By Joe Behan
Developing Scottish youth soccer was how Rangers manager Dick Advocaat expressed his celebrations after his side thumped Aberdeen 4-0 in the Scottish Cup final. Advocaat brought the bigger picture of the game to public attention once again. The Dutchman has expressed his concern for Scotland and its football. He was tackling the real issues of Scottish soccer: youth development, the ruling bodies and competitions.
His streak of passion for the game has got to be taken seriously by the Scottish administrators. The outburst by Advocaat was fueled by Jim Leighton, who was carted off with a broken jaw after just two minutes. The unlucky exit brought attention to the sub limitation in the cup. The rule forced Aberdeen coach Ebbe Skovdahl to leave out a reserve goalkeeper and thus he had to use an outfield player.
The three big administrative players — SFA, SPL and the executive — have been advised by Advocaat associates to encourage soccer academies and address the different rules in Scotland, such as limited subs. Furthermore, teams can meet up to six or seven times per season, Advocaat suggests a 16-team league is better.
Advocaat’s successful experience with PSV as Dutch champions gave him the opportunity to see and understand the brilliant youth soccer system in Holland; although he claims soccer is based on hard work. He has expressed his passion specifically for the youth and in particular investment for proper and better facilities. The governing bodies and funding are core to the issues of the Ibrox general. The crust of his concern is that developing youth in the current circumstances with lack of facilities is holding back raw talent and Scottish football.
The Dutchman’s streak of passion wasn’t the only exposure on cup final day when a streaker appeared in Hampden.
Follow us on social media
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Irish Echo
Hopefully, somebody was advocating for youth development in Scotland at the Scottish League annual meeting in Hampden Park this morning.
O’Neill key to Celtic future
Martin O’Neill is the new Celtic manager after an agonizing departure from Leicester. If Celtic are going to break the pattern of managers leaving after one season, successful or not, it should be with O’Neill. It is now a must for Celtic to have a five-year plan for the club to rebuild and become a super power in Europe. The former Northern Ireland captain and European Cup winner is entering one of the most difficult jobs in football. Nonetheless, O’Neill is said to be happy with the terms he has at Celtic including full control of football matters.
The Irishman, a strong-willed individual who knows what he wants, has made up his mind to leave Leicester for the club he supported as a boy. His desire for a bigger stage is strong and he believes Celtic should be one of the top six clubs in European football.
His ambition is attached to emotions that make the move a boyhood dream to manage the Hoops. His father always said that anyone should walk all the way to Parkhead if ever the manager’s job became available.
It’s likely John Robertson will travel with O’Neill from Filbert Street to Glasgow. Both played for the great Nottingham Forest side under Brian Clough. O’Neill was known to have his ins and outs with the legendary disciplinarian. O’Neill himself is a no-nonsense manager and a stickler for time keeping and respect. The tough love for the game will stand by O’Neill, as he will not have as many resources as Advocaat.
The Celtic challenge has faded in the last several years and it was crying out for a manager now, not a month before kick off, at least that’s in place. It is crucial for Celtic to get back on the road to success; it is crucial for Scottish football. Martin O’Neill may give Dick Advocaat other things to think about.
McAllister not finished
Gary McAllister’s recent signing for Liverpool may turn out to be the Scottish story in the English premier. It cannot go unnoticed that the 35-year-old veteran is on a one-year contract with promise of another year upon a Champion’s League qualification.
The engine is not a problem for the tireless Scot, who played in all of Coventry’s games in the season just out. It has been McAllister’s creativity and goal scoring that has caught the eye of manager Gerard Houllier. Needless to say the lack of experience shown in Liverpool’s run in to the season was crying out for something special and the gifted McAllister has come up with those sort of goods throughout his career.
It would be nice to see such a popular professional join Scottish football in a soccer renaissance.
Mick McCarthy gave Celtic target Alan Mahon of Tramere another call up for the game against Scotland after his substitute debut against Greece. McCarthy reckons Mahon is one for the future. Terry Phelan after a good season with Fulham is in the squad. There are a lot of injuries in the Irish camp but there are now more players than ever available for international games.
€ The Irish U 21 team could only manage one victory against a young Ghana team in Toulon. Going into their last game for a play off the Irish were beaten three nil by Portugal to end a disappointing tournament.
€ Joe Kinnear is expected to give his decision this week regarding his return to football as Sheffield Wednesday’s manager.
€ Real Madrid beat Valencia three nil to win the Champions League. Real’s midfielders, Redondo and Raul, were at it again with their street football, which was too smart for Valencia. Superb control of the ball, ability to go by players and quick one-twos were the highlight of the game and Madrid’s win.
€ Liverpool strikers are battling it out for Euro 2000. England drew 1-1 with Brazil and Michael Owen stole the show with a very skillful goal. It looks like Alan Shearer is the automatic choice for Kevin Keegan. So who will play with Shearer up top? Robbie Fowler is getting notice from Keegan, even though he has only played 156 minutes this season. In fact, Owen has had injury problems too. Emile Heskey is in the hunt for a strikers position and more than likely as a back up. It’s hard to believe that we have not seen more of Kevin Philips and Andy Cole in the English shirt. After all, they and Shearer are the main goal scorers in the premier. England selection in the last several years has come up with players who have most definitely not proven themselves and the question is, does that matter.