Dundee United

Dundee United slideshow

Andrew Robertson might be an object of adulation at Anfield now but no Kop stalwart can look him in the face and say – if one may borrow from Harry Enfield’s predatory shopkeeper – ‘I saw you coming!’ Robertson’s credentials, after all, initially underwhelmed followers of a club who would pay £75 million to make Virgil van Dijk the world’s most expensive defender. Acquired last summer from newly relegated Hull City and with an international pedigree gained with Scotland – a team excluded from the finals of major tournaments for 20 years – Robertson’s £8 million transfer represented the sort of loose change Liverpool reserve for squad players. Now, however, as Jurgen Klopp’s players prepare for Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev, the full-back is second only to Mohamed Salah as steal of the season. One man, though, did see it coming – or, at least, he guessed something of the sort. Gardner Speirs, now in charge of the Queen’s Park academy at Hampden Park, base of the only amateur club in British senior football, was the Spiders’ first team manager and in charge of summer preparations for the 2012-13 campaign. Speirs, formerly a midfielder with St Mirren, Hartlepool and Airdrie, had to address a gap in his squad. “We were due to go down to Largs on the Clyde coast to play a couple of matches inside four days but we didn’t have a left-back,” Speirs said. “Andrew was just finishing a season with the under-17s, so we took him and that’s how it happened.” What might have counted as an innocuous promotion for a teenager was, in fact, an act of rehabilitation for Robertson, who had played for Celtic’s youth teams but was judged not to be of the quality required at Parkhead. “Andy left Celtic when he was about 15 and came into our academy and, obviously, kids can react to the disappointment of leaving such a big club in a number of ways,” Speirs said. Robertson celebrates making it to the Champions League final Credit: Getty images “Andy’s response was to say, ‘I’ll prove you wrong.’ He played in the first warm-up game at Largs and I don’t think he went out of the team again until he left us. “Andy’s performances meant that we couldn’t leave him out, even though he was so young. You could see his attitude, determination and ability. He was a first pick for the whole season.” Robertson made his senior competitive debut against Berwick Rangers in an Irn-Bru Cup tie at Sheilfield Park on July 28, 2012, before a congregation of 372 souls. It was the first of Robertson’s 40 appearances for the Spiders and he would almost certainly have played in all 46 of the season’s fixtures but for injury and a suspension incurred when he was dismissed in a Scottish League Cup tie against St Johnstone for an out-of-character lunge at opposing defender, Gary Miller. His earnings for the campaign consisted of the Queen’s Park standard of remunerated travel costs – except for a stint as a part-time Christmas worker at Marks & Spencer. “I couldn’t have told you that,” Speirs said. “I saw him three nights a week and on a Saturday. He gave 100% in his training and matches, to go along with the talent he had. That’s the overriding thing that we remember. He had come from the under-17s and stepped into the first team, so we felt that at some point in the season we would have to take him out and give him a rest but there was never any suggestion of that it. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “It never crossed our minds because his performances were so good. He had thought of going to university but decided that he would take a gap year and devote himself to football. It certainly paid off in style – a fantastic story. “People talk about having the will to run. He just ran and ran into good areas and with the energy and quality he brought, he could put quality passes and crosses in. That was the season when Rangers were in our division and he played in those four games against them and did extremely well. “It’s difficult to say that he has exceeded expectations because, at the end of that season with us, I was trying desperately hard to keep him for another year. “He comes from a very grounded family, as you can see from the way that he’s been brought up. He’s prepared to work hard for everything he gets and every challenge he’s faced – whether it be coming into our first team, going to Dundee United and into their first team, then Hull City and now a club the size of Liverpool – has always been met. “On Saturday I’ll be watching and hoping for a Liverpool win and an Andy Robertson performance – which I’m sure we’ll get.”
Andrew Robertson's remarkable rise from Celtic reject to a Champions League final
Andrew Robertson might be an object of adulation at Anfield now but no Kop stalwart can look him in the face and say – if one may borrow from Harry Enfield’s predatory shopkeeper – ‘I saw you coming!’ Robertson’s credentials, after all, initially underwhelmed followers of a club who would pay £75 million to make Virgil van Dijk the world’s most expensive defender. Acquired last summer from newly relegated Hull City and with an international pedigree gained with Scotland – a team excluded from the finals of major tournaments for 20 years – Robertson’s £8 million transfer represented the sort of loose change Liverpool reserve for squad players. Now, however, as Jurgen Klopp’s players prepare for Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev, the full-back is second only to Mohamed Salah as steal of the season. One man, though, did see it coming – or, at least, he guessed something of the sort. Gardner Speirs, now in charge of the Queen’s Park academy at Hampden Park, base of the only amateur club in British senior football, was the Spiders’ first team manager and in charge of summer preparations for the 2012-13 campaign. Speirs, formerly a midfielder with St Mirren, Hartlepool and Airdrie, had to address a gap in his squad. “We were due to go down to Largs on the Clyde coast to play a couple of matches inside four days but we didn’t have a left-back,” Speirs said. “Andrew was just finishing a season with the under-17s, so we took him and that’s how it happened.” What might have counted as an innocuous promotion for a teenager was, in fact, an act of rehabilitation for Robertson, who had played for Celtic’s youth teams but was judged not to be of the quality required at Parkhead. “Andy left Celtic when he was about 15 and came into our academy and, obviously, kids can react to the disappointment of leaving such a big club in a number of ways,” Speirs said. Robertson celebrates making it to the Champions League final Credit: Getty images “Andy’s response was to say, ‘I’ll prove you wrong.’ He played in the first warm-up game at Largs and I don’t think he went out of the team again until he left us. “Andy’s performances meant that we couldn’t leave him out, even though he was so young. You could see his attitude, determination and ability. He was a first pick for the whole season.” Robertson made his senior competitive debut against Berwick Rangers in an Irn-Bru Cup tie at Sheilfield Park on July 28, 2012, before a congregation of 372 souls. It was the first of Robertson’s 40 appearances for the Spiders and he would almost certainly have played in all 46 of the season’s fixtures but for injury and a suspension incurred when he was dismissed in a Scottish League Cup tie against St Johnstone for an out-of-character lunge at opposing defender, Gary Miller. His earnings for the campaign consisted of the Queen’s Park standard of remunerated travel costs – except for a stint as a part-time Christmas worker at Marks & Spencer. “I couldn’t have told you that,” Speirs said. “I saw him three nights a week and on a Saturday. He gave 100% in his training and matches, to go along with the talent he had. That’s the overriding thing that we remember. He had come from the under-17s and stepped into the first team, so we felt that at some point in the season we would have to take him out and give him a rest but there was never any suggestion of that it. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “It never crossed our minds because his performances were so good. He had thought of going to university but decided that he would take a gap year and devote himself to football. It certainly paid off in style – a fantastic story. “People talk about having the will to run. He just ran and ran into good areas and with the energy and quality he brought, he could put quality passes and crosses in. That was the season when Rangers were in our division and he played in those four games against them and did extremely well. “It’s difficult to say that he has exceeded expectations because, at the end of that season with us, I was trying desperately hard to keep him for another year. “He comes from a very grounded family, as you can see from the way that he’s been brought up. He’s prepared to work hard for everything he gets and every challenge he’s faced – whether it be coming into our first team, going to Dundee United and into their first team, then Hull City and now a club the size of Liverpool – has always been met. “On Saturday I’ll be watching and hoping for a Liverpool win and an Andy Robertson performance – which I’m sure we’ll get.”
Andrew Robertson might be an object of adulation at Anfield now but no Kop stalwart can look him in the face and say – if one may borrow from Harry Enfield’s predatory shopkeeper – ‘I saw you coming!’ Robertson’s credentials, after all, initially underwhelmed followers of a club who would pay £75 million to make Virgil van Dijk the world’s most expensive defender. Acquired last summer from newly relegated Hull City and with an international pedigree gained with Scotland – a team excluded from the finals of major tournaments for 20 years – Robertson’s £8 million transfer represented the sort of loose change Liverpool reserve for squad players. Now, however, as Jurgen Klopp’s players prepare for Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev, the full-back is second only to Mohamed Salah as steal of the season. One man, though, did see it coming – or, at least, he guessed something of the sort. Gardner Speirs, now in charge of the Queen’s Park academy at Hampden Park, base of the only amateur club in British senior football, was the Spiders’ first team manager and in charge of summer preparations for the 2012-13 campaign. Speirs, formerly a midfielder with St Mirren, Hartlepool and Airdrie, had to address a gap in his squad. “We were due to go down to Largs on the Clyde coast to play a couple of matches inside four days but we didn’t have a left-back,” Speirs said. “Andrew was just finishing a season with the under-17s, so we took him and that’s how it happened.” What might have counted as an innocuous promotion for a teenager was, in fact, an act of rehabilitation for Robertson, who had played for Celtic’s youth teams but was judged not to be of the quality required at Parkhead. “Andy left Celtic when he was about 15 and came into our academy and, obviously, kids can react to the disappointment of leaving such a big club in a number of ways,” Speirs said. Robertson celebrates making it to the Champions League final Credit: Getty images “Andy’s response was to say, ‘I’ll prove you wrong.’ He played in the first warm-up game at Largs and I don’t think he went out of the team again until he left us. “Andy’s performances meant that we couldn’t leave him out, even though he was so young. You could see his attitude, determination and ability. He was a first pick for the whole season.” Robertson made his senior competitive debut against Berwick Rangers in an Irn-Bru Cup tie at Sheilfield Park on July 28, 2012, before a congregation of 372 souls. It was the first of Robertson’s 40 appearances for the Spiders and he would almost certainly have played in all 46 of the season’s fixtures but for injury and a suspension incurred when he was dismissed in a Scottish League Cup tie against St Johnstone for an out-of-character lunge at opposing defender, Gary Miller. His earnings for the campaign consisted of the Queen’s Park standard of remunerated travel costs – except for a stint as a part-time Christmas worker at Marks & Spencer. “I couldn’t have told you that,” Speirs said. “I saw him three nights a week and on a Saturday. He gave 100% in his training and matches, to go along with the talent he had. That’s the overriding thing that we remember. He had come from the under-17s and stepped into the first team, so we felt that at some point in the season we would have to take him out and give him a rest but there was never any suggestion of that it. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “It never crossed our minds because his performances were so good. He had thought of going to university but decided that he would take a gap year and devote himself to football. It certainly paid off in style – a fantastic story. “People talk about having the will to run. He just ran and ran into good areas and with the energy and quality he brought, he could put quality passes and crosses in. That was the season when Rangers were in our division and he played in those four games against them and did extremely well. “It’s difficult to say that he has exceeded expectations because, at the end of that season with us, I was trying desperately hard to keep him for another year. “He comes from a very grounded family, as you can see from the way that he’s been brought up. He’s prepared to work hard for everything he gets and every challenge he’s faced – whether it be coming into our first team, going to Dundee United and into their first team, then Hull City and now a club the size of Liverpool – has always been met. “On Saturday I’ll be watching and hoping for a Liverpool win and an Andy Robertson performance – which I’m sure we’ll get.”
Andrew Robertson's remarkable rise from Celtic reject to a Champions League final
Andrew Robertson might be an object of adulation at Anfield now but no Kop stalwart can look him in the face and say – if one may borrow from Harry Enfield’s predatory shopkeeper – ‘I saw you coming!’ Robertson’s credentials, after all, initially underwhelmed followers of a club who would pay £75 million to make Virgil van Dijk the world’s most expensive defender. Acquired last summer from newly relegated Hull City and with an international pedigree gained with Scotland – a team excluded from the finals of major tournaments for 20 years – Robertson’s £8 million transfer represented the sort of loose change Liverpool reserve for squad players. Now, however, as Jurgen Klopp’s players prepare for Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev, the full-back is second only to Mohamed Salah as steal of the season. One man, though, did see it coming – or, at least, he guessed something of the sort. Gardner Speirs, now in charge of the Queen’s Park academy at Hampden Park, base of the only amateur club in British senior football, was the Spiders’ first team manager and in charge of summer preparations for the 2012-13 campaign. Speirs, formerly a midfielder with St Mirren, Hartlepool and Airdrie, had to address a gap in his squad. “We were due to go down to Largs on the Clyde coast to play a couple of matches inside four days but we didn’t have a left-back,” Speirs said. “Andrew was just finishing a season with the under-17s, so we took him and that’s how it happened.” What might have counted as an innocuous promotion for a teenager was, in fact, an act of rehabilitation for Robertson, who had played for Celtic’s youth teams but was judged not to be of the quality required at Parkhead. “Andy left Celtic when he was about 15 and came into our academy and, obviously, kids can react to the disappointment of leaving such a big club in a number of ways,” Speirs said. Robertson celebrates making it to the Champions League final Credit: Getty images “Andy’s response was to say, ‘I’ll prove you wrong.’ He played in the first warm-up game at Largs and I don’t think he went out of the team again until he left us. “Andy’s performances meant that we couldn’t leave him out, even though he was so young. You could see his attitude, determination and ability. He was a first pick for the whole season.” Robertson made his senior competitive debut against Berwick Rangers in an Irn-Bru Cup tie at Sheilfield Park on July 28, 2012, before a congregation of 372 souls. It was the first of Robertson’s 40 appearances for the Spiders and he would almost certainly have played in all 46 of the season’s fixtures but for injury and a suspension incurred when he was dismissed in a Scottish League Cup tie against St Johnstone for an out-of-character lunge at opposing defender, Gary Miller. His earnings for the campaign consisted of the Queen’s Park standard of remunerated travel costs – except for a stint as a part-time Christmas worker at Marks & Spencer. “I couldn’t have told you that,” Speirs said. “I saw him three nights a week and on a Saturday. He gave 100% in his training and matches, to go along with the talent he had. That’s the overriding thing that we remember. He had come from the under-17s and stepped into the first team, so we felt that at some point in the season we would have to take him out and give him a rest but there was never any suggestion of that it. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “It never crossed our minds because his performances were so good. He had thought of going to university but decided that he would take a gap year and devote himself to football. It certainly paid off in style – a fantastic story. “People talk about having the will to run. He just ran and ran into good areas and with the energy and quality he brought, he could put quality passes and crosses in. That was the season when Rangers were in our division and he played in those four games against them and did extremely well. “It’s difficult to say that he has exceeded expectations because, at the end of that season with us, I was trying desperately hard to keep him for another year. “He comes from a very grounded family, as you can see from the way that he’s been brought up. He’s prepared to work hard for everything he gets and every challenge he’s faced – whether it be coming into our first team, going to Dundee United and into their first team, then Hull City and now a club the size of Liverpool – has always been met. “On Saturday I’ll be watching and hoping for a Liverpool win and an Andy Robertson performance – which I’m sure we’ll get.”
An unforeseen symmetry returns Motherwell to Hampden Park for the William Hill Scottish Cup final, 10 months after they opened their season at the same venue. Back on July 15, the Steelmen beat Queen’s Park 5-1 in a Betfred Scottish League Cup group stage tie to begin a progress that saw them to the tournament final in November. On that occasion – as again here – Motherwell’s opponents were Celtic, who secured the first instalment of what could be a second clean sweep of the Scottish honours with a 2-0 victory. While a repeat of that outcome today would surprise few beyond the confines of Fir Park, Stephen Robinson has derived encouragement from his players’ experiences at Hampden since their romp against Queen’s Park. To claim the right to contest the two Scottish finals Motherwell beat Rangers in October and Aberdeen last month. “It is the fifth time we have been here, including the start against Queen’s Park,” Robinson said. “The boys are accustomed to the surroundings and I don’t think it is going to faze them. We showed we can deal with that in two big semi-finals against Rangers and Aberdeen in front of big crowds so I think we are over that now – as Celtic are because they are also in this sort of occasion on a regular basis. I am sure we will be able to handle it.” Motherwell's Ryan Bowman will take on Celtic's Kristoffer Ajer again at Hampden on Saturday Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire There has been much talk around the club about 1991, when Motherwell last won the Scottish Cup, beating Dundee United 4-3 after extra time in a memorable final. That success occurred only a generation ago but it is overlaid with poignancy because four of the squad members – Davie Cooper, Jamie Dolan, Phil O’Donnell and Paul McGrillen – died, all in their 30s. “You still hear people speaking of the 1991 squad that won the cup and they are revered around the football club,” Robinson said. “In terms of management it would be the biggest thing I have ever achieved and I would imagine that would be the case for 100 per cent of our players. “They have all come from non-league teams, under-23 teams and League Two. None of them have played at any real level in the game and it would be a huge achievement for us.” Motherwell's Curtis Main, right, celebrates with Christopher Cadden after scoring their first goal in the semi-final victory over Aberdeen Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS Celtic have been beaten this season by Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and Kilmarnock but, rather than cite those examples to his players, the manager has focused on their own display in a rousing meeting with the Hoops only three days after the Scottish League Cup final. “What’s inspired me is our first half performance when we went down to 10 men at Fir Park,” he said. “As well as that, there was the game where we lost a penalty in the last minute when we were beating them. That has inspired me. We have to look at ourselves and how we caused them problems and how we can do that again. “Celtic are a very good side with individuals who can win the game but we have also caused them problems. The clips we have watched back and used to give our boys the belief you speak about have all been Celtic’s games against us.” Motherwell will not be able to bully Celtic as they did to Aberdeen and Rangers, but they will be entitled to nourish hope if they can get decent supply to the front pair of Curtis Main and Ryan Bowman. In response to Motherwell’s underdog status, Robinson cites two instances of success against heavy odds. “People say things are impossible in sport,” he said. “But I think Leicester City and Northern Ireland have proved that’s not the case.” Motherwell (probable) (3-1-4-2) Carson; Kipre, Aldred, Dunne; Rose; Tait, Campbell, Cadden, Grimshaw; Main, Bowman.
Motherwell draw on spirit of 1991 to inspire Scottish Cup final shock
An unforeseen symmetry returns Motherwell to Hampden Park for the William Hill Scottish Cup final, 10 months after they opened their season at the same venue. Back on July 15, the Steelmen beat Queen’s Park 5-1 in a Betfred Scottish League Cup group stage tie to begin a progress that saw them to the tournament final in November. On that occasion – as again here – Motherwell’s opponents were Celtic, who secured the first instalment of what could be a second clean sweep of the Scottish honours with a 2-0 victory. While a repeat of that outcome today would surprise few beyond the confines of Fir Park, Stephen Robinson has derived encouragement from his players’ experiences at Hampden since their romp against Queen’s Park. To claim the right to contest the two Scottish finals Motherwell beat Rangers in October and Aberdeen last month. “It is the fifth time we have been here, including the start against Queen’s Park,” Robinson said. “The boys are accustomed to the surroundings and I don’t think it is going to faze them. We showed we can deal with that in two big semi-finals against Rangers and Aberdeen in front of big crowds so I think we are over that now – as Celtic are because they are also in this sort of occasion on a regular basis. I am sure we will be able to handle it.” Motherwell's Ryan Bowman will take on Celtic's Kristoffer Ajer again at Hampden on Saturday Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire There has been much talk around the club about 1991, when Motherwell last won the Scottish Cup, beating Dundee United 4-3 after extra time in a memorable final. That success occurred only a generation ago but it is overlaid with poignancy because four of the squad members – Davie Cooper, Jamie Dolan, Phil O’Donnell and Paul McGrillen – died, all in their 30s. “You still hear people speaking of the 1991 squad that won the cup and they are revered around the football club,” Robinson said. “In terms of management it would be the biggest thing I have ever achieved and I would imagine that would be the case for 100 per cent of our players. “They have all come from non-league teams, under-23 teams and League Two. None of them have played at any real level in the game and it would be a huge achievement for us.” Motherwell's Curtis Main, right, celebrates with Christopher Cadden after scoring their first goal in the semi-final victory over Aberdeen Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS Celtic have been beaten this season by Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and Kilmarnock but, rather than cite those examples to his players, the manager has focused on their own display in a rousing meeting with the Hoops only three days after the Scottish League Cup final. “What’s inspired me is our first half performance when we went down to 10 men at Fir Park,” he said. “As well as that, there was the game where we lost a penalty in the last minute when we were beating them. That has inspired me. We have to look at ourselves and how we caused them problems and how we can do that again. “Celtic are a very good side with individuals who can win the game but we have also caused them problems. The clips we have watched back and used to give our boys the belief you speak about have all been Celtic’s games against us.” Motherwell will not be able to bully Celtic as they did to Aberdeen and Rangers, but they will be entitled to nourish hope if they can get decent supply to the front pair of Curtis Main and Ryan Bowman. In response to Motherwell’s underdog status, Robinson cites two instances of success against heavy odds. “People say things are impossible in sport,” he said. “But I think Leicester City and Northern Ireland have proved that’s not the case.” Motherwell (probable) (3-1-4-2) Carson; Kipre, Aldred, Dunne; Rose; Tait, Campbell, Cadden, Grimshaw; Main, Bowman.
