Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Kenny Shiels hits out at Scottish football's lack of vision

shiels hits out at lack of vision

Tired system: Kenny Shiels feels that Scottish football is lacking in imagination

Scottish football's attempted modernisation hasn't gone far enough, according to Kenny Shiels.

The former Kilmarnock manager believes that a lack of modern thinking, an outdated style of play is stopping the domestic game from progressing into the 21st century.

A merger between the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League has brought about little more than a change in the names of the respective divisions and as another season without a league meeting between Celtic and Rangers looms and clubs continually slipping into administration, Shiels sees the game in Scotland remaining in a perilous state both on and off the pitch for some time to come.

"Bringing in the play-off system is a good idea, but there needs to be more done," said former Northern Ireland under-17 manager Shiels, who was dismissed by Kilmarnock back in June.

"Scottish football needs more modern training methods and modern thinking.

"A lot of teams are still playing 4-4-2 and thinking it's the way to go, but it's a system that went out with the Ark.

"I haven't played it in five years and I think it can be very negative. People will say 'look at that manger, he's going with two strikers and being brave' but the eight behind them are all defensive players.

"It's a system that is outdated, but I see it used all the time.

"I don't see any imagination, I don't see full-backs joining in the play or any flexibility in midfield.

"They will learn sometime. I have tried to counsel people, but they don't listen because they are set in their ways."

Shiels watched Celtic's Champions League win over Swedish side Elfsborg on Wednesday night, which Neil Lennon's team won 1-0 to put one foot into the final qualifying round.

With Rangers still at least two seasons away from re-joining their Old Firm rivals in the top flight, Shiels believes that the Parkhead club will be focusing mainly on Europe, with nobody else being good enough to challenge them on the domestic front.

"Celtic will win the league because they are so far ahead of everyone else in terms of their budget and their ability to buy and sell players," said Shiels.

"Nobody else has bought a player in years outside of a few players going for £200,000 or so, yet Celtic have gone out this week and spent £3m.

"It's so much of a forgone conclusion that nobody is interested in who will win the league anymore – there is some interest in the placings behind Celtic, but that's as far as it goes.

"It's all about making the Champions League group stages for them and then trying to emulate last season's achievement when they made the knockout stages.

"It will be difficult for them. We'll see how they get on.

"Neil Lennon has done some good transfer business in selling Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama and bringing in the guts of £20m for them.

"I don't know much about the Dutch player they brought in, Derk Boerrigter, but Neil has done some good work getting him in."

And Shiels expects it to be just as straightforward for Rangers as they go about taking another step towards a return to the top flight.

"There's no pressure on Rangers. They have been signing SPL quality players and they will win their league by a big margin," said Shiels.

"It'll be a breeze for them and I suppose because of that it takes away from the excitement and the interest a little bit.

"Ally McCoist has to keep signing SPL quality players so that he doesn't have to completely rebuild his squad when he gets to that stage."

Shiels' exit from Killie came a matter of days after former Northern Ireland captain Steve Lomas left St Johnstone.

He has been replaced by another ex-Northern Ireland star Tommy Wright (pictured) and Shiels is backing the man he once signed for Ballymena United to keep the Perth club moving forward.

"St Johnstone have done very well in Europe and I expect them to have a good season as well," said Shiels.

"I'm not surprised because Tommy Wright did a lot to contribute to the success they had over the last couple of seasons.

"It'll be difficult for them to do as well as before but I think they'll be up there somewhere."

Former Linfield goalkeeper Alan Mannus will again be St Johnstone's first choice between the posts, while at the other end of the pitch Aberdeen's Niall McGinn will be hoping to weigh in with another hefty goal tally after hitting 20 last season.

Ryan McGivern is now a Hibernian player after being on-loan at Easter Road last season while Curtis Allen has joined Inverness, where he will play alongside Billy McKay.

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