IMO Maloney was over rated and I could not believe how a 'headless chicken' like him managed to win the player of the year award last year.
Hartley and numerous others imo were far more deserving. OK Celtic won the league, but overall no one stood out for them last season, as it was a real team effort. Certainly in the games I saw, maloney didnt stand out, though he scored some spectacular goals. He also missed a chunk at the start of the season.
Think Strachans way was paved by ONeill - MON certainly catapulted the Celtic name back up the rungs of the football ladder in europe in status if not actual achievement. This has obv given strachans team a better co-efficient to play with and is a genuine help.
MON only knows how to play the old Forrest way, with a bit of route one to start it all off. He wont use more than 14 or 15 players in a season - less if he can keep them inj free.
Strachan also has mad notions in terms of team selection (I mean Jarosik playing just off the front man with his back to goal - I know he's 6' 4" but he cant play that way) and the squad rotation is prob generating competition for places, but its not building up a winning team and going into a game v milan in a couple of weeks - looks like they will be thumped without some cohesion and continuity.
Although Hearts, Hibs and Rangers have been so inconsisten that they are being labelled as 'poor' this season I think the top 4 or 5 in the SPL would do ok in the epl - certainly a couple would be involved in relegation dogfight, but I honestl doubt they would not be competitive and be guaranteed to go down. Certainly with epl finances they would be able to stay up imo.
Rangers exploits in Europe show that they are not as bad a side as people think.
Celtic have benefitted by the others inconsistencies and the 100 miles an hour frenzy that is usually an spl game is mostly far more honest as it is exciting than the epl version.
Only Arsenal on a weekly basis and a few fleeting glimpses of marvellous skill from liverpool, man u, chelsea and spurs spring to mind to rivel the entertainment factor - even if the quality may be deemed inferior on the spl teams.
Strachan was way off in his first season in terms of tactics, and is obv learning -his def formations v man u worked overall. Maybe he is lucky, but is being lucky too often if that is the case - so I have to think he is learning and getting better and maybe I'll even say he's actually doing a good job right now.
Next season shoul dbe interesting with Walter smith back at rangers, but Hearts are again the huge threat if they can stop shooting themselves in the foot.
Celtic have recently aquired the Hibs coach , who was responsible for most of that fantastic young skilled talent that were at easter road.
Aberdeen and a few others have fantastic youth programmes too and I am surprised that not more scots make it in England.
Most dont even make it out of scotland. A lot of 'cheap' eircom leage players are being snapped up by scots clubs which makes it even more interesting for Irish viewers.
Interested to hear LDA's assessment.
If the SPL had more money , it would be an even better league, but maybe to the detriment of the 'home grown' talent which I think right now is really coming to the fore.
Certainly at Celtic.