THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

17 March ~ It was reported this morning that Alex Ferguson is still undecided about whether to appeal against his five-match touchline ban, stating: "It is disappointing. [Football] is the only industry where you can't tell the truth." But the Man Utd manager's combative attitude is nothing new – in August 1986 "Mad Mac" ranked Scottish bosses according to misery levels and concluded that, even then, Ferguson (at Aberdeen) was the "world's worst loser".

1. Dundee Utd – Jim Maclean
Has come out top in a fiercely contested battle with Alex Ferguson. A grotesque and morose figure who openly prides himself in being completely devoid of a sense of humour. Refused to smile even after his team had won the Premier League in 1983 – a clenched fist was the best he could muster. Regularly sent from the dugout by long suffering referees. His finest and most publicised hour, however, came after United had just thrashed Motherwell 6-1 in a Scottish Cup tie. Maclean fined the entire team for not producing enough entertainment for the fans!

2. Aberdeen – Alex Ferguson
The world's worst loser – he'll be livid at finishing second behind Maclean. Talents as a miserable bastard of international standards gained recognition from the SFA and he justified his selection with a truly glum performance against Uruguay, despite severe provocation. Had previously seemed to be softening, after hitting a peak when interviewed following the 1983 Scottish Cup final in which Aberdeen had beaten Rangers 1-0 (days after having won the European Cup-Winners Cup). Asked about his team's endeavours on the day he replied "disgusting". Could be more bitter than ever after the ordeal of Neza – watch this space.

3. Celtic – Davie Hay
A man who has economy in speech down to a fine art. And what is there to say about the Celtic defence? (OK, I know the won the Championship but I'm not convinced that Butragueno, Laudrup etc won't rip holes through it in the European Cup.) That slow Glasgow drawl and ubiquitous raincoat do not exactly make our Davie one of the game's more colourful characters, and he too can stick the boot in when he feels like it. Ask Frank McGarvey. On Cup final Saturday 1985, Celtic's hero, after scoring the winning goal. Come Monday, Frank is told by Davie to bugger off after trying to renew his contract. Mean! A few days later Frank was transferred to St Mirren.

4. Hibernian – John Blackley
Spent a lot of time perfecting the techniques of being sent from the dugout, but has recently hit a lean patch. Hibs continuing to lose home games to teams like Dumbarton and Clydebank will ensure that Blackley will have plenty of opportunities to improve his position in the coming seasons. He is also showing excellent promise at that ancient managerial play, ie being at loggerheads with the fans' favourite players. Willie Irvine, Ralph Callachan and Mickey Weir are some recent examples.

5. Rangers – Jock Wallace RIP
What! A dour sod like Wallace only fifth in the league you say? Well, it's a sign of the times. In the last two seasons they were so bad that Wallace was forced to go against his nature and had to speak optimistically of the future in tones verging on the desperately hopeful. Became quite accomplished at it and never really succeeded in reviving the dear glorious days of the mid-Seventies, when training stints on the sands of Gullane became legendary, along with such gems as "Ma Boys", "Passion for the Rangers", "Fight", "Commitment" etc.

6. Dundee – Archie Knox
Prodigy of Jim Maclean and Alex Ferguson, so he's got a hell of a lot to live up to! The only Scotsman ever to have said "Fuck Off" three times live on Swedish television courtesy of their coverage of the 1983 Cup-Winners Cup final. Has tried this on Scottish referees, who seem remarkably tolerant of his foul-mouthed utterings – thus severely impeding his progress up the misery league. Obviously Scotland were taking no chances by appointing him as Ferguson's deputy in Mexico.

7. St Mirren – Alex Miller   
Ah, St Mirren, so near yet so far, story of their history recently. Alex Miller is another with excellent pedigree – brought up at Ibrox – and yet fails to live up to the potential that his side's erratic performances warrant. I mean, knocked out of the UEFA Cup by Hammarby! WHO? St Mirren do deserve better. The legacy of the great Jim Clunie, sacked by the board a few years ago for "persistent and excessive use of industrial language" remains a triumph unsurpassed by his successors.

8. Motherwell – Tommy Maclean
Brother of Jim and a bit of a black sheep in the Maclean family. Actually, it's not that Tom is a genial sort of bloke – just that he suffers from a chronic lack of media exposure in his present post. I suppose being the youngest member of the family doesn't help either, spoilt little brat syndrome etc etc. Suggest that brother Jim gets to grips with him over the close season.

9. Hearts – Alex Macdonald/Sandy Jardine
Well, I must admit I did hae ma doots as to whether this lowly position was justified. Both are yet another set of of descendants from the Wallace stable at Ibrox after all, and I'm sure their language is fairly select in the dressing-room. But Sandy seems such a decent bloke – he'd make a good father-in-law. Alex, meanwhile, has done a lot to keep odious chairman Wallace Mercer in the background (where all chairmen should be) through his recent achievements. They also deserve a sympathy vote as well, I suppose.

10. Clydebank – Sam Henderson
Well, where else could Clydebank be but bottom of the bile? Sam stays cheerful through it all, but then if your defence had an average age of 53, while your home support is on a par with Albion Rovers, wouldn't you be caught in fits of hysterical laughter too? Enlargement of the Premier League and no relegation this last season is unlikely to have much impact on the Bankies, or Sam, so I think we should send for the men in white coats right now.

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