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Graham Spiers on Calderwood


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Disastrous cup exploits leave Jimmy Calderwood on the brink

Graham Spiers

 

Whenever the day arrives when Jimmy Calderwood is huckled out of Pittodrie it is sure to be an unedifying business — but that day is coming. There is a healthy section of Aberdeen fans who deplore their manager’s competence, and their antipathy towards him is beginning to spread like wildfire. Calderwood, in the 12 months ahead, is going to need a fire brigade to aid his survival.

 

The humiliating loss at home to Dunfermline in the Homecoming Scottish Cup quarter-final replay last week was just the latest disaster to strike Calderwood. There is a tendency in the media to leap to the Aberdeen manager’s defence — and I have been there myself, because JC is such a likeable and chummy bloke — but it doesn’t wash with a cross-section of the Aberdeen fans, and nor should it. They are there week in, week out and are much more qualified to judge the evidence than any of the hot-air merchants of the press.

 

The defeat to Dunfermline is being viewed as a classic Calderwood botch. The manager, for all the progress he has brought to Aberdeen, has come to specialise in disastrous cup exploits: against Queen’s Park, Kilmarnock and Dundee United in the former CIS Cup, and against Queen of the South and now Dunfermline in the Scottish Cup. On each of these five occasions Aberdeen were the favourites yet Calderwood’s teams have somehow contrived to blow up spectacularly.

 

There are various charges levelled against the Aberdeen manager, but to passionate and well-meaning fans, the recurring one is this: team selections, tactics and decisions on the night have had an uncanny habit of being flawed. The Queen of the South fiasco in last season’s Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden just about took the biscuit, but Dunfermline last week ran that event close for its sheer agony for the onlooking Pittodrie faithful.

 

Managers don’t always live or die by what the fans think, though terracing unrest is often a significant factor. In which case, Calderwood is coming under the cosh. Right now his four previous seasons of decent progress in the league — finishing fourth, sixth, third and fourth, a notable improvement on Aberdeen’s previous 10 years — count for little. If Walter Smith was being judged similarly at Rangers, he need only quote the stack of trophies he won in his first Ibrox tour of duty.

 

But that is not how is works. Aberdeen’s fans, while giving Calderwood the benefit of the doubt, have emotional temperatures which are affected only by this current season, and their club manager is going to have to do something extra special in the weeks ahead to earn their compassion and forgiveness.

 

In this context, many Aberdeen fans have had their fill of being told what to think about Calderwood and his team by an almost matronly Scottish sports media, most of whose con artists are based around the west of Scotland. And they have a point.

 

Calderwood’s reign at Aberdeen, now into its fifth season, has been intermittently infuriating, yet no sooner do the north-east fans chime up with their complaints than they are told to pipe down and behave by the blusterers in print or on microphone. Outwith Scotland’s north east, there remains a strange capacity to patronise the Aberdeen fans.

 

In one hilarious incident last season, when one Aberdeen fan was being told to quell his anger on air, he duly responded to his interviewer by saying: “Go on then, tell me this — who do you think were Jimmy’s best buys over the summer?†The spluttering which followed only confirmed that, not only did the host know less about Aberdeen than his caller, but he couldn’t even mention a single Calderwood signing, let alone a poor one.

 

Unless Willie Miller, Aberdeen’s director of football, has gone lily-livered, Calderwood’s job must be on the line. The club’s nervy 0-0 draw at Easter Road against Hibernian on Saturday can almost be viewed as the first in an endless series of battles facing Calderwood to regain the trust of the fans. It may not be all doom and gloom for the manager — Aberdeen may go on a winning spree and overtake Heart of Midlothian to claim third place in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League before the end of the season, though I very much doubt it.

 

Whatever happens, the 2009 Scottish Cup final was there on a plate for Aberdeen, and they blew it yet again. Calderwood seems to have an aversion to cup glory, and the Aberdeen supporters are developing a strong aversion to him because of it.

 

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Not the first time, Spiers is spot on.

 

Always liked what Spiers had to say.  Doesn't pull punches and is quite happy to take shots at the folk who pay his wages.

 

That could easily have been written by a fan of the club.

 

Especially liked this part:

 

Outwith Scotland’s north east, there remains a strange capacity to patronise the Aberdeen fans.

 

Far too easy to say we're asking too much because of former glories when in fact we're just asking for a slice of the pie.

