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.

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Manager Report Cards March 2016

13 Mar

When you examine the season so far only really one thing stands out.  The performance of Managers.  With only a few stand out players and a couple of memorable games what you are left with is how well the Coaching staff have done. So in view of  this I have complied a Top Twenty Managers.
Continue reading

Community Camouflage

16 Oct

I have a few strings to my bow.  I am a jack of all trades and master of none. I am proficient at most I would say modestly.

As you know I am a keen observer of life and events and recently I have became very concerned with the Public Persona of a Football Club.

It’s hard to describe as anything more than arrogance personally I put it in the venn diagram of where stupid meets arrogance meets conceit. 

Firstly cast your mind back to Aberdeen Versus Celtic at Pittodrie.  Aberdeen won two one the referee was Craig Thompson and he made a couple of possible errors.  In fairness Craig got 98% of the game correct and 2% open to debate.  Post match the gathering of press in the media room deep within the bowels of corner of the main stand and Richard Donald Stand waited for the usual one player and the Manager from both sides to provide reaction and the run of the mill cliches we all devour from football officials. 

The room bustled with Print and broadcast Press chattering and confirming facts.  For anyone who has been in this area it was the usual atmosphere.  There was a buzz of Aberdeen stretching a lead and setting a record as well as a few incidents discussed.  A door on the far side opened and the atmosphere changed in walked a player.  Seething full of anger and retribution the atmosphere changed very quickly.  In walked a moody, unrepentant Lee Griffiths he sat on his seat and began with little prompting to buy himself a SFA punishment. Fresh from being in Court over singing Offensive songs specifically about a fellow Professional Griffiths let rip.
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No mention of the Celtic strikers glaring failure to score a equaliser into a empty net in the final moments. No conceding that ten man Aberdeen actually showed more desire to defend and counter than the Hoops. Simply put it was a assassination of SFA Referee Craig Thompson’s professional standards. Now to be honest Thompson is not the beat whistler ever but he is even handed on his dealing with all teams. He is equally bad to all.
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On this occasion he (Craig Thompson) did not deserve the public roasting the Scotland striker gave him. And a glance at the Celtic PR led me to believe that Griffiths was speaking with full club approval. No shaking head no “Shhh”, No intervention, no shame! And I say shame because out of the fourteen players Ronny Delia used that day any of the other thirteen would of came in said nothing much and got out without any fuss. Celtic Public Relations put the worse possible Player into the couldron that day. Griffiths would of been better taking his seat on the Parks Of Hamilton Bus and quietly getting out of town. Surely the Celtic PR’s first job is to protect the image of both players and club even if it’s from self inflicted wounds. At best surely the job of Public Relations at Celtic Park is to prevent where possible any of the club’s players being punished (possibly suspended) for talking out of turn at Press Conferences. Strikes me that is priority number one of the PR Department at a football club. I know that at Aberdeen the players are well drilled by a excellent Media Department in the way to conduct a interview. I know that at other clubs this is a major part of the education of players and key in their development.

A couple of days later a Letter appears on the Daily Mirror concerning a Corrwspondamce sent out to a Celtic fans personal hygiene. Once again I will admit I seen a photo of this letter weeks before and assumed it was a PhotoShop joke. Now this photo emerges onto a deal at the daily mirror and a journalist decides to phone into the PR Dept at Celtic to ask if the latter is genuine. To be fair Celtic PR were totally honest and confirmed the letter was genuine.
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How no one on this department thought for a second hang on Headlines of Smelly Celtic Fans is not going to be a positive on the club’s image I do not know. They are a million ways to deflect the letter from simply refusing to comment on what is a private and confidential correspondance between Club and a Patron(s). This was not a sign screwed onto a wall within the confines of Celtic Park after all. If like doctors the hypocratic oath affects Public Relations Officers then first do no harm suddenly seems to be erased from Public Relations at Celtic Park.

You have to wonder who is protecting the image of the Club Gerald Ratner!
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The increasingly standard defence from Kerrydale Street is that is a conspiracy against the Club. Where from within!

