WELL, thankfully that's over. We have had the “No Longer the Old Firm” game, it finished as a draw and, while we will no doubt be subjected to lengthy complaints from the Celtic Family, that their favourites were refereed out of the victory which they feel is theirs by right, over the ghosts of Rangers past, the fact is, Celtic's run of wins has been halted, although, they remain on-course to go through the domestic season unbeaten.
Now, as the carnival packs up until the next one, the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden, can we perhaps examine some of the continuing problems besetting Scottish football?
If we accept it is a case of when, not if, Celtic win the 2016-17 League campaign, because, in terms of management, finances and squad depth, they are in a class of their own in Scotland, and that none of the rest will get close to them any time soon – where can we find something to enthuse about in our top division?
Well, with five of the clubs in mid-table within six points, or two wins, of each other, we can argue with justification, that ours is a highly-competitive top league. The fact the quality is not good is, however, undeniable. We are in a hole, with no way out of that hole being obvious.
There is a lot of shite being written about “Project Brave”, the plan to produce better, home-grown players in the future. However, even if – which I doubt, the stumble-bums who are supposed to run our game from Hampden will allow or facilitate – Project Brave works, we will not see positive results for some years yet.
Scottish football's dog has too-small a head, too skinny a body and too-long a tail to ever be any good. We need to work through an improvement programme which will pay off. But, again, I don't see the wit or willingness at Hampden to make this happen.
The same problems, by the way, beset Scottish rugby, but, that game, like Scottish football, suffers from the curse of aye-beenism: “Ye canna dae that son, it's aye been done this wey”, will continue to stifle change and improvement.
I WISH the new Rangers' Manager/Head Coach or whatever, Pedro Caixinha all the luck in the world in his new job – and, by God he will need it.
He has joined a loss-making club, without a credit line at a bank; a club being kept going by soft loans from directors and fans, with a Chairman who, quite frankly is toxic, has been described as “A glib and shameless liar” by a learned South African judge and has zero credibility. His every move will be subjected to critical examination by all branches of the Scottish football media, to an extent he has surely never experienced before. Also, a lot of the “fans with lap tops” who will be watching him, have their own agenda to work.
He will be assailed on all sides by advice from former players and managers, all determined to be controversial and to keep their noses in the media trough. Caixinha has no previous experience of working in British, far-less Scottish football. I don't see anyone around Murray Park (or whatever it is called these days) on a daily basis able to offer guidance and advice of a way through the minefield which is Scottish football.
The sensible thing would, I believe, have been to have appointed a Director of Football first – if, as we are led to believe, that is the road Rangers are going down, then appoint a Head Coach. But, this Rangers board has consistently failed to do the sensible thing.
The players put in a good shift at Celtic Park today, but, the truth cannot be avoided, few are what we have long called: “Rangers Class”. If Rangers are to mount a meaningful challenge to Celtic's dominance of domestic football, the players who are there will have to show hitherto undemonstrated levels of ability and application.
Even then, serious recruiting will need to be done over the summer, and, we have to question if funds are there for this process to be successful.
At least if, this week, he can get “the stenographers” (tm. Phil Mac Giolla Bhain) on-board and on-message, he will have a honeymoon period, but: forrit tho Ah canna see, Ah guess and fear”.
THIS blog has never hidden its love for Junior football, so might I draw your attention to a monumental happening at the weekend? The mighty Glenafton Athletic, my own village team, has gone top of the West of Scotland Superleague. This has resulted in a spate of nose bleeds in the village.
However, the Glen have been playing really well this season, which is a tribute to the efforts of manager Craig McEwan and his players. The natives are happy with progress this season.
On Saturday, the Glen will be in Scottish Junior Cup action, entertaining Sauchie at Loch Park in the quarter-finals. I shall return to the four ties later in the week, but, there are some belters in there.