Tag: Celtic

Ugly Goes Underground

Voices floating over Hadrian’s Wall after Sunday’s Old Firm derby sounded curiously, positive. Curiously positive in the sense that, with so much about Scottish football being accompanied by the sound of a death knell of late, hearing something good about two SPL clubs struck a more upbeat note. Rangers and Celtic gave those in attendance at Ibrox, along with those watching abroad, a fierce display of quality football for the majority of the ninety minutes, showcasing much of the skill and drama that draws us to this game. As opposed to previous iterations where fans might have thought they were attending a fight and a game of football broke out, Sunday’s affair gave us a match that was purely about the football and little else. There was that peach of a goal from Celtic’s Gary Hooper to level the match in the 34th minute, followed by Scotland’s No. 1 producing a howler that would have made Robert Green nostalgic if he were watching, and gave Hoops the halftime lead. Ally McCoist then answered some questions about him that have been asked since his appointment as Rangers manager, weaving into this particular match’s narrative his personal story of redemption. Having set his halftime hairdryer to the appropriate setting as well as correctly adjusting his tactical schemes to overturn the shock deficit, McCoist provided his squad the better plan with which...

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An Old Firm Apology

According to the calendar, it is time to bash the first Old Firm match of this season. After all, ample material currently exists to do so just on their recent performances in Europe alone. Rangers failed to keep their European campaign alive past August whereas Celtic’s grand contribution was successfully challenging UEFA on the validity of an FC Sion squad that bested them on the pitch and in so doing earned default 3-0 victories off the pitch. The league coefficient enthusiasts politely chuckled at how Celtic’s fortunes were better served when they were not playing. On the evening Rangers, Celtic, and Heart of Midlothian were bounced from Europe, BBC Radio Scotland commentators immediately chastised the Old Firm, stating supporters of the two clubs should care less about the rivalry played out at Ibrox and Celtic Park and more about the shame heaped upon them by their continental transgressions. A good portion of the less than positive views on Scottish football at the moment stems from an assessment of just these two clubs, from their dominance of the domestic league and their failures abroad down to their player recruitment strategies and threats to quit Scotland altogether. Granted, there are myriad sticks with which to beat Scottish football right now–feel free to pick up one for each hand and ask a friend to hold one for the national team too–but the reputation...

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The Old Firm: Mea Culpa

The main hazard attached to stridency of opinion is that you are often wrong. Sometimes, my success rate is in line with a stopped clock. And it appears my suggestion that Celtic were more sinned against than sinner in their recent Scottish Cup victory over Rangers was wide of the mark. The Scottish Football Association’s disciplinary process has found Celtic manager Neil Lennon to be primarily responsible for the disgraceful scenes during and after the match, scenes that were so shameful they needed a Scottish government summit to sort out. So what else can I say but sorry? Watching the game on TV, wanting Celtic to win, I allowed myself to be swayed by the card count (thirteen – three reds and seven yellows to Rangers ), by Rangers defender Majid Bougherra’s so-called manhandling of match referee Calum Murray and the parallel-universe behaviour of El-Hadji Diouf. This was, of course, unfair. Lennon was clearly the main culprit. Rangers didn’t go looking for the cards. And they signed Diouf as a former African Player of the Year with extensive experience in the English Premier League. How could they know he was going to behave like that in an Old Firm game? Referee Murray’s card-happiness was certainly exposed by Steven Whittaker’s unfair dismissal, as I acknowledged in my original article on this site on this subject (Celtic and Rangers: Old Firm,...

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Celtic & Rangers: Old Firm, Old Enmity, New Century

Imagine different circumstances surrounding Manchester United’s defeat at Liverpool last Sunday. Leave aside Jamie Carragher’s nasty tackle on Nani, Nani’s ability to race to the referee before collapsing in an injured heap and the glorious sight, which may stay with me forever, of referee Phil Dowd, arms folded, watching from a distance like a disapproving dinner lady on playground duty at a primary school as players from both sides got their handbags out.  Imagine instead, that United had three players sent off and nine booked. Imagine Nani crossing three-parts of the Anfield pitch to the Liverpool bench to confront Kenny Dalglish et al after the first dismissal. Make Carragher’s tackle a genuine yellow card offence, rather than the red card offence it was and have Sammy Lee pointing an accusing finger at Paul Scholes as the team’s entered the tunnel at half-time. Then imagine Wayne Rooney, already booked for raking his studs down the back of Dirk Kuyt’s leg with the ball elsewhere, sliding in on Luis Suarez in the last minute and dumping him into some pitch-side photographers before joining two-thirds of his colleagues in buffeting Dowd and attempting to snatch the yellow card from Dowd’s hand. Move on to the final whistle and imagine United’s players are into Dowd again, jostling him and threatening him, with Ryan Giggs sent off for his part. Then imagine Giggs walking...

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Clearing Up A Few Loose Ends: Celtic, Portsmouth And (Briefly) Wednesday

It’s the football scandal of a generation. And it won’t go away. Colleen Rooney, photographed blatantly sipping a cool drink by a holiday swimming  pool… while there’s a recession on!! I mean not one single British passport holder anywhere else in the world has done that in the last week. As to whether that shite really does sell newspapers, that’s a debate for someone else to start. I don’t know enough to offer an informed opinion, so I won’t offer any opinion. Something for Mail columnist Martin Samuel to ponder next time he writes about Uefa’s “financial fair play” regulations.   But elsewhere in football, while the lenses and laptops have flitted back and forth across the M62, there have been one or two real scandals. I’m confident most of you will have someone say that “there’s no use arguing with referees, they won’t change their mind.” Well… wrong. And I’m not talking about Tom Huddlestone at Fulham, where referee Mike Read gave Spurs winner after the hulking Spurs midfielder suggested Read and his assistant ought to have a chat about the use of said assistant’s flag. At Fulham, Read had not decided whether Spurs’ William Gallas, standing in an offside position, was actually “offside” as per the laws of the game. Thus we had a remarkable situation. No, not Read’s discussion with his assistant before giving the goal....

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