It’s fair to say there have been some ‘freak’ results of late in Scottish football; just mention St Mirren and Ross County to ESPN Celtic Correspondent Sean Graham, not that I have mentioned it once or thrice eh Sean?
Rangers had their own saintly demise with a 4 – 1 away loss to St Johnstone in the final league game of March; a week after St Mirren had beaten rivals Celtic 4 – 0. Maybe it’s not fair on labeling it as a ‘freak’ result as both Saints teams put on a good display to claim the three points on offer.
Considering the resources (even though these have dwindled in recent years) of the Old Firm this season has seen the rest of the SPL play with more self belief and challenge against Glasgow’s big two with a number of ‘provincial clubs’ claiming Old Firm scalps this season.
Celtic have been beaten by Dundee Utd, Hearts, Hibs, Kilmarnock and St Mirren with Rangers losing to Aberdeen and St Johnstone in the SPL this season. Good on them I say the as the way SPL is currently structured we need more bite from clubs out with Glasgow.
Rangers upped their game following the defeat in Perth with two home wins against Aberdeen (3 – 1 with goals from Steven Davis, Kyle Lafferty and Kenny Miller) and a narrow victory against Hamilton (1 – 0, Maurice Edu goal) to get things back on the title track however last weeks midweek away trip to Tannadice drew a blank in what has an evenly matched game.
Respect due to Peter Houston and his playing staff who have carried on Craig Levien’s groundwork in the City of Discovery; Dundee Utd lie third in the SPL and of course are in the Active Nation Scottish Cup Final.
As much as it would be the ultimate fairy tale story to see Ross County win the Scottish Cup I’d like to see Dundee Utd lift the trophy. They very much deserve silverware this season and that would be a fitting testament to Craig Levien’s good work with Peter Houston carrying it forward (especially impressive as he masterminded an improved run of form after the 7 – 1 defeat to Rangers back in December).
Back to today’s match; Rangers expressed patience in the first 45minutes but came alive in the second half through the usual suspects in Steven Davis, Kenny Miller, Lee McCullough and lets not forget Madjid Bougherra’s forward wing play on both flanks – an abundance of energy and confidence in going forward and sometimes Rangers most progressive player on the park when things are a tad subdued. I’d love to see this lad play in midfield or right wing in one match, I’m sure we’d see some special play and trickery. I fancy him to have a decent World Cup and hopefully nic’ a wee goal for himself (against England? ;) as I think he’ll relish such a big stage.
Especially nice to see Kyle Lafferty show some good touches and impressive attacking runs throughout even though his final pass or inability to keep a hold of the ball can let him down at times but his second half header was an absolute cracker.
It will give the young striker some much needed confidence after being in the spotlight in recent weeks from fellow teammates (Kenny Miller in the match against Dundee Utd gesturing and having a few words with Kyle over his performance) and fans who have become increasingly frustrated with his return since his £3.5mill transfer from Burnley. In his defence though he’s very seldom played through the middle up front and if Kris Boyd leaves the club in the summer Kyle may well get his chance next summer.
In other club news Rangers dominate the nominations for the PFA Scotland Player of the Year Award
with Captain Davie Weir
, Steven Davis and Kris Boyd all shortlisted for the prize. The Ibrox trio are joined by another Ibrox employee in Andy Webster who has spent this season on loan at Dundee United.
All four deserve the accolade in their own right; Davie Weir for his consistency this season as he approaches 40, he could be in with a good shout (Ryan Giggs picked up the 2009 PFA Player of the Year in what many saw as an ode to his Premiership career and longevity), Steven Davis for his role as the creative visionary in the Rangers midfield and well Kris Boyd for his goals galore.
Brilliant to see Andy Webster in with a shout too after suffering badly from injury in the last few years, he’s been a stalwart for Dundee Utd this season and has been made Captain at Tanndice – a great feat for a ‘on loan’ player.
Andy Webster and David Weir both received Player of the Year nominations.
The nominees for the Young Player of the Year are David Goodwillie (Dundee United), Leigh Griffiths (Dundee), Anthony Stokes (Hibernian) and Rangers Danny Wilson who I think is favourite to land the award after his performances in the SPL and Champions league this season although Antony Stokes is also in with a great shout bagging 20 goals this season for Hibs – I’m a tad surprised there has been no reported interest from either Celtic or Rangers for the young striker this season.
The winners will be announced and presented with their awards at a dinner at the Hilton Glasgow on Sunday May 2.
And before I go Walter Smiths (and Craig Brown) comments last week saying that the SPL split is unfair as Rangers have three away games on the bounce after being promised that this would never happen – in the current grand scheme of things does it really matter as my Editor Dom Raynor pointed out this week ‘Surely the league is the bag’ – pretty much one more win or two draws and jobs a good’un for Walter Smiths side but its high time for the SPL to overhaul its structure as the split is quite ridiculous.
I’ve longed for a 16 or 18 team SPL for a while now but will this happen sooner rather than later?
Knowing Scottish football I think we’re in for the long haul over any prospective change but SPL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster has expressed his interest in looking for change but the cynic in me says unless it favours the bigger clubs I don’t think we see any change soon as many factors have to be taken into account; less revenue including paying punters/Old Firm’s away support (twice a season as opposed to the current four matches), match hospitality, sponsorship etc…as ever time will tell.
SPL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster is looking for change .
One thing for sure is that the ''11 to 1'' Club votes majority needed for any potential change needs to be looked at – not very democratic is it?...
Meantime take care folks and enjoy your ‘fitbaw’.
Dated 18th April 2010.
Keep up to date with the Blue Half of Glasgow via ESPN’s Soccernet Rangers Homepage and Club Blog.
Sunday, 25 April 2010
Clydesdale Bank Premier League
Hibernian v Rangers, kick-off 14:30
Saturday, 1 May 2010
Clydesdale Bank Premier League
Dundee Utd v Rangers, kick-off 15:00
Tuesday, 4 May 2010
Clydesdale Bank Premier League
Celtic v Rangers kick-off 19:45
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