Callum McGregor, football stats and professional arrogance


Callum McGregor burst onto the scene on his Celtic debut with the only goal in a Champions League qualifier in Iceland.  More goals followed before that campaign against Legia Warsaw and Maribor, but his early promise as a right-winger faded.

It was Ronnie Deila who introduced him to the first team but he did not flourish into the MVP he now is until the arrival of Brendan Rodgers.  Callum was an invincible treble winner but Scotland manager, Gordon Strachan, declined to give him a cap.

Strachan resigned in October 2017 and caretaker Malky Mackay used a friendly game against Netherlands the following month to give international debuts to Callum and Ryan Christie.  Just over a year later, he is set to captain his country for the first time.

By any measure, Gordon Strachan is a successful manager, better, for sure, than Malky Mackay, but for a year Gordon resisted what seemed obvious to the rest of Scottish football, including Malky – Callum McGregor was one of the finest Scottish footballers around.

There is a professional arrogance in most businesses (certainly in mine).  It goes something like “I do this for a living so know what I’m talking about, you’ve never done this, so don’t.”  Try speaking to ANYONE involved in the football business and you will hear a version of this, politely delivered or otherwise.

For the most part in football, this professional arrogance is well founded.  Those who have not played the game in decades, or at any significant level, or even worked in the administration of the game, have insufficient knowledge about any task to tell someone who has massively achieved at every level as player and manager for 40 years where they are going wrong.

But still, you, me and Malky MacKay knew what Gordon Strachan didn’t.  The problem with football is that there is no clear way to measure player performances across clubs, tactics, leagues and managerial instructions.

The game’s latest arms race is in interpreting the stats now gathered on practically every top tier match in the world.  As Callum McGregor has shown, there is a long way to go before objectivity tops subjective ‘wisdom’.

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  1. sean thornton on 21st March 2019 3:05 pm



    So, in fact, you haven’t moved on and you haven’t accepted the result.

  2. Shinnie is sh#te…from 10 mins of watching…goodbye EBT…oh what can it mean from a…dinosaur of a coach…

  3. Kazaks happy to rest on 2-0 knowing we’re gonna be left exposed at the back as we push for a goal…C’mon Scotland

  4. Is this the new Scottish rugby and football sports tactic. Let other team get miles ahead in the first half so the second half fightback loks good?

  5. Hand ball in the box from an anonymous Scot…not given…as Kazak just miss making it 3…

  6. traditionalist88 on

    Anyone got odds on Scotland being the only co-host not to qualify for Euro 2020?!




  7. Seeing as nobody cares…about Scotland…am away to watch Free Solo…be better for my nerves ;-))

  8. TheLurkinTim on 21st March 2019 3:32 pm


    Seeing as nobody cares…about Scotland…am away to watch Free Solo…be better for my nerves ;-))








    I believe Whisky Galore is on the BBC.




    That might cheer you up a bit.

  9. I would always support Scotland, even went to world cup in Italy. But when EBT was appointed boss then that was a direct kick in the teeth to all supporters of non-ibrox clubs. I wouldn’t cheer other teams but could not give a toss if they get beat. Just no injuries please to our Bhoys And KT should retire from International football to save his career.

  10. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Andy Robertson disproves the old adage that there’s nothing worse than a visit to the dentist……

  11. Unionists wantin’ oot, Separatists wantin’ in……….it’s like that comedy ‘Soap’.



    Confused? You will be!

  12. Beatbhoy…noo that is funny ;-))



    Ernie…noo yer just being spiteful…said the frog to the scorpion ;-))




  13. Wonder how ebt mcleish will explain this?



    Wonder how the smsm will absolve him and blame it on the players with an unsubtle hint at Celtic players?



    As a Scot I refuse to support a team run by an ebt recipient who ran away from the national job at the drop of an English hat.



    I wish that none of our players were playing.

  14. I wonder if Eck’ s post match interview will divert attention away from how shambolic the defending has been?



    Trailer: if only we’d had McGregor available.


    Q: Alan?


    A: naw, Callum. Oh, aye and wee Jamesy Forrest tae.