Socrates MacSporran

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

Monday, 12 March 2018

Oh Dear! Oh Dear! Oh Dear! - Disaster For Rangers

THE soundtrack to Sunday's Old Firm game at Ibrox is easy to work-out; it has to be that Elvis classic: 'Old Shep' – with a slight alteration to the lyrics. “But, when it came to it – Rangers just couldn't do it.”

The new Rangers' strip - to go with their new theme song

There is now no way anyone can see Celtic not completing seven in a row. Saint Jude, the patron saint of lost causes would not put money on anyone other than Celtic now going-on to win the league. Change the Ibrox soundtrack, instead of 'Penny Arcade', the Roy Orbison song of choice for the remainder of the season has to be: 'It's Over.'

To NOT beat ten men, at home, well, that demonstrates how far off being “Rangers Class” the current Ibrox squad is. Remember, this is not a great Celtic squad, they are beatable, but, Rangers could not do it. Graeme Murty, or someone else if the board goes down the road of appointing someone else, still has a huge task on his hands bridging the gap.

Douglas Ross MP - Tories like to be wee nyaffs, but, he's abusing that right

The red card, by the way, seemed to be of the stone-wall variety. A stupid challenge, which left Douglas Ross and Willie Collum with no alternative. That said, Ross's clear calls for a red card were a bit over the top. I get the impression, even if he wasn't a Conservative MP, Mr Ross would be a nasty wee shite. Thankfully, Scottish football will be well rid of him at the end of the season, when he gives up his part-time job of making Saturdays difficult for up to 60,000 football fans, for his full time seven-days-per-week job of making life difficult for over 5,000,000 people living in Scotland.

I think the big bonus for a delighted Brendan Rodgers was the performance of debutant goalkeeper Scott Bain. The Celtic Blog;s occasional series: “They Shamed the Hoops”, chronicles several instances of goalkeepers, perhaps promoted in an emergency, “melting” or more-ironically “freezing” in the cauldron of an Old Firm game and selling the jerseys. There was never any chance of Bain doing that on Sunday.

Bain might, in different circumstances, have been capped by now, he was certainly in one or two full Scotland squads before it all went wrong for him at Dundee, and I believe he can get back to that standard.

I reckon he is a better 'keeper than De Vries, and, with a run in the team, could make it very-difficult for Craig Gordon to get back. That two points-saving double save at the end was quality, as were several stops before that.

Leigh Griffiths - a very naughty bhoy

Old Firm games are no places for neutrals, but, from a neutral's perspective, watching the highlights, the goals were crackers. Finally, the spectating Leigh Griffiths – he might not be the Messiah, but, he's a very naughty bhoy.

THE OLD FIRM game book-ended the footballing week-end, along with Friday night's Edinburgh Derby at Easter Road.

I know Neil Lennon is not the graceless wee nyaff he is sometimes made out to be, and, I hope he remembers to send a nice bottle of wine over to Tynecastle for Craig Levein. After all, I am sure big Craig's: “Natural order restored” quip was the text for wee Lenny's pre-match sermon to his troops.

I AM not sure what to make of Alex McLeish's first Scotland squad of his second coming as National Team Manager. It's all very well a new broom and all that, but, I would have liked to have seen a bit more continuity from the Strachan era – I think we can overlook Malky Mackay's single game as caretaker.

OK, Scott Brown has retired, again, from Scotland duty, while the likes of Leigh Griffiths is injured, but, I question the sense in omitting Darren Fletcher, the natural squad leader in Brown's absence. It may be, McLeish sees this as a good point at which to end Fletcher's hugely-impressive Scotland career; after all, he is a lot closer to hanging-up his boots than to being a first-pick for Scotland, but, I'd have had him in there for his experience.

Darren Fletcher - might his long Scotland career be over?

The same scenario applies to Christophe Berra, who has been having a great season with Hearts, and who had forged a strong central defensive partnership with Charlie Mulgrew.

There will be a new captain, and, while there will be calls to give the job to Kieran Tierney, as I have said before, I would wait until he inherits the Celtic arm band from Brown, as he surely will, and has some experience of that job, before burdening him with the Scotland arm band. As a “Regent” as it were, during the inter-interregnum, I would perhaps go with Mulgrew.

As a former 'keeper myself, I am always interested in who gets the call-up for the job. Big Eck has chosen three 'keepers, the experienced Allan McGregor and the uncapped duo of Jordan Archer and Hearts' Joe McLaughlin, whose first Scotland call-up this is.

The little I have seen of Archer, who has been in a few recent Scotland squads it has to be said, has not impressed me. I would rather have seen Jamie Macdonald of Kilmarnock called-up than McLaughlin, while McGregor is currently playing second fiddle to David Marshall at Hull City, which makes me question Eck's preference.

Mind you, if he carries on from his display on Sunday, I don't think it will be long before Scott Bain of Celtic has the number one jersey.

The squad is:

Goalkeepers - Jordan Archer (Millwall), Alan McGregor (Hull City), Jon McLaughlin (Heart of Midlothian).

Defenders - Barry Douglas (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Grant Hanley (Norwich City), Russell Martin (Rangers) *, Scott McKenna (Aberdeen), Charlie Mulgrew (Blackburn Rovers), Callum Paterson (Cardiff City), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), Kieran Tierney (Celtic).

Midfielders - Stuart Armstrong (Celtic), Tom Cairney (Fulham), James Forrest (Celtic), Ryan Fraser (Aberdeen), Kevin McDonald (Fulham), Dylan McGeouch (Hibernian), John McGinn (Hibernian), Calum McGregor (Celtic), Kenny McLean (Aberdeen) *, Scott McTominay (Manchester United), Jamie Murphy (Rangers) **, Matt Ritchie (Newcastle United).

Forwards - Ryan Christie (Aberdeen) ***, Jason Cummings (Rangers) ****, Oliver McBurnie (Barnsley) *****, Matt Phillips (West Bromwich Albion).

* On loan from Norwich City; ** On loan from Brighton & Hove Albion; *** On loan from Celtic;
**** On loan from Nottingham Forrest; ***** On loan from Swansea City.

McLeish has also introduced a new back-up coaching team of Peter Grant, James McFadden and goalkeeping coach Stevie Woods. The squad will play Costa Rica on 23 March, at Hampden, before flying to Budapest, to face Hungary, four days later.

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