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Good News For Rangers (In Case You Missed It)

4 Nov

Rangers International Post Accounts and the spin from the usual outlets miss the actual news. Let no body say everything is perfect at Ibrox but the concentration on selecting figures shows at least why some Commentators are unfit to pass judgement on Finances.  The Headline Figures of £6.7 Million net losses look on the surface as terrible news for Rangers.

Sadly the devil is in the detail though and there is good news for Rangers Fans. News that unless you dig into the conditions of the Accounts then like so many in the Press you miss.

Season Ticket and Non Ticket Revenue went up 55% given that the now ended Retail Contract with Sports Direct deprived Rangers of around £3 million per year (Previous to Sports Direct Retail Deal the Retail Arm earned Net Profit of £3.2 million) and to end the contract cost in the region of £3 million then suddenly you have a £6 Million hole the red column that won’t be repeated. Think of the fans Retail Boycott, Customers who would are renowned for purchasing anything Rangers turned the Megastore and Online shop into a Ghost town.  The key dates are the Boycott was lifted a couple of months before the June 2017 report.

Remember the renegotiation of the Retail Deal was met with such enthusiasm from the Fans that Puma could not supply replica strips to meet demand. The lack of supply of Replica Strips was again only the headline as the rush to buy from Rangers Retail Outlets was akin to the Californian Gold Rush in 1880s.  This accounts for only part of the 55% increase in revenue.

Ibrox has been maintained to the highest standards again following a period of years that the infrastructure was neglected.   Even if this accounts for approximately £1 million then suddenly we find an operating loss of some £7 Million.

 

The operating Costs or if you like Buying Players on the books as £8million sees some 15 million pounds swinging from Red to Black. The Term “Soft Loans” hides the fact that these Loans are require less Service Charges than Hard Loans from Financial Institutions So whatever you consider of the Directors Bail Out to ensure their investment continues to trade then you need to think That given their intimate knowledge of accounts and their obvious wealth (gained through Business acumen) that they appreciate the need for and the continued Business strength.  Almost uniquely Ibrox Stadium makes money seven days a week twenty four hours a day.  Willie Waddell designed Ibrox to be an Office Retail Park that contains a Football Stadium and the assets of Rangers International are still under used the Car Park is available for hire 90% of the time and the Shadow of Edminson House still lies Empty behind the Coploan Road.  The plans for the former Rangers Pools Office will no doubt earn Income for the Board even if it’s a further Million Pound annually it’s still more than currently generated.

The real Headline surely is that a Corner looks like it’s been turned in G51, The Retail Deal alone will wipe out the current operating loss.  The further expansion of the other income streams and the reduced maintenance costs of Infrastructure will only improve the financial standing of Rangers International.  Take away the hidden costs of Legal teams fighting Sports Direct.  The main Fix seems to of happened in the Deals made by people who really have to be questioned on the Motives for Committing Rangers FC to Deals that did not benefit the Ibrox coffers.

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The McInnes Merry-Go-Round. 

30 Oct

As everyman and his dog seems to have an opinion then maybe I should put the collar on and join in.  Derek McInnes is not only the Main Candidate for Rangers Manager he is the only Man for the Job.

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The Pedro Caixinha experiment has failed Rangers need a sure steady and as close to sure-fire Stalwart as possible and Derek McInnes is the prime candidate.

It is by no coincidence that in Old Firm terms the only Managers remembered as a success have been from three Countries; Scotland, Northern Ireland and The Netherlands.  From Struth to Stein, Waddell to McNeil, O’Neil, Lennon and the two Dutch Lads Advocaat and Jansen.  Paul Le Guen, John Barnes, Tony Mowbray and now Pedro Caixinha all confined in the forgotten failure files.  Managing the Old Firm is not just another Football Job it involves a quick understanding of the Pressures of winning.  The Men who have done well have either been brought up within the Environment or have very quickly got the picture.  Le Guen and Barnes for example looked at Managing in Glasgow’s pressure cooker as purely Soccer exercises and spectacularly failed.  Even Kenny Dalglish schooled in Glasgow forged as a player at Celtic, Shinning like a guiding star at Liverpool, Tempered Mentally by witnessing three Football disasters struggled to come to Terms with Managing the Old Firm.  So even when all the ingredients look to be there sometimes they never seem to be in right qualities.

McInnes has taken The Dons from Bottom Six looking over their shoulder at Relegation to top two looking over their shoulders at the rest of Scottish Football bar Celtic.  All done to a strict Budget and Wage Cap.  League Cup victory and succession of Semi Finals and Finals have brought the feel good Factor back to the North East.

Using smart signings and Loans McInnes has worked miracles and gained Cult Hero Status among the Dandies.   For three years now Derek could walk from Footdee to Torry across the harbour and not get wet.

There lies the dilemma for Derek, can he given the limited resources at Pittodrie take The Dons any further? No victories against Invincible Celtic in last seven games, not even a draw.  Rangers, Saint Johnstone, Dundee, the relegated Inverness Caledonian Thistle and most recently Kilmarnock have all arguably sneaked a Draw from Brendan Rodgers’ Men yet Aberdeen have not. Given the resources available to McInnes can anyone see any kind of increased ability for Aberdeen to mount a sustained bid for silverware.

