Tag Archives: Old Firm

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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House Call

18 Nov

Police Scotland would call it Proactive Policing.  I call it making a big deal out of nothing.

When it comes to football someone within the bowels of Police Scotland has hit on a winning formula. 

First thing to do is stoke up a bit of panic.  The beautifully contridiction of terms “Police Inteligence” suggests “trouble ahead!” Pre-empting, predicticting and  panicking the PUBLIC. 

Second, reassure and refrain.  Make sure that the public can be calm safe in the knowledge that the thin blue line is Enforcing the law and keeping the bad bogie men away from anywhere they could cause any problems.

Third is a double route. If as usually happens no trouble occurs and you get a barage of complaints about heavy handed policing. Well you refer the public to step one. The unprovable, unpublished evidence of intelligence reports. Then congratulate yourselves for using the new powers and laws you confused Politicians into providing you with.

If there is any trouble then blame anything that does not wear blue, alcohol, football or absolutely everyone (apart from The police intelligence guys who spectacularly missed the point or the Police Management on the day). And demand more powers and funding from politicians.

I say this because with the prospect of the first Old Firm game 5 weekends into 2015 and the Auld Enemy freindly, the oxymorons at Police Scotland Football Inteligence Unit have been working overtime. Not since South Yorkshire Police Force following Hillsbourgh has a Police force been more imaginative and creative in it’s smoke and mirrors show. Sir Stephen House’s Police Scotland has became a poor version of the Met Office. Predicting Storms on nothing more than evidence of the cows sitting down in the fields that morning. The idiocy of suggesting that the league cup semi final gets played on a week night to avoid trouble sums up the imagination of Police Scotland. You could play a old firm game of tiddlywinks on a Rockall and fifteen thousand fans would buy tickets. If Police Scotland think that it’s kick off time that effects football crowds then it’s once again missed the point. Remember as recently as the Scotland Republic Of Ireland game on a Friday night there was issues. Police Scotland excuses “people turned up late”. As long as there has been any mass supported event people have turned up as close to kick off/curtain up. This is not the fabled police intelligence we are lead to trust more a example of Police forgetfulness.

Sir Stephen House has used football to push through laws often so badly written that they are not much better than useless. Strangely though these laws are not solely used to police soccer. A suripticious side effect is the vague laws pushed through to solve the latest Police Problem at Football are used against Joe Q Public walking down the street at 3am on a tuesday morning in July. When football is not even included in the events.

Is it too tiresome to expect Police Scotland to simply quietly do their job without heralding or over egging events in advance, becoming Krystalnicht Storm Troupers at the event and not publicaly congratulating themselves on a job well done (the applauding the Airline Pilot for landing syndrome) or moaning, blaming (before any court judgement), demanding more funding and powers.

And of course forgetting that they are there and paid to do a job. No one forces them and we the public thank them for being there but stop the cycle of spinning. The armed forces don’t make a big deal out of their work.

In years passed too many of today’s Senior Policemen watched Cagney and Lacey. Growing up watching The Bill they thought Police work was Glamourous dramatic and most crimes were solved within a Hour apart from the really tricky ones that justified a two part special! The second you attempt to justify armed officers wondering round a sleepy town like Inverness in the face of public opinion then you really have to find a mirror.

You know Statistically you are more likely NOT to be a victim of a crime than you are to actually be one. That’s a scarey fact isn’t it and you know that statistic has remained reletively constant from the days before Sir Robert Peel!

Sir Stephen and his cronies should simply shut up remember they are not Law Lords sitting in Court making Judgements passing Sentences. While they are at it maybe remembering that they are not Rosemary and Thyme, Inspector Morse or Jack Bauer, It’s time Police Scotland did what they are employed and paid at great cost to do. Police and uphold the law.

Cancel All Leave.

30 Oct

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The four teams that remain in hat for The Scottish League Cup Semi finals have it has to be said a look of familar suspects about them.  Aberdeen, Celtic, Dundee United and Rangers.  All uniquely motivated to reach the Final at Hampden on March 15th 2015.  All hoping for the impossible a favourable Draw.  In the world of the “Hot Ball” Consipracy theorists this draw will be big news.  Ties to be played on the 31st of January and 1st of Februry, so that is nearly three months to look forward to the semis.

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Holders Aberdeen must be thinking they can beat the other three.  A bit of history beating Celtic last year in Cup competitions. 

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Dons Boss Derek McInnes

They will fancy beating their erstwhile “New Firm” compagnions and will want to play Rangers just even to see if they can.

