Friday, 25 July 2014

Everything you need to know about Andrew Robertson

Born: Glasgow - 11/03/1994 (Age 20)

Andrew Robertson has made huge strides in his career in a short space of time. That’s despite suffering a huge knock back at the age of 15 when he was released by Celtic “for being too small”. A lot of players are released by football clubs between the ages of 15 and 17 and most disappear from the game as a result.

Robertson didn’t. He had huge amounts of determination and he chose a sensible career path opting to join Queens Park. Queens were in Scotland’s bottom division – a footballing graveyard. 

It wasn’t just about choices and determination. Lots of players drop down the leagues after being released and give it their all to get back up again. Indeed, Celtic release a lot of young players, some of whom go on to forge decent careers, but they rarely drop a bollock so spectacularly as with Robertson.

For what Robertson had in abundance was talent. He stood out at every level. Queens were forced to play him in the first team at 18 because he was too good to leave out. Then Dundee United spotted him and knew they had to have him. Queens were desperate to hold on to him arguing that at 19 he’d be better off playing 30-40 games in Scottish League Two  than stagnating at the higher level. It’s a view that isn’t unreasonable given the amount of young players rotting in the background at top clubs these days.

However Robertson had the courage to take on the move to Dundee United and that was no doubt encouraged by manager Jackie McNamara who made it clear from the beginning that he felt Robertson would challenge for a first team place. That proved to be correct and Robertson was near ever-present in the United team that finished fourth in the Premiership.

He owes a lot to Dundee United and particularly to Jackie McNamara – a point he is quick to recognise with his usual good grace. They took a chance on a young player plying his trade at a low level and gave him the opportunity and the support that has led to his meteoric rise. He was Scotland’s Young player of the month in September and three Scotland U21 caps soon followed. Before the season’s end he’d picked up a Player of the month award, the young player of the year honour and two full caps for the Scots against Poland and Nigeria.

Like Hull City, Robertson’s 2013/14 season ended with defeat in the Cup Final. A result he took with the maturity he’s become known for “The disappointment hasn’t gone away yet and I don’t think it will until next season when we’re all together again. The Saturday night of the Cup Final was awful. It was the quietest team bus I’ve ever been on and the quietest changing room I’ve ever been in. It’s tough to reflect on it because no one had any complaints. St Johnstone were the better team.”

In making a £2m+ transfer to Hull City – Robertson would have to step up another level. The Premier League in England is a much brighter stage than the Scottish Premiership.  Even when you are talking about a player who has taken huge leaps in his career in the last two years from the stiffs of a footballing graveyard to one of Scotland’s biggest clubs and onto international football – it is a big ask for a 20 year old to establish himself in one of the world’s most competitive leagues.

Would anyone bet against it?

What they say:

Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara on Robertson’s Scotland call-up: “This is brilliant news for him and for the club. Andy is still a teenager but he has already been through a lot in his career and deserves to be where he is now. It is great credit to him and his family that he has gone from being told by Celtic that they didn’t want him, on to amateur football with Queen’s Park, signed for us and now he is in the Scotland squad.”

Scotland boss Gordon Strachan on Robertson’s Scotland debut: “Andy came on there and the first time he picked it up he drove about 30 yards. I thought: ‘that’s fantastic’. Absolutely no grey area, I’m going to do what I do. I loved seeing that first touch.”

Robertson’s Queens Park manager Gardner Speirs: “Andrew has a great temperament to go along with his ability and that is what allowed him to play well for Queen’s despite being only 18. It was a pleasure to work with him because he has a wonderful attitude.”

Ex-West Ham left back Ray Stewart: “The first time I saw him I said to myself ‘That laddie’s got something’. He missed only one tackle and I was impressed with his overall play. He had a great season with [Dundee] United last season and is a superb prospect.”

SFA Performance Director Mark Wotte: “What a great success story, a great dream and a great role model for a lot of kids who might not be good enough at 14 but bounce back. The development of kids goes in stages. He is a great example of a late developer. Jordan Rhodes only came to our attention at 20. He never played for the under-19s or under-17s.”

Andrew Robertson: “I was let go by Celtic at under-15 level for being too small. That was the reason they gave me anyway. I went to Queen’s Park and people might have thought that was a strange decision to go from Celtic to there. I guess it is a step down. However, Queen’s Park have a great youth set-up and they did make me the player I am today. Luckily, I burst into the first team there and now I am here. Being told that by Celtic did make me all the more determined to succeed in the game.”

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The transformation of Steve Bruce's squad

In two years, Steve Bruce has transformed the Hull City squad from a group who were short of the quality and quantity needed to challenge for the Championship play-offs into a squad planning to take on a second season in the Premier League as well as making a first ever foray into European football.

It's been done in three phases with the spending rising from moderate to ambitious to (relatively) astronomical with every achievement Bruce has made. 

The club only paid only one transfer fee until promotion from the Championship looked distinctly possible though the huge losses the accounts showed were incurred that season suggest that a large commitment was made to wages and signing on fees.

Prior to the first season back in the Premier League, the club took a cautious approach to transfers and the players signed were ridiculously good value.

The signing of Tom Huddlestone showed a ramping up of ambition at the club who have not looked back since committing over £30m on five signings. 

The club has decided to allocate large chunks of their Premier League TV money to new signings and what is surely a doubling of the wage bill since the summer of 2012 when Bruce was appointed.

Aside from prize money and TV revenue the club has poor revenue streams so as long as someone is doing their sums right - gambling it on staying in the Premier League is the only approach possible.


Then: Cracknell, Oxley.
Now: Harper, Jakupovic, McGregor, Oxley.
Been and gone: Amos, Stockdale.
Cost (net): £1.8m.


Then: Bradley, Chester, Cooper, Dawson, Dudgeon, East, Hobbs, McShane, Rosenior, Townsend.
Now: Bruce, Chester, Davies, Dudgeon, Figueroa, McShane, Rosenior, Townsend.
Been and gone: Faye.
Cost (net): £1.75m.


Then: Cairney, Devitt, Emerton, Evans, Koren, McKenna, Olofinjana, Stewart.
Now: Boyd, Brady, Elmohamady, Huddlestone, Ince, Livermore, Meyler, Quinn, Snodgrass.
Been and gone: Fathi, Henderson.
Cost (net): £25.4m (excluding Ince fee still to be agreed).


Then: Cullen, Fryatt, McLean, Simpson.
Now: Aluko, Jelavic, Long, Proschwitz, Sagbo.
Been and gone: Gedo, Graham.
Cost (net): £18.4m.

Tranmere 0 Hull City 3: Short and sweet match report

City progressed in the League Cup on a first visit to Tranmere for 14 years since a Craig Fagan inspired win in League One en route to b...