BBC BLOGS - Jim Spence
« Previous | Main | Next »

Athens shambles may play in Dundee United's favour

Post categories:

Jim Spence | 09:56 UK time, Thursday, 26 August 2010

Temperatures are not the only thing soaring in Athens.

The Dundee United chairman's temper is also at boiling point.

Stephen Thompson has so far resisted the temptation to have a blast at AEK Athens and Uefa over the shambles surrounding United's 106th European appearance.

However, regardless of tonight's result he seems set to fill the airwaves and newspaper columns in the coming days as he seethes with anger over the situation United have found themselves in.

Tonight's match at the Karaiskaki stadium, home of AEK's bitter rivals Olympiakos, will kick off at 9pm Greek time in sweltering heat.

The venue was only confirmed late yesterday afternoon after AEK had failed to find another ground. Their own home at the Olympic stadium having been ruled out because of pitch problems, and their preferred option, the Nea Smyrni stadium being vandalised.

olympicunited595.jpgWith no AEK fans allowed into the match because of safety concerns, United will be backed by a travelling support of 600 who were partying into the early hours in the Greek capital, unaware of arrangements to bus them from a central point in Athens, with a police escort, to the stadium tonight.

But the heat is the least of United's problems.

They trail AEK 1-0 from the first leg, in which they were well beaten by a side who are athletic, quick and inventive.

United boss Peter Houston will look for an improved performance from his defence which conceded four goals against Inverness Caley Thistle last Sunday.

Houston knows that United squandered possession too often in the first leg.

"We will have to pass the ball well rather than be chasing it all the time", he told the press at last night's media conference.

Danny Swanson seems set to return to find a place on the bench, giving United an option of a quick intelligent player who can get past defenders.

On a bizarre night in Athens which will be devoid of any passionate Greek fans, that is a bonus for a United side who will have their work cut out to overturn AEK's lead from Tannadice.


  • Comment number 1.

    Why does Stephen Thompson have to wait until after the game to vent his anger? What good will that do? If he has a reasonable gripe, and I believe he does, should he not be getting stuck into UEFA before the game. It will all be swept under the carpet once the team from the small association are knocked out (if indeed that happens - hopefully it doesn't)

  • Comment number 2.

    Best of luck to Utd - they will need it and hope they make it but I have my doubts.

    The 'shambles' will make little difference to the better quality of AEK. Utd seem to have forgotten that winning the SC counts for nothing when the new season starts and they have had a slow start in the league. ICT are a better side than many will give them credit for but taking 4 off Utd?!

  • Comment number 3.

    Just like to echo Rob04's thoughts and wish Utd all the best.

    Luck, floukes, doubtful penalties. I'll take anything.

    Every Utd supporter should sit 2 seats appart. Spread themselves out.

    Desperate measures but the Utd defense would worry me if I was in Houstie's shoes. Go to have a solid defense for Europe. At least they kept a clean sheet at Tannadice.

  • Comment number 4.

    All the best to United and hopefully all my fellow Arabs out there enjoy themselves and don't come to any harm.

    With regards to Bigphil ST cannot say anything while out in Greece, I believe that DUFC have been sworn to secrecy to the goings on in the meetings. Rumours are that if the details came out while United and or United fans are in Greece then they could be in danger. Maybe Jim can comment on this as much as he is able to, if he's not sunbathing or having a few local beverages with the fans!! ;)

  • Comment number 5.

    Not sure I follow Tannadeechee (showing your age there!). What could possibly have been agreed at these meetings other than "you are now playing at Olympiakos with away fans only". The United fans are being escorted to and from the stadium - what dangers are you referring to? What does Jim know that we don't I wonder?

  • Comment number 6.

    My team played AEK last year and beat them comprehensively and maybe should have turned about ten goals in against them. Utd should use opportunities like this to blood youngsters and give them some real big game experience.

    It will not benefit this club in anyway to exhaust first team members in trying to progress in a competition that will only bring humiliation at some stage, if not tonight.

    Look to the future, youth must be the key for any Scottish side to ever have a chance again at the very top level.

    The production of top class Scottish footballers is now sadly virtually non existent. This after a period throughout the 50's to 90's of generating some really world class players. Dalglish, Souness, McGrain, McStay, Collins, Duncan Ferguson, Gough, Gemmill.

  • Comment number 7.


  • Comment number 8.

    Gary McALLISTER, aLLY Mccoist, Frankie MCilvenny. Brian Chockie McClair, Champagne Charlie Nicholls, Billy Bremner, Alan Hanson, Andy Gray, Graheme Sharp

  • Comment number 9.

    Gordon Jukebok Durie, There's only 2 Andy Gorams

  • Comment number 10.

    "The production of top class Scottish footballers is now sadly virtually non existent. This after a period throughout the 50's to 90's of generating some really world class players. Dalglish, Souness, McGrain, McStay, Collins, Duncan Ferguson, Gough, Gemmill."

