During the first half of the recent Kilmarnock game I responded to an unhappy text from St Anthony to say that it looked like some of our players were going through the motions. Like they knew they were better players and would win the league and were doing just enough. Naturally we can then have debates about professionals being self motived or the role of the coaching staff in preparing players for whatever challenge they have, but we have to accept that human nature is difficult to alter. As we are (hopefully) in the middle of our run towards 10 in a row I thought I’d look at the stats of the last team that tried (and failed) to get to those double digits…the results were quite interesting.
Rangers (Oldco) were in the middle of their 9 when we were at our poorest and in the midst of the pre & post takeover turmoil. In seasons 1993-94 and 1994-95, footballing wise, we offered no competition to Rangers finishing mid-table. Their nearest challengers were a quickly deteriorating Aberdeen and a Billy Davies managed Motherwell. These were the days when lesser teams in Scotland performed as well in Europe as they do now, but when Rangers were lauded for having some of their greatest ever players. In these two seasons Rangers spent in excess of £18m.
Indexing that Rangers expenditure to RPI and they spent in excess of £32m in todays money. More importantly index link this to Paul Tomkins Transfer Price Inflation (although based on EPL transfers this is who RFC (Old) were competing with for players) and you get to circa £100m. This figure is stunning for Scottish football but not surprising based upon what we now know about the business practices of their then owner David Murray. With that level of spend they had international players like;
- Andy Goram
- Richard Gough
- Mark Hately
- Trevor Steven
- Basil Boli
- Paul Gascoigne
- Brian Laudrup
Managed by the great cardigan, Walter Smith, revered & loved in equal measure by the Scottish media and able to outspend most English sides (never mind the rest of Scottish football) just how did this wonderful collection of multi million pound stars get on? They were mediocre!
Right now, Ronnie’s jacket hangs by a very shoogly peg, taking hits from the media every day, but he is romping towards 5 compared to how Rangers got to that figure.
Celtic have played 30 games in the league. We’ve won 21 games and lost 3, conceding 23 goals and scoring 73 and are on 69 points. After 30 games in season 93/94, the team with the stars above was on the equivalent of 55 points scoring only 53 goals to that point with a win rate of just 50%. The following season was marginally better with 59 points after 30 games although goals scored was only 52.
I am not saying everything in the Celtic garden is rosy, but I do think the lack of serious competition domestically is having an impact on so much of our club. I am also not saying that I want that challenge to come from Rangers (Newco), for the good of all of our game that entity should have been put down in the bowels along with Gretna (2008). I am merely using the history of 20+ years ago to illustrate how complacency can impact upon a football club’s standards. What evidence is there that these performances (10 plus points poorer than Celtic this term) weren’t a reflection of the game in Scotland? The following year, when we started to get better and offer a challenge and went the whole season on their tails, losing just one league game, Rangers (Oldco) were on 72 points after 30 games, 13 & 17 points better than the two previous seasons.
There are a variety of issues at our club and in the summer many of these have to be addressed but perhaps the biggest one, from the boardroom to the dressing room, is complacency.