That is not to say the Pittodrie Board are not doing everything they can to finance an increased Push for success.

Hampered by a solid steady fan base seems an unusual confinement but it is exactly what Aberdeen are.  Despite success on the field and publicly advertising for an increase in Home attendances, the Pittodrie average home crowd year in year out does not break sixteen thousand.  With “Debt Free” rules in place the options for Stewart Milne to back his Manager are severely limited if not bordering on impossible.
Aware of this Derek McInnes must consider at least that he has taken The Good Red Ship as far as possible.  A glass wall of achievement may not have been hit but it’s certainly on the Horizon and with little chance of being smashed.

Sunderland’s Summer interest was respectfully met with a polite “No Thanks” given the Basket Case Board Room on Wearside and the promise of New Stadium, Training Facilities and retention of Kenny McLean in Scottish North East then you can’t fault Derek’s logic.  Sadly for Dons fans a week is a long time in Politics and a quarter Season is a lifetime of changes in Football.

Kingsford Stadium Planning Submission stalled mysteriously and Kenny McLean indicating like Nial McGinn and Johnny Hayes last year his desire to seek higher wages elsewhere.  Joining a list of top players McInnes has lost for no sale value on Bosman’s.  That is a double blow, to lose a top player but to lose an Asset and not receive any funds to identify a replacement is Treading water of the highest standard.  Nor can you blame Players on AFC maximum wage seeking a wage rise after delivering success.  In any work if you as an employee work hard and bring accolades to your employer then of course you would expect an increase in your top line.  In addition to Loan Players at mercy of recall (Danny Ward & James Maddison) from parent Club or ineligible for over 10% of your League Games (Ryan Christie).

So on to Rangers.  Well the Ibrox Club have not their Troubles to seek.  From a standing start having been ripped apart Rangers have at least formed a resemblance to a Top Flight Football Club.  Make no mistake Dave King’s Chairmanship is staked on this appointment,  the loyalty and gratitude of the Ibrox Loyal will not last another failed Manager.  The stakes are high for King, get this right be a Hero get it wrong and Craig Whyte will have a Cell Mate in the eyes of the Coploan Road.

When McInnes was last mentioned in regards the Office atop the Marble Staircase, Edminson Drive was shrouded in the Fog of Merchandise deals, Court Cases and Board Room bedlam.  The Simmering Sports Direct Standoff was resolved in the Summer immediately prompting an Income Boost for Rangers and Puma Factories all over the world to look out Rangers merchandise Patterns.

Is there money at Ibrox for a new Manager to spend? I believe there is.  The War-chest promised to Caixinha in Summer still has a few Million Pounds in it only because of the Queues outside the Rangers Megastore.  That income was not budgeted for when Pedro Caixinha took over or even in the begining of the last Transfer Window.  That cash is still floating and that along with additional funds will be earmarked for Squad development in January.

Derek McInnes must consider moving back into his Family Home full-time.  Having a fully built Stadium attracting crowds of forty-seven thousand, world-class training Facilities all within thirty minutes drive of your Family simply must be a tempting offer.  Rangers rarely ask twice and for first time ever are asking the same question in less than a year.  It’s now or never for McInnes.

If and it’s still an If McInnes heads down the M90, M9 and M8 then his ideal replacement should pass Him coming North.  With Craig Brown in Non Executive Role at Pittodrie then Jack Ross is the ideal replacement to continue the stability of the Dons while enjoying working with an increased Wage Cap , Better Players, similar ethos and sea views.  He might even bring the Hot Young Prospect of Stevie Mallon with him.  It would pay even the most dissapointed Don’s Fan to remember the last Manager they took from Paisley worked out rather well for them.

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Kingsford Stadium Aberdeen’s Last Hope

17 Aug

I have real issues with Anti Kingsford protesters. I have lived within a mile of Ibrox for 22 years. Never have fans rioted past my house. 

Traffic congestion is manageable and predictable. Rangers Games keep the area vibrant and functioning. If you look around Ibrox you see many more thriving small businesses ran by Local People than anywhere else in Southside. As a Former Westhill Academy Pupil I understand the local area as good as any. I am not a Dons fan but I do believe that Kingsford is an ambitious project that will benefit Aberdeen Football Club, enhance Scottish Football and give the area the kind of Profile it deserves.

Strikes me that the people who complain actually do not like any football probably visit Westhill Golf Club thinking this counts as Sport or support Sir Andy Murray as long as he didn’t bounce a Tennis Ball in their Street. Everything by Proxy. 
It’s a Strange fact that no one complained when a Post Box in Westhill was painted Gold to reflect Tim Baillie’s Gold Medal. Snobbery is not an excuse; Elitism is not a valid Planning concern. 

