Even Ray Charles would see through Strachan’s claims he left a “top team” at Paradise

October 28, 2009

Since Gordon Strachan got the Middlesborough job, there have been a few quotes by him in the press about his time up at Parkhead. Most of them have made me smile, such as his claim he could be “Prime Minister after managing Celtic”. I can certainly understand the comparison, as it’s fair to see we’re a demanding bunch.

Generally, I was supportive of Strachan during his management. I liked his spiky interviews, and I would happily acknowledge he brought us success in his 4 years. Anybody who denies this is certainly misguided.

However, his latest claim that he left a side full of quality is laughable, to say the least. Strachan’s side lost the title to the poorest Rangers team in living memory, and the one true piece of quality in Strachan’s squad left at the same time he did.

I think even the few Celtic fans who didn’t rate Nakamura during his time with us will now hold up their hands and acknowledge what he contributed. We certainly lack his creativity this season, and as much as Shaun Maloney is trying to fill the void, we are struggling out wide.

So why do I disagree with ‘wee Gordon’? Well, if you’d seen us play I wouldn’t need to answer that, but I appreciate that neutrals may read this too, so here goes.

Defensively, we’re shambolic. We really struggle at centre half, and I’m yet to be convinced by any of the three central defenders we have in the squad. At right back, we’re pretty strong, with Hinkel being one of our best players this year. We also have good cover, with youngster Paul Caddis and Mark Wilson both reasonable alternatives. However, Strachan’s left back is woeful. Lee Naylor had one good season, but since then he’s been shocking. It is worth noting that his position was highlighted almost instantaneously by Mowbray, who brought in Danny Fox.

In the centre of midfield, there is a whole load of effort yet not too much quality. My own personal favourite player at the club is Barry Robson, but that is for his desire and tenacity. He does have some quality, but he needs a real footballer to play alongside him. Next we have Scott Brown, who is an enigma. I think we can all see he does have ability, yet he is so frustrating as time and again he won’t deliver. Next, there is Spanish youngster Marc Crosas, a player who is full of promise, perhaps the best passer of the ball at the club, and yet still unproven, even at SPL level.

Strachan also left Massimo Donati, a player who cost nearly £3 million, whom I’ll refuse to comment on in a family-friendly blog. And much like Nakamura, Paul Hartley’s contract expired at the time Strachan left, and so he was also allowed to leave.

Out wide, we have great potential. McGeady, Maloney, McGinn and the mercurial McCourt all have bags of ability. However, none of these players have the same quality as Nakamura. Indeed, McGeady and Nakamura had a great understanding, regularly switching wings, and in my opinion this understanding made McGeady a better player. As a result, none of our creative players are what I would call ‘in their prime’, and all are players for the future. Koki Mizuno can also be added to this list, another decent player, but one we are still undecided on.

Up front, we have real problems. Scott McDonald is our obvious starter, a striker who can score goals if he is given the service. However, Strachan made his biggest mistake in his time at Celtic by not signing a strike partner for him. Instead, we have the world’s most frustrating player, Georgios Samaras, an unproven Chris Killen and two youngsters (Hutchinson and Sheridan).

‘Skippy’s’ favourite strike partner was allowed to leave after a miserable campaign, but even he was a proven Dutch international. As a result, and this is a controversial opinion I know, our squad has deteriorated since he left.

The ONLY area of the team where Strachan truly did leave us with quality was in goal.

As a result, Mowbray has a massive job on his hands overhauling our squad. Too many average players who lack real quality. What I’d give for another Lubo in this current bunch! I agree entirely with him questioning players ability in public in order to force a reaction. However, I bet he can’t wait for the transfer window to open again.

If I was him, I’d start by calling Strachan and his newly-acquired Middlesborough chequebook.

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