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Its articles like that that actually restore a little faith in football journalists.  Its certainly a far cry to the bile that the likes bill leckie or charlie allen regularily spout.  Anyone used to watch monday night live?  I used to love it, especially when speirs was on with some muppet like gerry mcnee and watch him tear said muppet a new one.

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Its a good article and the sentiment is on the nail. Despite the clarity of view he presents, I think we will be seeing JC delivering more of the same for the next 2 years. I honestly don't think that he will go anywhere inside this contract. I can't see him being in demand and I am certain the board will not be keen to pay out any package to get rid of him only to take the risk of replacing him with a failed experiment.

 

We need to get used to what we have.

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As I'm not there to see the performances other than the odd tv appearance, I've a slightly different view to most on here.  Some might say that means my views don't really count for much but I prefer to think of it as having a bit more perspective.   ;)

 

As I've said on another thread; I doubt JC will be getting his jotters over the odd blip here and there.  Managers of middle of the road clubs just don't get binned after being dumped out a cup by a lower league team whilst they're still in with a shout of Europe.  Especially as we have nobody at the helm of our club with anything that resembles anything like ambition.  You just have to look at the new stadium 'progress' whilst another 2 million Milne homes get the go ahead and are built in the meantime.

 

What I will say is and here's the perspective I'm talking about;  If JC could only learn from his mistakes then I still feel he could still do a job for us.  Problem is, he never seems to and it's the same mistakes each time that it counts that keeps fucking us over.

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What I will say is and here's the perspective I'm talking about;  If JC could only learn from his mistakes then I still feel he could still do a job for us.  Problem is, he never seems to and it's the same mistakes each time that it counts that keeps fucking us over.

Exactly, he has been here 5 years.  Eventually you have to say he's just not going to learn and has to move on. 

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Spiers is spot on again. For being an Arab, he's often spot-on with his views about the Dons. When was the last Spiers article that we didn't agree with?

 

I think deep down there's a number of Aberdeen fans who were desperate for silverware this season because JC mentioned that his job at Aberdeen would not be done until a trophy was in the cabinet. Wish he'd hurry up and finish his job cos (a) we'll hae a trophy and (b) he'll piss off

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Spiers is spot on again. For being an Arab, he's often spot-on with his views about the Dons. When was the last Spiers article that we didn't agree with?

 

I think deep down there's a number of Aberdeen fans who were desperate for silverware this season because JC mentioned that his job at Aberdeen would not be done until a trophy was in the cabinet. Wish he'd hurry up and finish his job cos (a) we'll hae a trophy and (b) he'll piss off

 

??? He has admitted to being a Rangers fan before.

 

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??? He has admitted to being a Rangers fan before.

 

Correct, although the Huns absolutely despise him and are paranoically convinced that he's a 'Trojan Tim'.

 

First sentence, fourth paragraph.

 

Brian Viner: Brave prophet spreads the word against Rangers' bile

 

The Scottish Premier League season begins today and among some of the Rangers fans travelling up to the Highlands for the match against Inverness Caledonian Thistle, the topic of conversation will be a book published two days ago called Paul Le Guen: Enigma – A Chronicle of Trauma and Turmoil at Rangers.

 

I should confess here to an interest: the author, Graham Spiers, is a close friend of mine. I have known Graham – until recently the chief sportswriter of The Herald, now relocated to the sports pages of The Times, and a regular broadcaster on radio and television football programmes north of the border – for more than 25 years.

 

In the early 1980s we were fellow students at the University of St Andrews and struck up a keen friendship despite the regular clatterings I used to give him in Sunday league football games.

 

Graham was raised a Rangers fan; indeed, he and his father, a Baptist minister, used to go to Ibrox as religiously every other Saturday as they went to church every Sunday. In the late autumn of 1984, Graham asked me if I fancied hacking over to Glasgow with him for an exciting midweek match, a Uefa Cup tie against Internazionale. It was my first visit to Ibrox, which had just been redeveloped and I remember being awestruck by the size and majesty of the stadium. By then I had been to most First Division grounds in England, but none, not even Old Trafford or Highbury, held a candle to the cathedral-like home of Rangers. For a lad brought up to believe in the innate superiority of English football over Scottish, for whom Scotland goalkeepers such as Alan Rough and Stewart Kennedy seemed like figures of fun no less than Tommy Cooper and Eric Morecambe, Ibrox was an eye-opener.