Infact the only concern I would pass on to the ANTI stadia folk is not football related. By far the biggest issue with having a stadia and events on your doorstep is not to worry about football it is strangely the other events that can appear. The biggest hassles living in this area with events that have impacted on Freedom of Movement, Noise Pollution, security, litter and property crimes has been; Pope’s Visit, Commonwealth Games Rugby, Glasgow Sessions, Great Scottish Runs, 10ks, fun runs. Eminem is playing next week in Bellahouston Park and I am already worried. History says it will be carnage. 

It is a disgrace not unexpected as AWPR NIMBYs have caused many deaths due to their holding up a Bypass. As a City Aberdeen wants to looked on as Modern Metropolitan City yet is dragged back into dark ages by small minded. 

Not since 1903 when Football Authorities had to invite Orion FC, Aberdeen Victoria FC and Aberdeen FC to form a Senior Football Club has the rest of Scottish Football looked on the North East as a special case. The decisions took in 1903 have arguably lead directly to Aberdeen’s greatest days. Gothenburg in 1983, league Championships, Scottish Cups and League Cups. Days of Unity.  Not to mention Aberdeen being seen as a valid venue for Scottish international matches in both Football and Rugby. Putting Aberdeen firmly on the Sporting Atlas. 

Just as the AWPR will reduce congestion, lower inner city pollutants; reduce injuries and deaths, improving The City.  A new home for the Dons will drive Aberdeen FC, The City and Shire from the machinations of Edwardian times into the 21st Century. 

As a last point why are the property values going to drop with the infrastructure of an area receiving hundreds of Millions of Pounds of Investment then any estate agent would tell you that unless the investment is a nuclear power plant House prices will only rise.
Aberdeen and the Shire have to wake up the specter of Aberdeen Football Club playing European Fixtures out with the City and Shire even in the Central Belt this defies reason. Pittodrie is a stadium in need of demolition it is simply uneconomic to bring up to specification and in fact given its location it is simply impossible to expand. Following the shambles of the Lorrison planning application and now the Kingsford complaints the impression that Aberdeen is not open for inward investment and development is a real possibility that will directly harm Jobs and all so that some locals do not have to drive past a Facility. 

Kingsford is not in any Westhill Back yard it’s not even in the same Postcode. It is time that sections of the Oil Capital of Europe sucked it up and realised that money won’t just bubble out of the ground anymore. Aberdeen needs to become a Modern City with a Modern Outlook or it will become a DRY COUNTY of Despair. 

  

City’s only get one chance in a generation failure this time round will cut Aberdeen (shire) adrift in North Sea for many years.

Scottish Premiership Predictions 2017-18

4 Aug

 

Well it’s that time again that Fools go where Angels fear to tread.  My now annual stick my neck on the chopping block and predict a whole season worth of fixtures, injuries and dodgy decisions in an attempt to predict where Clubs will finish in the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership League Table in May 2018.

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SPFL Premiership Predictions 2017-18

1  wpid-2014-10-30-16-42-23-1807006305.jpeg Celtic
2  Rangers Rangers
3  Aberdeen Aberdeen
4  Hibs Hibernian
5  Killie Kilmarnock
6  St J St Johnstone
7  HMFC Hearts
8  Part Partick Thistle
9  RC Ross County
10  Dundee Dundee
11  mwell Motherwell
12  accies Hamilton Accies

Celtic have to be favourites the Invincibles of last season start with the deserved tag of Favourites.  Brendan Rodgers has built and kept a strong squad that has the happy habit of winning or at least not losing.  Bren RogA decent start in European Qualifiers with no Gibraltar style slip up has only enhanced the thought that the trophy will settle in the East End of Glasgow next year.  That’s not to say a repeat of all conquering season, like season 1988 it is difficult to keep up the standards of going domestically unbeaten.  With Fans Groups vocally grumbling and various off field Inquiries the only chance for the rest of Scotland is if these issues grow and begin to implode Celtic.  Celtic Fans have grown accustom to sweeping aside all that stands in their way.  Just as it’s a happy habit not losing one wonders how Brenan Rodgers Bhoys will react to the strange feeling of Losing should it happen.  Celtic to win the league but not as comprehensively as last term. Players In: Olivier Ntcham, Jonny Hayes, Kundai Benyu. Players Out: Emilio Izaguirre, Efe Ambrose, Gary Mackay-Steven, Saidy Janko, defender (St Etienne); Logan Bailly, Kris Commons. Loan: Scott Allan, midfielder (Dundee).

Rangers in Second after the debacle of no progress in Luxemburg but Sadly for Scottish Football the low standing of our game in UEFA lists means that Scottish Teams are going to have to get with the program and be up for the Europa Cup in early July or else. Pedro Caixinha building a team from the ashes of the Warburton experiment.  

