IN the coverage of the women’s World Cup in France this month there has, by and large, been a notable absence of patronising remarks in the Scottish media and social media which one might well consider to be a success story all of its own.

It was like nails down a blackboard then to hear the most patronising comments given airtime on the back of the unravelling which took place in Paris on Wednesday evening.

Done a country proud? Please. Getting there was all well and good but the sheer collapse of Shelley Kerr’s team in that game against Argentina will scar and let no-one kid you about that.

The idea Scotland should have walked off the pitch with a sense of patriotic pride intact for what they did in just reaching the finals is a nonsense.

Talk about a referee who seemed as familiar with football as Boris Johnson is to human empathy until you are blue in the face, bemoan the fact VAR does nothing other than give officials the chance to make odd interpretations, and lament the lack of time Scotland were cheated out of at the end, but what it all boils down to is that Scotland were 3-0 up in a World Cup game that would have taken them into the knockout stages of the tournament. And they blew it.

These are not kids. They are not amateurs. The bulk of the squad play full-time professional football. They are at the pinnacle of their careers.

And with that comes a level of scrutiny and a level of expectation. And patting them on the back and telling them they did ever so well to get there in the first place and aren’t the country proud, will do no one any favours as difficult as that might be to hear.

What we have all asked for and wanted in the long haul that it has taken to propel women’s football to the point it is at now, is for the game to be viewed with some parity.

So here is an interesting point; if the men’s team had made it to a World Cup finals and lost two games, performing in sporadic patches in both of them, and allowed a 3-0 lead to twist and slide out of their grasp, what would be going through the mind of the manager who oversaw it?

Take the what-ifs out of it and it is a simple answer. Where to now? You don’t get the chance to come back from that. And there is no hiding place.

If you want the glory and you want to wear the “making a nation proud” t-shirts then you have to be big enough to take the flak when it all goes pear-shaped. As it did in Paris.

One of the great fallacies of sports journalism is the idea that writers revel in dishing out the criticism. That they are detached from the emotion of the game, that they observe churlishly, arms folded, willing some kind of on-field cock-up that shouts out a backpage headline. It could not be further from the truth.

For one, if there is a journalist not fond of a night out and the chance to partake in a small refreshment in another part of the world then they are yet to cross the threshold of a Scottish press box.

But we are also there to be honest – about what we see and what it means.

And the idea that Scotland are above taking any criticism from how things fell apart in that ghastly last 20 minutes is farcical.

Why in the midst of high temperatures and a team who were starting to look out on their feet were there no substitutions until those anxious final minutes when one could sense the way things were going?

Why did it take so long to change things?

Leeanne Crichton made an obvious difference in the middle of the park in that game, taking responsibility for the dirty jobs which then allowed others the chance of more freedom. Why did she not start until the last game?

The lack of time added on at the end stung. It was the type of game where Scotland might well have gone up the park and scored, but it should never have got to that point in the first place.

At one stage, 3-0 up and cruising, they looked capable of scoring every time they got forward, all of which makes the manner of their collapse so galling.

And airing these criticisms does not make you a traitor to the women’s cause. It makes you a realist.


IT will be interesting to see if an opinion can be revised as quickly as an old tweet.

The David Turnbull saga has provided much entertainment this summer and that was before the final twist in the tale that came on Thursday night.

The precocious teenager will need a bit of PR work after the manner in which the messy negotiations were played out.

Turnbull’s talent has not been in any doubt given the season he has just enjoyed but the drama over the last week will mean there is additional pressure on him as he looks to show his commitment to Celtic.

The ghost of the John McGinn tale was clearly at the forefront on both sides of the negotiations but once all the pantomime stuff has been and gone, the reality for Turnbull is that he has it all to prove not just to the support but to Neil Lennon.

Ryan Christie will be back and fighting for a place in an area of the pitch where Celtic are not short of options, even if Olivier Ntcham, as his recent social media activity would suggest, is set for pastures new.

In Turnbull’s favour is the manner in which he went into a struggling Motherwell team and made the difference last term, but maintaining that kind of form if there is not

an immediate regular start can be tough.

Added to that is the fact that the Champions League campaign provides the most antsy period of Celtic’s season so there is little time to bed in gently.