Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Anyone But Murray

A drained, emotional and disheartened Andy Murray gave a speech which has went someway towards endearing himself into the British public's hearts for the first time. A man often depicted as dour and his personality being non-existent, it was a welcome breach of his usual stony demeanour. Ever since the infamous 'Anyone But England' debate he sparked in the lead up to the 2006 World Cup, something clearly said in jest has lingered around him in the media leaving a distinctly anti-Murray feeling among those south of the border. The continued shouts of 'C'mon Tim' which gain a hearty chuckle from the Wimbledon faithful gives no respect to British number 1 who is regularly seen as Scottish until he is on the edge of victory. Hopefully the emotions witnessed pouring from Murray after Sunday's final will translate and allow a full backing in the future rather than an underlying desire to see him lose.

33 Grand Slams. 440 weeks at world #1. 155 titles.

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have combined to make up the aforementioned statistics making it little wonder that Murray has failed to take his maiden Slam. These three men have taken tennis to a level which is unprecedented. With the advances in fitness and technology over the past couple of decades the standard of tennis is at an all time high. While the magic produced by the old guard was something to behold, this generations top 3 have excelled past this giving performances which seem impossible to the average strawberries and cream eater in the stand. Arriving into a generation which has produced three of the best players ever to grace the tramlines, it's clear that alongside Sampras, Becker, Borg and a few others these sportsmen will be put forward in the highest esteem, Murray is performing admirably to be the best of the rest as it were. Therefore the issue of Murray lacking 'bottle' is hugely misconceived.

While failing to gain a set in his three previous Grand Slam finals is hardly stellar reading, it's clear he was facing the cream of the tennis playing crop. Three final defeats to Roger Federer is something which Murray can reflect on in later life as an inevitability of playing at the top level in this current age. The Swiss artist continually paints a masterpiece on the tennis court while Murray at this time is still painting by numbers. The wizardry of Federer, the power of Nadal and the athleticism of Djokovic gives Murray an unerring prospect when plotting his way to the title. He has won numerous titles on the ATP Tour, 22 of them, showing that he has no problem winning trophies against the top players. The argument of an 0 and 4 record in Grand Slams can be put forward but it is clear that this was down to the superiority of his opponents rather than poor performance on Murray's part. Apart from the 2008 loss where he was really in uncharted territory and appeared overawed, Murray has not disgraced himself on the biggest stage. The glorious nature of his peers ability is something to be applauded rather than a stick to beat the young Scotsman with. The sooner the media and the public realise this then the quicker Murray will be able to play stress free, giving him a greater chance of success in the top level tournaments.

With Ivan Lendl now staring poker-faced at him from the coaches box, he now has someone who has been there in the situation Murray currently finds himself in. Lendl himself lost his first 4 grand Slam finals before finally achieving success at the French Open. Knowing his coach has been in the trenches as such will be a huge spur to Murray's attitude moving forward. Technique and fitness are all well and good but temperament may be the most important attribute of all to a sportsmen. Lendl's experience will be invaluable to Murray as he has been in the same spot, therefore isn't speculating what it feels like but has real input to give. Having this in his camp could be the extra 5% he needs to convert his next attempt.

While I don't claim to be a tennis expert, far from it in fact, it seems clear to me that Murray is possibly the best defensive player in tennis today. His uncanny ability to make his opponent hit one more shot gives him those few extra points per match that has propelled him to his number 4 ranking. Decisiveness could be the key to going that one step further. Waiting for his opponent to make a mistake rather than taking the initiative is something which lets him down against the elite and once he gains the confidence to go for his shots a little more it can give him the edge he needs to sustain his challenge for more than a couple of sets. Overall Murray has the skills in place to win, the confidence to implement them repeatedly is what he needs to actually come through.

A certain Irish brewery says 'Good things come to those who wait', well it seems Murray's pint is approaching the brim and it won't be long until the sweet taste of success embraces him.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Death of a Giant- A Fan's Viewpoint

The 12th of June 2012 was the date HMRC stuck the final nail in the coffin of Glasgow Rangers.

