Thursday, 23 January 2014
Has Kenny Shiels lost it?
BY ANDY RITCHIE
IS Kenny Shiels operating a Community Outreach Scheme at Morton? It certainly seems so.
Cappielow has become a haven for waifs and strays since Shiels took over as manager, but if he seriously thinks he can change certain players’ outlooks and attitudes I reckon he’s sadly mistaken.
If Garry O’Connor wasn’t prepared to run about for £20,000-a-week in Russia, why would he suddenly be willing to bust a gut for a few hundred quid a week at Morton?
O’Connor’s not the only one. Shiels has brought in David Robertson, the former Dundee United and St Johnstone player, Slovakians and a Belgian, Kabba-Modou Cham, who is reportedly on £700-a-week.
It’s like Shiels is saying I’ll change their ways and turn their careers around because they’ve still got a lot to offer. Oh really?
The chairman, Douglas Rae was making noises 18 months ago about the club reverting to its previous part-time status unless the team went on a run and they did that at the time.
A year ago Morton were sitting second top of the league with the chance to go top if they beat Partick Thistle. In the event they drew 2-2 at Cappielow and were unlucky not to win.
Just 12 months after finishing second, Morton is five points adrift at the bottom. Yet, after saying at the start of the season that he was cutting the budget, the chairman must have reopened the purse strings.
The guys they’ve signed haven’t come to Greenock for three bangers and a balloon! So there are a lot of mixed messages coming out of the place.
Morton is effectively on their third team in a calendar year. The side from 12 months ago was broken up, then they created another one in August and that was also broken up and the manager sacked.
Now Shiels is creating his team and they are still struggling, rooted firmly to the bottom of the league in a desperate fight for survival to remain a full-time club.
Usually when a new manager takes over you get a positive response from players, but after Shiels came in the team went something like six games without a win in the SPFL Championship.
Are the rumours true that he lost the dressing room almost straight away – if, indeed, he ever had it in the first place?
I’m told before one game he began his pre-match team talk at two o’clock and was still talking at twenty to three while the players were desperate to do their warm-up.
Apparently when he was interviewed by the local TV station and asked why the new signings hadn’t made an immediate difference he replied “There is a problem with the association of the units.” Sorry, you what?
No much wonder his doctor told him to stop doing media interviews and shouting and bawling during games.
The doctor must obviously have diagnosed that he was suffering from a bad dose of bullshit and advised him to stay quiet for a few weeks!
Frankly, I think Shiels might well have lost the plot. Mind you, I find it strange that a man who was being interviewed for one of the top jobs in the Premiership at Inverness took the Morton job in the first place.
I fear for my old club. Maybe last weekend’s very good win at Livingston was the start of a bright new dawn, but the team needs to go on a run of four, five or six games to give themselves a chance of staying up.
Besides the Livingston result, the only other highlight this season was the League Cup win over Celtic.
I went with my pal Gerry Collins to the Raith Rovers game a couple of weeks ago, which finished goal-less, and the feeling I got from the crowd was one of grim acceptance that relegation is inevitable.
There was a lack of a supportive atmosphere and I thought “Oh, God this doesn’t bode well.” Not that I blame the fans.
Morton is drinking at the last chance saloon as far as Championship survival is concerned.
But I have been invited to be patron of the Morton Supporters’ Trust and I take the position up next month, so I have been watching closely what is happening at Cappielow to ensure I’m in a position to offer constructive thoughts.
Maybe the third team Shiels is putting together in the space of a year will get us out of the mess, but he’ll need to use all his experience, otherwise the spectre of part-time football looms and whatever that might mean in the longer term.
If that happens Morton will also miss out on what is shaping up to be a very exciting league next season with Rangers and Hearts involved.
There has been a quick change over of personnel and it takes a new team of players a while to bed in and respond, time Kenny Shiels may not have to make a significant difference.
I don’t deny I fancied the job as manager after Allan Moore was sacked. But my comments aren’t sour grapes, believe me.
I only want what is best for Morton and what the club needs right now is to show a bit of fighting spirit.