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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.

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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.

 spfl prem

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

Copyright thescottishfootballpartnership.com

 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.

Showpiece Shame

21 May

Like the Parade lap of a Grand Prix what should of been remembered was forgotten.
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A Club so long without a trophy won it.  A game that had been equally fought, well Refereed and narrowly won was cast aside. Gone was the Glory of the first Goal as was the Screamer from the Local Boy.  The Captain’s winning header washed away by the tears of the Young children hurried away from the Stadium moments after Full Time.

The fault lies solely and Completely in Leith.  The moment of Joy of victory soured by over three thousand of their own invading the pitch.  The late winner from Captain David Grey and more importantly his running into the Legions of Leith breaking the most important defensive boundary on a football pitch.  The invisible wall that keeps the Spectators in the Stands and the players safe on the pitch.  A crime he got Booked for by Referee and no doubt should be Questioned by Police Scotland.

It was a day of crossing the line for Hibernian.  After One Hundred and Fourteen Years Alan Stubbs Men finally reunited Easter Road with the Scottish Cup.  As the final whistle sounded the lines so clearly marked became blurred in the euphoria for the Hibees.  Let’s look calmly at the events.
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Thousands clad in the Colours of Hibernian streamed over a Wall, they then ran forty metres, vaulted advertising holdings and continued onto the playing surface.  Continued towards the half way line spitting and punching Rangers players.  Once they got to the Halfway line other Members of Ibrox Staff became Targets for Violence.

Let’s not pretend it was a joyous celebration or “Over Exuberance” this was Public Disorder. Let’s not forget in 1980 the last time Police Horses graced Hampden’s turf Football Stadia (Scotland) Act was hastening brought into law. In the year finally Football Fans were declared Innocent of wrongdoing and Contributing to Hillsbourgh. Edinburgh Hibernian gave the David Duckenfield’s of this world a reason to justify their belief that ALL football fans are Animals to be treated with contempt.

Contempt is exactly what Hibernians immediate reaction could be described as. For Alan Stubbs and Rod Petrie to claim to be unaware of the Alleged Assaults on Rangers Staff and seek to belittle the Criminal Actions of what looked the vast majority in Green and White as merely a couple of Gadgys having a laugh is beyond any form of explanation. The Rangers Statement (http://rangers.co.uk/news/headlines/rangers-statement-2/) was given a clear 30 mins before anyone from Hibernian spoke indeed Stuart Regan had given a Official SFA statement before Petrie spoke. In fact Stuart Regan was attending a Crisis Meeting with Police while the Hibs Chairman was speaking. Ignorance is not an excuse. Who was informing the Hibernian Chairman and Manager? Helen Keller! Petrie’s position in the Board of The SFA is untenable after his stunning post match comments. ( http://stv.tv/sport/football/1354888-see-hibs-chairman-rod-petrie-respond-to-cup-final-crowd-disorder/ )

Any assault by Hibernian Fans on any Rangers Staff will no doubt have to be treated as Sectarian Aggravated Assault by Police Scotland some even Racist.

Let’s face it on Saturday Morning Hibernian as a Club did not know how to Win the Scottish Cup, by the time the Dregs of Society left Hampden it was crystal clear NO ONE of a Hibs persuasion knew HOW TO CELEBRATE winning the William Hill Scottish Cup. Hibernian Football Club lost all Dignity and Credibility Hampden.

The simple truth is the Party stopped at the white lines of the pitch. If it was a party why did Hibs Hoards cross the halfway line. The trophy gets presented immediately above the Halfway line. Why if it’s EXUBERANCE where fans running goading the quickly emptying West Stand and the Western Half of The North and South Stands where Rangers fans sat. If you’re party mode involves spitting, punching and Kicking out at others then whatever party is being held in Easter Road tonight I do not think many members of Humanity want an invite.
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Stuart Regan was as damning as he could be. He could not issue punishments as that needs reflection and time to gather facts. I am sure the decision to present the oldest Trophy in Football to David Grey was only upon Police orders made on the hoof (possibly even on horseback on the damaged pitch) to avoid a further out break of Exuberance leading to full scale Riot. Hibernian should of been handed the Cup and medals in the Away Dressing Room with no ceremony. A as yet unnamed SFA official handed a box containing the Runners up medals to Rangers Young player Ryan Hardie who delivered the box to a Rangers dressing room that resembled a Accident and Emergency Triage station as several Players were assessed for injuries received from as yet unknown Violent Thugs from Edinburgh. It had been judged not Safe, let me just repeat that. IT HAD BEEN JUDGED NOT SAFE for Rangers Players and Staff to collect their Runners Up medals therefore surely it was not Safe for Edinburgh Hibernian to collect their Accolades in front of violent thugs dressed in Green and White.

