Date: 11th November 2008 at 8:33pm
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I should probably try to get out more?.. but when I can bear to look at the SPL table these days, my eye is usually drawn to the ‘goals for’ column – and the big gulf between the top Old Firm team (sometimes both teams actually) and the rest is usually quite startling.

Currently, for example, with 12 matches played, Celtic and Rangers have scored 31 and 30 goals respectively. The next best (Dundee Utd) has a meagre 17. If these rates are maintained over the full 38 matches, the Old Firm teams will end up with close to 100 goals, while the 3rd place team will struggle to hit 60.

Season 2005/06 was memorable for us Hearts fans – but a look at the “goals for” column shows that it was also a good year for Hibs and Kilmarnock too, since they also scored more than 60 SPL goals. The winners – Celtic – scored an impressive 93 goals. Yet the following season saw winners Celtic score only 65 goals, and all other teams had similarly low tallies.

Last season saw a wide gulf re-appear between the Old Firm (84 each) and the rest – with no other team getting close to 60 goals. As I mentioned above, the current season looks like following this pattern.

The stark contrasts in this one statistic is at the heart of the problem that blights the SPL as a truly competitive league, in my opinion. Sure – we`d expect the Old Firm teams to have the best players (including goalscorers) simply because they are by far the wealthiest. And we`d also expect teams like Hearts to NOT score many goals against the Old Firm. However what is the excuse for nearly all of the other non-OF teams having such a poor scoring record in the other 30+ matches they play ? Why are there hardly ever any wins 4-goal wins these days ?

Maybe it’s a trick of the memory, but I`m sure there used to be loads of 5-0 wins in Scotland each season (or 5-0 defeats in our case !!) – now there seem to be only one or two such wins in the SPL each season. Is it simply that most teams employ “safety first” tactics now? Are defences so well organised that even Hamilton, St Mirren, Gretna etc often manage to keep opponents down to 1 or 2 goals ? Or is there a real dearth of good goalscorers in Scotland – with the guys who do look good being snapped up by the Old Firm to warm their subs bench (Riordan, Killen, Gow, Naismith etc) ?

Whatever the reasons, I fear that until specialised intensive “striker” coaching is directed at young players from the age of 15 upwards at all senior clubs, then the non-OF teams will continue to be miles away from the two big Glasgow teams in terms of scoring performance.

All SPL clubs have a specialised goalkeeper coach, but do any have a specialised striker coach? I`m not aware of any.

So, how about it, Hearts …… our greatest ever goal machine is currently unemployed. Even if he is a stone or five overweight, we could do a lot worse than get Robbo in to spend time passing on advice and concentrated coaching to our goal-starved forwards.

For information, these are the ‘goals for’ figures for the last three seasons:

Season 2005/06

1. Celtic 93

2. Hearts 71

3. Rangers 67

4. Hibs 61

5. Kilmarnock 63

Season 2006/07

1. Celtic 65

2. Rangers 61

3. Aberdeen 55

4. Hearts 47

5. Kilmarnock 47

Season 2007/08

1. Celtic 84

2. Rangers 84

3. Motherwell 50

4. Aberdeen 50

5. Dundee Utd 53

8. Hearts 47


4 Replies to “SPL – Why The Goal Drought?”

  • I think specialised coaching must be the way to go – Queen of the South currently top of the 1st Division, perhaps courtesy of Billy Dodds. Yes the squad has to train together on tactics and for unity etc (or “togetherness” as we like to call it) but those in specialised areas should surely receive specific training. Robbo as striking coach, Pressley (?!) as defensive coach.

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