An unforeseen symmetry returns Motherwell to Hampden Park for the William Hill Scottish Cup final, 10 months after they opened their season at the same venue. Back on July 15, the Steelmen beat Queen’s Park 5-1 in a Betfred Scottish League Cup group stage tie to begin a progress that saw them to the tournament final in November. On that occasion – as again here – Motherwell’s opponents were Celtic, who secured the first instalment of what could be a second clean sweep of the Scottish honours with a 2-0 victory. While a repeat of that outcome today would surprise few beyond the confines of Fir Park, Stephen Robinson has derived encouragement from his players’ experiences at Hampden since their romp against Queen’s Park. To claim the right to contest the two Scottish finals Motherwell beat Rangers in October and Aberdeen last month. “It is the fifth time we have been here, including the start against Queen’s Park,” Robinson said. “The boys are accustomed to the surroundings and I don’t think it is going to faze them. We showed we can deal with that in two big semi-finals against Rangers and Aberdeen in front of big crowds so I think we are over that now – as Celtic are because they are also in this sort of occasion on a regular basis. I am sure we will be able to handle it.” Motherwell's Ryan Bowman will take on Celtic's Kristoffer Ajer again at Hampden on Saturday Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire There has been much talk around the club about 1991, when Motherwell last won the Scottish Cup, beating Dundee United 4-3 after extra time in a memorable final. That success occurred only a generation ago but it is overlaid with poignancy because four of the squad members – Davie Cooper, Jamie Dolan, Phil O’Donnell and Paul McGrillen – died, all in their 30s. “You still hear people speaking of the 1991 squad that won the cup and they are revered around the football club,” Robinson said. “In terms of management it would be the biggest thing I have ever achieved and I would imagine that would be the case for 100 per cent of our players. “They have all come from non-league teams, under-23 teams and League Two. None of them have played at any real level in the game and it would be a huge achievement for us.” Motherwell's Curtis Main, right, celebrates with Christopher Cadden after scoring their first goal in the semi-final victory over Aberdeen Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS Celtic have been beaten this season by Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and Kilmarnock but, rather than cite those examples to his players, the manager has focused on their own display in a rousing meeting with the Hoops only three days after the Scottish League Cup final. “What’s inspired me is our first half performance when we went down to 10 men at Fir Park,” he said. “As well as that, there was the game where we lost a penalty in the last minute when we were beating them. That has inspired me. We have to look at ourselves and how we caused them problems and how we can do that again. “Celtic are a very good side with individuals who can win the game but we have also caused them problems. The clips we have watched back and used to give our boys the belief you speak about have all been Celtic’s games against us.” Motherwell will not be able to bully Celtic as they did to Aberdeen and Rangers, but they will be entitled to nourish hope if they can get decent supply to the front pair of Curtis Main and Ryan Bowman. In response to Motherwell’s underdog status, Robinson cites two instances of success against heavy odds. “People say things are impossible in sport,” he said. “But I think Leicester City and Northern Ireland have proved that’s not the case.” Motherwell (probable) (3-1-4-2) Carson; Kipre, Aldred, Dunne; Rose; Tait, Campbell, Cadden, Grimshaw; Main, Bowman.
Motherwell draw on spirit of 1991 to inspire Scottish Cup final shock
An unforeseen symmetry returns Motherwell to Hampden Park for the William Hill Scottish Cup final, 10 months after they opened their season at the same venue. Back on July 15, the Steelmen beat Queen’s Park 5-1 in a Betfred Scottish League Cup group stage tie to begin a progress that saw them to the tournament final in November. On that occasion – as again here – Motherwell’s opponents were Celtic, who secured the first instalment of what could be a second clean sweep of the Scottish honours with a 2-0 victory. While a repeat of that outcome today would surprise few beyond the confines of Fir Park, Stephen Robinson has derived encouragement from his players’ experiences at Hampden since their romp against Queen’s Park. To claim the right to contest the two Scottish finals Motherwell beat Rangers in October and Aberdeen last month. “It is the fifth time we have been here, including the start against Queen’s Park,” Robinson said. “The boys are accustomed to the surroundings and I don’t think it is going to faze them. We showed we can deal with that in two big semi-finals against Rangers and Aberdeen in front of big crowds so I think we are over that now – as Celtic are because they are also in this sort of occasion on a regular basis. I am sure we will be able to handle it.” Motherwell's Ryan Bowman will take on Celtic's Kristoffer Ajer again at Hampden on Saturday Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire There has been much talk around the club about 1991, when Motherwell last won the Scottish Cup, beating Dundee United 4-3 after extra time in a memorable final. That success occurred only a generation ago but it is overlaid with poignancy because four of the squad members – Davie Cooper, Jamie Dolan, Phil O’Donnell and Paul McGrillen – died, all in their 30s. “You still hear people speaking of the 1991 squad that won the cup and they are revered around the football club,” Robinson said. “In terms of management it would be the biggest thing I have ever achieved and I would imagine that would be the case for 100 per cent of our players. “They have all come from non-league teams, under-23 teams and League Two. None of them have played at any real level in the game and it would be a huge achievement for us.” Motherwell's Curtis Main, right, celebrates with Christopher Cadden after scoring their first goal in the semi-final victory over Aberdeen Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS Celtic have been beaten this season by Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and Kilmarnock but, rather than cite those examples to his players, the manager has focused on their own display in a rousing meeting with the Hoops only three days after the Scottish League Cup final. “What’s inspired me is our first half performance when we went down to 10 men at Fir Park,” he said. “As well as that, there was the game where we lost a penalty in the last minute when we were beating them. That has inspired me. We have to look at ourselves and how we caused them problems and how we can do that again. “Celtic are a very good side with individuals who can win the game but we have also caused them problems. The clips we have watched back and used to give our boys the belief you speak about have all been Celtic’s games against us.” Motherwell will not be able to bully Celtic as they did to Aberdeen and Rangers, but they will be entitled to nourish hope if they can get decent supply to the front pair of Curtis Main and Ryan Bowman. In response to Motherwell’s underdog status, Robinson cites two instances of success against heavy odds. “People say things are impossible in sport,” he said. “But I think Leicester City and Northern Ireland have proved that’s not the case.” Motherwell (probable) (3-1-4-2) Carson; Kipre, Aldred, Dunne; Rose; Tait, Campbell, Cadden, Grimshaw; Main, Bowman.
Brendan Rodgers has rebutted the allegation - frequently voiced in England - that the Scottish game is uncompetitive and substandard. Given that if Celtic beat Motherwell in Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park Rodgers and his players will achieve an unprecedented double clean sweep of the domestic honours, his claim is likely to prompt the cynical comment: “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?” And, of course, the Northern Irishman has an interest in portraying Celtic’s achievements under his management as redemptive, after his tenure at Liverpool was cut short by dismissal in October 2015. Nevertheless, it is worth pointing out that if consecutive trebles were easy to accumulate, the feat would have been accomplished previously. In fact, the last occasion upon which it was possible fell a generation ago, when Walter Smith’s Rangers were denied by Craig Brewster’s strike for Dundee United in the 1994 Scottish Cup final. “It’s something you can’t really change,” Rodgers said. “For as long as I can remember there has always been that view from the south that the game is better down there. “The perception is never the reality. Coaches, managers and people within the game understand the complexities of trying to re-energise things after what we achieved last year. Players who ran 15m to press a ball last year might only want to do 10m this year, but you know you still have to get them going and pressing.” As for his own motivation, Rodgers cited anxiety about falling short of natural expectations. “I said last year that at least, whenever the time came to leave here, I knew I wasn’t a total disaster,” he said. “That is always the fear. You come into a club you support and you’ve got to be with friends and family for the rest of your life saying you were hopeless. “It’s a chance to create history in the club and that’s great, but I haven’t really thought about it too much. If we can get our sixth trophy in two seasons it would be absolutely amazing, but the thought is about performing in the game. Tom Rogic has signed a new five-year contract Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire “I tend to take the emotion out of it, because if you go down that road it can come back to you when you reach a point in the game where you have to make a decision.” Rodgers is unlikely to be forced into any dilemmas with regard to his starting selection, which all but picks itself, especially since Odsonne Edouard’s injury removes the possibility that he might have begun the contest instead of Moussa Dembele. Tom Rogic’s decision to sign a five-year extension to his current contract adds to Celtic’s buoyancy, as does the knowledge that the Hoops have been over this course before. “There is a different feeling this year because of that experience that the players have gained,” Rodgers said. “You can anticipate a bit more how it will all work out but, certainly, when we get up on Saturday morning knowing we are coming in to a really special occasion then, of course, the edge and the adrenalin will start to kick in. Celtic and Rodgers completed the first half of a possible 'double treble' by beating Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden last May Credit: Jane Barlow/PA Wire. “We had a wonderful experience last year. It was fantastic to win it and to win the treble was a real special occasion. “I’ve been really pleased with seeing that growth and development in the high-pressure games. The level of their football in those games and how they’ve stayed calm and controlled in them is key. When we first came a couple of years ago, there was a real trepidation around here for all the players, supporters, staff, workers at the club. “It is a mindset that has changed. It doesn’t guarantee that you are always going to win, but what it does is give you what we all want in life, which is a chance and an opportunity. I sense that even this week. “It has been great to look back on some of my notes and plans from last year and see what my thoughts were. There is an equal focus, but we did it last year - we won the treble. That always gives you confidence and that level of control going into the game. “I never say to the players, ‘You’ve got to take this chance because it will be the only chance in your life’ because part of me thinks, ‘Do you not think you can do it again?’ “But there’s no doubt there’s an opportunity to write another chapter in the great history of the club. You think of the great history of Scottish football - in all the various eras and levels of players - and there’s a reason why it’s never been done.” Celtic (probable) (4-2-3-1)Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, Rogic, McGregor; Dembele.
Celtic have the chance to create history, says Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers has rebutted the allegation - frequently voiced in England - that the Scottish game is uncompetitive and substandard. Given that if Celtic beat Motherwell in Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park Rodgers and his players will achieve an unprecedented double clean sweep of the domestic honours, his claim is likely to prompt the cynical comment: “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?” And, of course, the Northern Irishman has an interest in portraying Celtic’s achievements under his management as redemptive, after his tenure at Liverpool was cut short by dismissal in October 2015. Nevertheless, it is worth pointing out that if consecutive trebles were easy to accumulate, the feat would have been accomplished previously. In fact, the last occasion upon which it was possible fell a generation ago, when Walter Smith’s Rangers were denied by Craig Brewster’s strike for Dundee United in the 1994 Scottish Cup final. “It’s something you can’t really change,” Rodgers said. “For as long as I can remember there has always been that view from the south that the game is better down there. “The perception is never the reality. Coaches, managers and people within the game understand the complexities of trying to re-energise things after what we achieved last year. Players who ran 15m to press a ball last year might only want to do 10m this year, but you know you still have to get them going and pressing.” As for his own motivation, Rodgers cited anxiety about falling short of natural expectations. “I said last year that at least, whenever the time came to leave here, I knew I wasn’t a total disaster,” he said. “That is always the fear. You come into a club you support and you’ve got to be with friends and family for the rest of your life saying you were hopeless. “It’s a chance to create history in the club and that’s great, but I haven’t really thought about it too much. If we can get our sixth trophy in two seasons it would be absolutely amazing, but the thought is about performing in the game. Tom Rogic has signed a new five-year contract Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire “I tend to take the emotion out of it, because if you go down that road it can come back to you when you reach a point in the game where you have to make a decision.” Rodgers is unlikely to be forced into any dilemmas with regard to his starting selection, which all but picks itself, especially since Odsonne Edouard’s injury removes the possibility that he might have begun the contest instead of Moussa Dembele. Tom Rogic’s decision to sign a five-year extension to his current contract adds to Celtic’s buoyancy, as does the knowledge that the Hoops have been over this course before. “There is a different feeling this year because of that experience that the players have gained,” Rodgers said. “You can anticipate a bit more how it will all work out but, certainly, when we get up on Saturday morning knowing we are coming in to a really special occasion then, of course, the edge and the adrenalin will start to kick in. Celtic and Rodgers completed the first half of a possible 'double treble' by beating Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden last May Credit: Jane Barlow/PA Wire. “We had a wonderful experience last year. It was fantastic to win it and to win the treble was a real special occasion. “I’ve been really pleased with seeing that growth and development in the high-pressure games. The level of their football in those games and how they’ve stayed calm and controlled in them is key. When we first came a couple of years ago, there was a real trepidation around here for all the players, supporters, staff, workers at the club. “It is a mindset that has changed. It doesn’t guarantee that you are always going to win, but what it does is give you what we all want in life, which is a chance and an opportunity. I sense that even this week. “It has been great to look back on some of my notes and plans from last year and see what my thoughts were. There is an equal focus, but we did it last year - we won the treble. That always gives you confidence and that level of control going into the game. “I never say to the players, ‘You’ve got to take this chance because it will be the only chance in your life’ because part of me thinks, ‘Do you not think you can do it again?’ “But there’s no doubt there’s an opportunity to write another chapter in the great history of the club. You think of the great history of Scottish football - in all the various eras and levels of players - and there’s a reason why it’s never been done.” Celtic (probable) (4-2-3-1)Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, Rogic, McGregor; Dembele.
An unforeseen symmetry returns Motherwell to Hampden Park for the William Hill Scottish Cup final, 10 months after they opened their season at the same venue. Back on July 15, the Steelmen beat Queen’s Park 5-1 in a Betfred Scottish League Cup group stage tie to begin a progress that saw them to the tournament final in November. On that occasion – as again here – Motherwell’s opponents were Celtic, who secured the first instalment of what could be a second clean sweep of the Scottish honours with a 2-0 victory. While a repeat of that outcome today would surprise few beyond the confines of Fir Park, Stephen Robinson has derived encouragement from his players’ experiences at Hampden since their romp against Queen’s Park. To claim the right to contest the two Scottish finals Motherwell beat Rangers in October and Aberdeen last month. “It is the fifth time we have been here, including the start against Queen’s Park,” Robinson said. “The boys are accustomed to the surroundings and I don’t think it is going to faze them. We showed we can deal with that in two big semi-finals against Rangers and Aberdeen in front of big crowds so I think we are over that now – as Celtic are because they are also in this sort of occasion on a regular basis. I am sure we will be able to handle it.” Motherwell's Ryan Bowman will take on Celtic's Kristoffer Ajer again at Hampden on Saturday Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire There has been much talk around the club about 1991, when Motherwell last won the Scottish Cup, beating Dundee United 4-3 after extra time in a memorable final. That success occurred only a generation ago but it is overlaid with poignancy because four of the squad members – Davie Cooper, Jamie Dolan, Phil O’Donnell and Paul McGrillen – died, all in their 30s. “You still hear people speaking of the 1991 squad that won the cup and they are revered around the football club,” Robinson said. “In terms of management it would be the biggest thing I have ever achieved and I would imagine that would be the case for 100 per cent of our players. “They have all come from non-league teams, under-23 teams and League Two. None of them have played at any real level in the game and it would be a huge achievement for us.” Motherwell's Curtis Main, right, celebrates with Christopher Cadden after scoring their first goal in the semi-final victory over Aberdeen Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS Celtic have been beaten this season by Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and Kilmarnock but, rather than cite those examples to his players, the manager has focused on their own display in a rousing meeting with the Hoops only three days after the Scottish League Cup final. “What’s inspired me is our first half performance when we went down to 10 men at Fir Park,” he said. “As well as that, there was the game where we lost a penalty in the last minute when we were beating them. That has inspired me. We have to look at ourselves and how we caused them problems and how we can do that again. “Celtic are a very good side with individuals who can win the game but we have also caused them problems. The clips we have watched back and used to give our boys the belief you speak about have all been Celtic’s games against us.” Motherwell will not be able to bully Celtic as they did to Aberdeen and Rangers, but they will be entitled to nourish hope if they can get decent supply to the front pair of Curtis Main and Ryan Bowman. In response to Motherwell’s underdog status, Robinson cites two instances of success against heavy odds. “People say things are impossible in sport,” he said. “But I think Leicester City and Northern Ireland have proved that’s not the case.” Motherwell (probable) (3-1-4-2) Carson; Kipre, Aldred, Dunne; Rose; Tait, Campbell, Cadden, Grimshaw; Main, Bowman.
Motherwell draw on spirit of 1991 to inspire Scottish Cup final shock
An unforeseen symmetry returns Motherwell to Hampden Park for the William Hill Scottish Cup final, 10 months after they opened their season at the same venue. Back on July 15, the Steelmen beat Queen’s Park 5-1 in a Betfred Scottish League Cup group stage tie to begin a progress that saw them to the tournament final in November. On that occasion – as again here – Motherwell’s opponents were Celtic, who secured the first instalment of what could be a second clean sweep of the Scottish honours with a 2-0 victory. While a repeat of that outcome today would surprise few beyond the confines of Fir Park, Stephen Robinson has derived encouragement from his players’ experiences at Hampden since their romp against Queen’s Park. To claim the right to contest the two Scottish finals Motherwell beat Rangers in October and Aberdeen last month. “It is the fifth time we have been here, including the start against Queen’s Park,” Robinson said. “The boys are accustomed to the surroundings and I don’t think it is going to faze them. We showed we can deal with that in two big semi-finals against Rangers and Aberdeen in front of big crowds so I think we are over that now – as Celtic are because they are also in this sort of occasion on a regular basis. I am sure we will be able to handle it.” Motherwell's Ryan Bowman will take on Celtic's Kristoffer Ajer again at Hampden on Saturday Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire There has been much talk around the club about 1991, when Motherwell last won the Scottish Cup, beating Dundee United 4-3 after extra time in a memorable final. That success occurred only a generation ago but it is overlaid with poignancy because four of the squad members – Davie Cooper, Jamie Dolan, Phil O’Donnell and Paul McGrillen – died, all in their 30s. “You still hear people speaking of the 1991 squad that won the cup and they are revered around the football club,” Robinson said. “In terms of management it would be the biggest thing I have ever achieved and I would imagine that would be the case for 100 per cent of our players. “They have all come from non-league teams, under-23 teams and League Two. None of them have played at any real level in the game and it would be a huge achievement for us.” Motherwell's Curtis Main, right, celebrates with Christopher Cadden after scoring their first goal in the semi-final victory over Aberdeen Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS Celtic have been beaten this season by Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and Kilmarnock but, rather than cite those examples to his players, the manager has focused on their own display in a rousing meeting with the Hoops only three days after the Scottish League Cup final. “What’s inspired me is our first half performance when we went down to 10 men at Fir Park,” he said. “As well as that, there was the game where we lost a penalty in the last minute when we were beating them. That has inspired me. We have to look at ourselves and how we caused them problems and how we can do that again. “Celtic are a very good side with individuals who can win the game but we have also caused them problems. The clips we have watched back and used to give our boys the belief you speak about have all been Celtic’s games against us.” Motherwell will not be able to bully Celtic as they did to Aberdeen and Rangers, but they will be entitled to nourish hope if they can get decent supply to the front pair of Curtis Main and Ryan Bowman. In response to Motherwell’s underdog status, Robinson cites two instances of success against heavy odds. “People say things are impossible in sport,” he said. “But I think Leicester City and Northern Ireland have proved that’s not the case.” Motherwell (probable) (3-1-4-2) Carson; Kipre, Aldred, Dunne; Rose; Tait, Campbell, Cadden, Grimshaw; Main, Bowman.