The recriminations have just started but Punishment must be given to Hibernian. It seems obvious a few hours after this Showpiece Shame that the diluted slap in the wrists given to Motherwell after last year’s Over Exuberance in the Second Leg of the Play Off Final was not enough for Fans to think running the length of a Football Pitch to goad Rangers Fans into engaging in violence. It is important to remember Titles and Cups can be withheld at Grace of SFA. No Cup was awarded in 1909 due to a riot on the pitch. It’s not inconceivable that the longest No win streak in Football history could easily go the same way as Lance Armstrong seven Tour De France victories. Imagine the Over Exuberance of Hibs then. Just as several should expect a Knock on the door for their actions following the Match, Rod Petrie, Leanne Dempster, Alan Stubbs and Co should expect a knock on the Door of Easter Road asking for the Trophy and Medals to be Returned.

The options for Punishment from the SFA are limited given they were hosting the Game having clearly taken advice from Police. This game was Category C(IR), the highest possible Alert Category C with Increased Risk tagged on for good measure. That’s how seriously Police Scotland treated this Game. The Punishment options available to the SFA are incredibly limited. FINES did not create a culture of restraint following the near Riot at Fir Park Motherwell last year, so a monetary punishment alone has been proven to provide underwhelming results.

Hibs could be banned from defending their Trophy indeed banned from Scottish Cup for a number of years the precedent for this was set By UEFA banning ALL English Clubs from European Competitions and Liverpool Football Club for an addition couple of years. This would not negatively affect a Club that hadn’t won the Cup for over a century, indeed it would turn out to be a positive cutting out fixture congestion in a busy Championship Season. It is a with regret that I am minded to think the only punishment available to SFA that has any teeth is in fact Hampden withholding the Trophy with fines and even a tournament Ban. The only way to stub out the returning Spector of Football violence within Stadia is to hit the Club hard. The weakness of previous Punishments came back to haunt the Hampden hierarchy there could be no ambiguities Hibernians Crimes happened right in front of them on their own pitch at an event they staged. Even Arsene Wenger would of seen it!

Rangers fans and Staff are already feeling targeted, two Seasons in a row Rangers Fans have been subject to rival fans running the length of a football pitch to attempt to attack them. Don’t get this wrong Rangers fans and Staff do not demand to be universally loved and warmly welcomed to every ground in Scotland by every Club and its fans. Rangers fans do demand to expect to attend a Football game without having Morons charging at them demanding a “Square go”! Add in the basic Working Conditions of Rangers Players and Staff who would consider not being assaulted at work as the kind of request that should go unsaid by everyone of working age. Society has clear Zero tolerance rules in every workplace currently apart from Scottish football.

There have already been calls to the Club to Ban ALL AWAY fans from Ibrox next year. It’s not a bad call when you see Parents hearding their children out of a Stadium because of the return of the bad olde days then you know the book needs thrown at Hibs. The Family freindly image hard won in years since Football Casuals created the deadly cages of Hillsbourgh Hibernian Football Club have dragged Scottish Football back into the the Dark Ages.

The excuse of they are not Hibs fans fails when you check the receipts all the tickets sold to Thugs was sold via Hibernian Football Club. The question stands why did Hibernian with a average home attendance of TEN Thousand receive a ticket allocation of TWENTY ONE THOUSAND. Hibernian received and SOLD 210% of their normal home ticket sales. Inherent in condition of sale is taking the name of all who occupy a seat. So Hibernian should know who they sold the tickets too and if they want to distance themselves as a Club from the Thugs then it is a paper thing excuse.
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Congratulations Hibernian for ending a long history of Police Horses Free Hampden.

Rangers Looking Forward

6 Apr

It’s a massive summer in the One Hundred and forty three year history of Rangers Football Club.  The journey back to the top Division of Scottish Football has been a long and arduous one.  Casualties have been taken a Rangers Legend has had his Reputation Tarnished and the Club lost a Legend to the evils of Liver Cancer.  Let’s not forget the fortitude of Ally McCoist and Sandy Jardine, when Rangers had no voice these Legends stood up.  When others ran for the hills Ally and Sandy went the took the path least travelled and stood firm.  Only one other Man has faced a dilemma of finding a squad similar to Ally that day the Journey began, Founding Father Moses McNeil. Let no one disagree that history may not reflect Ally’s managerial record in a a good light but in terms of the building a squad only Ally and Moses faced the same challenge.

Bill Stewth, Greame Souness, Willie Waddel and Walter Smith all built successful squads but they all at least could field a team at any given time. These guys may well of picked teams with players they considered not up to standard but not one looked at a player rosta that could fit into a Hackney taxi and would be struggle to fulfill a Tennents Sixes game.