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Celtic will fear no one and look to give Ronny Delia his first trophy as boss and make up for the lack of cups in their recent history. 

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Celtic Boss Ronny Delia

Their fans will scream for a Old Firm match they have been missed by most.  Aberdeen in a semi would be a good game, the open space of Hampden suiting both teams ethos of attack.  Dundee United wary of a repeat of the drubing they recieved in the league would be a more defensive opposition.

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Dundee United will hope for a Rangers tie in semi they are no strangers to Rangers having beaten the Ibrox team in cups the last two seasons.  

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United Manager Jackie

A New Firm tie would probably be the most entertaining and a tie against Celtic would be a park the bus job.

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Rangers are not anywhere near the standard required to compete regularly at this level yet. For the Ibrox loyal a sense of invincibility is at least two years away. It is a complete turn around in fortunes and mentality.  Rangers are underdogs and as Rangers have in 143 years of history a panchant for being included in underdog shocks albeit as the big team losers so maybe its time for Ally McCoist’s men to be the victors in a Cup surprise. 

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Rangers Gaffer won the League Cup as a player

The League Cup has been good to Rangers in all its guises so who knows.

That is of course a purely football matter of opinion as we know the off field ramifications of these four clubs being in the same hat with a ONE HUNDRED PERCENT chance of a Semi Final Tie with extra spice and a FIFTY PERCENT CHANCE of a FINAL with the same pleases only the Sponsors and Media. 

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The Police are for want of a better phrase CANCELLING ALL LEAVE the Last Weekend of January 2015. In addition to a added provisional cancellation on Sunday March 15.

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The reasons are simple for all to see. With the recent history of these four clubs as far as Police Scotland are concerned Aberdeen or Celtic or Dundee United can’t be trusted to play Rangers. The oxymoron called Police Inteligence will already be monitoring the internet. That special squad of Football Police based in the dungeons of Glasgow’s Helen Street Office will be racking up overtime. Shame is that any man in the street could tell you this, Police Scotland will decend onto Hampden in numbers resembling the Normandy Landings display their usual Guantamino Bay style courteousy to any Fan in the area.

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Using the power of Police Inteligence miss or be late for any incident inside or outside the ground. Arrest some people for singing the wrong words to the wrong tunes. Monitor the assault charge statistics post match. Then a day or so later congratulate themselves on a bad job well done blame alcohol consumption and send a bill to SPFL.

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There is a bonus of the games being played at Hampden. It will be good to see the pitch back after the commonwealth games. This neutral venue on Glasgow will of course upset one Chairman. Mr Moan will no doubt emerge from under the speccy stone in the Tangerine side of Dundee and suggest that it’s no fair on his fans to have to travel. Old firm fans won’t care where the game is played. With the resounding success of last year’s displaced final at Celtic Park, prints still on sale in the club shop Aberdeen won’t mind one bit.

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43,000 Dons fans League Cup Final 2014

Who knows Steven “huffy” Thompson might give his customers a break and go into the club officials area at Hampden rather than inflict himself on his fans because he didn’t like the owners of the neutral venue that was hired out to a organisation he sat on ruling body that actually approved the fixture.

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Petty and Illinformed

The man who must be spending the family silver bestowed on him by his bigoted Former Motherwell FC Supporting Father Eddie on a pipe dream must now be the definition of Petty.

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Former Motherwell Fan and Dundee United Chief Cheerleader

Even the poisoned dwarf of Lorraine “I support my home town team, oh no I dont” Kelly has removed herself from Stephen Thompson.

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East Kilbride Born Kelly

What can we expect from Rangers fans? Thousands of them no boycotts this time out. We all know the level of displeasure that Bluenose will direct at any of the three others fans whatever the draw throws up. This will undoubtedly create a atmosphere that we haven’t seen since some if the 1970’s Scotand England Matches.

I been to Old Firm games where you lost your voice, games where you shook for hours as adrenaline coursed through your body. Boring games where both teams cancelled each other out. Games where the fans created something beyond football, and not always the twisted voices so loved by Politician and Police alike.

In fairness I have been to games between Aberdeen and Old Firm that have came closer to this intensity than has been reported.

Make no mistake who ever makes the draw on BBC Sportscene Results on Saturday makes history. Then we wait like the surfer in the Guiness Horses in the surf advert.

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This wait will focus the mind of the four clubs whom I predict will forge on til new year fuelled by the prospect of these semi finals. There will be a lot of football to be played and a Transfer window to boot.