The common theory is that Rangers have good players just not a good team.  So far Pedro’s Rangers version one has lacked game time.  A lot of work is needed you have a Managers vision needing cemented on to Players who are either used to Last Seasons unchanging Tactical Standard of Warburton or new players finding their feet at Ibrox.  So far Rangers have flattered themselves.  At times they have looked like they were not even aware of each other’s names.  The importance for Rangers is to tune into to each other.  Brendan Rodgers managed to gel a rag tag group of Ronny Deila’s squad and supplement it with fresh quality players last term and the little Portuguese Ibrox Gaffer has to do the same.  The early exit from Europe means if Rangers are detached in the League in October then there is a real chance of Rangers finding a fourth Manager to take the reins in one Calendar Year. With off field issues becoming clearer and the boost of Merchandise Money coming in Rangers need to Challenge for everything and Challenge closely.  The excuses have run out.  Rangers in second for me as Project Pedro needs to bed in.  Players In: Bruno Alves, Graham Dorrans, Alfredo Morelos, Ryan Jack, Fabio Cardoso Daniel Candeias, Carlos Pena, Eduardo Herrera. Loan: Dalcio. Out: Barrie McKay Joe Garner, Matt Crooks, Billy Gilmour Philippe Senderos, Rob Keirnan, Clint Hill. Loan: Andy Halliday, Michael O’Halloran.

Aberdeen in Third seems a strange choice given their summer.  Management team sign new contracts and already a good start in Europa League Qualifiers.  The sad truth is though that Aberdeen last year’s Brides Maids in chief are in a similar position to Celtic. 

 They have a habit of doing well in some games yet inexplicable losing points to lowly teams in League.  It’s a more difficult habit to shake off too.  Ryan Christie’s loan is a strange set of circumstances that makes me think all 12 points in Games against Celtic will go with the Hoops.  You have a talisman in Christie scoring for fun against all but his parent Club when he is sitting in the Stand looking enviously at all in front of him.  His place in starting line-up taken by someone who knows that no matter what they do next week Christie is in and they are on the bench.  It’s the rules of the SPFL but it sure makes you think what ambition Aberdeen has.  Pittodrie is also distracted by various off field issues, Planning Permission for new Stadium version two at Kingsford in addition to the stories that won’t go away regarding Kenny McLean and Derek McInnes.  In spite of strong statements by Aberdeen Football Club and McInnes these stories keep resurfacing.  That is not an accident.  New Funding in the Boardroom means that unless careful Demarcation exists then with Stuart Milne, The Donald’s and now Cormack are we looking at a three headed Monster ready to explode painting the Pittodrie Board room Red with Blood?  It’s my gut feeling that the Dandies are not as strong as previous two seasons and will finish third in May. In: Gary Mackay-Steven, Kari Arnason, Greg Tansey, Nicky Maynard, Loan: Greg Stewart, Ryan Christie. Out: Jonny Hayes, Ryan Jack, Niall McGinn, Ash Taylor, Peter Pawlett, Neil Alexander, Cammy Smith, Lawrence Shankland.

Hibernian in fourth and its tight but the often snarling driving force of Neil Lennon can not be under rated or ignored.  

The massive Leith Legions still on a high from Cup and League wins in last two years backing a typically Attacking Lennon Team simply is not going to quietly bed into the Premiership.  Good Signings from Lennon over the summer means that a very Creditable fourth and European place goes down Easter Road.  In: Vykintas Slivka, Efe Ambrose, Ofir Marciano, Danny Swanson, Deivydas Matulevicius, Steven Whittaker, Anthony Stokes, Simon Murray. Out: Jason Cummings, James Keatings, Chris Humphrey, Grant Holt, Fraser Fyvie.

Kilmarnock have assembled a Dream Team in lots of ways On the Park in the Dug out but ranker still enhabits the Rugby Park Board Room.  Billy Bowie has yet to cleanse the spectre of Michael Johnstone, the signs look good for the Tanker Millionaire but its time to repair the damage done by others over a decade.  Lee McCullough is a exceptional young manager he has without doubt learned from masters and has acquired a good selection of Players who will often shock in both winning games they should not but sadly for theKillie faithful losing points they should of secured too.  That is the Killie way its built in to the bricks.  I do feel though that McCulllough will have more positive shocks for his club than negative ones.  Pleasing for the You Tubers in Ayrshire but a solid fifth for Kilmarnock. In: Chris Burke, Cammy Bell, Gordon Greer, Kirk Broadfoot, Lee Erwin, Alex Samizadeh, Dom Thomas, Stephen O’Donnell, Calum Waters, Daniel Higgins, Alan Power. Out: Dapo Kayode, Jack Whittaker. Loan ended: Kristoffer Ajer, Conor Sammon.

St Johnstone Tommy Wright is a brilliant Manager with a Cup Win and solid league Placings but you got the feeling last term that a era was ending.  Suddenly Cup Winners got outnumbered by new personel and the spirit of the saints had lessened.  Its for this reason I think The Perth Saints will land in sixth next year.  McDermid has all the feel of a rebuilding project.  No doubt St Johnstone will be solid well organised and able to punish you for mistakes as is the Tommy Wright Signature Team but I feel they wont be able to hurt or create as they restock the squad to revisit the glory days.  In: Stefan Scougall, Kyle McClean, Scott Tanser, Loan: Michael O’Halloran, midfielder (Rangers). Out: Danny Swanson, Tam Scobbie.