Brendan Rodgers has rebutted the allegation - frequently voiced in England - that the Scottish game is uncompetitive and substandard. Given that if Celtic beat Motherwell in Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park Rodgers and his players will achieve an unprecedented double clean sweep of the domestic honours, his claim is likely to prompt the cynical comment: “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?” And, of course, the Northern Irishman has an interest in portraying Celtic’s achievements under his management as redemptive, after his tenure at Liverpool was cut short by dismissal in October 2015. Nevertheless, it is worth pointing out that if consecutive trebles were easy to accumulate, the feat would have been accomplished previously. In fact, the last occasion upon which it was possible fell a generation ago, when Walter Smith’s Rangers were denied by Craig Brewster’s strike for Dundee United in the 1994 Scottish Cup final. “It’s something you can’t really change,” Rodgers said. “For as long as I can remember there has always been that view from the south that the game is better down there. “The perception is never the reality. Coaches, managers and people within the game understand the complexities of trying to re-energise things after what we achieved last year. Players who ran 15m to press a ball last year might only want to do 10m this year, but you know you still have to get them going and pressing.” As for his own motivation, Rodgers cited anxiety about falling short of natural expectations. “I said last year that at least, whenever the time came to leave here, I knew I wasn’t a total disaster,” he said. “That is always the fear. You come into a club you support and you’ve got to be with friends and family for the rest of your life saying you were hopeless. “It’s a chance to create history in the club and that’s great, but I haven’t really thought about it too much. If we can get our sixth trophy in two seasons it would be absolutely amazing, but the thought is about performing in the game. Tom Rogic has signed a new five-year contract Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire “I tend to take the emotion out of it, because if you go down that road it can come back to you when you reach a point in the game where you have to make a decision.” Rodgers is unlikely to be forced into any dilemmas with regard to his starting selection, which all but picks itself, especially since Odsonne Edouard’s injury removes the possibility that he might have begun the contest instead of Moussa Dembele. Tom Rogic’s decision to sign a five-year extension to his current contract adds to Celtic’s buoyancy, as does the knowledge that the Hoops have been over this course before. “There is a different feeling this year because of that experience that the players have gained,” Rodgers said. “You can anticipate a bit more how it will all work out but, certainly, when we get up on Saturday morning knowing we are coming in to a really special occasion then, of course, the edge and the adrenalin will start to kick in. Celtic and Rodgers completed the first half of a possible 'double treble' by beating Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden last May Credit: Jane Barlow/PA Wire. “We had a wonderful experience last year. It was fantastic to win it and to win the treble was a real special occasion. “I’ve been really pleased with seeing that growth and development in the high-pressure games. The level of their football in those games and how they’ve stayed calm and controlled in them is key. When we first came a couple of years ago, there was a real trepidation around here for all the players, supporters, staff, workers at the club. “It is a mindset that has changed. It doesn’t guarantee that you are always going to win, but what it does is give you what we all want in life, which is a chance and an opportunity. I sense that even this week. “It has been great to look back on some of my notes and plans from last year and see what my thoughts were. There is an equal focus, but we did it last year - we won the treble. That always gives you confidence and that level of control going into the game. “I never say to the players, ‘You’ve got to take this chance because it will be the only chance in your life’ because part of me thinks, ‘Do you not think you can do it again?’ “But there’s no doubt there’s an opportunity to write another chapter in the great history of the club. You think of the great history of Scottish football - in all the various eras and levels of players - and there’s a reason why it’s never been done.” Celtic (probable) (4-2-3-1)Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, Rogic, McGregor; Dembele.
Celtic have the chance to create history, says Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers has rebutted the allegation - frequently voiced in England - that the Scottish game is uncompetitive and substandard. Given that if Celtic beat Motherwell in Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park Rodgers and his players will achieve an unprecedented double clean sweep of the domestic honours, his claim is likely to prompt the cynical comment: “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?” And, of course, the Northern Irishman has an interest in portraying Celtic’s achievements under his management as redemptive, after his tenure at Liverpool was cut short by dismissal in October 2015. Nevertheless, it is worth pointing out that if consecutive trebles were easy to accumulate, the feat would have been accomplished previously. In fact, the last occasion upon which it was possible fell a generation ago, when Walter Smith’s Rangers were denied by Craig Brewster’s strike for Dundee United in the 1994 Scottish Cup final. “It’s something you can’t really change,” Rodgers said. “For as long as I can remember there has always been that view from the south that the game is better down there. “The perception is never the reality. Coaches, managers and people within the game understand the complexities of trying to re-energise things after what we achieved last year. Players who ran 15m to press a ball last year might only want to do 10m this year, but you know you still have to get them going and pressing.” As for his own motivation, Rodgers cited anxiety about falling short of natural expectations. “I said last year that at least, whenever the time came to leave here, I knew I wasn’t a total disaster,” he said. “That is always the fear. You come into a club you support and you’ve got to be with friends and family for the rest of your life saying you were hopeless. “It’s a chance to create history in the club and that’s great, but I haven’t really thought about it too much. If we can get our sixth trophy in two seasons it would be absolutely amazing, but the thought is about performing in the game. Tom Rogic has signed a new five-year contract Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire “I tend to take the emotion out of it, because if you go down that road it can come back to you when you reach a point in the game where you have to make a decision.” Rodgers is unlikely to be forced into any dilemmas with regard to his starting selection, which all but picks itself, especially since Odsonne Edouard’s injury removes the possibility that he might have begun the contest instead of Moussa Dembele. Tom Rogic’s decision to sign a five-year extension to his current contract adds to Celtic’s buoyancy, as does the knowledge that the Hoops have been over this course before. “There is a different feeling this year because of that experience that the players have gained,” Rodgers said. “You can anticipate a bit more how it will all work out but, certainly, when we get up on Saturday morning knowing we are coming in to a really special occasion then, of course, the edge and the adrenalin will start to kick in. Celtic and Rodgers completed the first half of a possible 'double treble' by beating Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden last May Credit: Jane Barlow/PA Wire. “We had a wonderful experience last year. It was fantastic to win it and to win the treble was a real special occasion. “I’ve been really pleased with seeing that growth and development in the high-pressure games. The level of their football in those games and how they’ve stayed calm and controlled in them is key. When we first came a couple of years ago, there was a real trepidation around here for all the players, supporters, staff, workers at the club. “It is a mindset that has changed. It doesn’t guarantee that you are always going to win, but what it does is give you what we all want in life, which is a chance and an opportunity. I sense that even this week. “It has been great to look back on some of my notes and plans from last year and see what my thoughts were. There is an equal focus, but we did it last year - we won the treble. That always gives you confidence and that level of control going into the game. “I never say to the players, ‘You’ve got to take this chance because it will be the only chance in your life’ because part of me thinks, ‘Do you not think you can do it again?’ “But there’s no doubt there’s an opportunity to write another chapter in the great history of the club. You think of the great history of Scottish football - in all the various eras and levels of players - and there’s a reason why it’s never been done.” Celtic (probable) (4-2-3-1)Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, Rogic, McGregor; Dembele.
Dundee United midfielder Willo Flood goes into meltdown after Livingston red card — but manager forgives him
Dundee United midfielder Willo Flood goes into meltdown after Livingston red card — but manager forgives him
Dundee United midfielder Willo Flood goes into meltdown after Livingston red card — but manager forgives him
Dundee United midfielder Willo Flood goes into meltdown after Livingston red card — but manager forgives him
Dundee United midfielder Willo Flood goes into meltdown after Livingston red card — but manager forgives him
Dundee United midfielder Willo Flood goes into meltdown after Livingston red card — but manager forgives him
Dundee United midfielder Willo Flood goes into meltdown after Livingston red card — but manager forgives him
Dundee United midfielder Willo Flood goes into meltdown after Livingston red card — but manager forgives him
Dundee United midfielder Willo Flood goes into meltdown after Livingston red card — but manager forgives him
‘We were robbed of a fairytale’: How Roma cheated Dundee United out of the European Cup final
‘We were robbed of a fairytale’: How Roma cheated Dundee United out of the European Cup final
‘We were robbed of a fairytale’: How Roma cheated Dundee United out of the European Cup final
‘We were robbed of a fairytale’: How Roma cheated Dundee United out of the European Cup final
‘We were robbed of a fairytale’: How Roma cheated Dundee United out of the European Cup final
‘We were robbed of a fairytale’: How Roma cheated Dundee United out of the European Cup final
‘We were robbed of a fairytale’: How Roma cheated Dundee United out of the European Cup final
‘We were robbed of a fairytale’: How Roma cheated Dundee United out of the European Cup final
‘We were robbed of a fairytale’: How Roma cheated Dundee United out of the European Cup final
Liverpool’s Champions League meeting with Roma has evoked memories of the 1984 European Cup final between the sides in the Italian capital, when Joe Fagan’s players prevailed with a 4-2 win on penalties after a 1-1 draw. The final, though, could – and arguably should – have been an all-British affair, with Liverpool facing an extraordinary Dundee United side under the guidance of the ferociously single-minded Jim McLean. Roma’s progress from the semi-final depended on a win over United in the second leg at their Olympic Stadium amid a poisonous atmosphere, never to be forgotten by those who were present. Worse still, the outcome was regarded with profound suspicion at the time and the Scottish Football Association asked Uefa to investigate links between the Roma board and the referee for the second leg, Michel Vautrot, of France. Uefa refused but, two years later, the governing body of European football banned the Roma president, Dino Viola, for attempting to bribe Vautrot. Liverpool beat Roma in their own back yard in the 1984 European Cup final - but it could have been Dundee United they faced Credit: GETTY IMAGES In 2011, Viola’s son Riccardo, speaking 10 years after his father’s death, alleged in a TV interview that Vautrot had been suborned over dinner on Apr 24, 1984. “Roma gave a middle-man 100 million lire [£50,000] destined for referee Vautrot. That is true and a shameful fact,” Viola said. “Spartaco Landini, the director of football at Genoa, came to see my father. He told him Vautrot was a friend of his and that we could get at him via another friend, but he would have to be given 100 million lire. “He said a dinner would be organised with the referee on the eve of the game and a signal to show the deal had been done would be demanded. During the dinner, a waiter went up to the referee, saying, ‘Telephone call for Mr Vautrot.’ That was the pre-arranged signal. “Vautrot left the table and when he returned, said, ‘My friend Paolo rang and he sends you his best wishes.’ Then I got up, rang my father and told him, ‘Message received.’ “All this was done because we had a difficult game against Dundee United. Going out of the competition would have had serious repercussions.” Why I'm expecting a Liverpool vs Bayern final The possibility of Roma failing to reach the European Cup final had not been taken seriously before their visit to Tannadice for the first leg. McLean used to refer to United’s meetings with Celtic and Rangers as ‘the corner shop versus the supermarkets’. What nobody guessed was that, by the end of the semi-final, the corner shop would have encountered the football equivalent of Don Corleone. Bryon Butler, representing BBC Radio Sport, remarked to this correspondent before kick-off that he expected one-way traffic towards United’s goalkeeper, Hamish McAlpine. When half-time arrived with the score 0-0, the southern contingent was entitled to assume that expectations had been vindicated. McLean, though, ripped into his players with such fury that they resumed the contest with manic energy, scoring through Davie Dodds within three minutes and doubling their advantage through Derek Stark. United’s experience in the return leg was nightmarish. Roma fans kept up a cacophony outside their hotel on the night before the game and when the players reached the Olympic Stadium after a prolonged bus ride, they were met by intimidation. McLean said later that he had feared “for the game of football itself as I sat through the hate and venom”. He added: “There are times I feel that if we had been the team to meet Roma in the final, I might not be alive today.” Bruno Conti's penalty sails over Bruce Grobbelaar's bar Credit: COLORSPORT At half-time, a Roberto Pruzzo double had levelled the aggregate score. In the 58th minute, Vautrot awarded Roma what proved to be a decisive penalty, converted by Agostino Di Bartolomei for the winner. In the final, though, Roma were less adept in the penalty decider and the European Cup returned to Anfield for the fourth time in eight years. Yet it is tantalising to speculate how a Dundee United v Liverpool final would have turned out. The United players were not daunted by English opposition, as they showed in the Uefa Cup against Manchester United in 1984, when they lost over two legs only by the odd goal in nine. On Tuesday, when Liverpool and Roma take the field, it will be 34 years to the day since Riccardo Viola sat down with Vautrot for that fateful meal. To this day, the Dundee United players of 1984 believe they could have won the ultimate silverware. It was, instead, their sad fate to be filleted and served up in a Roman restaurant.
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
Liverpool’s Champions League meeting with Roma has evoked memories of the 1984 European Cup final between the sides in the Italian capital, when Joe Fagan’s players prevailed with a 4-2 win on penalties after a 1-1 draw. The final, though, could – and arguably should – have been an all-British affair, with Liverpool facing an extraordinary Dundee United side under the guidance of the ferociously single-minded Jim McLean. Roma’s progress from the semi-final depended on a win over United in the second leg at their Olympic Stadium amid a poisonous atmosphere, never to be forgotten by those who were present. Worse still, the outcome was regarded with profound suspicion at the time and the Scottish Football Association asked Uefa to investigate links between the Roma board and the referee for the second leg, Michel Vautrot, of France. Uefa refused but, two years later, the governing body of European football banned the Roma president, Dino Viola, for attempting to bribe Vautrot. Liverpool beat Roma in their own back yard in the 1984 European Cup final - but it could have been Dundee United they faced Credit: GETTY IMAGES In 2011, Viola’s son Riccardo, speaking 10 years after his father’s death, alleged in a TV interview that Vautrot had been suborned over dinner on Apr 24, 1984. “Roma gave a middle-man 100 million lire [£50,000] destined for referee Vautrot. That is true and a shameful fact,” Viola said. “Spartaco Landini, the director of football at Genoa, came to see my father. He told him Vautrot was a friend of his and that we could get at him via another friend, but he would have to be given 100 million lire. “He said a dinner would be organised with the referee on the eve of the game and a signal to show the deal had been done would be demanded. During the dinner, a waiter went up to the referee, saying, ‘Telephone call for Mr Vautrot.’ That was the pre-arranged signal. “Vautrot left the table and when he returned, said, ‘My friend Paolo rang and he sends you his best wishes.’ Then I got up, rang my father and told him, ‘Message received.’ “All this was done because we had a difficult game against Dundee United. Going out of the competition would have had serious repercussions.” Why I'm expecting a Liverpool vs Bayern final The possibility of Roma failing to reach the European Cup final had not been taken seriously before their visit to Tannadice for the first leg. McLean used to refer to United’s meetings with Celtic and Rangers as ‘the corner shop versus the supermarkets’. What nobody guessed was that, by the end of the semi-final, the corner shop would have encountered the football equivalent of Don Corleone. Bryon Butler, representing BBC Radio Sport, remarked to this correspondent before kick-off that he expected one-way traffic towards United’s goalkeeper, Hamish McAlpine. When half-time arrived with the score 0-0, the southern contingent was entitled to assume that expectations had been vindicated. McLean, though, ripped into his players with such fury that they resumed the contest with manic energy, scoring through Davie Dodds within three minutes and doubling their advantage through Derek Stark. United’s experience in the return leg was nightmarish. Roma fans kept up a cacophony outside their hotel on the night before the game and when the players reached the Olympic Stadium after a prolonged bus ride, they were met by intimidation. McLean said later that he had feared “for the game of football itself as I sat through the hate and venom”. He added: “There are times I feel that if we had been the team to meet Roma in the final, I might not be alive today.” Bruno Conti's penalty sails over Bruce Grobbelaar's bar Credit: COLORSPORT At half-time, a Roberto Pruzzo double had levelled the aggregate score. In the 58th minute, Vautrot awarded Roma what proved to be a decisive penalty, converted by Agostino Di Bartolomei for the winner. In the final, though, Roma were less adept in the penalty decider and the European Cup returned to Anfield for the fourth time in eight years. Yet it is tantalising to speculate how a Dundee United v Liverpool final would have turned out. The United players were not daunted by English opposition, as they showed in the Uefa Cup against Manchester United in 1984, when they lost over two legs only by the odd goal in nine. On Tuesday, when Liverpool and Roma take the field, it will be 34 years to the day since Riccardo Viola sat down with Vautrot for that fateful meal. To this day, the Dundee United players of 1984 believe they could have won the ultimate silverware. It was, instead, their sad fate to be filleted and served up in a Roman restaurant.
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
Liverpool’s Champions League meeting with Roma has evoked memories of the 1984 European Cup final between the sides in the Italian capital, when Joe Fagan’s players prevailed with a 4-2 win on penalties after a 1-1 draw. The final, though, could – and arguably should – have been an all-British affair, with Liverpool facing an extraordinary Dundee United side under the guidance of the ferociously single-minded Jim McLean. Roma’s progress from the semi-final depended on a win over United in the second leg at their Olympic Stadium amid a poisonous atmosphere, never to be forgotten by those who were present. Worse still, the outcome was regarded with profound suspicion at the time and the Scottish Football Association asked Uefa to investigate links between the Roma board and the referee for the second leg, Michel Vautrot, of France. Uefa refused but, two years later, the governing body of European football banned the Roma president, Dino Viola, for attempting to bribe Vautrot. Liverpool beat Roma in their own back yard in the 1984 European Cup final - but it could have been Dundee United they faced Credit: GETTY IMAGES In 2011, Viola’s son Riccardo, speaking 10 years after his father’s death, alleged in a TV interview that Vautrot had been suborned over dinner on Apr 24, 1984. “Roma gave a middle-man 100 million lire [£50,000] destined for referee Vautrot. That is true and a shameful fact,” Viola said. “Spartaco Landini, the director of football at Genoa, came to see my father. He told him Vautrot was a friend of his and that we could get at him via another friend, but he would have to be given 100 million lire. “He said a dinner would be organised with the referee on the eve of the game and a signal to show the deal had been done would be demanded. During the dinner, a waiter went up to the referee, saying, ‘Telephone call for Mr Vautrot.’ That was the pre-arranged signal. “Vautrot left the table and when he returned, said, ‘My friend Paolo rang and he sends you his best wishes.’ Then I got up, rang my father and told him, ‘Message received.’ “All this was done because we had a difficult game against Dundee United. Going out of the competition would have had serious repercussions.” Why I'm expecting a Liverpool vs Bayern final The possibility of Roma failing to reach the European Cup final had not been taken seriously before their visit to Tannadice for the first leg. McLean used to refer to United’s meetings with Celtic and Rangers as ‘the corner shop versus the supermarkets’. What nobody guessed was that, by the end of the semi-final, the corner shop would have encountered the football equivalent of Don Corleone. Bryon Butler, representing BBC Radio Sport, remarked to this correspondent before kick-off that he expected one-way traffic towards United’s goalkeeper, Hamish McAlpine. When half-time arrived with the score 0-0, the southern contingent was entitled to assume that expectations had been vindicated. McLean, though, ripped into his players with such fury that they resumed the contest with manic energy, scoring through Davie Dodds within three minutes and doubling their advantage through Derek Stark. United’s experience in the return leg was nightmarish. Roma fans kept up a cacophony outside their hotel on the night before the game and when the players reached the Olympic Stadium after a prolonged bus ride, they were met by intimidation. McLean said later that he had feared “for the game of football itself as I sat through the hate and venom”. He added: “There are times I feel that if we had been the team to meet Roma in the final, I might not be alive today.” Bruno Conti's penalty sails over Bruce Grobbelaar's bar Credit: COLORSPORT At half-time, a Roberto Pruzzo double had levelled the aggregate score. In the 58th minute, Vautrot awarded Roma what proved to be a decisive penalty, converted by Agostino Di Bartolomei for the winner. In the final, though, Roma were less adept in the penalty decider and the European Cup returned to Anfield for the fourth time in eight years. Yet it is tantalising to speculate how a Dundee United v Liverpool final would have turned out. The United players were not daunted by English opposition, as they showed in the Uefa Cup against Manchester United in 1984, when they lost over two legs only by the odd goal in nine. On Tuesday, when Liverpool and Roma take the field, it will be 34 years to the day since Riccardo Viola sat down with Vautrot for that fateful meal. To this day, the Dundee United players of 1984 believe they could have won the ultimate silverware. It was, instead, their sad fate to be filleted and served up in a Roman restaurant.
