The Football Critic: Martin Canning v St Johnstone (04.04.15)

April 9, 2015

Martin Canning

33-years old

Centre back/beleaguered boss

v St Johnstone


Let’s say I went to a gig and two-thirds of the way through the show the guitarist decided to put down his guitar, get his tadger out and start pissing on the amp. And let’s say that he continued pissing until the amp blew up, and there were no reserve amps available and the gig had to stop. In such an instance I would be in my element. We’ve all been to music gigs which we’re reminded about it years down the line and we go ‘oh yeah, that was pretty good’, because there’s a huge gap between something which is pleasurable and something extraordinary. And someone pissing on a guitar amp would certainly be extraordinary.

Now imagine someone metaphorically pissing on their own managerial career, which is what Martin Canning did against St Johnstone on Saturday.

I really want to give Canning a five-star review. Only for the reason I’ll always remember the moment he decided he didn’t fancy this managerial lark and felt the best way to get himself out of a bad situation was to try and remove Michael O’Halloran’s legs.

This came in the 57th minute. At this point Hamilton were a goal to the good and dangerously flirting with winning Canning his first match in charge at the 12th attempt. Over the preceding three months the centre back has witnessed his team conspire in all manner of ways to throw away three points, but if awards are to be handed out for sheer idiocy at the end of this barren run then Canning has surely earned himself the top prize.

Afterwards, Hamilton claimed the tackle was nothing more than late. Which is basically the same as ScotRail saying the train taking me to the match was ‘nothing more than’ late, when it cost me to miss my connection at Motherwell and forced me into a taxi where the driver smelled like stale cigarettes. Sticking with the vehicle analogies, O’Halloran must have thought he’d been hit by one when he went spinning into the air. It made everyone in the ground wince and certainly piqued my interest at the end of a dull opening hour. Alas, I have to give him a poor review. This series of articles is all about critiquing player performance, and there’s nothing good about removing yourself from proceedings and leaving your side a man down.

It’s hard to review the rest of his performance. After all, it’s completely incidental. If I were you I’d stop reading now.

For those of you who’ve stayed, I’d say he was on course for a solid three star performance.

Canning is viewed as a rough-em-up, stereotypical gruff centre back. Someone who meant to try out for the local rugby team as a boy before his dad got lost in the car on the way. However, I didn’t like how much he took this image to heart, often barrelling out of defence to contest a high ball when, in actual fact, it was better to let Brian Graham have the ball with his back to goal 40 yards out. A couple of times he rushed into battle and left the rest of his defence exposed when he didn’t win the header. One of these times O’Halloran should have done better than to take a heavy touch around the goalkeeper.

Other than that flaw he was solid. While I didn’t get his desperation at times, he did win the majority of his headers and made at least five crucial clearances of St Johnstone crosses into the penalty area.

There was shaky moment when he and Mikey Devlin appeared on different wavelengths as they took it in turns to tentatively step up in hope of playing the Saints attack offside; only succeeding in allowing their opponents to streak in behind before somehow managing to survive a goalmouth scramble. The rest of the time he did seem to have a handle of things, once directing Stephen Hendrie during a St Johnstone attack to the danger lurking behind him, which the young full-back responded to and made a strong challenge.

But, again, who cares!? Here was a manager in such desperate need of a victory that he inserted himself into the starting XI. Then he gets himself sent off while his side are winning. Just to add a little icing on this massive fuck-up of a cake was that St Johnstone’s equaliser came from a cross Canning would have been better placed to deal with than the less commanding Jesus Garcia Tena.

Of that I am certain

Yours gratefully

The Football Critic


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  1. joe elder - April 9, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    Probably the poorest description of a player, a bad tackle, and a match as I have read.
    The train analogy was the low point.
    What you know about football you could write on an ants arse, based on this nonsense.