Hearts in seventh.  No one is sure how the Structure at Tyncastle works with Craig Levin it is not a clear as the metal structure of the New Main Stand in Gorgie.  It is possible that now good players are not being taken down the Cul De Sac of Cathro Place that they might be able to walk down Gorgie Road.  Confusing at best of times and that sums up Hearts on the field of play.  You are never sure what kind of performance you will witness from minute to minute.  You are never sure who is making the tactical changes and you are never sure whos hand is on the tiller.  This appears to affect players too.  The rebuilding Tynecastle means that no Home Games in first month of season could find The Jam Tarts pitiful away form meaning they are detacted eight games in. In: Kyle Lafferty, Christophe Berra, Rafal Grzelak, Michael Smith, Cole Stockton. Loan: Connor Randall, Ashley Smith-Brown. Out: Bjorn Johnsen, Callum Paterson, Perry Kitchen, Sam Nicholson, Gavin Reilly, Billy King.

Partick Thistle what can you say about Partick they are just solid well organised and a true team.  Unity of purpose, Singulary Focused on the same Goal.  Alan Archibald sells his squad a vision that the whole club signes up too.  I do not think they will repeat last years top six place but I do not think they will trouble relegation in Eighth. In: Niall Keown, Blair Spittal, Jamie Sneddon. Loan: Jordan Turnbull, defender (Coventry City). Out: Liam Lindsay, Mark Ridgers, Ade Azeez, David Amoo.

Ross County will miss a top flight Highland Derby with Inverness Caledonian Thistle Dropping down to the Championship. The Closest Away Game to Dingwall being a trip to Aberdeen. Not the biggest Home Support and a small core of away fans some you cant imagine Atmosphere being a big part of Ross County’s game plan. No one will like a trip up to the Highlands at any time of the season and this travel might just secure enough points to keep Ross County up and clear of the dreaded Playoff and Relegation spots. The Victoria Park team will have to wait til well into April before they will be safe in the knowledge they wont be at risk of following Inverness down a league tucked into Nineth place.. In: Billy Mckay, Thomas Mikkelsen, Sean Kelly, Jim O’Brien, Tom Grivosti, Loan: Jamie Lindsay, midfielder (Celtic). Out: Liam Boyce, Chris Burke, Ian McShane, Paul Quinn, Jay McEveley, Jonathan Franks, Oscar Gobern, David Brownlie, Chris McLaughlin, Matt Hall.

Dundee in tenth no matter what way you look at it Paul Hartleys left overs to ex pundit Neil McCann just seems to lack on all fronts. No talisman player, a real lack of Team Unity, No solid Defensive look and a untested Manager Tactically used to passing comment with no pressure in the warm surrounds of a television studio not when the heat is turned up in the dug out. In: Glen Kamara, Randy Wolters, Sofien Moussa, Jack Hendry Lewis Spence, Elliot Parish, Roarie Deacon, Loan: Scott Allan, midfielder (Celtic). Out: Rory Loy, Kevin Gomis, Nick Ross, Daniel Higgins.

Motherwell look like a Club on and off the field that are in the grasp of turmoil. The Fan ownership model they are using seems to be in need of restructuring with not enough hard Cash coming in to support the Club. Losing Scott McDonald to Dundee United seems to sum up whats wrong. The Drive of the Austrailian that permulated the Squad infecting his will to win almost certainly kept the Fir Park side up last term. Its more than likely that Moetherwell will meet Dundee United in a Playoff and with the loss of experienced campaigners Well do not look equipped to be a force even in the bottom Six. The rocky road of a return to the Playoffs for Motherwell. In: Cedric Kipre, Alex Fisher, Russell Griffiths, Craig Tanner, Gael Bigirimana, Andy Rose, Charles Dunne, Trevor Carson, George Newell, Dylan King, Liam Brown. Out: Dom Thomas, Scott McDonald, Craig Samson, Lionel Ainsworth, Joe Chalmers, Keith Lasley, Craig Clay, James McFadden, Stephen Pearson.

Hamilton are the perennial favourites for Relegation and this year is no different only complete collapses by other Clubs has saved them in the past. Not as organised as Partick, with good players but not standouts and barring the 4G Pitch no real Unique Selling Point. They are no whispers of outstanding youth players. Martin Canning is a good manager and brilliant Coach. He Manages the issues and Coaches the players with a unease at times but I feel that you cant keep hanging about at the bottom of the League dodging the Championship dragnet without being caught eventually and dragged down. In: Xavier Tomas, Ryan Fulton, Out: Gramoz Kurtaj, Blair Adams, Craig Watson, Jack Breslin, Alex D’Acol, Jesus Garcia Tena, Danny Seaborne.

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Evolvolution Trumps Revolution

11 Feb

Lets be honest the seeds for Mark Warburtons Downfall were sown in early 2016.  After a blisteting start to the all important Promotion or Bust season the other Nine Teams began to learn from their Homework.  To the degree that you didnt need to send a Scout to build a dossier on Warburtons Rangers all you had to do was check your notes from previous games.  

Warburton had the element of Surprise in his first round of fixtures in league.  Blowing Hibs away in Petrofac Cup first Round surprised many.  