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
Liverpool’s Champions League meeting with Roma has evoked memories of the 1984 European Cup final between the sides in the Italian capital, when Joe Fagan’s players prevailed with a 4-2 win on penalties after a 1-1 draw. The final, though, could – and arguably should – have been an all-British affair, with Liverpool facing an extraordinary Dundee United side under the guidance of the ferociously single-minded Jim McLean. Roma’s progress from the semi-final depended on a win over United in the second leg at their Olympic Stadium amid a poisonous atmosphere, never to be forgotten by those who were present. Worse still, the outcome was regarded with profound suspicion at the time and the Scottish Football Association asked Uefa to investigate links between the Roma board and the referee for the second leg, Michel Vautrot, of France. Uefa refused but, two years later, the governing body of European football banned the Roma president, Dino Viola, for attempting to bribe Vautrot. Liverpool beat Roma in their own back yard in the 1984 European Cup final - but it could have been Dundee United they faced Credit: GETTY IMAGES In 2011, Viola’s son Riccardo, speaking 10 years after his father’s death, alleged in a TV interview that Vautrot had been suborned over dinner on Apr 24, 1984. “Roma gave a middle-man 100 million lire [£50,000] destined for referee Vautrot. That is true and a shameful fact,” Viola said. “Spartaco Landini, the director of football at Genoa, came to see my father. He told him Vautrot was a friend of his and that we could get at him via another friend, but he would have to be given 100 million lire. “He said a dinner would be organised with the referee on the eve of the game and a signal to show the deal had been done would be demanded. During the dinner, a waiter went up to the referee, saying, ‘Telephone call for Mr Vautrot.’ That was the pre-arranged signal. “Vautrot left the table and when he returned, said, ‘My friend Paolo rang and he sends you his best wishes.’ Then I got up, rang my father and told him, ‘Message received.’ “All this was done because we had a difficult game against Dundee United. Going out of the competition would have had serious repercussions.” Why I'm expecting a Liverpool vs Bayern final The possibility of Roma failing to reach the European Cup final had not been taken seriously before their visit to Tannadice for the first leg. McLean used to refer to United’s meetings with Celtic and Rangers as ‘the corner shop versus the supermarkets’. What nobody guessed was that, by the end of the semi-final, the corner shop would have encountered the football equivalent of Don Corleone. Bryon Butler, representing BBC Radio Sport, remarked to this correspondent before kick-off that he expected one-way traffic towards United’s goalkeeper, Hamish McAlpine. When half-time arrived with the score 0-0, the southern contingent was entitled to assume that expectations had been vindicated. McLean, though, ripped into his players with such fury that they resumed the contest with manic energy, scoring through Davie Dodds within three minutes and doubling their advantage through Derek Stark. United’s experience in the return leg was nightmarish. Roma fans kept up a cacophony outside their hotel on the night before the game and when the players reached the Olympic Stadium after a prolonged bus ride, they were met by intimidation. McLean said later that he had feared “for the game of football itself as I sat through the hate and venom”. He added: “There are times I feel that if we had been the team to meet Roma in the final, I might not be alive today.” Bruno Conti's penalty sails over Bruce Grobbelaar's bar Credit: COLORSPORT At half-time, a Roberto Pruzzo double had levelled the aggregate score. In the 58th minute, Vautrot awarded Roma what proved to be a decisive penalty, converted by Agostino Di Bartolomei for the winner. In the final, though, Roma were less adept in the penalty decider and the European Cup returned to Anfield for the fourth time in eight years. Yet it is tantalising to speculate how a Dundee United v Liverpool final would have turned out. The United players were not daunted by English opposition, as they showed in the Uefa Cup against Manchester United in 1984, when they lost over two legs only by the odd goal in nine. On Tuesday, when Liverpool and Roma take the field, it will be 34 years to the day since Riccardo Viola sat down with Vautrot for that fateful meal. To this day, the Dundee United players of 1984 believe they could have won the ultimate silverware. It was, instead, their sad fate to be filleted and served up in a Roman restaurant.
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
Liverpool’s Champions League meeting with Roma has evoked memories of the 1984 European Cup final between the sides in the Italian capital, when Joe Fagan’s players prevailed with a 4-2 win on penalties after a 1-1 draw. The final, though, could – and arguably should – have been an all-British affair, with Liverpool facing an extraordinary Dundee United side under the guidance of the ferociously single-minded Jim McLean. Roma’s progress from the semi-final depended on a win over United in the second leg at their Olympic Stadium amid a poisonous atmosphere, never to be forgotten by those who were present. Worse still, the outcome was regarded with profound suspicion at the time and the Scottish Football Association asked Uefa to investigate links between the Roma board and the referee for the second leg, Michel Vautrot, of France. Uefa refused but, two years later, the governing body of European football banned the Roma president, Dino Viola, for attempting to bribe Vautrot. Liverpool beat Roma in their own back yard in the 1984 European Cup final - but it could have been Dundee United they faced Credit: GETTY IMAGES In 2011, Viola’s son Riccardo, speaking 10 years after his father’s death, alleged in a TV interview that Vautrot had been suborned over dinner on Apr 24, 1984. “Roma gave a middle-man 100 million lire [£50,000] destined for referee Vautrot. That is true and a shameful fact,” Viola said. “Spartaco Landini, the director of football at Genoa, came to see my father. He told him Vautrot was a friend of his and that we could get at him via another friend, but he would have to be given 100 million lire. “He said a dinner would be organised with the referee on the eve of the game and a signal to show the deal had been done would be demanded. During the dinner, a waiter went up to the referee, saying, ‘Telephone call for Mr Vautrot.’ That was the pre-arranged signal. “Vautrot left the table and when he returned, said, ‘My friend Paolo rang and he sends you his best wishes.’ Then I got up, rang my father and told him, ‘Message received.’ “All this was done because we had a difficult game against Dundee United. Going out of the competition would have had serious repercussions.” Why I'm expecting a Liverpool vs Bayern final The possibility of Roma failing to reach the European Cup final had not been taken seriously before their visit to Tannadice for the first leg. McLean used to refer to United’s meetings with Celtic and Rangers as ‘the corner shop versus the supermarkets’. What nobody guessed was that, by the end of the semi-final, the corner shop would have encountered the football equivalent of Don Corleone. Bryon Butler, representing BBC Radio Sport, remarked to this correspondent before kick-off that he expected one-way traffic towards United’s goalkeeper, Hamish McAlpine. When half-time arrived with the score 0-0, the southern contingent was entitled to assume that expectations had been vindicated. McLean, though, ripped into his players with such fury that they resumed the contest with manic energy, scoring through Davie Dodds within three minutes and doubling their advantage through Derek Stark. United’s experience in the return leg was nightmarish. Roma fans kept up a cacophony outside their hotel on the night before the game and when the players reached the Olympic Stadium after a prolonged bus ride, they were met by intimidation. McLean said later that he had feared “for the game of football itself as I sat through the hate and venom”. He added: “There are times I feel that if we had been the team to meet Roma in the final, I might not be alive today.” Bruno Conti's penalty sails over Bruce Grobbelaar's bar Credit: COLORSPORT At half-time, a Roberto Pruzzo double had levelled the aggregate score. In the 58th minute, Vautrot awarded Roma what proved to be a decisive penalty, converted by Agostino Di Bartolomei for the winner. In the final, though, Roma were less adept in the penalty decider and the European Cup returned to Anfield for the fourth time in eight years. Yet it is tantalising to speculate how a Dundee United v Liverpool final would have turned out. The United players were not daunted by English opposition, as they showed in the Uefa Cup against Manchester United in 1984, when they lost over two legs only by the odd goal in nine. On Tuesday, when Liverpool and Roma take the field, it will be 34 years to the day since Riccardo Viola sat down with Vautrot for that fateful meal. To this day, the Dundee United players of 1984 believe they could have won the ultimate silverware. It was, instead, their sad fate to be filleted and served up in a Roman restaurant.
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
Liverpool’s Champions League meeting with Roma has evoked memories of the 1984 European Cup final between the sides in the Italian capital, when Joe Fagan’s players prevailed with a 4-2 win on penalties after a 1-1 draw. The final, though, could – and arguably should – have been an all-British affair, with Liverpool facing an extraordinary Dundee United side under the guidance of the ferociously single-minded Jim McLean. Roma’s progress from the semi-final depended on a win over United in the second leg at their Olympic Stadium amid a poisonous atmosphere, never to be forgotten by those who were present. Worse still, the outcome was regarded with profound suspicion at the time and the Scottish Football Association asked Uefa to investigate links between the Roma board and the referee for the second leg, Michel Vautrot, of France. Uefa refused but, two years later, the governing body of European football banned the Roma president, Dino Viola, for attempting to bribe Vautrot. Liverpool beat Roma in their own back yard in the 1984 European Cup final - but it could have been Dundee United they faced Credit: GETTY IMAGES In 2011, Viola’s son Riccardo, speaking 10 years after his father’s death, alleged in a TV interview that Vautrot had been suborned over dinner on Apr 24, 1984. “Roma gave a middle-man 100 million lire [£50,000] destined for referee Vautrot. That is true and a shameful fact,” Viola said. “Spartaco Landini, the director of football at Genoa, came to see my father. He told him Vautrot was a friend of his and that we could get at him via another friend, but he would have to be given 100 million lire. “He said a dinner would be organised with the referee on the eve of the game and a signal to show the deal had been done would be demanded. During the dinner, a waiter went up to the referee, saying, ‘Telephone call for Mr Vautrot.’ That was the pre-arranged signal. “Vautrot left the table and when he returned, said, ‘My friend Paolo rang and he sends you his best wishes.’ Then I got up, rang my father and told him, ‘Message received.’ “All this was done because we had a difficult game against Dundee United. Going out of the competition would have had serious repercussions.” Why I'm expecting a Liverpool vs Bayern final The possibility of Roma failing to reach the European Cup final had not been taken seriously before their visit to Tannadice for the first leg. McLean used to refer to United’s meetings with Celtic and Rangers as ‘the corner shop versus the supermarkets’. What nobody guessed was that, by the end of the semi-final, the corner shop would have encountered the football equivalent of Don Corleone. Bryon Butler, representing BBC Radio Sport, remarked to this correspondent before kick-off that he expected one-way traffic towards United’s goalkeeper, Hamish McAlpine. When half-time arrived with the score 0-0, the southern contingent was entitled to assume that expectations had been vindicated. McLean, though, ripped into his players with such fury that they resumed the contest with manic energy, scoring through Davie Dodds within three minutes and doubling their advantage through Derek Stark. United’s experience in the return leg was nightmarish. Roma fans kept up a cacophony outside their hotel on the night before the game and when the players reached the Olympic Stadium after a prolonged bus ride, they were met by intimidation. McLean said later that he had feared “for the game of football itself as I sat through the hate and venom”. He added: “There are times I feel that if we had been the team to meet Roma in the final, I might not be alive today.” Bruno Conti's penalty sails over Bruce Grobbelaar's bar Credit: COLORSPORT At half-time, a Roberto Pruzzo double had levelled the aggregate score. In the 58th minute, Vautrot awarded Roma what proved to be a decisive penalty, converted by Agostino Di Bartolomei for the winner. In the final, though, Roma were less adept in the penalty decider and the European Cup returned to Anfield for the fourth time in eight years. Yet it is tantalising to speculate how a Dundee United v Liverpool final would have turned out. The United players were not daunted by English opposition, as they showed in the Uefa Cup against Manchester United in 1984, when they lost over two legs only by the odd goal in nine. On Tuesday, when Liverpool and Roma take the field, it will be 34 years to the day since Riccardo Viola sat down with Vautrot for that fateful meal. To this day, the Dundee United players of 1984 believe they could have won the ultimate silverware. It was, instead, their sad fate to be filleted and served up in a Roman restaurant.
Concern about a fixture backlog in Scotland increased with the announcement that several weekend league games had been postponed because of the impact of severe weather. The Scottish Cup quarter-finals have not yet been disrupted but an announcement will be made today about the schedule. Of the midweek Scottish Premiership fixtures, only Tuesday’s games between Hearts and Kilmarnock – which finished 1-1 at Tynecastle – and Rangers’ 4-1 victory over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park survived the freeze. Wednesday evening’s matches – Celtic v Dundee, Hibs v Hamilton and Motherwell v Aberdeen – were all postponed as icy weather swept in from Siberia, with blizzards forcing transport to a near-standstill. Rangers are now six points behind leaders Celtic, having played one game more than the champions, ahead of the third Old Firm derby of the season at Ibrox, a week on Sunday. This weekend’s league matches which have been called off include one Premiership fixture, between St Johnstone and Hamilton. Somewhat surprisingly, the other top-flight league game between Ross County and Partick Thistle, in the division’s most northerly venue at Dingwall, was still scheduled to go ahead. Aberdeen's game against Motherwell is one of a number of games to be called off in the Scottish Premiership Credit: PA In the Championship, Dundee United v St Mirren tonight and tomorrow’s Dunfermline v Livingston match are off. League One fixtures, Airdrieonians v Stranraer and Albion Rovers v Queen’s Park, plus four League 2 matches – Berwick Rangers v Stirling Albion, Clyde v Elgin City, Edinburgh City v Cowdenbeath and Peterhead v Stenhousemuir – also fell victim to the adverse conditions. Scotland was the subject of a Met Office red warning on Wednesday night and yesterday morning, but although the alert was downgraded to amber, it is likely that more games will fall victim to the snowy conditions. An SPFL statement read: “All other SPFL matches remain on at this point but will be reviewed at the earliest opportunity tomorrow morning.” The Scottish Football Association, meanwhile, is also monitoring conditions ahead of a Scottish Cup weekend that sees Celtic at home to Greenock Morton in a lunchtime kick-off. Aberdeen are also due to be in action tomorrow at Pittodrie against Kilmarnock. On Sunday, Motherwell are to meet Hearts at Fir Park, with Rangers at home to Falkirk later in the afternoon. An SFA source said: “We have no inspections scheduled yet and, in fact, pitches are the least of the worries. The questions are – can staff and players get in and can fans travel safely? We are liaising with clubs, police and broadcasters and will update the situation in due course.” Matches are also falling victim to the freeze south of the border. Tomorrow’s Championship game between Sheffield United and Burton Albion was postponed yesterday, along with Bradford v Portsmouth, Gillingham v Rotherham and Oxford v Fleetwood in League One. The League Two match between Newport County and Accrington Stanley was also called off. Rugby Union is also suffering with five of the Pro14’s seven fixtures for this weekend being postponed yesterday. The two remaining Pro14 fixtures are unaffected by the cold snap due to being played in South Africa, with the Southern Kings hosting Dragons in Port Elizabeth and the Cheetahs taking on Connacht in Bloemfontein. A top-of-the-table clash between Scarlets and Leinster is among the Pro14 matches that must now be rescheduled, with widespread disruption at Dublin airport preventing Leinster from making the trip to west Wales. “The health and safety of supporters, match officials, players and staff from both clubs has been the foremost consideration,” read a Pro14 statement. “It is in the best interests of everyone involved to postpone the fixtures and the rescheduled date and kick-off time will be confirmed as soon as possible. “We hope that supporters understand the reasons behind this postponement and that any inconvenience caused is minor compared to the impact of making this decision closer to kick-off.” Meanwhile in the Aviva Premiership, the top-two fixture between Exeter Chiefs and Saracens at Sandy Park in Devon has been moved from tomorrow to Sunday. All remaining fixtures in the competition are expected to go ahead as scheduled.
Beast from the East wreaks havoc with Scottish football and rugby fixtures
Concern about a fixture backlog in Scotland increased with the announcement that several weekend league games had been postponed because of the impact of severe weather. The Scottish Cup quarter-finals have not yet been disrupted but an announcement will be made today about the schedule. Of the midweek Scottish Premiership fixtures, only Tuesday’s games between Hearts and Kilmarnock – which finished 1-1 at Tynecastle – and Rangers’ 4-1 victory over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park survived the freeze. Wednesday evening’s matches – Celtic v Dundee, Hibs v Hamilton and Motherwell v Aberdeen – were all postponed as icy weather swept in from Siberia, with blizzards forcing transport to a near-standstill. Rangers are now six points behind leaders Celtic, having played one game more than the champions, ahead of the third Old Firm derby of the season at Ibrox, a week on Sunday. This weekend’s league matches which have been called off include one Premiership fixture, between St Johnstone and Hamilton. Somewhat surprisingly, the other top-flight league game between Ross County and Partick Thistle, in the division’s most northerly venue at Dingwall, was still scheduled to go ahead. Aberdeen's game against Motherwell is one of a number of games to be called off in the Scottish Premiership Credit: PA In the Championship, Dundee United v St Mirren tonight and tomorrow’s Dunfermline v Livingston match are off. League One fixtures, Airdrieonians v Stranraer and Albion Rovers v Queen’s Park, plus four League 2 matches – Berwick Rangers v Stirling Albion, Clyde v Elgin City, Edinburgh City v Cowdenbeath and Peterhead v Stenhousemuir – also fell victim to the adverse conditions. Scotland was the subject of a Met Office red warning on Wednesday night and yesterday morning, but although the alert was downgraded to amber, it is likely that more games will fall victim to the snowy conditions. An SPFL statement read: “All other SPFL matches remain on at this point but will be reviewed at the earliest opportunity tomorrow morning.” The Scottish Football Association, meanwhile, is also monitoring conditions ahead of a Scottish Cup weekend that sees Celtic at home to Greenock Morton in a lunchtime kick-off. Aberdeen are also due to be in action tomorrow at Pittodrie against Kilmarnock. On Sunday, Motherwell are to meet Hearts at Fir Park, with Rangers at home to Falkirk later in the afternoon. An SFA source said: “We have no inspections scheduled yet and, in fact, pitches are the least of the worries. The questions are – can staff and players get in and can fans travel safely? We are liaising with clubs, police and broadcasters and will update the situation in due course.” Matches are also falling victim to the freeze south of the border. Tomorrow’s Championship game between Sheffield United and Burton Albion was postponed yesterday, along with Bradford v Portsmouth, Gillingham v Rotherham and Oxford v Fleetwood in League One. The League Two match between Newport County and Accrington Stanley was also called off. Rugby Union is also suffering with five of the Pro14’s seven fixtures for this weekend being postponed yesterday. The two remaining Pro14 fixtures are unaffected by the cold snap due to being played in South Africa, with the Southern Kings hosting Dragons in Port Elizabeth and the Cheetahs taking on Connacht in Bloemfontein. A top-of-the-table clash between Scarlets and Leinster is among the Pro14 matches that must now be rescheduled, with widespread disruption at Dublin airport preventing Leinster from making the trip to west Wales. “The health and safety of supporters, match officials, players and staff from both clubs has been the foremost consideration,” read a Pro14 statement. “It is in the best interests of everyone involved to postpone the fixtures and the rescheduled date and kick-off time will be confirmed as soon as possible. “We hope that supporters understand the reasons behind this postponement and that any inconvenience caused is minor compared to the impact of making this decision closer to kick-off.” Meanwhile in the Aviva Premiership, the top-two fixture between Exeter Chiefs and Saracens at Sandy Park in Devon has been moved from tomorrow to Sunday. All remaining fixtures in the competition are expected to go ahead as scheduled.