 

So, too, however, was the behaviour of a particularly vocal section of fans. The Inter midfield that night was graced by the marvellous Liam Brady, who had committed the sin, as far as the Copland Road faithful were concerned, of being baptised into the wrong brand of Christianity. When Brady went to take a corner in front of them, they subjected him to the kind of hysterical anti-Catholic abuse that in supposedly less enlightened times might have accompanied the public burning of a heretic.

 

When Graham and I drove back to St Andrews the following day, I recall him saying that the pleasure he felt as a result of Rangers' 3-1 victory had been mightily tarnished by the antics of some of his fellow supporters.

 

Neither of us could possibly have predicted on that journey that Graham would one day be in a position to make plain to a much wider audience his feelings about sectarianism at Ibrox. He was a divinity student, and of course a son of the manse, so I suppose I could have guessed he might one day deliver sermons attacking the bigotry of those Rangers fans who chant about wading through rivers of Fenian blood, but not that newspapers, radio and television programmes would be his pulpit.

 

From it, he has delivered an unequivocal message repeatedly and fearlessly for some years, for which his reward has been the respect of the many (including plenty of sensible Rangers fans, as well as, inevitably, numerous Celtic followers) but the blind hatred of the few. He was threatened with extreme physical violence on one of the more loopy unofficial websites run in the name of devotion to Rangers.

 

In fact, around the time last year that the club were investigated and in due course prosecuted by Uefa because of the behaviour of the so-called FTP ("Fuck the Pope") brigade, the threats to Graham's well-being, from thugs of severely limited intelligence who considered him responsible for provoking the interest of Uefa in the first place, reached such a pitch that his editor at The Herald advised him to involve the police.

 

All this helps to explain why, in the first few weeks of this SPL season, there are likely to be people in replica blue shirts standing outside football grounds handing out leaflets advising their fellow supporters not to buy Graham's book. To call it an orchestrated campaign would be to dignify it. After all, the vast majority of Rangers fans will ignore these leaflets, and some might simply look at them and wonder why a book ostensibly about Le Guen, the astute Frenchman whose tenure as Rangers manager last season was such an utter failure, should provoke such ire.

 

They would be right to wonder although, in his story of Le Guen, Graham does not shirk the issue of bigotry. He praises the Rangers' high command for responding in many ways impressively to Uefa's strictures, but laments the fact that, in the 21st century, action was taken only at the point of a bayonet. I could not agree with him more.

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You reckon? He's got a REAL soft spot for the New Firm, to the point that he's the first to defend the Dons and the Arabs when the likes of Gerry McElbow and Hugh Keevins throw shit at us. Dons fans stick out a mile (see Richard Gordon) so I very much doubt he's a Dandy. So surely he's an Arab.

 

Unless he's that very very unusual breed of hun who actually likes other football clubs. Chick Young just pretends to be a non-hun to fit in with the likes of Stuart Cosgrove and Tam Cowan. But Spiers seems to be genuinely non-hunnish

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He's definitely a son of Ibrox, Reekie. However, he's one of a rare breed who can actually be referred to as a "Rangers fan" as opposed to a "Hun".

 

It's pretty hard to support a club like Rangers without legitimising all the nonsense that they stand for, but Speirs' attacks on the hierarchy at Ibrox (not to mention on the froth-mouthed FTP brigade in the stands) show that it is in fact possible to support Rangers without being a total, utter, cunt about it.

 

A rare breed, right enough. The fact that the Huns have disowned him for his exposing of what they are and what they stand for says far, far more about them than it does about Speirs, and means that even as a Rangers fan, he's gone up in my estimation.

 

Graham Speirs: :thumbsup:

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He's definitely a son of Ibrox, Reekie. However, he's one of a rare breed who can actually be referred to as a "Rangers fan" as opposed to a "Hun".

 

It's pretty hard to support a club like Rangers without legitimising all the nonsense that they stand for, but Speirs' attacks on the hierarchy at Ibrox (not to mention on the froth-mouthed FTP brigade in the stands) show that it is in fact possible to support Rangers without being a total, utter, cunt about it.

 

A rare breed, right enough. The fact that the Huns have disowned him for his exposing of what they are and what they stand for says far, far more about them than it does about Speirs, and means that even as a Rangers fan, he's gone up in my estimation.

 

Graham Speirs: :thumbsup:

 

Yep i completely agree with all you say there chuck.  I've met a few rangers fans in my life that have been decent, unbigotted, friendly and kind.  Each time i have asked them why they support bloody rangers and its always been a family thing. They've been brought up to be huns and once they started to comprehend what was going on they were in to deep to start supporting someone else.

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