Mark Warburton faces a Summer of challenges and given his track record the Ibrox Loyal are confident that the Londoner has the smarts to make the right decisions and bring in fresh players to bolster the Clubs push to their fifty fifth title.

The return of the Old Firm in the Scottish Cup Semi Final on April 17 give everyone concerned a chance to review and compare the Glasgow Giants. No matter the result its a win-win situation for Warburton. A victory and he knows his squad can take on Celtic and win. He also finds out where he would like to strengthen. A loss and he can identify the weaknesses and set about eradicating them. Either way The Rangers Gaffer will make a list of signing targets and provide recent evidence to aid Dave King and Company to open up their purse string and spend.

Make no bones about it if Leicester can win the English Premiership this year then Rangers can win the Scottish Premiership next year. More likely season 2016-17 season for Rangers is a top three place and possibly a Cup victory. That fits on the curve better than instant gratification. No matter what the Fans expectations have been raised by Team W (Warburton and Weir) the wizardry of a Magic hat and his Apprentice has brought Pride back to Ibrox.

Everyone has their views on what Rangers Need for my two pence Rangers need a snarling hod carrier in midfield someone like John Brown or Terry Hurlock or Harold Davis. A trusted tackler who is a master of the 20 yard pass to the play makers. If this player can also put his laces through a shot from 30 yards all the better. There is for all the skill no shock and awe in the line up presently. No Patrick Viera or Roy Keene type no one to fear physically. The squads weakness arw there to see but there is no psychological fear factor. No moment of realisation for Opponents in the Tunnel.

I am personally not convinced of the defence Rangers. On paper its full of good players well capable of defending in practice it seems to lack solidity and cohesion. Too many silly. Goals have been lost in the backwaters of the Innodrill and Tony Macaroni Stadiums. For every daft goal lost in the Championship it would be two in the Premiership.

Attacking wise Rangers are in OK shape maybe cover for Miller and Waghorn. No one is sure when Kenny will lose it all but under Warburton he shuttles back in the formation for every yard of pace he loses, no one could not predict Miller playing in front of the back four this time next year. When Talisman Striker Waghorn got injured his Midas touch was missed. He will have to return to plastic pitches at possibly Hamilton, Kilmarnock and even Falkirk next year so the chances of similar injuries are there so the squad has to be deepened in strength.

Off the field the Big Tax Case rumbles on this time it’s the Supreme Court sitting in judgement the current aggregate of two to one in judgements makes this one too close to call. Although the last judgement (the only one to go against Rangers) was based on ‘Common Sense’! It seemed to immediately lose its validity on this clause. Common Sense is intangible you can’t measure it and it’s certainly not included in either civil law balance of probabilities tests or criminal law behind reasonable doubt. Common Sense has no value it is neither Black or White or a varied shade of Grey. Common Sense being mentioned in a judgement just opens the door for the judgement to be thrown out. Common Sense is not Common Law it is not any Law.

The Criminal Cases will for most Rangers Fans and the media be akin to the the OJ Simpson trial. The Wee Tax Case and associated allegations and criminal charges won’t just be big news it will be the only news front and back page. Scottish Elections and Euro Referendum will fall by the way. The day of the Judgements from Court come be they Government Spin Doctors will release memos saying good day to release bad news.

Rangers fans just want the machinations of Whyte, Green, Ashley and co gone. These guys time connected with the club is one of shame and accusations. The second you have a Rangers fan considering not buying club merchandise on grounds of the retailer and distributer not on style you have problems. It does not matter if they decide to buy or not the fact they stopped to consider is enough. Playing wise the Dave King’s Blue Knights have to support Mark Warburton and Commercially they have to sort out the mire of hidden paperwork. The excuse of blaming the previous board is as tired as David Cameron blaming Gordon Brown six years ago. Dave King has had a Year in the big blue chair surely enough time to audit the contracts and accounts.

Salvation of sorts could come from an unlikely source. If Newcastle United fall out the trap door of the English Premiership then Mike Ashley/MASH/Sports Direct will be faced with a choice sell a recently relegated majority shareholding English Championship Club that has just missed out on the the biggest Premiership Moneyfest of all time. Or sell a minority shareholding in a Recently Promoted Business. As Newcastle’s value decreases the Rangers value increases. The opportunity to profit on your investment is greater in Clydeside than it is in Tyneside. Ashley will be forced to sell something simply by incredible strict and clear Football League rules. He will also be forced to sell quickly or face points deductions and sanctions. Ask yourself what has more likelihood of a quick sale, 9% of a business that the majority of your fellow shareholders want to buy off you or a whole football club in the slide?

This summer could easily define the next five years and edit the previous decade. Petrofac Cup and William Hill Scottish Cup runs aside this summer is the biggest in living memory for Rangers Fans. Thirty years on from the Sounds Revolution the Summer of 2016 is the Warburton Revolution.