Then a good first round of League fixtures for Warburton and the frailities of back Four with Wing Backs, a narrow mudfield three combined with a mobile front Three.  Starting from Deep keeping possession at almost all costs.  Warburton set rules and they mostly had the letter P as a key.

Possesion and play percentage passes. 

The problems came when other teams realised to defend against this Rangers team all you had to do was man mark in your own half with a chaser running down the Centre Backs in Blue. That lead to Rangers turning from a free flowing Attacking force who would score more than they let in, to a nervous uncomfortable squad in possession who leaked goals. In fact it seemed Rangers needed to go a goal down to begin to look like they were interested in putting the opponents goal in Danger. 

Countless examples of how to Play Rangers and win come right out of the Alan Stubbs Robbie Nelson Play Book.  Against Brendan Rodgers Celtic at Recent League Cup Semi Final with Tavernier in Midfield and Lee Hodson in at full back playing a solid looking 4-4-2 then it took some formation Changes from Celtic to win at Hampden.  

Warburton was is stubborn the joke was Mark had only read one paragraph of one page in one chapter of the Big Book of Football Tactics.  And like a Born Again Christian he believed every word to be Gosple.  Warburton seemed to fail in questioning his own ethos to the degree that he could not evolve.  From early 2016 the signs were there. First Game of Warburton Era versus Hibs at Easter Road a surpise drubbing of Hibs.  Last game of season a toe to toe battle at Hampden in Scottish Cup Final with Hibs winning by using only one page of Tactics.  How to beat a Warburtons Rangers. 

Flattering to decieve with some lovely moments but for me Warburton Plan A became a bust flush and the lack of a Plan B caused the downfall. 

The Warburton Revolution simply failed to kick on and Evolve.  

Ladbrokes Championship Predictions 2016-17

31 Jul

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Continuing on from the Ladbrokes Premiership Predictions its probably a good time to step into the mire that is the Ladbrokes Championship.  Mire is a apt word as this league is by far the hardest to predict and Clubs finding themselves dropped into this league have found it easier to fall out the bottom of the League than gain Promotion to the Premiership.  In last three years only Hamilton Accies have moved up via the perilous route of the Playoffs.  Relegating Hibernian who have repeatedly failed to get out of the league.  Falkirk failed at the last Hurdle last year and Rangers the year before.  Don’t think for a second that remaining a in the Championship is easy too Alloa were last years whipping Boys and they successfully Beat or Drew with Teams chasing Promotion and Playoff Places.  Even before Ross Jack took some green paint to narrow the pitch.  The remaining teams will be delighted that their fixtures don’t include two trips to the dodgy carpet at The Innodrill.   

1 Falkirk
2 Saint Mirren
3 Hibernian
4 Raith Rovers
5 Dundee United
6 Dunfermline Athletic
7 Queen of South
8 Greenock Morton
9 Ayr United
10 Dumbarton
Falkirk Stad

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 In a League spoiled by Title Contenders I have plumped for Falkirk to gain automatic Promotion.  Peter Houston’s late goal kings simply have something money can’t buy they don’t give up which is good because the lack of any real investment in the Squad and relying on Loan’s and Youth to freshen up the Squad is the only real reason the perennial Bridesmaid cant walk down the aisle to the Premiership.

 

Alex Rae’s Saint Mirren in second is again, some will say a surprising choice.  It’s the former Rangers stars first real Season in Charge and he took Ian Murray’s Duds at Christmas and turned them into a team with something that the Paisley Buddies hardly recognised.  A Team that would play well at The Paisley 2021 Stadium not  just playing well a team that actually won at Home.  Rae has stamped his personality on the Squad,  determined, skilful, thoughtful and playing with a smile.  New Owners with Fan involvement should ensure smiles all round Greenfield Road this season.  Maybe not automatic promotion but a good chance in the playoffs.

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Scottish Cup winners Hibernian in Third.  Neil Lennon replaces Leith Hero Alan Stubbs but there is something worrying in Easter Road.  After beating the Cup Jinx can Hibs beat the League Jinx.  With tricky trips to unfamiliar surroundings and with a slightly lower standard of Referees will former Celtic Boss Lennon remain in the dug out long enough to exert influence.  The European failure gave the impression that the Hibs team has a feel of after the Lord Mayors Show.  No amount of exuberance can hide Hibernians terrible record in the Playoffs,  so with all this in mind my thoughts is another season of under achieving in the league.