Now I won't hide that my footballing allegiances are firmly towards the Ibrox side, but unlike the majority of my fellow supporters I have no complaints over the situation we are in. Bottom line this is our fault. We overspent and withheld our tax for a number of years in order to fund a push for European success. Now that it is coming back to haunt us we have no valid basis to argue that we should stay in the SPL.

While I do believe that it has not been handled well by the powers that be i.e. trying to bring in new rules which directly effect the situation at hand was a disaster waiting to happen. It completely undermined their authority and neutrality in which to govern over the situation. The discussions over the new rules should have been delayed until after the outcome of Rangers woes. It may be a rule change that is needed but the timing left the SPL in a lose-lose position.

By trying to introduce these measures it just gave a platform for the 'experts' to see bias withing the organisation. I put the word experts in quotation marks as all the hotlines and forums around Scotland are filled with people discussing something they know little about. The intricacies of administration and newco's are hard enough to assess for the professionals never mind your average punter down the pub. It's frustrating to hear fans berating those trying to buy the club over the speed of making bids or sending out the Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA). By all means debate why we are in this position, why it has been allowed to get this far but the financial documents are not simple to produce in a short space of time. In essence the SPL were caught between a rock and many hard places and they were never going to be seen to be acting fairly by both sides meaning controversy was always going to ensue. What's clear is Rangers have had to take what is coming and should be trying to hold onto what slight dignity we have left.

I move onto the role Rangers have had to play in their own downfall. It pains me to see the state the club currently is in, and there are a variety of people responsible. Firstly Sir David Murray has to take his share of the blame for the current state of the club. "For every five pounds Celtic spend, we will spend ten". If he could take those ten words back then i'm sure he would. The Dick Advocaat era at Ibrox has given Murray a lot to answer for. While the fans would love to see that spending taking place in every transfer window, a businessman of Murray's stature must surely have seen that spending outwith your means will not end well. Signing Tore Andre Flo for £12 million, £4.5 million for Arthur Numan among a 36 million pound spending spree in his first season was the supposed dawning of a new era. All that it has achieved it pushing the club to the brink of extinction. The level of idiotic spending is personified with the realisation Bert Konterman was being paid £18,000 per week. It baffles me how a man with a net worth of over £100 million could fail to see the flaws of operating at this level. Surely he had to seperate the fan from the businessman and realise a few years of success is not worth the decimation of our great club. All was not rosy in David Murray's garden but his European ambitions meant things would continue to spiral out of control.

Craig Whyte is the next man to feel the frustrations of the Ibrox faithful. A man who came into the club stating his pride at being a 'lifelong supporter', his actions since taking over have certainly not been befitting of  being in the Rangers family. Mercilessly draining the financial assets of the club has resulted in this rapid decline into the forced formation of a new company. Funding his takeover using the fan's season ticket money was a fundamental attempt at deceiving everyone involved, an attempt at which he succeeded, and a blatant misuse of funds which he had gained. A fact that enrages me further is that since his takeover Whyte refused to pay tax, meaning our bill went up and up. While i know we were struggling to make ends meet, surely aggravating our main creditor by refusing to pay what we owe is not a smart business move. It is my belief that Whyte's denial to act in the proper interests of the club and only himself has made this situation even worse. The BBC documentary 'The men who sold the jersey's" just added to my, and everyone else connected with Rangers, anger at the way this man has went about his business. The Employee Benefit Trusts are neither here nor there as the use of these is not illegal, and it would not have surprised me had the tax case regarding these been won by Rangers. However the dismissal of club legend John Greig along with most of the previous board should have been a clear indication all was not well. This entire situation has been a disaster from day one and the SFA's 'stringent' checks applied to new owners must be tightened up as to stop something like this happening again.

Overall we as a club will just have to accept our fate and try to move on with dignity. Division 3 looms but this may be a punishment we just have to take and rebuild. Livingston and Gretna have been forced to start again due to financial misdemeanors and in reality we should be no different. Despite the size and tradition of our club, we have broken the rules, lived without our capabilities and the consequences have to be suffered. I'm sure we can advance through the leagues sufficiently within a few years if we retain a base of players and the club will continue to have its fan base whatever division we are in. I wish it hadn't got to this stage, and this wasn't our only outcome, but it is no longer in our control. We must band together, take our punishment and support our team wherever we end up.

As the club motto states, we will always be 'Ready'.