Concern about a fixture backlog in Scotland increased with the announcement that several weekend league games had been postponed because of the impact of severe weather. The Scottish Cup quarter-finals have not yet been disrupted but an announcement will be made today about the schedule. Of the midweek Scottish Premiership fixtures, only Tuesday’s games between Hearts and Kilmarnock – which finished 1-1 at Tynecastle – and Rangers’ 4-1 victory over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park survived the freeze. Wednesday evening’s matches – Celtic v Dundee, Hibs v Hamilton and Motherwell v Aberdeen – were all postponed as icy weather swept in from Siberia, with blizzards forcing transport to a near-standstill. Rangers are now six points behind leaders Celtic, having played one game more than the champions, ahead of the third Old Firm derby of the season at Ibrox, a week on Sunday. This weekend’s league matches which have been called off include one Premiership fixture, between St Johnstone and Hamilton. Somewhat surprisingly, the other top-flight league game between Ross County and Partick Thistle, in the division’s most northerly venue at Dingwall, was still scheduled to go ahead. Aberdeen's game against Motherwell is one of a number of games to be called off in the Scottish Premiership Credit: PA In the Championship, Dundee United v St Mirren tonight and tomorrow’s Dunfermline v Livingston match are off. League One fixtures, Airdrieonians v Stranraer and Albion Rovers v Queen’s Park, plus four League 2 matches – Berwick Rangers v Stirling Albion, Clyde v Elgin City, Edinburgh City v Cowdenbeath and Peterhead v Stenhousemuir – also fell victim to the adverse conditions. Scotland was the subject of a Met Office red warning on Wednesday night and yesterday morning, but although the alert was downgraded to amber, it is likely that more games will fall victim to the snowy conditions. An SPFL statement read: “All other SPFL matches remain on at this point but will be reviewed at the earliest opportunity tomorrow morning.” The Scottish Football Association, meanwhile, is also monitoring conditions ahead of a Scottish Cup weekend that sees Celtic at home to Greenock Morton in a lunchtime kick-off. Aberdeen are also due to be in action tomorrow at Pittodrie against Kilmarnock. On Sunday, Motherwell are to meet Hearts at Fir Park, with Rangers at home to Falkirk later in the afternoon. An SFA source said: “We have no inspections scheduled yet and, in fact, pitches are the least of the worries. The questions are – can staff and players get in and can fans travel safely? We are liaising with clubs, police and broadcasters and will update the situation in due course.” Matches are also falling victim to the freeze south of the border. Tomorrow’s Championship game between Sheffield United and Burton Albion was postponed yesterday, along with Bradford v Portsmouth, Gillingham v Rotherham and Oxford v Fleetwood in League One. The League Two match between Newport County and Accrington Stanley was also called off. Rugby Union is also suffering with five of the Pro14’s seven fixtures for this weekend being postponed yesterday. The two remaining Pro14 fixtures are unaffected by the cold snap due to being played in South Africa, with the Southern Kings hosting Dragons in Port Elizabeth and the Cheetahs taking on Connacht in Bloemfontein. A top-of-the-table clash between Scarlets and Leinster is among the Pro14 matches that must now be rescheduled, with widespread disruption at Dublin airport preventing Leinster from making the trip to west Wales. “The health and safety of supporters, match officials, players and staff from both clubs has been the foremost consideration,” read a Pro14 statement. “It is in the best interests of everyone involved to postpone the fixtures and the rescheduled date and kick-off time will be confirmed as soon as possible. “We hope that supporters understand the reasons behind this postponement and that any inconvenience caused is minor compared to the impact of making this decision closer to kick-off.” Meanwhile in the Aviva Premiership, the top-two fixture between Exeter Chiefs and Saracens at Sandy Park in Devon has been moved from tomorrow to Sunday. All remaining fixtures in the competition are expected to go ahead as scheduled.
Beast from the East wreaks havoc with Scottish football and rugby fixtures
Concern about a fixture backlog in Scotland increased with the announcement that several weekend league games had been postponed because of the impact of severe weather. The Scottish Cup quarter-finals have not yet been disrupted but an announcement will be made today about the schedule. Of the midweek Scottish Premiership fixtures, only Tuesday’s games between Hearts and Kilmarnock – which finished 1-1 at Tynecastle – and Rangers’ 4-1 victory over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park survived the freeze. Wednesday evening’s matches – Celtic v Dundee, Hibs v Hamilton and Motherwell v Aberdeen – were all postponed as icy weather swept in from Siberia, with blizzards forcing transport to a near-standstill. Rangers are now six points behind leaders Celtic, having played one game more than the champions, ahead of the third Old Firm derby of the season at Ibrox, a week on Sunday. This weekend’s league matches which have been called off include one Premiership fixture, between St Johnstone and Hamilton. Somewhat surprisingly, the other top-flight league game between Ross County and Partick Thistle, in the division’s most northerly venue at Dingwall, was still scheduled to go ahead. Aberdeen's game against Motherwell is one of a number of games to be called off in the Scottish Premiership Credit: PA In the Championship, Dundee United v St Mirren tonight and tomorrow’s Dunfermline v Livingston match are off. League One fixtures, Airdrieonians v Stranraer and Albion Rovers v Queen’s Park, plus four League 2 matches – Berwick Rangers v Stirling Albion, Clyde v Elgin City, Edinburgh City v Cowdenbeath and Peterhead v Stenhousemuir – also fell victim to the adverse conditions. Scotland was the subject of a Met Office red warning on Wednesday night and yesterday morning, but although the alert was downgraded to amber, it is likely that more games will fall victim to the snowy conditions. An SPFL statement read: “All other SPFL matches remain on at this point but will be reviewed at the earliest opportunity tomorrow morning.” The Scottish Football Association, meanwhile, is also monitoring conditions ahead of a Scottish Cup weekend that sees Celtic at home to Greenock Morton in a lunchtime kick-off. Aberdeen are also due to be in action tomorrow at Pittodrie against Kilmarnock. On Sunday, Motherwell are to meet Hearts at Fir Park, with Rangers at home to Falkirk later in the afternoon. An SFA source said: “We have no inspections scheduled yet and, in fact, pitches are the least of the worries. The questions are – can staff and players get in and can fans travel safely? We are liaising with clubs, police and broadcasters and will update the situation in due course.” Matches are also falling victim to the freeze south of the border. Tomorrow’s Championship game between Sheffield United and Burton Albion was postponed yesterday, along with Bradford v Portsmouth, Gillingham v Rotherham and Oxford v Fleetwood in League One. The League Two match between Newport County and Accrington Stanley was also called off. Rugby Union is also suffering with five of the Pro14’s seven fixtures for this weekend being postponed yesterday. The two remaining Pro14 fixtures are unaffected by the cold snap due to being played in South Africa, with the Southern Kings hosting Dragons in Port Elizabeth and the Cheetahs taking on Connacht in Bloemfontein. A top-of-the-table clash between Scarlets and Leinster is among the Pro14 matches that must now be rescheduled, with widespread disruption at Dublin airport preventing Leinster from making the trip to west Wales. “The health and safety of supporters, match officials, players and staff from both clubs has been the foremost consideration,” read a Pro14 statement. “It is in the best interests of everyone involved to postpone the fixtures and the rescheduled date and kick-off time will be confirmed as soon as possible. “We hope that supporters understand the reasons behind this postponement and that any inconvenience caused is minor compared to the impact of making this decision closer to kick-off.” Meanwhile in the Aviva Premiership, the top-two fixture between Exeter Chiefs and Saracens at Sandy Park in Devon has been moved from tomorrow to Sunday. All remaining fixtures in the competition are expected to go ahead as scheduled.
Liam Miller’s untimely death was felt with particular poignancy on Saturday at Celtic Park, where he began his career as a youth player in 1997, before making his debut against Dundee United three years later in Kenny Dalglish’s last game in charge. Martin O’Neill, the next Celtic manager, was so impressed by the youngster’s skills that he offered Miller a four-year contract and proposed to refashion the team around him. Miller declined, moving to Old Trafford when his contract expired in July 2004 but, against expectations, he could not secure a first team place under Alex Ferguson and his career after Manchester United became peripatetic and he moved on to Sunderland, Queen’s Park Rangers and Hibernian before spells in Australia and the USA, where he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in November. Miller’s passing on Friday was commemorated by an immaculately observed minute’s silence before kick-off at Celtic’s home tie with Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup. “You saw from the response that Liam was held in affection here and that reflected the fact that he came through the ranks,” said Tom Boyd, the former Celtic captain, who played alongside Miller. “It took him a little while to get into the team because the midfield was full of quality international players at the time, but when he did step up he made a massive impact. We always have a certain respect at Celtic for players who come up from youth level and it seems appropriate that our goals on Saturday were all scored by James Forrest, who progressed through the same route.” Forrest, in fact, joined Celtic’s academy while Miller was still with the club and, if his initial progress was less spectacular than that of the Republic of Ireland international, the winger is now enjoying his most productive season with his best ever goals total – now at 16 and likely to rise by several more, if current form is a reliable guide. His plunder was aided by woeful defending by Partick, who were behind within two minutes when Forrest converted the rebound from a Moussa Dembele shot which came off Danny Devine. Celtic's players join together before the game Credit: PA Forrest was granted the freedom of the entire Thistle half for a run and shot in the 10th minute and completed his first ever hat-trick eight minutes after the break when he finished a left-wing combination which linked Kieran Tierney and Scott Sinclair. The Jags, though had been given hope when Jozo Simunovic carelessly handed possession to Kris Doolan for a delightful chip over Dorus de Vries in the Celtic goal. Doolan, too, was etching himself into the record books. The goal crowned his 350th appearance for Thistle before he made way on the hour for Conor Sammon. The replacement kept the issue in doubt by netting Thistle’s second in the 83rd minute and the visitors almost forced a draw in injury time, when Tierney and De Vries between them just managed to thwart Ryan Edwards on the goal line. “It was a great cross from Chris Erskine and I looked up and thought I was going to score,” said Edwards. “Kieran Tierney blocked it – he did ever so well because I was in front of him. “It was one of those where you see the ball hit the net before you connect. It was coming right to my foot and Tierney did ever so well and then the keeper just picked it up. I’m disappointed we didn’t get a replay.” If Thistle were disappointed at being caught cold by Forrest’s first two goals – especially since they had discussed the need for a disciplined start – they can take consolation for the fight against relegation from their spirited finish, a notable contrast with early season form that saw them damaged repeatedly by late goals. Forrest (left) celebrates after completing his hat-trick Credit: PA Asked if increased stamina now played a part, Edwards said: “Maybe – the fitness thing could be mentality and with players coming back from injury there is greater competition for places. It’s a positive environment to be in.” The possibility of yet another Thistle revival in the second half of the season has been revived by recent form. “I hope so,” Edwards said. “This is my third season and it’s happening again. “We don’t seem to start great but then it comes January and we seem to turn it around. I don’t know why that is. We don’t want to be in that position and it’s not planned. We’ve had good league results and we want to keep progressing. We have three massive games coming up starting next week against Dundee.” Celtic, of course, are engaged on a greatly contrasting itinerary, with the defence of their domestic treble and the possibility of progress in the Europa League. Zenit, though, are equipped with much more potent firepower than Partick, a strength that will require concomitant concentration by the Hoops defenders, if they are to keep the Russian side at bay. It was a long game, hectic too,” said Kris Ajer, Celtic’s Norwegian central defender. “Thistle pressed us well throughout the whole game. Even when we went up 2-0 they did really well to come back and never gave us a second on the ball.” That, it need hardly be overstated, is a factor that cannot escape Zenit’s attention ahead of what promises to be another fascinating, but tense, European evening at Parkead.
Liam Miller appropriately commemorated by James Forrest in Celtic win
Liam Miller’s untimely death was felt with particular poignancy on Saturday at Celtic Park, where he began his career as a youth player in 1997, before making his debut against Dundee United three years later in Kenny Dalglish’s last game in charge. Martin O’Neill, the next Celtic manager, was so impressed by the youngster’s skills that he offered Miller a four-year contract and proposed to refashion the team around him. Miller declined, moving to Old Trafford when his contract expired in July 2004 but, against expectations, he could not secure a first team place under Alex Ferguson and his career after Manchester United became peripatetic and he moved on to Sunderland, Queen’s Park Rangers and Hibernian before spells in Australia and the USA, where he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in November. Miller’s passing on Friday was commemorated by an immaculately observed minute’s silence before kick-off at Celtic’s home tie with Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup. “You saw from the response that Liam was held in affection here and that reflected the fact that he came through the ranks,” said Tom Boyd, the former Celtic captain, who played alongside Miller. “It took him a little while to get into the team because the midfield was full of quality international players at the time, but when he did step up he made a massive impact. We always have a certain respect at Celtic for players who come up from youth level and it seems appropriate that our goals on Saturday were all scored by James Forrest, who progressed through the same route.” Forrest, in fact, joined Celtic’s academy while Miller was still with the club and, if his initial progress was less spectacular than that of the Republic of Ireland international, the winger is now enjoying his most productive season with his best ever goals total – now at 16 and likely to rise by several more, if current form is a reliable guide. His plunder was aided by woeful defending by Partick, who were behind within two minutes when Forrest converted the rebound from a Moussa Dembele shot which came off Danny Devine. Celtic's players join together before the game Credit: PA Forrest was granted the freedom of the entire Thistle half for a run and shot in the 10th minute and completed his first ever hat-trick eight minutes after the break when he finished a left-wing combination which linked Kieran Tierney and Scott Sinclair. The Jags, though had been given hope when Jozo Simunovic carelessly handed possession to Kris Doolan for a delightful chip over Dorus de Vries in the Celtic goal. Doolan, too, was etching himself into the record books. The goal crowned his 350th appearance for Thistle before he made way on the hour for Conor Sammon. The replacement kept the issue in doubt by netting Thistle’s second in the 83rd minute and the visitors almost forced a draw in injury time, when Tierney and De Vries between them just managed to thwart Ryan Edwards on the goal line. “It was a great cross from Chris Erskine and I looked up and thought I was going to score,” said Edwards. “Kieran Tierney blocked it – he did ever so well because I was in front of him. “It was one of those where you see the ball hit the net before you connect. It was coming right to my foot and Tierney did ever so well and then the keeper just picked it up. I’m disappointed we didn’t get a replay.” If Thistle were disappointed at being caught cold by Forrest’s first two goals – especially since they had discussed the need for a disciplined start – they can take consolation for the fight against relegation from their spirited finish, a notable contrast with early season form that saw them damaged repeatedly by late goals. Forrest (left) celebrates after completing his hat-trick Credit: PA Asked if increased stamina now played a part, Edwards said: “Maybe – the fitness thing could be mentality and with players coming back from injury there is greater competition for places. It’s a positive environment to be in.” The possibility of yet another Thistle revival in the second half of the season has been revived by recent form. “I hope so,” Edwards said. “This is my third season and it’s happening again. “We don’t seem to start great but then it comes January and we seem to turn it around. I don’t know why that is. We don’t want to be in that position and it’s not planned. We’ve had good league results and we want to keep progressing. We have three massive games coming up starting next week against Dundee.” Celtic, of course, are engaged on a greatly contrasting itinerary, with the defence of their domestic treble and the possibility of progress in the Europa League. Zenit, though, are equipped with much more potent firepower than Partick, a strength that will require concomitant concentration by the Hoops defenders, if they are to keep the Russian side at bay. It was a long game, hectic too,” said Kris Ajer, Celtic’s Norwegian central defender. “Thistle pressed us well throughout the whole game. Even when we went up 2-0 they did really well to come back and never gave us a second on the ball.” That, it need hardly be overstated, is a factor that cannot escape Zenit’s attention ahead of what promises to be another fascinating, but tense, European evening at Parkead.
Liam Miller’s untimely death was felt with particular poignancy on Saturday at Celtic Park, where he began his career as a youth player in 1997, before making his debut against Dundee United three years later in Kenny Dalglish’s last game in charge. Martin O’Neill, the next Celtic manager, was so impressed by the youngster’s skills that he offered Miller a four-year contract and proposed to refashion the team around him. Miller declined, moving to Old Trafford when his contract expired in July 2004 but, against expectations, he could not secure a first team place under Alex Ferguson and his career after Manchester United became peripatetic and he moved on to Sunderland, Queen’s Park Rangers and Hibernian before spells in Australia and the USA, where he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in November. Miller’s passing on Friday was commemorated by an immaculately observed minute’s silence before kick-off at Celtic’s home tie with Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup. “You saw from the response that Liam was held in affection here and that reflected the fact that he came through the ranks,” said Tom Boyd, the former Celtic captain, who played alongside Miller. “It took him a little while to get into the team because the midfield was full of quality international players at the time, but when he did step up he made a massive impact. We always have a certain respect at Celtic for players who come up from youth level and it seems appropriate that our goals on Saturday were all scored by James Forrest, who progressed through the same route.” Forrest, in fact, joined Celtic’s academy while Miller was still with the club and, if his initial progress was less spectacular than that of the Republic of Ireland international, the winger is now enjoying his most productive season with his best ever goals total – now at 16 and likely to rise by several more, if current form is a reliable guide. His plunder was aided by woeful defending by Partick, who were behind within two minutes when Forrest converted the rebound from a Moussa Dembele shot which came off Danny Devine. Celtic's players join together before the game Credit: PA Forrest was granted the freedom of the entire Thistle half for a run and shot in the 10th minute and completed his first ever hat-trick eight minutes after the break when he finished a left-wing combination which linked Kieran Tierney and Scott Sinclair. The Jags, though had been given hope when Jozo Simunovic carelessly handed possession to Kris Doolan for a delightful chip over Dorus de Vries in the Celtic goal. Doolan, too, was etching himself into the record books. The goal crowned his 350th appearance for Thistle before he made way on the hour for Conor Sammon. The replacement kept the issue in doubt by netting Thistle’s second in the 83rd minute and the visitors almost forced a draw in injury time, when Tierney and De Vries between them just managed to thwart Ryan Edwards on the goal line. “It was a great cross from Chris Erskine and I looked up and thought I was going to score,” said Edwards. “Kieran Tierney blocked it – he did ever so well because I was in front of him. “It was one of those where you see the ball hit the net before you connect. It was coming right to my foot and Tierney did ever so well and then the keeper just picked it up. I’m disappointed we didn’t get a replay.” If Thistle were disappointed at being caught cold by Forrest’s first two goals – especially since they had discussed the need for a disciplined start – they can take consolation for the fight against relegation from their spirited finish, a notable contrast with early season form that saw them damaged repeatedly by late goals. Forrest (left) celebrates after completing his hat-trick Credit: PA Asked if increased stamina now played a part, Edwards said: “Maybe – the fitness thing could be mentality and with players coming back from injury there is greater competition for places. It’s a positive environment to be in.” The possibility of yet another Thistle revival in the second half of the season has been revived by recent form. “I hope so,” Edwards said. “This is my third season and it’s happening again. “We don’t seem to start great but then it comes January and we seem to turn it around. I don’t know why that is. We don’t want to be in that position and it’s not planned. We’ve had good league results and we want to keep progressing. We have three massive games coming up starting next week against Dundee.” Celtic, of course, are engaged on a greatly contrasting itinerary, with the defence of their domestic treble and the possibility of progress in the Europa League. Zenit, though, are equipped with much more potent firepower than Partick, a strength that will require concomitant concentration by the Hoops defenders, if they are to keep the Russian side at bay. It was a long game, hectic too,” said Kris Ajer, Celtic’s Norwegian central defender. “Thistle pressed us well throughout the whole game. Even when we went up 2-0 they did really well to come back and never gave us a second on the ball.” That, it need hardly be overstated, is a factor that cannot escape Zenit’s attention ahead of what promises to be another fascinating, but tense, European evening at Parkead.