If it wasn’t for Bad Luck Gary Locke would have no Luck at all.  Head Coach at troubled Hearts then being Sacked by new Board to move to take over at equally troubled Kilmarnock to be sacked mid Season.  Locke is a good Coach, one to watch and maybe the stability of Kirkcaldy will suit him so a nice easy Fourth and a playoff place.  No One would grudge Hearts Legend Locke that. From the good foundations laid by Ray McKinnon I suspect that Raith Rovers will cock a snoop at their previous Manager.

in Bottom half of the league.  Its by the talents of the former Raith Boss that I place United in fifth.Dundee United have that look of British Home Stores.  Faded glory,  if you look past the neglect and mismanagement you can see hints of gold leaf but you have to look through layers of dust. The Days of Jim McLean and Ivan Golak have been tarnished by Stephen Thompson’s colossal mismanaging his inheritance.  Board Room Family Squabbles, Managers on commission on sales of players,  Finger Pointing and generally blaming anyone but himself in conjunction with being a loud voice in matters not directly involving Tannadice.  If I have missed something out in that description its only because they are so many rocks a Arab can throw at The Tannadice Board Room and Pantomime villain Chairman Moan Thompson.  Ray McKinnon former player in the good old days has gambled his stock with the Tangerine Fans.  Ray has a top heavy demoralised squad with a mighty wage bill to service and a Shop Keepers Idiot son as His Boss.  If it wasn’t for sheer respect for McKinnon I would once again like last year place Dundee United

Dunfermline Athletic in sixth as the Pars recover from near financial meltdown.  If any club could have the tag too big to be… then surely its the East End Park Club. Allan Johnston has slowly filled a playing roster with youth and players on last chance to great effect.  A year to cement away days in Dunfermline as the development continues with a creditable Sixth place.

When Previous Managers flew north to Ross County James Fowler faced up with the expectations of the Dumfries fans and didn’t quiet reach the mark. Selling good players on or losing them to others didn’t help and I suspect Fowler is still learning at Queen Of The South. I suspect the influx of Teams with Premiership Experience has made Queen Of The South’s task of Challenging difficult.  It would be a Leicester City style shock of Biblical proportions for Queen Of The South to be in top half of the table but I don’t see them troubling the Playoff or relegation places either.

Jim Duffy what can you say about a man who is so enthusiastic and a Football Man.  Strip controversy apart their is a hard core loyal fan base to please in Greenock and on the whole Duffy’s Morton do just that.  Tight Budget constraints mean that Morton for me will shock sometimes awe but mainly settle for a nice Eighth.

Ayr United in ninth,  Ian McColl worked wonders bringing the Somerset Park Club up last term and with similar Budget to Jim Duffy along the coast at Greenock I think Ayr United will miss the experience of Morton and fail to overtake them in League.  I do think in the final shakedown a trip to the Beach will be on the fixture list next year.

 Dumbarton in automatic relegation place as the Championship waves goodbye to the Rock.  Stephen Aitken is a good coach but there are only ten teams in this league and some one has to finish last and its difficult to argue against Dumbarton not filling that slot. 

 

 

Ladbrokes Premiership Predictions 2016-17

30 Jul

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It’s that time of the year where fools go and the devil fears to tread simply put its prediction time.  Season 20016-17 can not be understated.  The return of Rangers and the massive additional fan base this gives the league generates interest in every game every week.  Only time will tell on how accurate this prediction is but anyway here goes.

 

Ladbrookes Scottish Premiership Predictions

1 Celtic
2 Aberdeen
3 Rangers
4 St Johnstone
5 Hearts
6 Ross County
7 Dundee
8 Kilmarnock
9 Partick Thistle
10 Inverness CT
11 Motherwell
12 Hamilton
Bren Rog

           Brendan Rodgers               ( © Belfast Telegraph)

 

 

 

 Can’t really be a surprise to pick Celtic to win this season.  Brendan Rodgers simply has to win or be judged a worse failure than he was at Anfield.  There can be no slip ups.  Interesting signings belay the fact that there is simply too many Players on Celtics books. The Wage Bill is enormous and even reopening areas of the Stands and the new still to be tested Standing area will not reduce the pressure of paying wages for no return.  The embarrassment of Lincoln Red Imps shall be the fired at Rodgers if his Hoops lose in Any Match.  Celtic to win but not by Much certainly not more than 10 Points.

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Derek McInnes   (© Ronny Davies)

 

 

Aberdeen in Second seems an easy pick too.  Oh how every Dons Fan wants to forget October 2015.  The usual Consistency Question Mark sits over a soon to be demolished Pittodrie.  The Squad seem to take their eyes off the ball for long periods of the season.  Draws at Home to Partick and Inverness seem to compound the maintaining of Standards set so High by Derek McInnes who has to be attracting other Clubs wishing a vibrant Manager to reverse their Clubs Fortunes.  A Massive season for Aberdeen they simply have to impose themselves as valid Championship Contenders on the Field before as you would expect the Old Firm begin to resume pass the Cup across the Clyde Game they play so well.  In addition Aberdeen’s Board have to not focus so much on the New Stadium In Westhill so that they lose sight of the actual business of Playing Football.

New AFC Westhill

New Aberdeen Stadium Plans          Westhill Aberdeenshire              (© http://www.afc.co.uk)

 

Rangers in Third seems like a newly promoted clubs Dream but Rangers are not really comparable to the usual promoted Teams.  Rangers have a Squad littered with International Class Players,  have a well-respected and feared manager in Mark Warburton.  Also lets mention the Elephant in the Room have more than a point to prove against Clubs whom in the eyes of Rangers Fans and Board were heinous in their victimisation of Rangers in last five years.  As Criminal Proceedings continue it would be unwise to comment but as the dust settles most fair-minded Commentators realise the fervour that was aimed at Rangers and placing the club in the lower divisions was short-sighted and fuelled by Jealous and Hatred.  Almost Every Game Involving Rangers in the Premiership will have this edge.  The Important things for Rangers Fans is to curb this enthusiasm so its channelled positively and not into any Rod Petrie Style Exuberance.  Dave King has Talked the Talk its time he Walked The Walk.  The stage is set for him to back himself and his words the question is will he?