    If Duncan Ferguson is a top class player then Scotland really does have problems, not that i would dare tell him that.

  • Comment number 11.

    To add to my last comment, i think its a shame that Scottish Football seems to be going backwards. I'm an englishman who follows the PL and Championship but used to enjoy the odd SPL game and still support Scottish teams in the CL and Euro Cup.

    However i remember when a trip to Celtic Park or Ibrox used to be daunting for the top european teams including the likes of Man Utd, Arsenal, Barcelona etc.

    The reality now is that a group stage game for say my Arsenal in Scotland would be a walk in the park as the standard of players has not improved, if anything its got worse. For example Henrik Larsson was a top, top player who could score against anyone, hence why he went to Barcelona and Man Utd. Can't think of any players in Scotland at the minute who could cause a top four english team that much trouble on a wednesday night in the CL.

  • Comment number 12.


    Even the Old Firm struggle to compete financially now with average European sides but especially those in the Big 5 Countries: simply can't compete with the TV revenues available many EU countries (even places like Denmark with just a slightly bigger population). So not even the OF can attract the bigger players to need for the CL.

    But you are spot on about the development of youth by even the OF and what has happened to the production line. After what seemed a derath after the likes of Collins and McStay Scottish players are however starting to emerge again, more in the Championship which is a good league and very competitive. But really looking at the World Cup (including our failure to qualify for it), the British game and the traditional British type of player is a failed model. And Scotland (the SFA!) have only recently started to do something about it.. though possibly it could be a case of watch this space...and nothing will happen!!

  • Comment number 13.

    Average teams in Europe !!! ..... get real the best of the Scottish Pub League are ranked 53rd and 31st respectively Celtic and Rangers based upon performances how poor is that !

    You keep on describing other European teams as poor and average ... yet these teams consistently beat your teams .. no wonder your leaegue is ranked 13th best in Europe

    The Championship is a higher standard the the Scottish Pub League make it League 1 St Johnstone, St Mirren and Inverness CT would struggle at this level

  • Comment number 14.

    Another humiliation for scottish football, tomslaford is right we are a joke. Celtic lose to some nameless dutch side. I hate being scottish now!
    I do not like tomslaford, he is all over 606 goading scottish people in he seems rude and cruel as a individual, i am sure he is proud of that. He likes to stick the knife in when people are suffering, I have never been like that, even to England, but atleast I respect his patriotism for his country, that is one part of him I can relate too.
    I wish I had been born in a patriotic innovative country, that tried out new ideas and was innovative like we USED to be.
    I grew up seeing Scotland as the most innovative patriotic country on the planet now we are the EXACT OPPOSITE.
    1. Celtic fans who support ireland
    2. Rangers fans who support england
    3. The rest of the fans don't even seem to care, about Scotland at all, and seem more interested in hating the old firm, as if that means anything.
    5. Worse still, Scottish football is in hoc to oafish elements in the support. The support of mindless people who shout at every single SFA chairman or president ______ is a ******, regardless of who he is. Just mindless oafs who hate innovation and don't really care how well we do.
    Atleast the english fans care about how well their clubs do. I relate to that more than our clubs fans.
    I don't even relate to scotland as a country anymore it is so lacking in innovation so unpatriotic.

    I have put forward ideas that are done in GERMANY and SPAIN.
    I have put forward my ideas about putting forward reserve teams in the lower leagues, as they do in GERMANY and SPAIN, the most successful countries in European football, so our young players get guaranteed experience, and how our major clubs should organize something like a new version of the anglo - scottish cup except with other countries so they can play more times against big sides from other leagues, so they can guarantee European matches regardless, and these ideas get ignored over ideas that Scottish football can't affect like asking the government for 100s of millions of pounds.

    I relate more to Tomslaford as he cares about his club sides. Although I do not like him as a person over his attitude, the way he sticks the knife into people when they are suffering.

  • Comment number 15.

    Tomslaford is an awful awful guy he is on every 606 board after every scottish defeat stabbing the knife in, the guy is a rude bully.
    I respect his patriotim but as a man he is cruel and vindictive not nice. I am sure he is deeply proud of that. People like that always are. .

  • Comment number 16.

    Look listen please someone in the SFA try out these 2 simple basic ideas, please someone respond to my idea.
    Put SPL reserve teams in the lower leagues or to play against third division sides in a new cup competion so our young players are guarnateed experiecne against real teams.
    Games such as Queens Park V Celtic reserves, Aberdeen Reserves V Elgin City would be perfect preperation for young players who fail to get in the first team. With decent crowds against real teams. IT IS WHAT THEY DO IN SPAIN AND GERMANY. Where every spanish side has a reserve side playing real propeer teams ion the Spanish pyramid system. Bareclona B even play in the second divsion. All I suggest is a cup trophy. SO it ensures players get real experience.