Liam Miller appropriately commemorated by James Forrest in Celtic win
Liam Miller’s untimely death was felt with particular poignancy on Saturday at Celtic Park, where he began his career as a youth player in 1997, before making his debut against Dundee United three years later in Kenny Dalglish’s last game in charge. Martin O’Neill, the next Celtic manager, was so impressed by the youngster’s skills that he offered Miller a four-year contract and proposed to refashion the team around him. Miller declined, moving to Old Trafford when his contract expired in July 2004 but, against expectations, he could not secure a first team place under Alex Ferguson and his career after Manchester United became peripatetic and he moved on to Sunderland, Queen’s Park Rangers and Hibernian before spells in Australia and the USA, where he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in November. Miller’s passing on Friday was commemorated by an immaculately observed minute’s silence before kick-off at Celtic’s home tie with Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup. “You saw from the response that Liam was held in affection here and that reflected the fact that he came through the ranks,” said Tom Boyd, the former Celtic captain, who played alongside Miller. “It took him a little while to get into the team because the midfield was full of quality international players at the time, but when he did step up he made a massive impact. We always have a certain respect at Celtic for players who come up from youth level and it seems appropriate that our goals on Saturday were all scored by James Forrest, who progressed through the same route.” Forrest, in fact, joined Celtic’s academy while Miller was still with the club and, if his initial progress was less spectacular than that of the Republic of Ireland international, the winger is now enjoying his most productive season with his best ever goals total – now at 16 and likely to rise by several more, if current form is a reliable guide. His plunder was aided by woeful defending by Partick, who were behind within two minutes when Forrest converted the rebound from a Moussa Dembele shot which came off Danny Devine. Celtic's players join together before the game Credit: PA Forrest was granted the freedom of the entire Thistle half for a run and shot in the 10th minute and completed his first ever hat-trick eight minutes after the break when he finished a left-wing combination which linked Kieran Tierney and Scott Sinclair. The Jags, though had been given hope when Jozo Simunovic carelessly handed possession to Kris Doolan for a delightful chip over Dorus de Vries in the Celtic goal. Doolan, too, was etching himself into the record books. The goal crowned his 350th appearance for Thistle before he made way on the hour for Conor Sammon. The replacement kept the issue in doubt by netting Thistle’s second in the 83rd minute and the visitors almost forced a draw in injury time, when Tierney and De Vries between them just managed to thwart Ryan Edwards on the goal line. “It was a great cross from Chris Erskine and I looked up and thought I was going to score,” said Edwards. “Kieran Tierney blocked it – he did ever so well because I was in front of him. “It was one of those where you see the ball hit the net before you connect. It was coming right to my foot and Tierney did ever so well and then the keeper just picked it up. I’m disappointed we didn’t get a replay.” If Thistle were disappointed at being caught cold by Forrest’s first two goals – especially since they had discussed the need for a disciplined start – they can take consolation for the fight against relegation from their spirited finish, a notable contrast with early season form that saw them damaged repeatedly by late goals. Forrest (left) celebrates after completing his hat-trick Credit: PA Asked if increased stamina now played a part, Edwards said: “Maybe – the fitness thing could be mentality and with players coming back from injury there is greater competition for places. It’s a positive environment to be in.” The possibility of yet another Thistle revival in the second half of the season has been revived by recent form. “I hope so,” Edwards said. “This is my third season and it’s happening again. “We don’t seem to start great but then it comes January and we seem to turn it around. I don’t know why that is. We don’t want to be in that position and it’s not planned. We’ve had good league results and we want to keep progressing. We have three massive games coming up starting next week against Dundee.” Celtic, of course, are engaged on a greatly contrasting itinerary, with the defence of their domestic treble and the possibility of progress in the Europa League. Zenit, though, are equipped with much more potent firepower than Partick, a strength that will require concomitant concentration by the Hoops defenders, if they are to keep the Russian side at bay. It was a long game, hectic too,” said Kris Ajer, Celtic’s Norwegian central defender. “Thistle pressed us well throughout the whole game. Even when we went up 2-0 they did really well to come back and never gave us a second on the ball.” That, it need hardly be overstated, is a factor that cannot escape Zenit’s attention ahead of what promises to be another fascinating, but tense, European evening at Parkead.
Liam Miller’s untimely death was felt with particular poignancy on Saturday at Celtic Park, where he began his career as a youth player in 1997, before making his debut against Dundee United three years later in Kenny Dalglish’s last game in charge. Martin O’Neill, the next Celtic manager, was so impressed by the youngster’s skills that he offered Miller a four-year contract and proposed to refashion the team around him. Miller declined, moving to Old Trafford when his contract expired in July 2004 but, against expectations, he could not secure a first team place under Alex Ferguson and his career after Manchester United became peripatetic and he moved on to Sunderland, Queen’s Park Rangers and Hibernian before spells in Australia and the USA, where he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in November. Miller’s passing on Friday was commemorated by an immaculately observed minute’s silence before kick-off at Celtic’s home tie with Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup. “You saw from the response that Liam was held in affection here and that reflected the fact that he came through the ranks,” said Tom Boyd, the former Celtic captain, who played alongside Miller. “It took him a little while to get into the team because the midfield was full of quality international players at the time, but when he did step up he made a massive impact. We always have a certain respect at Celtic for players who come up from youth level and it seems appropriate that our goals on Saturday were all scored by James Forrest, who progressed through the same route.” Forrest, in fact, joined Celtic’s academy while Miller was still with the club and, if his initial progress was less spectacular than that of the Republic of Ireland international, the winger is now enjoying his most productive season with his best ever goals total – now at 16 and likely to rise by several more, if current form is a reliable guide. His plunder was aided by woeful defending by Partick, who were behind within two minutes when Forrest converted the rebound from a Moussa Dembele shot which came off Danny Devine. Celtic's players join together before the game Credit: PA Forrest was granted the freedom of the entire Thistle half for a run and shot in the 10th minute and completed his first ever hat-trick eight minutes after the break when he finished a left-wing combination which linked Kieran Tierney and Scott Sinclair. The Jags, though had been given hope when Jozo Simunovic carelessly handed possession to Kris Doolan for a delightful chip over Dorus de Vries in the Celtic goal. Doolan, too, was etching himself into the record books. The goal crowned his 350th appearance for Thistle before he made way on the hour for Conor Sammon. The replacement kept the issue in doubt by netting Thistle’s second in the 83rd minute and the visitors almost forced a draw in injury time, when Tierney and De Vries between them just managed to thwart Ryan Edwards on the goal line. “It was a great cross from Chris Erskine and I looked up and thought I was going to score,” said Edwards. “Kieran Tierney blocked it – he did ever so well because I was in front of him. “It was one of those where you see the ball hit the net before you connect. It was coming right to my foot and Tierney did ever so well and then the keeper just picked it up. I’m disappointed we didn’t get a replay.” If Thistle were disappointed at being caught cold by Forrest’s first two goals – especially since they had discussed the need for a disciplined start – they can take consolation for the fight against relegation from their spirited finish, a notable contrast with early season form that saw them damaged repeatedly by late goals. Forrest (left) celebrates after completing his hat-trick Credit: PA Asked if increased stamina now played a part, Edwards said: “Maybe – the fitness thing could be mentality and with players coming back from injury there is greater competition for places. It’s a positive environment to be in.” The possibility of yet another Thistle revival in the second half of the season has been revived by recent form. “I hope so,” Edwards said. “This is my third season and it’s happening again. “We don’t seem to start great but then it comes January and we seem to turn it around. I don’t know why that is. We don’t want to be in that position and it’s not planned. We’ve had good league results and we want to keep progressing. We have three massive games coming up starting next week against Dundee.” Celtic, of course, are engaged on a greatly contrasting itinerary, with the defence of their domestic treble and the possibility of progress in the Europa League. Zenit, though, are equipped with much more potent firepower than Partick, a strength that will require concomitant concentration by the Hoops defenders, if they are to keep the Russian side at bay. It was a long game, hectic too,” said Kris Ajer, Celtic’s Norwegian central defender. “Thistle pressed us well throughout the whole game. Even when we went up 2-0 they did really well to come back and never gave us a second on the ball.” That, it need hardly be overstated, is a factor that cannot escape Zenit’s attention ahead of what promises to be another fascinating, but tense, European evening at Parkead.
Liam Miller appropriately commemorated by James Forrest in Celtic win
Liam Miller’s untimely death was felt with particular poignancy on Saturday at Celtic Park, where he began his career as a youth player in 1997, before making his debut against Dundee United three years later in Kenny Dalglish’s last game in charge. Martin O’Neill, the next Celtic manager, was so impressed by the youngster’s skills that he offered Miller a four-year contract and proposed to refashion the team around him. Miller declined, moving to Old Trafford when his contract expired in July 2004 but, against expectations, he could not secure a first team place under Alex Ferguson and his career after Manchester United became peripatetic and he moved on to Sunderland, Queen’s Park Rangers and Hibernian before spells in Australia and the USA, where he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in November. Miller’s passing on Friday was commemorated by an immaculately observed minute’s silence before kick-off at Celtic’s home tie with Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup. “You saw from the response that Liam was held in affection here and that reflected the fact that he came through the ranks,” said Tom Boyd, the former Celtic captain, who played alongside Miller. “It took him a little while to get into the team because the midfield was full of quality international players at the time, but when he did step up he made a massive impact. We always have a certain respect at Celtic for players who come up from youth level and it seems appropriate that our goals on Saturday were all scored by James Forrest, who progressed through the same route.” Forrest, in fact, joined Celtic’s academy while Miller was still with the club and, if his initial progress was less spectacular than that of the Republic of Ireland international, the winger is now enjoying his most productive season with his best ever goals total – now at 16 and likely to rise by several more, if current form is a reliable guide. His plunder was aided by woeful defending by Partick, who were behind within two minutes when Forrest converted the rebound from a Moussa Dembele shot which came off Danny Devine. Celtic's players join together before the game Credit: PA Forrest was granted the freedom of the entire Thistle half for a run and shot in the 10th minute and completed his first ever hat-trick eight minutes after the break when he finished a left-wing combination which linked Kieran Tierney and Scott Sinclair. The Jags, though had been given hope when Jozo Simunovic carelessly handed possession to Kris Doolan for a delightful chip over Dorus de Vries in the Celtic goal. Doolan, too, was etching himself into the record books. The goal crowned his 350th appearance for Thistle before he made way on the hour for Conor Sammon. The replacement kept the issue in doubt by netting Thistle’s second in the 83rd minute and the visitors almost forced a draw in injury time, when Tierney and De Vries between them just managed to thwart Ryan Edwards on the goal line. “It was a great cross from Chris Erskine and I looked up and thought I was going to score,” said Edwards. “Kieran Tierney blocked it – he did ever so well because I was in front of him. “It was one of those where you see the ball hit the net before you connect. It was coming right to my foot and Tierney did ever so well and then the keeper just picked it up. I’m disappointed we didn’t get a replay.” If Thistle were disappointed at being caught cold by Forrest’s first two goals – especially since they had discussed the need for a disciplined start – they can take consolation for the fight against relegation from their spirited finish, a notable contrast with early season form that saw them damaged repeatedly by late goals. Forrest (left) celebrates after completing his hat-trick Credit: PA Asked if increased stamina now played a part, Edwards said: “Maybe – the fitness thing could be mentality and with players coming back from injury there is greater competition for places. It’s a positive environment to be in.” The possibility of yet another Thistle revival in the second half of the season has been revived by recent form. “I hope so,” Edwards said. “This is my third season and it’s happening again. “We don’t seem to start great but then it comes January and we seem to turn it around. I don’t know why that is. We don’t want to be in that position and it’s not planned. We’ve had good league results and we want to keep progressing. We have three massive games coming up starting next week against Dundee.” Celtic, of course, are engaged on a greatly contrasting itinerary, with the defence of their domestic treble and the possibility of progress in the Europa League. Zenit, though, are equipped with much more potent firepower than Partick, a strength that will require concomitant concentration by the Hoops defenders, if they are to keep the Russian side at bay. It was a long game, hectic too,” said Kris Ajer, Celtic’s Norwegian central defender. “Thistle pressed us well throughout the whole game. Even when we went up 2-0 they did really well to come back and never gave us a second on the ball.” That, it need hardly be overstated, is a factor that cannot escape Zenit’s attention ahead of what promises to be another fascinating, but tense, European evening at Parkead.
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
Brendan Rodgers reminds Celtic to beware the strength of Zenit St Petersberg
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
Brendan Rodgers reminds Celtic to beware the strength of Zenit St Petersberg
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
Brendan Rodgers reminds Celtic to beware the strength of Zenit St Petersberg
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
Was there ever such a tale of woe, as that of the SFA and its CEO? Apologies to William Shakespeare for such borrowing, but even the Bard of Avon would have had difficulty condensing the catalogue of incident that awaited Stewart Regan – who quit his post yesterday – when he left Yorkshire Cricket Club to take charge of Scottish football’s governing body on July 28, 2010. Within four months, Regan had been forced to sack his head of referee development, Hugh Dallas – along with another four employees – because of a furore generated by their circulation of a satirical email linking the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the child abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic church. The episode attracted condemnation by that unlikely participant in football controversy, the arch-atheist, Richard Dawkins. That eruption overlapped with another refereeing row when Dougie McDonald awarded Celtic a penalty kick in a league match against Dundee United at Tannadice, then reversed his decision, later claiming to have done so on the advice of his linesman, who promptly denounced this version of the incident as a lie. The contribution of inflammatory remarks by John Reid, the Celtic chairman and former Home Secretary, prompted Scotland’s only referees’ strike, with officials being imported from Luxembourg, Malta and Israel to allow fixtures to proceed. Scarcely had this episode died down than an altercation between Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, and his Rangers counterpart, Ally McCoist – during an Old Firm derby at Parkhead in March 2011 – triggered the ire of politicians and contributed to the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, subsequently passed by the Scottish Parliament in January 2012. Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist clash in 2011 Credit: Reuters That particular piece of legislation is in the process of being scrapped, although it has support from organisations formed to fight sectarianism and racism. If Regan hoped that he might draw breath during the summer of 2012, he could not have been further off the mark. The ramshackle regime of Craig Whyte – who had bought Rangers for £1 from Sir David Murray the previous year – collapsed into liquidation, prompting the biggest crisis ever to engulf the Scottish game, as several contending parties argued about how and where the Ibrox club should be permitted to proceed, if at all. When the Scottish Premier League voted to refuse Rangers permission to rejoin their organisation, Regan spoke out in apocalyptic tones. “Without Rangers there is social unrest – there is a big problem for Scottish society,” he said. “I think if you look at the huge fan base Rangers have in this country, to contemplate a situation where those fans don’t have a team to support, where those fans are effectively left without a game to follow – I just think that could lead to all sorts of issues and all sorts of problems for the game. “Tribalism in football is really important, a part of the game. You can’t contemplate a situation without that and, if Rangers weren’t to exist, I think that could have real dire consequences.” Regan was promptly derided by several Scottish Football League chairmen who alleged that he had effectively threatened them to agree to admit Rangers to their First Division. In the event, Rangers began in the SFL’s third division in 2012-13. Having presided over chaotic situations, not of his making, in respect of referees and clubs, Regan was also obliged to confront Scotland’s long exile from the later stages of major tournaments. When he first arrived at Hampden Park, Regan inherited a national manager in the form of Craig Levein and, for the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup, the SFA successfully secured Scotland’s first two games at home to Serbia and Macedonia in September 2012. Regan (left) with Gordon Strachan Credit: AFP Both matches, however, ended in draws and when the Scots then lost away to Wales and Belgium the campaign was effectively over. Regan identified Gordon Strachan as the man to take Scotland to Euro 2016 but, after a promising start, Scotland stumbled to a 1-0 defeat by Georgia in Tbilisi and finished fourth in their section behind Germany, Poland and the Republic of Ireland. Strachan was allowed to remain for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and, but for Harry Kane’s injury time equaliser for England at Hampden Park last June, the Scots would probably have made the play-offs and might now be contemplating their first tournament finals since 1998. Instead, yet another failure prompted Regan to pursue Michael O’Neill as the best qualified candidate to succeed Strachan, but the passage of three months before the Northern Ireland manager’s refusal allowed the chief executive’s critics to gather momentum. He was further undermined by the acceptance of two post-season friendlies in Peru and Mexico, designed to earn the SFA much-needed revenue, but which were denounced by the Celtic manager, Brendan Rodgers, whose players make up half the current Scotland team. Some will miss Regan. This correspondent found the departing CEO to be consistently helpful, but it is a truism about football administrators that they cannot satisfy all of their constituents all of the time. Sooner or later the critical mass makes itself heard, as in this case. So, if anybody is inclined to take over a national association without a national team manager, whose players have not tasted qualification success for 20 years, whose main sponsorship deal comes to an end this summer and who do not know if they will play future games at Hampden Park, the home of Scottish football or at Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby – then this is the job for you. And, by way of breaking news – Telegraph Sport can confirm that the SFA will not wait for the appointment of a chief executive before renewing their search for a team manager. The probability is that Scotland’s players will have a new boss before the governors of Scottish football appoint their man.