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Mark Warburton 

(© Ronny Davies)

Saint Johnstone in Fourth seems a push but I like Tommy Wright,  he has a workmanlike Managerial style that is displayed by His team week in week out.  Perth is blessed with a good tried and tested Squad that can easily spring surprises in the league and should unspectacular hit fourth with no real sparkling individual displays but a great team ethic.  To my mind it’s really that short and sweet.

Hearts in Fifth,  the Gorgie Club flattered to deceive last year poor in cups and disappointing in the games that mattered.  Letting Neil Alexander go seemed fuelled by either lack of ambition or an unwillingness to Pay a seasoned Professional the going Rate.  The loss of some experienced players in Tynecastle’s home dressing room will only be exposed in the games when Craig Levine And Co can’t walk onto the Pitch during games and look out for Graeme Hogg style targets.  The Fan ownership model and Ann Budge have yet to display that no matter how ethical everything financial is at Hearts it’s yet to deliver anything notable in terms of pure footballing success.  Winning the Championship in 2014-15 will not keep Jam tarts fans happy for much longer.  A long season ahead for the Maroon Legions.

Ross County In Sixth again much like Saint Johnstone the Dingwall side just seem to consistently be there or there about. Mid Table far from mediocre more secure in knowledge they are safe might interfere with European places might change the destination of the Title and might be the team that pushes a Club mathematically into the Championship or play off place.  They will do all this without actually being the club in any of the places neither at top or at bottom.

The  City of Discovery’s only representative in the top league in Seventh place.  Following James McPake’s horror injury the Dark Blues seemed to be in shock for most of the season afterwards.  I witnessed Paul Hartley in a Post Match Press Conference looking like a Crime Watch Victim reliving a Mugging.  Too many times last season Dundee were Mugged, robbed of valuable points and the sparkling performances from Gary Harkins shall not be so easily done with the loss of the Highly talented Kane Hemmings.  I imagine a tight race for seventh place in a league within a league  with Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle.  The lack of Dundee Derby’s will give the Dens fans the chance to lord it over their City Rivals in Pubs and Clubs and at work but the missing sparkle and excitement of the rivalry will detract from the feeling with in Dens Park.

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Paul Hartley post Match

(© Ronny Davies)

 

 

Kilmarnock in Eighth. It is a punt in the dark. Lee Clark has signed a whole new starting eleven!  How quickly they gel and how easily they are accepted is of paramount importance to The Rugby Park faithful.  With their own Celebrity You tuber ready to fire off vitriol from the Rugby Park  Car Park even before the final whistle its very much up to Lee Clark and Co to silence the uneasy dwindling masses who have more than enough to throw at everyone at Rugby Park.  Kilmarnock are a club on precipice of Board room troubles and Player Revolts hand in hand with a Fan Base that is near the end of its tether.

Partick in Ninth for me the best organised team in the league. Alan Archibald has no star players he has a well-drilled squad that collectively is greater than the sum of its Parts . How no Club from down south has whisked Alan away to  pastures new is beyond me. Quietly Spoken and intelligent When you look at the Firhill Teamsheet the twelfth man is listed as head Coach because you play twelve when you play Partick. Hard to break down but the rest of the Clubs have seen chinks in the Harry Wraggs armour the question is has Thistles brilliant manager identified them too and filled them with his excellent organisational tactics for the new season.

Inverness  Caledonian Thistle in Tenth for no other reason than the departure of the vibrant John Hughes and the installation of a Player direct from the Dressing Room as Manager Rarely works  even the Great Kenny Dalgleish struggled and he was the only real successful transition from Pitch to Dug Out in recent times . Saint Mirren suffered Humiliation and relegation two seasons ago following this route, and it is only the bottom twos making better cases to be in these positions that to my notion prevents Inverness following out of the Premiership.  I very much doubt Calley will be out the bottom Six past September and will flirt with Playoff and Relgation all season sure they will still spring a surprise result here and there but not in a way that will propel them up the league.

Will deal with Eleventh and Twelve together or the Lanarkshire derby Hamilton look like their Luck has run out with no new Wonder Kids coming out of their usually Prolific Academy the season looks like a journey back to the Playoffs for The New Douglas Park Club where their Playoff History makes them a force to be reckoned with. Motherwell have the same feel as Dundee United had last term no new blood same old same old for Mark McGhee to pick from and like their Neighbours across the M74 no real exciting Youth prospects to display or even some one in the pipeline.  The New Ownership Model seems to strangle Scotland Assistant Coach McGhee’s ability to raid the transfer market and from disappointing survival last season to automatic relegation seems the most likely outcome in May 2017.