Recently I had to engage in a email marathon with lots of football clubs. As I said I have many strings to my bow so sometimes there is a cross over. I was representing a Community Media outlet who were trying to gain some small non rights holder access to press areas at games etc. Of the many emails I sent put only one Club sent back a condescending denial.
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Yes the Club that was built on Community Values now does not allow Community programs a seat at it’s Table. I thought how Brother Walfrid must be spinning in his grave. How far removed has the great Club of Celtic became from it’s founding values. How arrogant how conceited and how divorced from the values of it’s fans.
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To put this into context the only club out of the top 20 in Scotland to flat refuse any interaction was Celtic even the much derided SPFL welcomed the request. Glasgow City Woman’s team, Braehead Clan, to name a few all agreed to simple no real time spent requests. Even the other half of the Old Firm Rangers a club apparently short staffed and in turmoil welcomed the interest and gave a positive response.

If there is a conspiracy to devalue Celtic then it’s became obvious in last few months that it’s coming from withing the ivory towers of Celtic Park.

Something Stinks at Celtic Park and it is not just elements of the customer base.

Regans Aldi Experiment

12 Oct

Scotland’s whimpering exit from the European Chamionships has and will lead to a significant amount of navel gazing and given that we are talking about the SFA its bound to lead to no action.

Let me state this Gordon Strachan, Mark McGee and Stuart McCall should be safe.  Everyone could have picked a different team included other Players and with perfect 20 20 hindsight won games collected points and qualified.  Personally I find it almost inconceivable that more Aberdeen Players were not included in the squad as I do a late inclusion of Ranger’s Lee Wallace.  Form over loyalty every time for me.
Loyalty seems to be the main problem with Scotland for me.  The Players it seems can only trust the Coaching Staff to do whats right by them not the Big Wigs and Blazers sitting up the front of the Plane with extra leg room.  Clubs and Players alike must wonder if indeed the Players have decent Insurance when on Scotland duty given the cost cutting travel arrangements.  How Club Managers must have been concerned and how Clubs must have sought assurances regards the Loan of their Club’s prized assets.  This is what Gordon Strachan had to fight against in addition to Playing against three proficient Nations all of whom threw Money at their National teams Players not like Scotland looked to cut corners.  The Republic Of Ireland especially given that they had still to spend their FIFA hush money  did not scrimp or save they did not even gamble they simple treated their Players in a similar way and to same standards as Manchester United or Chelsea .  Stuart Regan treated the Scotland National Team worse than a Highland League Team on a long distance Cup Tie.  So is it no wonder that the team performed so badly ?  Blame Pitch Invaders, Bad Refereeing or indeed Dodgy Playing Surfaces all you want but if a Skilled Highly Paid pampered Player suddenly realises he is being treated badly then National Pride is not enough to keep you motivated.  The Travelling Army of Fans might bleat about being Scottish, berate Players all you want but if there is a culture of cost cutting and you are the main victim of this then maybe you wont be as determined to spend next summer being hotelled at the whim of Stuart “Ebenezer Scrooge” Regan.

If Money is tight at the SFA then cut the fat in an intelligent way.  I am not for inhumane treatment but how about a Blazer Cull.  Kill off some of the nonsensical committees and Positions.  Regan Must simply go like Sir Stephen House he has been consistently shown to be a failure.  Neil Doncaster must follow this two are not the Morecambe and Wise of Scottish Football more the Barry and Paul Chuckle!  The Tartan Army screams at clubs week in week out “SACK THE BOARD” at their Clubs yet seem to accept “Glorious Failure” at National Level.  Here is a thought Georgia Away and Poland at Home are not Glorious Failures more “indignatious Defeats”   Willie Miller said that following the Six Nil victory against Gibraltar it felt like celebrating failure and that is exactly correct and why I suggest that Willie be approached to take over from the Destroyer of Yorkshire Cricket Regan and as an additional idea why not invite Gordon Smith to replace Doncaster.  Both have Business experience both have opinions that in truth are shared by most Scots and both  would do a better job than the two incumbents.  Also the main Professional Game Board [Chairman: Rod Petrie (Scottish FA)
Members: Alan McRae (Scottish FA), Stewart Regan (Scottish FA), Ralph Topping (SPFL), Peter Lawell (SPFL), Neil Doncaster (SPFL), Duncan Fraser (SPFL), Mike Mulraney (SPFL), Sandy Stables (SHFL) and Andrew Waddell (SLFL)] should be radically changed they sanctioned the cost cutting they approved the stragigy they should be forced out of Position and new more forward thinking Office Bearers should be installed.

