27 February 2013

Simply not good enough

by Billy Ferguson | CRO Contributor (and the original one, at that)

So we're 20 points clear at the top of the Scottish Third Division. On the face of things and in reality we have ran away with the league. We'll be crowned champions and, also in reality, even before a ball was kicked the outcome of the league was a foregone conclusion. You're kidding yourself if you thought otherwise.

The above points, while true, sugar coat a reality that some fans either do not want to face or are just happy to ignore.

While we will win the league it won't exactly be a season to look back on and say "Well, that was great." It has been anything but. Mediocre performances have been a feature more than the displays of good.

Given the level of opposition we find ourselves playing against, given the strength of our squad compared to the competition, should we accept that? Should we be happy that, statistically, we have yet to beat the worst team in all of Scottish league football on their home turf?

As I have said countless times, and this rings true for any top team in any league around the world, we have no divine right to win any game. We have no right to expect to just turn up and win games at a canter. We, the paying fans, accept and know this. Sadly, it seems the players do not.

Going through the motions, complacency and, at times, a real lack of desire and lack of motivation have appeared among the team during games. Forget the horror show in Dundee and look at our games in the Third Division. Too many times this season you often wonder which team is the one with the significantly higher wage budget with better players.

Ten of that Stirling Albion squad that we drew with tonight worked today. They then went to play against a team with full-time players that have one of the best training facilities around. I don't know where Stirling Albion train, but it's certainly not a £14 million training complex. Yet you wouldn't know the difference. We created very little and defended very little either.

And this isn't a knee-jerk reaction. This just wasn't an isolated incident of having that ever uttered phrase of 'an off-day at the office.’ Bad performances will happen and slip ups in the shape of draws and defeats will happen; I can accept that. What I struggle to accept, however, is when these off-days keep on happening.

We could have implemented a footballing philosophy that would set the tone for years to come. Rather than do that, though, we appear to be going backwards and are showing zero signs of improving on the park. We could have done this and still won the league handily.

How is it possible for talented and experienced players to appear to have regressed so much as footballers over a short period of time? When the likes of Templeton, Shiels, Sandaza and Ian Black were all signed we were all happy at their arrival. Now most seem happy to drive them as far away from Ibrox as possible. Fair enough if that's your opinion, but it doesn't address the question of why they have regressed as footballers.

Excuses are wearing thin. Part-time footballers like the ones we are playing against every week, for the most part are matching us and in some cases bettering us.

Should we accept that?

This isn't the start of the season any more where it can be said the team is still adjusting, the team is still gelling together and so on.

Ally McCoist is working under difficult conditions, the transfer embargo being one, but if you're telling me that the squad is not good enough to play better, defend better or just down-right look a tad more interested than they currently do, then I simply cannot agree with that.

We'll win the league. We'll win it comfortably. But we won't be judged on simply just winning it, we'll be judged on the how. And the 'how,' despite how many points ahead we are, despite how many goals we have scored, is not impressive at all.