Stewart Regan's SFA reign ends after failure to land Michael O'Neill for Scotland
Was there ever such a tale of woe, as that of the SFA and its CEO? Apologies to William Shakespeare for such borrowing, but even the Bard of Avon would have had difficulty condensing the catalogue of incident that awaited Stewart Regan – who quit his post yesterday – when he left Yorkshire Cricket Club to take charge of Scottish football’s governing body on July 28, 2010. Within four months, Regan had been forced to sack his head of referee development, Hugh Dallas – along with another four employees – because of a furore generated by their circulation of a satirical email linking the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the child abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic church. The episode attracted condemnation by that unlikely participant in football controversy, the arch-atheist, Richard Dawkins. That eruption overlapped with another refereeing row when Dougie McDonald awarded Celtic a penalty kick in a league match against Dundee United at Tannadice, then reversed his decision, later claiming to have done so on the advice of his linesman, who promptly denounced this version of the incident as a lie. The contribution of inflammatory remarks by John Reid, the Celtic chairman and former Home Secretary, prompted Scotland’s only referees’ strike, with officials being imported from Luxembourg, Malta and Israel to allow fixtures to proceed. Scarcely had this episode died down than an altercation between Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, and his Rangers counterpart, Ally McCoist – during an Old Firm derby at Parkhead in March 2011 – triggered the ire of politicians and contributed to the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, subsequently passed by the Scottish Parliament in January 2012. Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist clash in 2011 Credit: Reuters That particular piece of legislation is in the process of being scrapped, although it has support from organisations formed to fight sectarianism and racism. If Regan hoped that he might draw breath during the summer of 2012, he could not have been further off the mark. The ramshackle regime of Craig Whyte – who had bought Rangers for £1 from Sir David Murray the previous year – collapsed into liquidation, prompting the biggest crisis ever to engulf the Scottish game, as several contending parties argued about how and where the Ibrox club should be permitted to proceed, if at all. When the Scottish Premier League voted to refuse Rangers permission to rejoin their organisation, Regan spoke out in apocalyptic tones. “Without Rangers there is social unrest – there is a big problem for Scottish society,” he said. “I think if you look at the huge fan base Rangers have in this country, to contemplate a situation where those fans don’t have a team to support, where those fans are effectively left without a game to follow – I just think that could lead to all sorts of issues and all sorts of problems for the game. “Tribalism in football is really important, a part of the game. You can’t contemplate a situation without that and, if Rangers weren’t to exist, I think that could have real dire consequences.” Regan was promptly derided by several Scottish Football League chairmen who alleged that he had effectively threatened them to agree to admit Rangers to their First Division. In the event, Rangers began in the SFL’s third division in 2012-13. Having presided over chaotic situations, not of his making, in respect of referees and clubs, Regan was also obliged to confront Scotland’s long exile from the later stages of major tournaments. When he first arrived at Hampden Park, Regan inherited a national manager in the form of Craig Levein and, for the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup, the SFA successfully secured Scotland’s first two games at home to Serbia and Macedonia in September 2012. Regan (left) with Gordon Strachan Credit: AFP Both matches, however, ended in draws and when the Scots then lost away to Wales and Belgium the campaign was effectively over. Regan identified Gordon Strachan as the man to take Scotland to Euro 2016 but, after a promising start, Scotland stumbled to a 1-0 defeat by Georgia in Tbilisi and finished fourth in their section behind Germany, Poland and the Republic of Ireland. Strachan was allowed to remain for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and, but for Harry Kane’s injury time equaliser for England at Hampden Park last June, the Scots would probably have made the play-offs and might now be contemplating their first tournament finals since 1998. Instead, yet another failure prompted Regan to pursue Michael O’Neill as the best qualified candidate to succeed Strachan, but the passage of three months before the Northern Ireland manager’s refusal allowed the chief executive’s critics to gather momentum. He was further undermined by the acceptance of two post-season friendlies in Peru and Mexico, designed to earn the SFA much-needed revenue, but which were denounced by the Celtic manager, Brendan Rodgers, whose players make up half the current Scotland team. Some will miss Regan. This correspondent found the departing CEO to be consistently helpful, but it is a truism about football administrators that they cannot satisfy all of their constituents all of the time. Sooner or later the critical mass makes itself heard, as in this case. So, if anybody is inclined to take over a national association without a national team manager, whose players have not tasted qualification success for 20 years, whose main sponsorship deal comes to an end this summer and who do not know if they will play future games at Hampden Park, the home of Scottish football or at Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby – then this is the job for you. And, by way of breaking news – Telegraph Sport can confirm that the SFA will not wait for the appointment of a chief executive before renewing their search for a team manager. The probability is that Scotland’s players will have a new boss before the governors of Scottish football appoint their man.
Was there ever such a tale of woe, as that of the SFA and its CEO? Apologies to William Shakespeare for such borrowing, but even the Bard of Avon would have had difficulty condensing the catalogue of incident that awaited Stewart Regan – who quit his post yesterday – when he left Yorkshire Cricket Club to take charge of Scottish football’s governing body on July 28, 2010. Within four months, Regan had been forced to sack his head of referee development, Hugh Dallas – along with another four employees – because of a furore generated by their circulation of a satirical email linking the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the child abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic church. The episode attracted condemnation by that unlikely participant in football controversy, the arch-atheist, Richard Dawkins. That eruption overlapped with another refereeing row when Dougie McDonald awarded Celtic a penalty kick in a league match against Dundee United at Tannadice, then reversed his decision, later claiming to have done so on the advice of his linesman, who promptly denounced this version of the incident as a lie. The contribution of inflammatory remarks by John Reid, the Celtic chairman and former Home Secretary, prompted Scotland’s only referees’ strike, with officials being imported from Luxembourg, Malta and Israel to allow fixtures to proceed. Scarcely had this episode died down than an altercation between Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, and his Rangers counterpart, Ally McCoist – during an Old Firm derby at Parkhead in March 2011 – triggered the ire of politicians and contributed to the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, subsequently passed by the Scottish Parliament in January 2012. Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist clash in 2011 Credit: Reuters That particular piece of legislation is in the process of being scrapped, although it has support from organisations formed to fight sectarianism and racism. If Regan hoped that he might draw breath during the summer of 2012, he could not have been further off the mark. The ramshackle regime of Craig Whyte – who had bought Rangers for £1 from Sir David Murray the previous year – collapsed into liquidation, prompting the biggest crisis ever to engulf the Scottish game, as several contending parties argued about how and where the Ibrox club should be permitted to proceed, if at all. When the Scottish Premier League voted to refuse Rangers permission to rejoin their organisation, Regan spoke out in apocalyptic tones. “Without Rangers there is social unrest – there is a big problem for Scottish society,” he said. “I think if you look at the huge fan base Rangers have in this country, to contemplate a situation where those fans don’t have a team to support, where those fans are effectively left without a game to follow – I just think that could lead to all sorts of issues and all sorts of problems for the game. “Tribalism in football is really important, a part of the game. You can’t contemplate a situation without that and, if Rangers weren’t to exist, I think that could have real dire consequences.” Regan was promptly derided by several Scottish Football League chairmen who alleged that he had effectively threatened them to agree to admit Rangers to their First Division. In the event, Rangers began in the SFL’s third division in 2012-13. Having presided over chaotic situations, not of his making, in respect of referees and clubs, Regan was also obliged to confront Scotland’s long exile from the later stages of major tournaments. When he first arrived at Hampden Park, Regan inherited a national manager in the form of Craig Levein and, for the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup, the SFA successfully secured Scotland’s first two games at home to Serbia and Macedonia in September 2012. Regan (left) with Gordon Strachan Credit: AFP Both matches, however, ended in draws and when the Scots then lost away to Wales and Belgium the campaign was effectively over. Regan identified Gordon Strachan as the man to take Scotland to Euro 2016 but, after a promising start, Scotland stumbled to a 1-0 defeat by Georgia in Tbilisi and finished fourth in their section behind Germany, Poland and the Republic of Ireland. Strachan was allowed to remain for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and, but for Harry Kane’s injury time equaliser for England at Hampden Park last June, the Scots would probably have made the play-offs and might now be contemplating their first tournament finals since 1998. Instead, yet another failure prompted Regan to pursue Michael O’Neill as the best qualified candidate to succeed Strachan, but the passage of three months before the Northern Ireland manager’s refusal allowed the chief executive’s critics to gather momentum. He was further undermined by the acceptance of two post-season friendlies in Peru and Mexico, designed to earn the SFA much-needed revenue, but which were denounced by the Celtic manager, Brendan Rodgers, whose players make up half the current Scotland team. Some will miss Regan. This correspondent found the departing CEO to be consistently helpful, but it is a truism about football administrators that they cannot satisfy all of their constituents all of the time. Sooner or later the critical mass makes itself heard, as in this case. So, if anybody is inclined to take over a national association without a national team manager, whose players have not tasted qualification success for 20 years, whose main sponsorship deal comes to an end this summer and who do not know if they will play future games at Hampden Park, the home of Scottish football or at Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby – then this is the job for you. And, by way of breaking news – Telegraph Sport can confirm that the SFA will not wait for the appointment of a chief executive before renewing their search for a team manager. The probability is that Scotland’s players will have a new boss before the governors of Scottish football appoint their man.
Stewart Regan's SFA reign ends after failure to land Michael O'Neill for Scotland
Was there ever such a tale of woe, as that of the SFA and its CEO? Apologies to William Shakespeare for such borrowing, but even the Bard of Avon would have had difficulty condensing the catalogue of incident that awaited Stewart Regan – who quit his post yesterday – when he left Yorkshire Cricket Club to take charge of Scottish football’s governing body on July 28, 2010. Within four months, Regan had been forced to sack his head of referee development, Hugh Dallas – along with another four employees – because of a furore generated by their circulation of a satirical email linking the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the child abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic church. The episode attracted condemnation by that unlikely participant in football controversy, the arch-atheist, Richard Dawkins. That eruption overlapped with another refereeing row when Dougie McDonald awarded Celtic a penalty kick in a league match against Dundee United at Tannadice, then reversed his decision, later claiming to have done so on the advice of his linesman, who promptly denounced this version of the incident as a lie. The contribution of inflammatory remarks by John Reid, the Celtic chairman and former Home Secretary, prompted Scotland’s only referees’ strike, with officials being imported from Luxembourg, Malta and Israel to allow fixtures to proceed. Scarcely had this episode died down than an altercation between Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, and his Rangers counterpart, Ally McCoist – during an Old Firm derby at Parkhead in March 2011 – triggered the ire of politicians and contributed to the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, subsequently passed by the Scottish Parliament in January 2012. Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist clash in 2011 Credit: Reuters That particular piece of legislation is in the process of being scrapped, although it has support from organisations formed to fight sectarianism and racism. If Regan hoped that he might draw breath during the summer of 2012, he could not have been further off the mark. The ramshackle regime of Craig Whyte – who had bought Rangers for £1 from Sir David Murray the previous year – collapsed into liquidation, prompting the biggest crisis ever to engulf the Scottish game, as several contending parties argued about how and where the Ibrox club should be permitted to proceed, if at all. When the Scottish Premier League voted to refuse Rangers permission to rejoin their organisation, Regan spoke out in apocalyptic tones. “Without Rangers there is social unrest – there is a big problem for Scottish society,” he said. “I think if you look at the huge fan base Rangers have in this country, to contemplate a situation where those fans don’t have a team to support, where those fans are effectively left without a game to follow – I just think that could lead to all sorts of issues and all sorts of problems for the game. “Tribalism in football is really important, a part of the game. You can’t contemplate a situation without that and, if Rangers weren’t to exist, I think that could have real dire consequences.” Regan was promptly derided by several Scottish Football League chairmen who alleged that he had effectively threatened them to agree to admit Rangers to their First Division. In the event, Rangers began in the SFL’s third division in 2012-13. Having presided over chaotic situations, not of his making, in respect of referees and clubs, Regan was also obliged to confront Scotland’s long exile from the later stages of major tournaments. When he first arrived at Hampden Park, Regan inherited a national manager in the form of Craig Levein and, for the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup, the SFA successfully secured Scotland’s first two games at home to Serbia and Macedonia in September 2012. Regan (left) with Gordon Strachan Credit: AFP Both matches, however, ended in draws and when the Scots then lost away to Wales and Belgium the campaign was effectively over. Regan identified Gordon Strachan as the man to take Scotland to Euro 2016 but, after a promising start, Scotland stumbled to a 1-0 defeat by Georgia in Tbilisi and finished fourth in their section behind Germany, Poland and the Republic of Ireland. Strachan was allowed to remain for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and, but for Harry Kane’s injury time equaliser for England at Hampden Park last June, the Scots would probably have made the play-offs and might now be contemplating their first tournament finals since 1998. Instead, yet another failure prompted Regan to pursue Michael O’Neill as the best qualified candidate to succeed Strachan, but the passage of three months before the Northern Ireland manager’s refusal allowed the chief executive’s critics to gather momentum. He was further undermined by the acceptance of two post-season friendlies in Peru and Mexico, designed to earn the SFA much-needed revenue, but which were denounced by the Celtic manager, Brendan Rodgers, whose players make up half the current Scotland team. Some will miss Regan. This correspondent found the departing CEO to be consistently helpful, but it is a truism about football administrators that they cannot satisfy all of their constituents all of the time. Sooner or later the critical mass makes itself heard, as in this case. So, if anybody is inclined to take over a national association without a national team manager, whose players have not tasted qualification success for 20 years, whose main sponsorship deal comes to an end this summer and who do not know if they will play future games at Hampden Park, the home of Scottish football or at Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby – then this is the job for you. And, by way of breaking news – Telegraph Sport can confirm that the SFA will not wait for the appointment of a chief executive before renewing their search for a team manager. The probability is that Scotland’s players will have a new boss before the governors of Scottish football appoint their man.
Was there ever such a tale of woe, as that of the SFA and its CEO? Apologies to William Shakespeare for such borrowing, but even the Bard of Avon would have had difficulty condensing the catalogue of incident that awaited Stewart Regan – who quit his post yesterday – when he left Yorkshire Cricket Club to take charge of Scottish football’s governing body on July 28, 2010. Within four months, Regan had been forced to sack his head of referee development, Hugh Dallas – along with another four employees – because of a furore generated by their circulation of a satirical email linking the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the child abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic church. The episode attracted condemnation by that unlikely participant in football controversy, the arch-atheist, Richard Dawkins. That eruption overlapped with another refereeing row when Dougie McDonald awarded Celtic a penalty kick in a league match against Dundee United at Tannadice, then reversed his decision, later claiming to have done so on the advice of his linesman, who promptly denounced this version of the incident as a lie. The contribution of inflammatory remarks by John Reid, the Celtic chairman and former Home Secretary, prompted Scotland’s only referees’ strike, with officials being imported from Luxembourg, Malta and Israel to allow fixtures to proceed. Scarcely had this episode died down than an altercation between Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, and his Rangers counterpart, Ally McCoist – during an Old Firm derby at Parkhead in March 2011 – triggered the ire of politicians and contributed to the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, subsequently passed by the Scottish Parliament in January 2012. Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist clash in 2011 Credit: Reuters That particular piece of legislation is in the process of being scrapped, although it has support from organisations formed to fight sectarianism and racism. If Regan hoped that he might draw breath during the summer of 2012, he could not have been further off the mark. The ramshackle regime of Craig Whyte – who had bought Rangers for £1 from Sir David Murray the previous year – collapsed into liquidation, prompting the biggest crisis ever to engulf the Scottish game, as several contending parties argued about how and where the Ibrox club should be permitted to proceed, if at all. When the Scottish Premier League voted to refuse Rangers permission to rejoin their organisation, Regan spoke out in apocalyptic tones. “Without Rangers there is social unrest – there is a big problem for Scottish society,” he said. “I think if you look at the huge fan base Rangers have in this country, to contemplate a situation where those fans don’t have a team to support, where those fans are effectively left without a game to follow – I just think that could lead to all sorts of issues and all sorts of problems for the game. “Tribalism in football is really important, a part of the game. You can’t contemplate a situation without that and, if Rangers weren’t to exist, I think that could have real dire consequences.” Regan was promptly derided by several Scottish Football League chairmen who alleged that he had effectively threatened them to agree to admit Rangers to their First Division. In the event, Rangers began in the SFL’s third division in 2012-13. Having presided over chaotic situations, not of his making, in respect of referees and clubs, Regan was also obliged to confront Scotland’s long exile from the later stages of major tournaments. When he first arrived at Hampden Park, Regan inherited a national manager in the form of Craig Levein and, for the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup, the SFA successfully secured Scotland’s first two games at home to Serbia and Macedonia in September 2012. Regan (left) with Gordon Strachan Credit: AFP Both matches, however, ended in draws and when the Scots then lost away to Wales and Belgium the campaign was effectively over. Regan identified Gordon Strachan as the man to take Scotland to Euro 2016 but, after a promising start, Scotland stumbled to a 1-0 defeat by Georgia in Tbilisi and finished fourth in their section behind Germany, Poland and the Republic of Ireland. Strachan was allowed to remain for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and, but for Harry Kane’s injury time equaliser for England at Hampden Park last June, the Scots would probably have made the play-offs and might now be contemplating their first tournament finals since 1998. Instead, yet another failure prompted Regan to pursue Michael O’Neill as the best qualified candidate to succeed Strachan, but the passage of three months before the Northern Ireland manager’s refusal allowed the chief executive’s critics to gather momentum. He was further undermined by the acceptance of two post-season friendlies in Peru and Mexico, designed to earn the SFA much-needed revenue, but which were denounced by the Celtic manager, Brendan Rodgers, whose players make up half the current Scotland team. Some will miss Regan. This correspondent found the departing CEO to be consistently helpful, but it is a truism about football administrators that they cannot satisfy all of their constituents all of the time. Sooner or later the critical mass makes itself heard, as in this case. So, if anybody is inclined to take over a national association without a national team manager, whose players have not tasted qualification success for 20 years, whose main sponsorship deal comes to an end this summer and who do not know if they will play future games at Hampden Park, the home of Scottish football or at Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby – then this is the job for you. And, by way of breaking news – Telegraph Sport can confirm that the SFA will not wait for the appointment of a chief executive before renewing their search for a team manager. The probability is that Scotland’s players will have a new boss before the governors of Scottish football appoint their man.
Stewart Regan's SFA reign ends after failure to land Michael O'Neill for Scotland
Was there ever such a tale of woe, as that of the SFA and its CEO? Apologies to William Shakespeare for such borrowing, but even the Bard of Avon would have had difficulty condensing the catalogue of incident that awaited Stewart Regan – who quit his post yesterday – when he left Yorkshire Cricket Club to take charge of Scottish football’s governing body on July 28, 2010. Within four months, Regan had been forced to sack his head of referee development, Hugh Dallas – along with another four employees – because of a furore generated by their circulation of a satirical email linking the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the child abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic church. The episode attracted condemnation by that unlikely participant in football controversy, the arch-atheist, Richard Dawkins. That eruption overlapped with another refereeing row when Dougie McDonald awarded Celtic a penalty kick in a league match against Dundee United at Tannadice, then reversed his decision, later claiming to have done so on the advice of his linesman, who promptly denounced this version of the incident as a lie. The contribution of inflammatory remarks by John Reid, the Celtic chairman and former Home Secretary, prompted Scotland’s only referees’ strike, with officials being imported from Luxembourg, Malta and Israel to allow fixtures to proceed. Scarcely had this episode died down than an altercation between Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, and his Rangers counterpart, Ally McCoist – during an Old Firm derby at Parkhead in March 2011 – triggered the ire of politicians and contributed to the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, subsequently passed by the Scottish Parliament in January 2012. Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist clash in 2011 Credit: Reuters That particular piece of legislation is in the process of being scrapped, although it has support from organisations formed to fight sectarianism and racism. If Regan hoped that he might draw breath during the summer of 2012, he could not have been further off the mark. The ramshackle regime of Craig Whyte – who had bought Rangers for £1 from Sir David Murray the previous year – collapsed into liquidation, prompting the biggest crisis ever to engulf the Scottish game, as several contending parties argued about how and where the Ibrox club should be permitted to proceed, if at all. When the Scottish Premier League voted to refuse Rangers permission to rejoin their organisation, Regan spoke out in apocalyptic tones. “Without Rangers there is social unrest – there is a big problem for Scottish society,” he said. “I think if you look at the huge fan base Rangers have in this country, to contemplate a situation where those fans don’t have a team to support, where those fans are effectively left without a game to follow – I just think that could lead to all sorts of issues and all sorts of problems for the game. “Tribalism in football is really important, a part of the game. You can’t contemplate a situation without that and, if Rangers weren’t to exist, I think that could have real dire consequences.” Regan was promptly derided by several Scottish Football League chairmen who alleged that he had effectively threatened them to agree to admit Rangers to their First Division. In the event, Rangers began in the SFL’s third division in 2012-13. Having presided over chaotic situations, not of his making, in respect of referees and clubs, Regan was also obliged to confront Scotland’s long exile from the later stages of major tournaments. When he first arrived at Hampden Park, Regan inherited a national manager in the form of Craig Levein and, for the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup, the SFA successfully secured Scotland’s first two games at home to Serbia and Macedonia in September 2012. Regan (left) with Gordon Strachan Credit: AFP Both matches, however, ended in draws and when the Scots then lost away to Wales and Belgium the campaign was effectively over. Regan identified Gordon Strachan as the man to take Scotland to Euro 2016 but, after a promising start, Scotland stumbled to a 1-0 defeat by Georgia in Tbilisi and finished fourth in their section behind Germany, Poland and the Republic of Ireland. Strachan was allowed to remain for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and, but for Harry Kane’s injury time equaliser for England at Hampden Park last June, the Scots would probably have made the play-offs and might now be contemplating their first tournament finals since 1998. Instead, yet another failure prompted Regan to pursue Michael O’Neill as the best qualified candidate to succeed Strachan, but the passage of three months before the Northern Ireland manager’s refusal allowed the chief executive’s critics to gather momentum. He was further undermined by the acceptance of two post-season friendlies in Peru and Mexico, designed to earn the SFA much-needed revenue, but which were denounced by the Celtic manager, Brendan Rodgers, whose players make up half the current Scotland team. Some will miss Regan. This correspondent found the departing CEO to be consistently helpful, but it is a truism about football administrators that they cannot satisfy all of their constituents all of the time. Sooner or later the critical mass makes itself heard, as in this case. So, if anybody is inclined to take over a national association without a national team manager, whose players have not tasted qualification success for 20 years, whose main sponsorship deal comes to an end this summer and who do not know if they will play future games at Hampden Park, the home of Scottish football or at Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby – then this is the job for you. And, by way of breaking news – Telegraph Sport can confirm that the SFA will not wait for the appointment of a chief executive before renewing their search for a team manager. The probability is that Scotland’s players will have a new boss before the governors of Scottish football appoint their man.
