The Benchman: As Bob Hoskins says it’s good to talk

Who is this footballer?
Who is this footballer?

The Benchman thinks football managers failing to speak to local media is a bad sign.

THE WEST HAM SAVIOUR?: For the last season at Upton Park, West Ham have turned to Slaven Bilic to restore the reputation of “The Academy”. He has never managed in England and has impressed co-manager Karen Brady by his knowledge of West Ham and the Premier League. This “knowledge” was gained through a detailed study of DVDs and watching television. Maybe Player Manager experience should be an essential prerequisite for any aspiring managerial candidates.

UMBRELLA FOR McCLAREN:Talk about a PR disaster? The arrival of Steve McClaren at St.James Park was beyond belief. The “preferred media partner” was given an exclusive interview with the bold Steve, while the BBC and the local papers were excluded. Eventually the new manager appeared and when asked if he could give an interview - some three hours later mind you- his answer was “I can’t”. If only he added the word “manage” it would have been the dream headline for those frozen out by the current commissars at the club. As a model of how not to do media relations this takes the biscuit. Watch out as Schteeve attempts his first interview.

A GAME OF TWO HALVES: You needed two halves to get through that game in Dublin last Saturday. Scotland and Ireland were like two Sunday League teams, plenty of huff and puff but little subtlety. Gordon Strachan certainly made a huge improvement for the scond period, and for once, the proverbial Luck of the Irish deserted them. Games in June are maybe not the best indicator of European form.

RUMOURS: Who was seen in Benny Ts? Whose cousin’s mother-in-law’s neighbour saw the player with Peter Houston in Florida? Who is buying a house in Denny? Which website says he’s leaving for an unknown club in Scotland?The rumour mill cranks up as the fixture list is being prepared. Who’s going, who’s staying, who’s being tracked? It’s all too tiring. I’m off to lie down in a darkened room.

ANSWERS: Last week’s picture was from a Falkirk v Rangers game. The players were Bert Slater, Max Murray and John Prentice. Wilson Hoggan was signed from Linlithgow Rose.

TEASER: Who scored the two home goals when Falkirk beat Ajax 2-1 in 2007?

SURELY NOT? Was it really 25 years ago that we trudged off to World Cup Italia 90? It seems as if it was yesterday. Mrs Benchman and I set off from Dumfries and went by car, plane and train to stay in Nice, before travelling to meet unknown supporters in the train station at Genoa. The first person we met was Bill Hume- the dad of Colin. Neither of us knew that the other was going to the match, despite working in the same office! It was a brilliant trip – until the referee blew for the kick-off against Costa Rica.

BENCHMARKS (Republic of Ireland v Scotland)
Match rating: 7
Team rating: 7
Opposition: 7
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli 6
Best Scot: Russell Martin