As the only Home Nation not to progress a complete clear out of the National Association is the only way forward.  The reasons why I am not demanding Strachan and Co to go is simple Who do you get to replace them there simply is not Prince Of Wales waiting in the Wings.  Greame Souness is probably the only candidate.  Souness has not managed in anger for a number of years and given the Bad Blood between him and the SFA I would doubt he will ever be installed as Head Coach.  If Strachan and Team do not continue then who is there Is Stuart Baxter still doing the rounds?  He was the phantom candidate for every managerial position in the Nineties surely he could return to coach the National team.

It’s a mess on the whole who ever is the Head Coach then given an aging Squad I feel that some players should frame their shirts from Gibraltar because they wont get another one.  Allan Hutton, Scott Brown Shaun Maloney and other over thirties are they really going to be fit to carry the jersey in Russia 2018 let alone to take the Nation to the next Euros in 2020.  With some great Players with Scottish Accents plying their Trade in Scotland (low travel costs) then why has the Scotland Squad been filled by Mockney Cockney Scots from the ENGLISH CHAMPIONSHIP.  Kenny McLean, Barry McKay, Lee Wallace, Mark Renyolds, Greame Shinnie, James Forrest and James McArthur.  All younger and leaner and not jaded by the Scottish Costcutter Association.

As a flippant note it’s time we ditched the uninspiring unofficial Anthem of “Flower Of Scotland” and returned to the true National Anthem of “Scotland The Brave”.  Fair enough no one knows the words but history shows when we Scots stuck to the Official Anthem of history instead of the cod folk song cobbled together on the back of a beer mat the national team actually qualitfied for World Cups before we all became Mathematic Professors figuring out permuntations on how to qualify not road sweepers two games from the end of the Qualifying Leagues cleaning up the debries of a national shame.

Scotland used to look at Belgium as an example but unlike Netherlands Scotland are down and show no signs of getting up.  Weighed down by Bulky Blazers and self-interest abusing the Tartan Army and hurting the National Pride year in year out.  The Next SFA Chef must look to Asda not Aldi the nation might never be Waitrose or Marks and Spencers but the nation deserves better than the discount bulk buy its being force-fed.

Aberdeen Celtic Match Report

14 Sep

Aberdeen stormed two points clear at top of Premiership with a two one victory over Celtic.
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The early kick off saw both teams field attacking set ups. The first half was a battle of wills as much as skills as Celtic tried to bully and dominate a defiant Dons. The fans in the paddock may of sung stand free but the Reds on the pitch stood firm. Neither keeper was really troubled by anything other than goal kicks. Although Leigh Griffiths deflected free kick hitting the crossbar could of changed the face of the game had it deflected lower.  A penalty converted by Leigh Griffiths following a foul by Andy Considine on the Celtic number Nine.  Griffiths assertion that Considine should of been sent off as He (Griffiths) would of scored belies his own confidence but is also a tad disrespectful to Danny Ward who has saved Aberdeen more times than not this season. The Celtic strikers post match remarks will no doubt be subject to a review by the SFA compliance officers this week. 

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Halftime score flattered Celtic neither team deserved a lead at the interval. Some would say the game got bogged down in midfield but I personally loved the battles in the middle. The second half started in much the same manner although Derek McInnes halftime chat must of reminded his Dons they were playing in their house.  They looked more purposful in attack and probed into dangerous areas.

A massive Penalty shout for the Dandy Dons was turned away as Officials deemed the ball striking former Don Charlie Mulgrew’s arm accidental. This may of been playing on the officials mind Celtic’s Boyata clashed legs with Greame Shinnie in the area for a foul tackle that in all probability did not need to be made. Craig Thompson pointed to the spot to the delight of the hone support.  Adam Rooney equalised and eleven minutes in the game was all square. Both Penalties were correct if not soft and how the Mulgrew Handball was not given living by the standards set by the four SFA appointees is a point of debate. The bookings were strange and the red card that followed for Jonny Hayes was perplexing from my angle of looked nothing to report indeed twenty years ago it would of been a run of the mill tackle.   Personally speaking I think Craig Thompson will regret being hasty when he reviews the incident.  He may also want a second chance at his decision to not punish Aberdeen’s Kenny McLean for a impatient kick that caught ball and a prone Lustig in front of both dougouts and fourth official.

