I’ve said for a while that I’m a fan of the idea to have colt sides in the lower leagues.
And I don’t mean just Rangers and Celtic – I’d like other top-flight clubs to look at having B teams in the SPFL.
I’m coming at it from a player development point of view and I think the move, led by Rangers as part of a league reconstruction proposal, would eventually help the national team.
Right now we have the SPFL Reserve League – but it’s a development division where youngsters are playing against guys they’ve faced countless times over the years in the youth ranks.
It’s a million miles away from football on a Saturday against experienced pros
As a 17-year-old, I was sent on loan by Dundee to Downfield Juniors and it was the best thing I could’ve done at that point in time. I was a naive young lad and it improved me massively in so many ways
There are more demands on players and there’s something at stake. We would sometimes play for a £10 win bonus and that gave us a wee bit of an incentive.
U-21 football is fine but there’s no competitive edge.
I played against guys who were kicking me off the ball and elbowing me throughout the game. I was being taught to be ready for anything on the pitch.
If a youngster comes up against an experienced junior player, or someone who’s played in the Lowland League for a bit, they’ll learn from it hugely.
You become more streetwise. The academy teams are packed with players who have technical ability but it’s about going to the next level.
I coached the kids at Dundee United for a wee while and we played against Man United and Chelsea’s younger teams and beat them which was brilliant.
But in Scotland, football always seems to get away from the lads at 18 or 19. I genuinely think it’s to do with a lack of real game time.
It’s important to remember that having B teams works for countries like Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.
We’re not exactly a leading football nation in the world that has a lot to lose.
More often than not though, we’re too scared to be bold and take a chance. If something doesn’t work, we just beat ourselves up and constantly say: “We should never have done that.”
This is the time to be positive and embrace change. I think this one could really benefit our game.
I read the comments made by Stephen O’Donnell on the BBC about his current situation after leaving Kilmarnock, where he’d rejected a new deal.
The Scotland full-back said some of his options were on hold for the moment as clubs assess their budgets in the wake of the shutdown.
I feel for guys like Stephen because that kind of uncertainty is tough. I was a big one for stability and not just in football.
I like to know what I’m doing and hate the thought of jumping around different jobs.
Maybe that’s why I didn’t leave Dundee when I was younger when I had opportunities to leave.
Paul Paton said recently that his old Dundee United team-mate Stuart Armstrong, who was doing a law degree during his time at Tannadice, should be a role model for young players and he’s right.
I regret not having my eye on another career earlier on. You can have college courses and advice from various people but the most important thing is that players buy into it.
Adapting to life in another job can be hard.
But I say to a lot of people, I started at Dundee after leaving school and straight away I was in at the deep end – cleaning boots, washing and drying kits, cleaning the stands and the home and away dressing rooms.
This wasn’t just doing it for the sake of it. You had to do it properly or you’d be doing it again. That was drummed into you.
We need to get back to that. Doing these jobs put me in a decent position for working in the real world further down the line.
The live action has stopped because of the shutdown but there’s been plenty of football nostalgia on TV since the games were brought to a halt and it’s nice to see.
At home recently, I gave the garage a tidy and found copies of a couple of matches I’d played for Scotland – Israel and the Netherlands at home. Two victories thankfully and not the away leg against the Dutch when we got thumped!
Me and my lad, who’s 16, sat and watched the games and it was great to look back.
He enjoyed it and tried to slaughter me anytime I made a mistake. He was quite young when I played and didn’t get the benefit of watching me properly.
I mentioned to him that was 23 when I played in that match and nowadays you’d be earning a fortune turning out for the national team. I was just happy doing what I was doing back then.
Patrick Kluivert and Ruud van Nistelrooy were quality and they also had Edgar Davids and Clarence Seedorf.
I go up for a corner and who’s picking me up? Jaap Stam.
They were a ridiculously good team.
For United, it’s fantastic and you need to have the fans onside at a time like this. It’s also really positive that the support now has a say in some of the most important projects going on at Tannadice.