MANY football pundits and others have commented recently on the state of Scottish football and in particular the poor performances of our SPL teams in Europe. While most would agree that Postecoglou has done an impressive job in turning around Celtic’s fortunes and van Bronckhorst has also been impressive in guiding Rangers to a Europa League final, both men have expressed concerns at the demands of persistently playing competitive matches twice per week, as has Neilson of Hearts.

Clearly the physical and mental demands of the modern game are tough, especially when regularly travelling to stadia scattered across Europe, but although our teams are often playing against teams with much greater financial resources, all of our teams have demonstrated that they can compete well when they have their best players, fit and in-form, to select from.

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Regrettably, this is not always the case and this is where the top European clubs have a considerable advantage when some of their supposed “back-up players” have individually commanded transfer fees in excess of the cost of the entire squads of Scottish teams.

Most realists would agree that the sales of Bassey and Aribo were logical and represented good business for Rangers given the club’s still fragile finances, but the catalogue of injuries to players in these key positions has not only caused Rangers to struggle but has increased the demands on other players in the squad. Goldson, Helander, Souttar, Lawrence, Haji and Lowry are all currently not available to van Bronckhorst for selection, while versatile midfield players Jack and Kamara have struggled with injuries and other injured players such as Morelos and Roofe have still not returned to their best.

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Is it any surprise in the circumstances that while all our teams have at times played great football, at other times they have fallen short of expectations and looked jaded or not “up-to-speed” with the game.

Although he was criticised at the time for saying so, an objective perspective on Scottish football would probably agree with van Bronckhorst that critics of our teams should be realistic and consider their relative resources before judging overall performance levels. Perhaps before passing judgement on the managers of our teams relative to our high ambitions, we all need to take a reality check?

Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian

GEORGE Kerevan calls for transparency on the various options in the currency debate in a referendum campaign (Entering the debate on currency without transparency is courting disaster, Oct 31). He recognises the politically practical policy of the SNP government on currency, but he also wants an open dialogue with the people of Scotland on this major subject. I suggest that this approach should apply to all aspects of the independence debate.

Our simple object is to gain sovereignty for Scotland. At that moment when sovereignty is achieved, Scotland’s political leaders suddenly face the real, international world and enter practical political and economic negotiations with Westminster, the US President and the European Union leaders.

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In very different circumstance from Scotland today, Ireland faced that first sovereign moment 100 years ago, when Michael Collins met with Lloyd George’s British Empire. Collins had to accept partition, British Naval bases, a common currency, dominion status, an oath of loyalty to the British Crown and a common travel area. The key gain for Collins was that Ireland was now sovereign. He defended his 1922 Treaty as “achieving the freedom to achieve freedom”. The naval bases went in 1938, the Republic came in 1949, the economic revolution began around 1960 and – after a full century – partition itself is changing.

Negotiating Scotland’s sovereignty with global leaders will not be done via SNP policy committees. George Kerevan’s call for open, mature dialogue should cover not just currency but also defence, Trident, EU membership, North Sea oil wealth and other matters. The interests of our former partner, England, will also have to be fairly considered, as well as the feelings of the 40%, or so who had voted against independence. But we will have achieved Michael Collins’s “freedom to achieve freedom”.

Councillor Tom Johnston

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GEORGE Kerevan has written an interesting article that sets out, again, a variety of pros and cons. At this stage it is all hypothetical and risks continuing the argument that some would prefer settled in advance. The key point he and many others including myself have observed is that until we know what the international financial situation is at the time, we cannot say in advance exactly what we would or would not do. All we can do is set out the range of options that will become available to us. Working out plans for each different scenario is a good exercise, but that is as far as we can or should go at present. The most important thing now is to focus on achieving independence, as until that happens it is all hot air.

Nick Cole
Meigle, Perthshire