In spite of the red card Celtic then concietitly expected victory to just come without really exposing Aberdeens one man deficit. The lack of imagination and flare showed Celtic to be one paced and predictable. Scotland Skipper Scott Brown snarled and looked to inspire even though it looked more like a man trying to do everything. Aberdeen on the other hand boosted by a full house went even more attacking after the Red Card.  Urged on by Derek McInnes and Tony Docherty the Dons doggidly defended and probed the increasingly desperate hoops. The winning goal exposed Celtics defence everyone including Paul Quinn himself was surprised the looping cross fell right at him. Quinn took the chance beautifully leaving Scotland Goalie Craig Gordon rueing his decision not to come and claim. Celtic Captain Brown lost his man (Quinn) this just increased the thought that Brown was nothing more than a headless chicken.

Andy Considine redemed his penalty foul in first half by clearing almost off the line in the dying minutes as a stung Celtic chased a equaliser in vain. At times Celtic looked like they were chasing shadows of their own imagination. Even three minutes of torcurous additional time could not defy the Dons a historic start to the season.My man of match Ryan Jack the Aberdeen Skipper was inspirational in just keeping everyone on track while doing everything in his brief perfectly. Not a showy performance but one that shows Aberdeen are more real deal title contenders than the nearly there at Easter of last season.

Ronny Delia takes his Celtic team to Amsterdam on Thursday where Ajax await uncomfortable in the knowledge that if Aberdeen beat Hamilton on Tuesday by the next time the hoops kick a league ball in anger the Dons could be five points in front at the top of the league.  

It says more that at the final Whistle the Reds squad to a man went to the crowd and thanked them for their support while Celtic either slipped up the tunnel or surrounded Craig Thompson for reasons it is difficult to fathom.  The two thousand far travelled fans got no recognition from their heroes. As Aberdeen made history of six straight victories in the start of league campaign it became obvious that only one team could sing ‘here we go for ten in a row’ and it was not the team from Glasgow.  With the biggest scalp out of the way Aberdeen could easily set a 10 victory league start.  Where as Celtic with a diversion of Europa League could find themselves watching the league title leave Glasgow for first time in thirty years from the prime seat of second behind the Rampant Red Roar of Aberdeen.

Stubb It Out

20 Aug

Any Club or Manager is well within their Rights to choose who they do business with.  They can pick and decide who to sell Players to whom ever they like.  They can have any motivation they choose to make Public. In fact they can have any motivation they choose not to make public too.

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Allan Stubbs playing the long game at Hungry Hippos

We all understand this but it does not stop the curious case of Allan Stubbs at Hibs.  So ok he says he didn’t want to sell a quality player to a rival, this is ok.  There is no real reason to think any other reason comes into play.  Scott Allan signs for Celtic, Hibs make a profit and life moves on.
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Hibs are due to visit Ibrox and Allan Stubbs concocts a quote on how he considers it a easy job to be Ibrox Manager. Rangers being able to spend almost limitless cash on players at the whim and whimsie of the Manager.

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Rangers Boss Mark Warburton putting up a ballsy defence against misfiring bully boy tactics from along the M8

I have to admit Mark Warburton stood up to this examination of his Rangers Regime rather well. It takes balls to stand up to a bully especially one publicly displaying little knowledge of Rangers History.

It’s not as if the Scouser has ever been more than a visitor at Ibrox. Stubbs rather than concentrating on his own mismanagement of Hibs (look at the start to the season for the Leith Club) or even his disaterious Coaching of the Easter Road side last season (put out of promotion play offs at semi final stage by the worse Rangers squad ever) has decided to turn on the revitalised Teddy Bears under Mark Warburton and David Weir. No mention from the former Celtic centre back of the well publicised rebuilding of the structures and systems within Rangers. No mention that quiet possibly Warburton having to rebuild coaching and scouting and playing squad at Murray Park may be detrimental to the results week in week out. No gentle dig that maybe if Rangers had the Scouting and Coaching Network of Hibernian they could of saved a many column inches in the summer of 2015 by signing free agent Scott Allan in the summer of 2014.