    Then the second idea start a trophy with another country such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, anywhere where all our top teams can play a group stage tournament against teams from their country so they get more regular experience against good teams from another country.
    We used to have the anglo scottish cup Lets have a danish scottish cup or a dutch scottish cup. Anything to ensure we can get match practive against foreign teams. See all yearif our team are any good.
    Make the league 16 teams, 30 games a season ( as it was until the late 50s) have the top 4 or 6 sides play another country like teams from Denmark, or the Netherlands,) in some group stage tournament to get to play good teams from other countries.
    To make up for the lakc of games in the league for teams not in the multi nation trophy. Have a group stage of the league cup for teams that did not play in this trophy to make up the numbers for their games. Teams that qualified for europe go to the knockout stages of the league cup.

    Please SFA make scotland innovative and creative.

    I bet all that will happen is some awful 2 year report which ends up with the pointless request foirm the scottish government for millions of pounds to fund training facilities..

  • Comment number 17.

    I am giving an official final ultimatum to scotland, the SFA and all scottish football fans to do my ideas on sticking SPL reserve sides in trophy with lower division sides and trying to create a new mini tournament with another country.

    Or I will no longer support Scotland.
    I will support Germany or Italy or Spain instead and some club sides from their countries.

    I just can't stand this. It is not the defeats it is the lack effort to try new ideas and the fact Scotland is not the country I imagined it to be it is worse than even England. I cannot relate to it anymore.
    My heart will not take anymore of this drivel. I will be dead before my time supporting such tripe.

  • Comment number 18.

    Scottish football has stagnated in a big way. The talent has nearly always been there, the SFA have just failed to move with the times. The Scottish Premier league is a joke as it's only been contested by two clubs since its inception, only Hearts in 2005/2006 looked like they may even come close to breaking that mould with their Lithuanian squad.

    The only way I can see things moving forward is to find some kind of merger between England and Scotland.

    How the teams would be integrated would have to be decided

  • Comment number 19.


    The SFA are like the EFA and we are in the same trouble when it comes to youth development. Too little investment in coaches compared to other European countries like Spain.

    A Euro league format would be better for the OF. They would have access to more money in England but the training culture would still be British and that is not a good model for developing young players.

    As I said above this space..nothing will happen!

  • Comment number 20.


    You make a great point. We could promote the need for coaches and get more numbers in, but the problem is the Level 1 and 2 courses themselves.

    I doubt they compare anything close to Spanish introductory coaching badges, and I wonder how much their route to the UEFA Pro licensing differs from our national model.

    The Level 1 and 2 awards are English FA initiatives. A lot of the design for stuff like this is attributed to people like Howard Wilkinson.

    Yes apparently he is the expert, a man who last won a trophy nearly 20 years ago with a side that included such technical wonders as Chris Fairclough, Lee Chapman and David Batty. In fact I cannot remember any youth player, with possibly the exception of Gary Speed who developed during his time there.

    Nicknamed Sgt. Wilko due to his coaching style of barking orders at players as they did continuous laps of fields. A great training model

  • Comment number 21.


    I think HW was also the guy who sold Cantona to ManU. Someone will correct me if this was not so!

    I think HW did a report for the EFA which was ignored and buried until after the WC when concern rose again about the numbers of youths coming through down South. All the 'home nations' are facing the same problem in this regard. And I did see some figures recently, that showed that whil Spain had something in the region of 750 licensed coaches (many working in schools and communities promoting 'the pass' and not the 'kick and rush'), England could only count around 200. Scotland would be much lower than that! You don't see any of the emerging nations in world football adopting a British model and approach and it doesn't take a genius to work out why.

    Can't comment on the quality of the SFA coaching levels. But it does seem ironic that people like Jose Mourinho came here and did their coaching badges and then go away and apply themselves elsewhere with great success, and the SFA still cannot find answers to changing a style of play that takes us nowhere. The Dutch have been producing good young boys since the early 70's and here we are 40 years later still trying to solve the puzzle when little of it is rocket science.

  • Comment number 22.

    The Scots have been giving it out for years .... i.e. 1974 / 1978 .... this time its your turn as your rubbish teams are spiralling down the plughole.

    If you give it out ( like you always do ) you have to take it

    Even I am suprised how far you have gone down the rankings .... but it is based on rankings not prejudice like the jocks have !!!!

    I balme the Scottish Pub League and SFL they should work together before it is to late ..... apologises it aleady IS !!

  • Comment number 23.

    "Stephen Thompson has so far resisted the temptation to have a blast at AEK Athens and Uefa over the shambles surrounding United's 106th European appearance."

    That's it?

    Sorry, I haven't been on the story every day (I live abroad) but I don't know what "shambles" you're talking about, apart from a few hints elsewhere in the text.

    This seems to be the prime tenet of the article, so maybe a brief reminder for more distant followers would be in order.

    Scottish football though, in general. Yes. Oh dear.

    Little by little, the lower-population nations are finding their common level. Irish (Rep.) club football is amateur Sunday league (waaay below the SPL - but likely where the SPL is heading!), and internationally, they run the risk of becoming similarly obscure.

    Not good for football as a whole, that.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.