True or False – Our regular feature were 90 minute cynic contemplates recent and upcoming events in the world of football and gather the opinion of the cynics. Our questionnaire extraordinaire is Louis Mccaffrey and the men behind the answers this week are Chris Boud, Iain Dougan and Martin Friel.
Today we focus on Celtic in the Champions League, the race for the title in the Championship, recent acquisitions for Arsenal and Bayern Munich, and last but not least the length of Luis Suárez’s ban. If you would like to submit any questions to True or False or have any comments about the feature as a whole then contact us on twitter or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Celtic failing to win either leg against Legia Warsaw highlights the poor quality of the squad and major investment is needed if they are to stand a chance against Maribor in the Champions League Play off.
Iain Dougan: True – The ‘Great Escape’ at Legia has to be a wakeup call for everyone connected with the club that the existing squad simply aren’t good enough to compete at a level above the Scottish Premiership. It’s always a balancing act for Celtic between maintaining a squad good enough to qualify for the Champions League group stage and cashing in on players who are ready to make the move to ‘bigger’ leagues. For our recruitment strategy to be successful the asset has to be sold at the top of the market however, if this leaves you a squad too weak to unlock the additional £15m of income that Champions League qualification brings then the strategy becomes self-defeating. The Board need to back Deila and trust him enough to rectify some of the recruitment mistakes that have been made over the past couple of years – I would suggest a figure of at least £7m – £10m is required. Maribor are a good side with a higher co-efficient than Legia – I think that any players brought in may be too late and we should be happy with the additional European games that the Europa League will give us.
Martin Friel: True – Wednesday’s crowd completely lost interest in the game as there was little inspiration on the park. The squad as it stands has no leaders. Same problem was evident last season, Aberdeen out fought us twice and the CL campaign was painful. Leaders are not easily acquired, but we shouldn’t stop looking for them. I thought Bryan’s biscuit tin article made an excellent point about not spending money for the sake of it, but I do think there is a case for shelling out big if we find a couple of proven leaders that we can build the team around.
2. i Ronny Deila was the correct appointment for celtic and just needs time to implement his philosophy on the club. ii Fans should get behind the manager regardless of European results this season.
Iain Dougan: i Debatable/ ii True – Whether Deila was the right appointment will be borne out by his results and how well Celtic can adapt to his vision. I was in the ‘safe pair of hands’ camp who wanted Malky Mackay to take over but I respect what Lawell is trying to do by bringing Deila in. What is clear is that Deila is a manager with a ‘project’ in mind – the worst thing that any club can do (fans and board) is not support a manager in this position. Imagine if Liverpool had sacked Rodgers after his first season – there is no way they would have reached the heights that they did last season. I think we all need to get behind him and accept the fact that until he gets a chance to bring in ‘his’ players he is doing the job with one hand tied behind his back.
Martin Friel: True – We should get behind Ronny because we need a change at Parkhead, the team went backwards last season. I do worry that it’s all talk and no action but I’d have that concern with anyone in charge of the club at the moment as it’s a big task. I like Deila and would be well chuffed if Celtic became the kind of club he’s described.
3. Hibernian are real title contenders this season for the Scottish Championship and shouldn’t be overlooked based on last seasons performance.
Iain Dougan: True – The Scottish Championship is shaping up to be a really exciting league – I believe that Hibs have every right to be considered as genuine title contenders. What happened at Hibs last season was inexplicable – taking a manager who seemed to understand how to deliver success in Scotland and seeing it backfire so spectacularly suggests something seriously rotten at the core of the club. There seems to be a real desire from the fans to move forward with their off pitch troubles and I think that this sense of belief will transfer to the pitch. They may struggle with getting goals but at least one of their rivals may be more pre-occupied with how they make their finances stretch to fulfil all of their fixtures – this could create an opportunity for either Hibs or Hearts to come first and guarantee Premiership football next season.
Martin Friel: False – Don’t get sucked in by any signs of promise at Easter Road. They are Scotland’s ultimate underachievers and are always two bad results away from a crisis. As much as I’d like Stubbs to succeed, I really wish he’d gone elsewhere because Hib’s have a horrible nack of torpedo-ing careers.
4. Arsenal have recruited Alexis Sánchez this summer and also welcome back Theo Walcott from injury. This injection of pace and quality will see them become major title challengers.
Iain Dougan: True – Sánchez is absolute class – a player who could add something to almost any team in the world. I thought he looked great at the World Cup and I was gutted that Liverpool couldn’t have him included as part of the Suarez deal. I think a combination of some shrewd activity in the transfer market and the removal of the ‘trophy monkey’ from the club’s shoulders should allow them to approach this season with a freedom that has been missing previously. Provided that they sign another striker to relieve some of the burden on Giroud and get some luck with injuries, I could see them not just being contenders but favourites to lift the trophy in May.
Martin Friel: False – I love Sánchez, but he alone is not going to turn Arsenal around. Walcott is too hot and cold to make an impact for a whole season. I just can’t see Wenger improving his record against the top 4/5 teams in EPL enough to stay the course in a title race.
5. Robert Lewandowski has signed for Bayern Munich but his signing weakens main rivals Dortmund more than it strengths Bayern, as he may not fit into Guardiola’s system.
Iain Dougan: False – Lewandowski’s departure definitely weakens a Dortmund side that is being systematically torn apart piece by piece during each subsequent transfer window. Having said that, Lewandowski is a great striker and professional footballer, therefore should be adaptable enough to play wherever his new manager sees fit. Guardiola has had the best part of a season to work out the best way to use him and I can’t see him making them anything but stronger.
Martin Friel: False – He’s a smart player and I think he can adapt and add value to Bayern’s attack. Guardiola’s main problem with both Barca and Bayern is that he’s not had a plan B. Lewandowski can win matches on his own and offers Bayern a more direct option. I agree that it’s a huge loss for Dortmund and they could struggle in Europe this season.
6. Luis Suárez deserves to have his ban reduced as it was excessive especially in terms of his ban from international football which will not see him playing till next summer.
Iain Dougan: True – I really like Suárez. Really like him. I really like Barcelona. I think the element of the ban that is unfair is the four month footballing activity ban which punishes clubs when the original offence was committed in an international match. I could see the Court of Arbitration for Sport reducing this element of the ban but maintaining the international element – perversely not having their star player having to travel half way across the world would benefit Barcelona even more. I think the fact that Chiellini has accepted Suárez’ apology gives some mitigation for the offence – providing Suárez does seek the help that is definitely required then La Liga will be a more exciting prospect for having him back earlier.
Martin Friel: False – It’s excessive from a football perspective, but in comparison to other sports it’s reasonable, take boxing, rugby and NFL as examples. In my opinion, football is often too lenient on unacceptable behaviour and it harms the sport’s reputation. If it had been Suárez’s first offense I’d have supported an appeal, but his antics bore me so I have no issue with him wallowing for a while. If he played for Celtic I’d be a total hypocrite and say a 5 game ban is ample, but thats the joy of being a football fan.