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Mark Warburon and David Weir rebuilding Rangers

Stubbsy devoid of talent, manners, grace and gumption takes aim at Rangers and misses all the easy targets to spectacularly misfire at the one element of the Warburton / Weir management that actually no one had noticed. The reason for no one noticing is that it’s a non issue. Rangers spending this summer has not been extreme. It seems to be well within Budgets of lower end Scottish Premiership and top of Scottish Championship. It is certainly not in the Manchester City or Chelsea or English Premier League levels of many hundreds of millions.

Remember no one put these words into Gormless Gaffer Stubbs mouth. Unless someone is working him from behind no one is forcing him to say these pattently off target remarks. Ir is possible that cash strapped Hibernian will use the transfer fee from Celtic to employ a Public Relations Spin doctor to reel the Manager back into a world that even Hibs Fanatic Irvine Welsh would consider non-fiction. Maybe the Rangers Stubbs remembers facing while a Celtic Player spend wildly but then again wasn’t he in hoops as the product of Celtic splashing the cash?

This is really at the Heart of Stubbs statements every one of his recent tirade against Rangers has exposed his own laughable hypocrisy. Scott Allan asking for a transfer or engineering a transfer from Hibs is in Stubbs’ eyes bad even though it’s exactly what he did as a player at Bolton. Rangers putting unsolicited bids in on Players is distruptive even though His Hibernian Club have put bids in for Players under contract too. Interclub contact being leeked into the public domain even though the news about Scott Allan Old Firm bids came out of Easter Road not Glasgow.

Sir Alex Fergusion was the master of the mind games in his tenure as Manager of Manchester United Allan Stubbs is showing all the signs that he is not even the Master of Hungry Hippos in his management in Leith. In a City full of Comedians every Fringe Festival August Allan Stubbs is appearing in Edinburgh all year round.

Ladbrokes SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP PREDICTIONS

10 Aug

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Ladbrokes SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP PREDICTIONS

1
CELTIC

2
ABERDEEN

3
DUNDEE

4
ST JOHNSTONE

5
HEARTS

6
MOTHERWELL

7
INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE

8
ROSS COUNTY

9
PARTICK THISTLE

10
KILMARNOCK

11
HAMILTON ACADEMICALS

12
DUNDEE UNITED

Once again The Scottish Premiership is upon us and only a fool would tip anyone but Celtic to win it.  Ronny Delia can hardly be flushed with a League, League Cup double and an insipid European adventure that had everything in its story including Lawyers.  Delia has a very tricky job he is not only expected to win the league before the spilt but he has to do this in a style that pleases a massive fan base.  It is very difficult to predict what kind of season Celtic will have but you can say they win this league.  Virgil Van Dyke is a talisman but a failure in Europe will mean that he simply makes the club a nice profit following transfer window.
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Aberdeen in Second a lack of silverware last term did not lose Derek McInnes the fickle Dons Fans support.  Intelligent clever signings like Graeme Shinnie in addition to January signing Kenny McLean adds freshness to the squad as well as increasing the skill level.  A very pacey talented squad with a Manager proving to be in the frame for any bigger job. The big question is have Aberdeen got the bottle to stay in the hunt and run Celtic close.  Drawing at Pittodrie against Partick and dropping points after good results was their downfall last term.  If this club needed a theme tune, it has to be Journeys “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Third Place for me is a surprise and controversially I am pluming for Dundee.  Paul Hartley has managed to turn Club 12 round, the attacking style with solid defence for me is a potent mix, and if you are going to offend a city, you may as well offend half the City.  A visit to Dens dripping in History is a tricky experience and gives the Dark Blues fans something to come out for and Dens is a tricky place that will steal points from any team at any time.

