Socrates MacSporran

Socrates MacSporran
No I am not Chick Young, but I can remember when Scottish football was good

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Another Stormy Year Ahead For The Real Rainjurrz Men

AM I the only person who thinks 2017 did not end well for Rangers? Sure, confirming Graeme Murty as manager for the remainder of the season might have bought them time, but, the fact is – the team is well off the pace in the league, the financial situation isn't getting any better and the divided board is beset by problems on all sides.

Graeme Murty - a period of stability, but, rather him than me

The principal problem, of course, is the Chairman, the King over the water remains more of a liability than an asset to the club. He is still a Glib and Shameless Liar and many Real Rangers Men, are beginning to see King Gasl as more of a “Reel Rainjurrz Man”.

Then, to add to the woes, on Hogmanay, Nottingham Forest sacked Mark Warburton – which I reckon could mean Mr Warburton being more than a little-more interested, now he has spare time on his hands, to secure his financial future by extracting the moneys he thinks he is due from Rangers.

Add the ongoing situation apropos King Gasl's dispute with the Take-Over Panel and, it is clear, m'learned friends will continue to get a good living out of the club.

Then there was yesterday's Old Firm game at Celtic Park. With my long-held refusal to have anything to do with Sky, I was forced to listen to BBC Radio Shortbread's commentary and, quite honestly, from the chances Celtic missed in that first half, Brendan Rodgers would be quite within his rights to fine his players for sloppiness.

 Brendan Rodgers - could well fine his team for sloppiness

Of course, as anyone with the faintest level of football knowledge will tell you, this is not a great Celtic team, so, in their second-half fight-back, Rangers could and should have won the game. However, if the current Celtic team is a pale shadow of the Lisbon Lions, the current Rangers team is even further off the level of the great Rangers teams of the past, such as the Scot Symon outfit in which Jim Baxter pulled the strings or the all-conquering Iron Curtain Defence team of 1949.

That's another wee problem to be sorted. Mr Murty has apparently been told, any recruitment at the January sales has to be on a one-out – one-in basis, and one or two of Pedro the Portuguese's recruits, having failed to set the heather on fire, will need to be off-loaded at a loss.

On the other hand, all seems sweetness and light across the city. Except, while out on their own in Scotland, Celtic will I feel certain, struggle in the Europa League. The cry is no defenders for a start. It will be interesting to see who comes in, and who goes out, over the next month.

Elsewhere, the return of Niall McGinn might well prove to be a great boost for Aberdeen. They are worthy of their current status as the second-best team in Scotland, but, are not that far ahead of the field and a bit behind Celtic.

My own personal hope for 2018 is that the Kilmarnock revival continues and they can cement their Top Six place. Killie has the best manager in Scotland in Stevie Clarke, the question is, how long can they hang onto him? Boydie has his mojo back, suddenly we are smiling again in East Ayrshire.

The feel-good factor has extended into South Ayrshire, where Ayr United will go into 2018 at the head of the SPFL's League One. They have a two-point advantage over the chasing Raith Rovers, although, the Fifers have two games-in-hand. This particular championship race will run and run, but, under Ian McCall, something approaching the Ally Swagger is returning down Somerset Road.

Forgive me that small diversion away from the Premiership, which, regardless of the quality, certainly has width. Only six points, or two wins, separate the teams in sixth and eleventh places, and that, in any division, far less a 12-club one, adds up to a competitive division.

Owen Coyle - you can never write-off one of his teams

Ross County are in the dangerous relegation slot, but, you never write-off an Owen Coyle-managed team.

The Championship is traditionally the toughest division to get out of, but, given the several happy years I spent covering St Mirren, I have a soft spot for the table-topping Buddies and nothing would give me more pleasure than to see the friends I made there, who are still at the club – guys like Tony Fitzpatrick, Campbell Kennedy, the Commercial Manager, and super groundsman Tommy Docherty back in the top flight.

They will face a tough fight with Dundee United for the automatic promotion slot and, while these two look like at the very least being in the play-offs, who joins them is a serious dog fight.

THE Scottish Junior Cup, third round backlog continued on Saturday, with the four outstanding matches again falling foul of the bad weather.

But, there was one significant result on the day, with Kilwinning Rangers travelling to Fortress Beechwood and beating Auchinleck Talbot 1-0. The Buffs have been on a downer in recent seasons, but, are now coming back, and currently lead the Super Premier Division.

In fact, there is a strange look to the table, with the three Garnock Valley clubs – Kilwinning, Beith and Kilbirnie in the first three places, ahead of Talbot. There's a long way still to go, but, this is a great way for North Ayrshire, which has been playing the poor relations to the East Ayrshire Trinity of Talbot, Cumnock and Glenafton in recent seasons.

And, speaking of comebacks, it is good to see Petershill, unbeaten after ten games, leading the West First Division, while Craigmark Burntonians, who nearly went out of the game at the end of last season, are leading the Ayrshire League.

That's it for 2017, see you across the bells in 2018 and, a Happy New Year, when it comes.

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