Media, Scottish Football

Moan Moan Moan Moan Moan!

“Look! That blade of grass is an eighth of a millimetre too long”

Good Afternoon.

Oh dear. The Warbmeister isn’t very happy. Again. 

No, the returned Joey Barton hasn’t (yet) disrespected him in some way, or besmirched his credentials as football’s hottest young managerial prospect since Ally McCoist set off down that glorious path which ultimately led to the garden shed.

Warbo’s ‘problem’ today is with the timing of Scottish football’s winter break.

Rangers boss Mark Warburton hits out at winter break that’s set to hit club in the pocket

Warburton reckons Scottish football planners have not done the domestic game much good with their decision to re-introduce a two week winter break for Premiership clubs in January for the first time since 2003.

He has studied the worst case but entirely realistic scenario of Rangers finishing second behind Celtic, who are already nine points ahead of their old rivals with a game still in hand.
Warburton said: “The Scottish Cup final is on May 28, the first Europa League game is on June 28 and in between there is a small fixture between Scotland and England on June 11.
What do you do? I’m looking at our players – Lee Wallace, Barrie McKay and the likes and wondering what kind of break they might be given.

Even if we don’t make the cup final we still finish a week earlier, on May 21, and it’s only five weeks before the Europa League qualifiers.

“You’d usually come back on June 18-19 to travel away on June 29 for a 10-12 day training camp, then return to build up your fixtures for a league season start around August 7. Potentially, we’re starting a full six weeks earlier. If the team is in the cup final and you have to give them a ‘golden window’ of three weeks’ break then we would have a week’s training before the European game.

If not and we finish on the May 21, by the time you give them some time off you’re looking at two weeks before the European tie. Does that give Scottish clubs the best opportunities to progress? I’m not sure it does.
The European fixtures are obviously important for Scottish football and the clubs individually, of course. It is very important for Rangers financially. It generates income for the club and getting season tickets sold and the punters enjoying coming to Ibrox is also vital.
Could we not play through the winter break and finish up at the end of April, play the cup final on May 7 and give the boys more of a break? For the quality of the product, the players deserve it.”

Gary Ralston explains the wider financial context to Warbo’s woe:

Light Blues’ chairman Dave King and his fellow directors will have written cheques for £3.75million before the end of May to keep their club in business.

King admitted European football will be crucial to their bottom line next season as Rangers bid to return to that level of competition for the first time since August 2011, when they lost a Europa League qualifier to Maribor.

Leaving aside the blatant liquidation lie about ‘previous’ European participation, I was struck by the rather blithe way in which a prominent newspaper mentions the ‘club’ upon which Scottish football apparently depends surviving on handout loans and needing European football to sustain its ‘bottom line’.
This absolutely screams ‘Sevco financial crisis’ and yet it is stated as if it’s akin to someone needing to pop to the shop for a pint of milk. It is a classic example of quite how dysfunctional the whole Sevco circus seems to have become.

But back to Warbo… 

His complaint about the winter break is just the latest example of the former City-trading genius trashing some aspect or other of our domestic game:

We are all entitled to our opinion and Warbo’s position as Sevco manager (and therefore Resident Pish Provider for the Scottish sports desks) undoubtedly means that his smallest utterance will get a lot of coverage.

However, you have to wonder if this guy ever stops moaning! If it’s not the structure of the SPFL, the format of the League Cup or the strength of the development league he’s complaining about, it’s 

  • [*guffaw*] critical press coverage; 
  • a lack of respect for his team; and
  • folk who insist there is a gap between the Championship and Premiership, or between Celtic and everyone else.

He’ll be ‘slapping’ in a complaint to the SFA about the use of round balls next. Or about his side having to score more goals than the opposition to win games.

Maybe Sevco should only have to play 30 league fixtures, and should get five points for a win? Perhaps they should have a bye straight through to the Hampden steps after the Scottish Cup final so they can pick up the trophy without having to disrupt their European preparations? Anything to help Warbo and stop him moaning…

You wonder how he gets through a typical day at no-longer-Murray Park. I suspect that although the breakfast is World Class, Warbo will complain that it is the wrong world. The cones at training will be too pointy, and the vehicles in the car park too static for the free-flowing approach that he aims to bring to Sevco.

However, there is a glint of positivity in the Warbo moan-a-thon. Apparently he shares his captain’s admiration for the Sevco corridors. As you might expect, they are rigid and unchanging. And as a result, Warbo considers them to be a welcome respectful tribute to his team’s formation.