Perth with a couple of years of fleeting European experience comes up with a pleasing fourth for Tommy Wright’s Saints.  The phrase workmanlike is easy on the mind with St Johnstone Scottish Cup Winners in 2014 they seemed to miss Stevie May last year but just when they needed to get it together after Christmas that’s exactly what they did.  Any team that includes veteran James Mc Fadden passing down knowledge to younger players has to be included in your thoughts for good cup runs and occasional shock results.  As soon as they become consistent then they could even challenge higher but a sturdy fourth place.

Robbie Nelson might talk the talk but his Hearts will be broken in a very creditable fifth place.  Edinburgh’s only representative in the top League will be looking to bring some Capital Gains to Old Reekie.  The rampaging style of last season will be thwarted by more drilled skilled teams shutting down the free scoring Jambos.  Losing Danny Wilson and Jason Holt will hurt. Maroon fans have to hope that the latest crop of youth and experience shall keep them in this league and maybe even challenging for cups and looking to stabilise.  The key to smiles in Gorgie this season is post Christmas.  Keeping in the mix will be important to a team that already looks like its running on adrenaline.
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Escaping Relegation last season Ian Barrowclough will look to push on from the lucky escape last year.  From Ugly scenes to a beautiful sixth should please Motherwell.  With a crop of great young players and experience of Stephen Pearson, David Clarkson all bodes well for The Well.  I get a feeling that sixth is as good as it will get for Motherwell with a touch of claret and amber luck they may just trouble the cup semis but a consolidation season safe mid table.

John Hughes has his doubters and fans never not with something to say and always good value and his personality has infused every team he has been connected with.  The Scottish Cup Holders will miss Shinnie as he moved down the A96.  The fear of complacency runs through the Highland capital.  Caledonian Thistle shall do well at Home as the wind blows in off the Morey Firth and will give a good game away too.  Nevertheless, for me they will struggle to hit the highs of last season but again a solid mid table not really challenging but not in any danger of falling out the League or even flirting with the playoff place.

Ross County in eighth is a bit of a punt with several players joining Jim McIntyre’s squad.  Richard Foster tormented at Rangers last year must be trying to regain professional pride for one.  The problem is that as hard as you look at the Dingwall squad you cannot find any real class so you have to look for a well-drilled well-organised team.  Sadly, for the Victoria Park side that given the last couple of Years Foster does not bring that to the table.  A troubled season for Ross County the only saving grace is that there is worse in this league to stop their slide down into the danger zone.

Partick will need more than a scary mascot to survive and in Matthias Pogba they might just have enough to secure survival. He may not be as good as his brother but he is good enough to please the well-worn Maryhill Faithful.  As you would expect Firhill will supply thrills, spills and some skills hand in hand with Lisa Simpson on acid and surprises too.  Staying up with the big boys is all this club wants they will sacrifice cups to simply stay in this league and they will.

Kris Boyd, Lee McCullough join Gary Locke in a Kilmarnock team that looks on paper tired and plays worse shipping goals and looking disjoined its going to be a long season on plastic at Rugby Park.  With Questions still being unanswered in the boardroom and seats going unsold in the stands this is a club in free fall.  Like Partick above them, the numbers game means that teams worse than them will save them. Ayrshire fans must hope that. Something like a foundation lying season is in front of them and all eyes shall be on season 2016-17.  There is enough talent at this club but a lack of gelling and cohesiveness will be the failure.

Hamilton will want to forget 2015 already and I feel this year will not appear in any big selling DVDs at the club shop Martin canning has simply not been able to keep up the standards of Norwich’s Alex Neil.  There may well be a new sensational young player bursting from the most productive youth system in Scotland but August to January saved this club last season and without a great start like that again then this club will simply slip quietly into eleventh and the play off position.  With my other prediction for the Ladbrokes Scottish Championship a rematch against Hibs seems likely and that tie if it occurs already has the mouth watering.  A lowly position but without any light it seems a dark season is in the offing for Accies.
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Twelfth place in my predictions goes to Dundee United.  I simply do not care how financially greedy the club was.  I also do not care how much commission Jackie McNamara got if you lose Makay-Stevens, Armstrong and Cifti then it is no wonder you lose games.  I am not saying these players are bigger than the club is but as a collection of loses it means you lose and lose badly.  United look disjointed without a direction and a shambles of the side that started last season.  I predict also that the Manager must be favourite to be sacked this season.