I WON league championships, Scottish Cups and league cups during my career, but I have also been involved in the dirty downside of football – the annual scrap against relegation.
In fact, I almost took three teams down within one year. In season 1993-94, three clubs were relegated as the SPL went from 12 teams down to 10 and I played for two of them. Dundee were definitely going down so they sold me to St Johnstone, and although we beat Motherwell on the last day, we were relegated by a single goal.
Within six months I had moved to Aberdeen and was back in a relegation battle. We looked sure to be relegated for the first time in the club's history until we went on a seven-game run where we didn't look like losing. I remember we beat Dundee United and Hearts – there must have been about four or five thousand Aberdeen fans at Tynecastle that day – then beat Dunfermline in a play-off.
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That Aberdeen side showed we could handle the pressure, but I am not so sure that this Hibs team have the same kind of mentality as they look over their shoulders and see Dunfermline just four points behind them. The backing of the Hibs supporters could make a difference – they had a great following at East End Park for the 3-2 win a couple of months back – but newly-appointed Dunfermline manager Jim Jefferies will not be giving up the chase to stay in the top flight, despite the 3-0 defeat yesterday to Dundee United. I am a betting man and a month ago I'd have said Hibs were certainties to stay up. They do probably have enough still to get out of it, but it might be by the skin of their teeth. Too much has gone on at that club for years. You can't keep blaming managers such as John Hughes, Colin Calderwood, even Billy Brown, and now Pat Fenlon. At some point the players have to say the buck stops with us.
I don't know the fine detail of the latest allegations of internal strife, but the stories coming out of the Easter Road camp aren't great. I have worked with Leigh Griffiths and he is a talented boy, but at times I am sure Leigh will admit his temperament isn't right. Then you have the situation with Martin Scott who has been made available for loan. I can't see how things like that help the situation. There are a lot of good lads there, but they need all hands on the pump and good professionalism at a time like this.
Fenlon has tried to change things and it has worked to a small degree, but I just think they have gone back down the old route. I said at the start of the season they would struggle and that is the way it has turned out. By contrast, you know exactly what you will get from Dunfermline. Much as I disagree with what they did in getting rid of Jim McIntyre, experience can be vital in these situations and Jim Jefferies has plenty of that.
It is strange to think that the relegation issue pits Jim against his long-time assistant Billy Brown, but football throws up funny things like that all the time.
I met Jim on holiday a few years ago and had a few rounds of golf with him. I have a lot of time for him and spoke to him a lot when I was in the job at Dundee. He will know that Dunfermline just need to keep hanging in there ahead of the meeting between the two teams after the split, and he will be well aware of the importance of not letting them get six points clear and having a bit of wiggle room. That might give Hibs the leverage to start playing a bit of football.
Dunfermline have a good bunch of boys who train well and get on well together, but whether they are good enough to stay up I don't know. There are some really good players there like Mark Kerr and Jordan McMillan, so that is why Hibs have to be careful. Hibs have a bit more quality, but they haven't got the right types and the right personalities for me and that is what has dragged them into it. Pressure in football can do incredible things. And Dunfermline are at least going to ask the question.
AM I the only one who is fed up with the Harry Redknapp sit-uation? I just wish they would announce that he is going to leave Spurs at the end of the season, because everybody knows he is going to be in charge of England for Euro 2012. Maybe they think it will impact upon the end of Spurs' season, but I wish they would just get on with it because I don't think the current uncertainty it is doing anyone any good.