The search to resolve our defensive problems this season stretch back before the departure of Virgil van Dijk in August. Dedryck Boyata and Efe Ambrose have struggled with form, which our big summer signing, Jozo Simunovic, has endured two lengthy injury lay-offs.
Defensive stats have been revolutionised since the January arrival of Erik Sviatchenk, who was voted the Danish Superliga’s Player of the Year last night. We have achieved six clean-sheets in his nine starts, losing only a solitary goal each game the defence was breached. It took 20 games to record six clean-sheets before the Dane arrived.
We are far from the finished article at the back. The clean-sheets mask perennial failures to defend corner kicks, which have recently resulted good chances, instead of goals conceded. But, progress has been clear. Jozo’s been out of the team since the week before Erik’s arrival.
One of the things we need between now and the end of the season is these two paired up and tested. You win things (and qualify for things) when you stop conceding goals.
I remember the days I’d pour over Oldco Rangers’ accounts for insights into the future and comparisons with our own business model. I’d a cursory look at The Rangers Football Club’s accounts this morning. There is little of comparative relevance for us, or indeed, probably for Newco’s short-term future, should they gain promotion this season.
The one area that offers comparison is the cost of running a football business in a stadium which occasionally caters for crowds of 50,000 or more. With first team wages (I assume this refers to professional players employed) stripped out, expenses during the paired-down Easdale-led season was just north of £17m.
This is a useful guide of what it costs to pay your rates, electricity , insurance and the million other bills when you need to occasionally cater for 50,000-ish crowds, although many costs, like police, will reflect a lower tariff due to the lack of actual footfall. We don’t get as clear a picture of this cost from Celtic, who don’t separate player wages from non-playing staff. My hunch is that Celtic’s paried-down figure will be a few million higher (the silver polish bill alone….).