Bampot’, but most ‘eligible’ folk have appropriated it as a ‘badge of honour’ (as they have with the term “obsessed”), but if ever there was something which fulfilled the role of motivational ‘Bampot Team-Talk’ it is DJ’s latest missive.
Here are some of the highlights…
“THE outcome of the Big Tax Case hearing this week will have no impact financially on Rangers going forward. For all the issues the new board have to contend with at Ibrox just now, this is not one of them.
There has been talk in some quarters already about other penalties that could be handed down to the club. Any discussion, any notion of title stripping is nonsense, though.
The honours Rangers won during the years that EBTs were in use have to remain with the club and the board will defend Rangers against any move to remove them from our list of achievements. Those SPL titles, the Scottish Cups and the League Cups that Rangers won during that time were won fairly and squarely on the park.”
“Rangers are adamant that no titles will be taken from them and that we will keep all the championships and cups that we won during that period.”
“For Dave King, the board and for the club, this is not their problem. It is for the Murray Group and the oldco to worry about.”
So the Big Tax Case is nothing to do with the ‘club’, but the trophies won with players whose earnings were not properly taxed most certainly are?!
And those trophies were won ‘fairly and squarely”?
“It doesn’t matter what a player earns, it is about what they do on the pitch. In the years Rangers won the league and won the cups, they were the best team and deserved to win them. There is no outcry over the seasons when we didn’t win anything.
Money can’t buy you success. You have to do it on the park. There are a lot of teams that have spent huge amounts of money and not had any success. “
It doesn’t matter what the players earn?
Money can’t buy you success?
That must be why amateur side Queen’s Park continue to rack up the trophies and qualify for Europe every year, and why Manchester City are staring down the barrel of relegation to non-league football yet again.
And as for the seasons when Rangers ‘didn’t win anything’… what about European qualification and prize money that may still have been denied to other clubs? That’s the trouble with cheating, DJ, some is always ultimately cheated!
But DJ isn’t finished yet…
“When this case was brought up at first, it went against HMRC, then it went to an appeal and it went against HMRC again. Now we have a third hearing and it goes for HMRC. That is what will baffle a lot of people. How can two cases go against HMRC and then the third one, with the same details put forward, goes in their favour?”.
In short, DJ thinks HMRC are trailing 2-1 and have still somehow won… How can you even begin explaining the concept of ‘appeals’ and the purpose of ‘higher courts’ to someone seemingly so detached from the realities of everyday judicial process?
Perhaps we should start gently and buy DJ some Perry Mason DVDs?
One thing is for sure however, if the case is appealed to the Supreme Court and HMRC win again, DJ will call the score as 2-2 and demand extra time and penalties. As long as they aren’t title-stripping penalties, of course…
Clearly it isn’t reasonable to expect all ex-footballers to produce a masterclass of insight every time they engage with the media. Let’s face it, Neil McCann can only just about manage to wave a rule book around when he is on TV. But questions have to be asked when utter drivel is passing for informed comment on something as important for our game as the outcome and implications of the Big Tax Case.
DJ’s comments could be portrayed as ‘a bit of fun’. But they aren’t. He’s a prominent commentator in a position to inform and influence. He gets column inches and airtime, and people take notice of what he says.
And it leaves many of us crying out for something better-informed, analytical and hard-hitting. Is it any wonder that with guff like that being churned out the internet ‘Bampots’ produce and consume acres of ‘alternative coverage’?
That alternative coverage may be far from perfect. However, it often possesses redeeming features – in terms of insight and entertainment – that a DJ column and so much else couldn’t manage in a million years.
And it isn’t going away. Especially with DJ’s column pinned to the dressing room wall to keep us all motivated…
NB The Clumpany has written to Celtic about the outcome of the ‘Big Tax Case’ and the need for the football authorities to consider its implications and take any appropriate action. You can see the letter here, and may wish to consider approaching your club in a similar way.