Michael O'Neill is set to continue as manager of Northern Ireland after turning down the Scotland job, Press Association Sport understands. The 48-year-old was believed to be close to taking over as Scotland boss following talks last week with the Scottish Football Association. The SFA had agreed to meet a £500,000 compensation payment to the Irish FA in order to secure the services of O'Neill, who had described talks between the parties as "productive". However, after a period of deliberation, O'Neill, who lives in Edinburgh, has decided against taking the post to succeed Gordon Strachan, and will instead remain in charge of Northern Ireland following their failed World Cup qualification campaign. The former Dundee United and Hibernian midfielder has two years left to run on his current deal with the IFA, but has already been offered an extended contract until 2020.
Michael O'Neill rejects Scotland job offer to continue as Northern Ireland manager
Michael O'Neill is set to continue as manager of Northern Ireland after turning down the Scotland job, Press Association Sport understands. The 48-year-old was believed to be close to taking over as Scotland boss following talks last week with the Scottish Football Association. The SFA had agreed to meet a £500,000 compensation payment to the Irish FA in order to secure the services of O'Neill, who had described talks between the parties as "productive". However, after a period of deliberation, O'Neill, who lives in Edinburgh, has decided against taking the post to succeed Gordon Strachan, and will instead remain in charge of Northern Ireland following their failed World Cup qualification campaign. The former Dundee United and Hibernian midfielder has two years left to run on his current deal with the IFA, but has already been offered an extended contract until 2020.
It is a measure of Rangers’ fortunes on and off the field that, if they win on Saturday at home to St Johnstone, they will have recorded five successive league victories for the first time in as many years. The last time they accomplished the feat was between July and September 2011 when, with Ally McCoist in charge, they prevailed against St Johnstone, Inverness Caley Thistle, Motherwell, Aberdeen, Dundee United and Celtic. Later that season, of course, came the club’s financial meltdown under Craig Whyte, after which four campaigns were spent in pursuit of a return to the top flight of Scottish football. That was achieved last year under Mark Warburton but the best sequence assembled by the Englishman in the Scottish Premiership fell between St Andrew’s Day and Christmas Eve, with full points taken from meetings with Aberdeen, Hearts, Hamilton and Inverness. Rangers’ current run, with four successive wins against Aberdeen home and away, Ross County at Ibrox and Hibernian at Easter Road is not, however, evidence of a tide of superior form, as Danny Wilson admitted readily yesterday. At half time in the game against Hibs, the Rangers central defender berated his team mates in the dressing room, despite the fact that they were leading 2-1. “Within those four results there have been some good performances and some really bad performances as a team,” Wilson said. “We can do much better than we did at Hibs. “I haven’t watched the game back but, from playing in it, I felt we were miles off it in terms of what we want to do and achieve as a team. However, we were able to dig the result out and that was probably something people have held against us - that when the going got tough, we went under. Wilson in action during the 2-1 win over Hibs Credit: ACTION PLUS “There’s no doubt we were well below the standards required. The words at half time were to that effect. After the game everyone was obviously delighted with the result and to be able to show that resilience at a tough place like Hibs, where we haven’t enjoyed great results in our last few encounters. We were just delighted to win and continue the run we’re on and now we know we’ll have it tough against St Johnstone.” It was against St Johnstone, albeit in Perth, that last year’s run of wins came to an end and, if Rangers need further warning of potential hazard, they need only reference Tommy Wright’s ability to coax his players into quarrying points from unpromising fixtures. Saints drew home and away with Rangers in the second half of last season and they left Celtic Park with a 1-1 draw in August. Wright is arguably the most undervalued manager in the division – his name scarcely featured in the reckoning for a successor to Pedro Caixinha at Ibrox, a hiatus that has stretched for seven weeks – and the Northern Irishman was in prickly mood on Monday when he said: “Even our own support is negative about us at the minute, but we cannot let that affect us.” Rangers are still searching for a permanent manager but have secured positive results under Graeme Murty's watch Credit: PA St Johnstone lost at home to Aberdeen on Wednesday and Wright surely spies an opportunity in Rangers’ patchy home form. In nine league games at Ibrox, Rangers have won four, drawn two and lost three. “If we want to achieve anything this season we have to fix the home form because it's not been good enough,” said Wilson. “If we had taken more points at home, we would have been closer to first, but we are not looking too far ahead because, like I say, we know where we have just been.” Rangers will be without Kenny Miller, victim of a hamstring injury, and the veteran striker might still be absent when his colleagues travel to Celtic Park on December 30. Graham Dorrans, meanwhile, has not featured in midfield since the 1-1 home draw with Kilmarnock on October 25 and will be out for at least another three months after having undergone ankle surgery. “Graham is really unfortunate and I feel for him,” said Graeme Murty, Rangers’ interim manager. “On medical advice we took a conservative path with his initial rehab and that didn’t work. "I know he’s down and he’s quite low and before we talk about length of time being out I want to make sure the fellow is alright. Having been there myself, I know that coming up to Christmas it’s a brilliant time to be a footballer. “You get loads of games and at home everything is done for you. It’s all geared towards you performing in an extended way and you do miss it. We have to make sure Graham as a person is taken care of and then we’ll take care of the player after that.”
Danny Wilson says Rangers must improve at home to stand a chance of winning trophies
It is a measure of Rangers’ fortunes on and off the field that, if they win on Saturday at home to St Johnstone, they will have recorded five successive league victories for the first time in as many years. The last time they accomplished the feat was between July and September 2011 when, with Ally McCoist in charge, they prevailed against St Johnstone, Inverness Caley Thistle, Motherwell, Aberdeen, Dundee United and Celtic. Later that season, of course, came the club’s financial meltdown under Craig Whyte, after which four campaigns were spent in pursuit of a return to the top flight of Scottish football. That was achieved last year under Mark Warburton but the best sequence assembled by the Englishman in the Scottish Premiership fell between St Andrew’s Day and Christmas Eve, with full points taken from meetings with Aberdeen, Hearts, Hamilton and Inverness. Rangers’ current run, with four successive wins against Aberdeen home and away, Ross County at Ibrox and Hibernian at Easter Road is not, however, evidence of a tide of superior form, as Danny Wilson admitted readily yesterday. At half time in the game against Hibs, the Rangers central defender berated his team mates in the dressing room, despite the fact that they were leading 2-1. “Within those four results there have been some good performances and some really bad performances as a team,” Wilson said. “We can do much better than we did at Hibs. “I haven’t watched the game back but, from playing in it, I felt we were miles off it in terms of what we want to do and achieve as a team. However, we were able to dig the result out and that was probably something people have held against us - that when the going got tough, we went under. Wilson in action during the 2-1 win over Hibs Credit: ACTION PLUS “There’s no doubt we were well below the standards required. The words at half time were to that effect. After the game everyone was obviously delighted with the result and to be able to show that resilience at a tough place like Hibs, where we haven’t enjoyed great results in our last few encounters. We were just delighted to win and continue the run we’re on and now we know we’ll have it tough against St Johnstone.” It was against St Johnstone, albeit in Perth, that last year’s run of wins came to an end and, if Rangers need further warning of potential hazard, they need only reference Tommy Wright’s ability to coax his players into quarrying points from unpromising fixtures. Saints drew home and away with Rangers in the second half of last season and they left Celtic Park with a 1-1 draw in August. Wright is arguably the most undervalued manager in the division – his name scarcely featured in the reckoning for a successor to Pedro Caixinha at Ibrox, a hiatus that has stretched for seven weeks – and the Northern Irishman was in prickly mood on Monday when he said: “Even our own support is negative about us at the minute, but we cannot let that affect us.” Rangers are still searching for a permanent manager but have secured positive results under Graeme Murty's watch Credit: PA St Johnstone lost at home to Aberdeen on Wednesday and Wright surely spies an opportunity in Rangers’ patchy home form. In nine league games at Ibrox, Rangers have won four, drawn two and lost three. “If we want to achieve anything this season we have to fix the home form because it's not been good enough,” said Wilson. “If we had taken more points at home, we would have been closer to first, but we are not looking too far ahead because, like I say, we know where we have just been.” Rangers will be without Kenny Miller, victim of a hamstring injury, and the veteran striker might still be absent when his colleagues travel to Celtic Park on December 30. Graham Dorrans, meanwhile, has not featured in midfield since the 1-1 home draw with Kilmarnock on October 25 and will be out for at least another three months after having undergone ankle surgery. “Graham is really unfortunate and I feel for him,” said Graeme Murty, Rangers’ interim manager. “On medical advice we took a conservative path with his initial rehab and that didn’t work. "I know he’s down and he’s quite low and before we talk about length of time being out I want to make sure the fellow is alright. Having been there myself, I know that coming up to Christmas it’s a brilliant time to be a footballer. “You get loads of games and at home everything is done for you. It’s all geared towards you performing in an extended way and you do miss it. We have to make sure Graham as a person is taken care of and then we’ll take care of the player after that.”
It is a measure of Rangers’ fortunes on and off the field that, if they win on Saturday at home to St Johnstone, they will have recorded five successive league victories for the first time in as many years. The last time they accomplished the feat was between July and September 2011 when, with Ally McCoist in charge, they prevailed against St Johnstone, Inverness Caley Thistle, Motherwell, Aberdeen, Dundee United and Celtic. Later that season, of course, came the club’s financial meltdown under Craig Whyte, after which four campaigns were spent in pursuit of a return to the top flight of Scottish football. That was achieved last year under Mark Warburton but the best sequence assembled by the Englishman in the Scottish Premiership fell between St Andrew’s Day and Christmas Eve, with full points taken from meetings with Aberdeen, Hearts, Hamilton and Inverness. Rangers’ current run, with four successive wins against Aberdeen home and away, Ross County at Ibrox and Hibernian at Easter Road is not, however, evidence of a tide of superior form, as Danny Wilson admitted readily yesterday. At half time in the game against Hibs, the Rangers central defender berated his team mates in the dressing room, despite the fact that they were leading 2-1. “Within those four results there have been some good performances and some really bad performances as a team,” Wilson said. “We can do much better than we did at Hibs. “I haven’t watched the game back but, from playing in it, I felt we were miles off it in terms of what we want to do and achieve as a team. However, we were able to dig the result out and that was probably something people have held against us - that when the going got tough, we went under. Wilson in action during the 2-1 win over Hibs Credit: ACTION PLUS “There’s no doubt we were well below the standards required. The words at half time were to that effect. After the game everyone was obviously delighted with the result and to be able to show that resilience at a tough place like Hibs, where we haven’t enjoyed great results in our last few encounters. We were just delighted to win and continue the run we’re on and now we know we’ll have it tough against St Johnstone.” It was against St Johnstone, albeit in Perth, that last year’s run of wins came to an end and, if Rangers need further warning of potential hazard, they need only reference Tommy Wright’s ability to coax his players into quarrying points from unpromising fixtures. Saints drew home and away with Rangers in the second half of last season and they left Celtic Park with a 1-1 draw in August. Wright is arguably the most undervalued manager in the division – his name scarcely featured in the reckoning for a successor to Pedro Caixinha at Ibrox, a hiatus that has stretched for seven weeks – and the Northern Irishman was in prickly mood on Monday when he said: “Even our own support is negative about us at the minute, but we cannot let that affect us.” Rangers are still searching for a permanent manager but have secured positive results under Graeme Murty's watch Credit: PA St Johnstone lost at home to Aberdeen on Wednesday and Wright surely spies an opportunity in Rangers’ patchy home form. In nine league games at Ibrox, Rangers have won four, drawn two and lost three. “If we want to achieve anything this season we have to fix the home form because it's not been good enough,” said Wilson. “If we had taken more points at home, we would have been closer to first, but we are not looking too far ahead because, like I say, we know where we have just been.” Rangers will be without Kenny Miller, victim of a hamstring injury, and the veteran striker might still be absent when his colleagues travel to Celtic Park on December 30. Graham Dorrans, meanwhile, has not featured in midfield since the 1-1 home draw with Kilmarnock on October 25 and will be out for at least another three months after having undergone ankle surgery. “Graham is really unfortunate and I feel for him,” said Graeme Murty, Rangers’ interim manager. “On medical advice we took a conservative path with his initial rehab and that didn’t work. "I know he’s down and he’s quite low and before we talk about length of time being out I want to make sure the fellow is alright. Having been there myself, I know that coming up to Christmas it’s a brilliant time to be a footballer. “You get loads of games and at home everything is done for you. It’s all geared towards you performing in an extended way and you do miss it. We have to make sure Graham as a person is taken care of and then we’ll take care of the player after that.”
Danny Wilson says Rangers must improve at home to stand a chance of winning trophies
It is a measure of Rangers’ fortunes on and off the field that, if they win on Saturday at home to St Johnstone, they will have recorded five successive league victories for the first time in as many years. The last time they accomplished the feat was between July and September 2011 when, with Ally McCoist in charge, they prevailed against St Johnstone, Inverness Caley Thistle, Motherwell, Aberdeen, Dundee United and Celtic. Later that season, of course, came the club’s financial meltdown under Craig Whyte, after which four campaigns were spent in pursuit of a return to the top flight of Scottish football. That was achieved last year under Mark Warburton but the best sequence assembled by the Englishman in the Scottish Premiership fell between St Andrew’s Day and Christmas Eve, with full points taken from meetings with Aberdeen, Hearts, Hamilton and Inverness. Rangers’ current run, with four successive wins against Aberdeen home and away, Ross County at Ibrox and Hibernian at Easter Road is not, however, evidence of a tide of superior form, as Danny Wilson admitted readily yesterday. At half time in the game against Hibs, the Rangers central defender berated his team mates in the dressing room, despite the fact that they were leading 2-1. “Within those four results there have been some good performances and some really bad performances as a team,” Wilson said. “We can do much better than we did at Hibs. “I haven’t watched the game back but, from playing in it, I felt we were miles off it in terms of what we want to do and achieve as a team. However, we were able to dig the result out and that was probably something people have held against us - that when the going got tough, we went under. Wilson in action during the 2-1 win over Hibs Credit: ACTION PLUS “There’s no doubt we were well below the standards required. The words at half time were to that effect. After the game everyone was obviously delighted with the result and to be able to show that resilience at a tough place like Hibs, where we haven’t enjoyed great results in our last few encounters. We were just delighted to win and continue the run we’re on and now we know we’ll have it tough against St Johnstone.” It was against St Johnstone, albeit in Perth, that last year’s run of wins came to an end and, if Rangers need further warning of potential hazard, they need only reference Tommy Wright’s ability to coax his players into quarrying points from unpromising fixtures. Saints drew home and away with Rangers in the second half of last season and they left Celtic Park with a 1-1 draw in August. Wright is arguably the most undervalued manager in the division – his name scarcely featured in the reckoning for a successor to Pedro Caixinha at Ibrox, a hiatus that has stretched for seven weeks – and the Northern Irishman was in prickly mood on Monday when he said: “Even our own support is negative about us at the minute, but we cannot let that affect us.” Rangers are still searching for a permanent manager but have secured positive results under Graeme Murty's watch Credit: PA St Johnstone lost at home to Aberdeen on Wednesday and Wright surely spies an opportunity in Rangers’ patchy home form. In nine league games at Ibrox, Rangers have won four, drawn two and lost three. “If we want to achieve anything this season we have to fix the home form because it's not been good enough,” said Wilson. “If we had taken more points at home, we would have been closer to first, but we are not looking too far ahead because, like I say, we know where we have just been.” Rangers will be without Kenny Miller, victim of a hamstring injury, and the veteran striker might still be absent when his colleagues travel to Celtic Park on December 30. Graham Dorrans, meanwhile, has not featured in midfield since the 1-1 home draw with Kilmarnock on October 25 and will be out for at least another three months after having undergone ankle surgery. “Graham is really unfortunate and I feel for him,” said Graeme Murty, Rangers’ interim manager. “On medical advice we took a conservative path with his initial rehab and that didn’t work. "I know he’s down and he’s quite low and before we talk about length of time being out I want to make sure the fellow is alright. Having been there myself, I know that coming up to Christmas it’s a brilliant time to be a footballer. “You get loads of games and at home everything is done for you. It’s all geared towards you performing in an extended way and you do miss it. We have to make sure Graham as a person is taken care of and then we’ll take care of the player after that.”
It is a measure of Rangers’ fortunes on and off the field that, if they win on Saturday at home to St Johnstone, they will have recorded five successive league victories for the first time in as many years. The last time they accomplished the feat was between July and September 2011 when, with Ally McCoist in charge, they prevailed against St Johnstone, Inverness Caley Thistle, Motherwell, Aberdeen, Dundee United and Celtic. Later that season, of course, came the club’s financial meltdown under Craig Whyte, after which four campaigns were spent in pursuit of a return to the top flight of Scottish football. That was achieved last year under Mark Warburton but the best sequence assembled by the Englishman in the Scottish Premiership fell between St Andrew’s Day and Christmas Eve, with full points taken from meetings with Aberdeen, Hearts, Hamilton and Inverness. Rangers’ current run, with four successive wins against Aberdeen home and away, Ross County at Ibrox and Hibernian at Easter Road is not, however, evidence of a tide of superior form, as Danny Wilson admitted readily yesterday. At half time in the game against Hibs, the Rangers central defender berated his team mates in the dressing room, despite the fact that they were leading 2-1. “Within those four results there have been some good performances and some really bad performances as a team,” Wilson said. “We can do much better than we did at Hibs. “I haven’t watched the game back but, from playing in it, I felt we were miles off it in terms of what we want to do and achieve as a team. However, we were able to dig the result out and that was probably something people have held against us - that when the going got tough, we went under. Wilson in action during the 2-1 win over Hibs Credit: ACTION PLUS “There’s no doubt we were well below the standards required. The words at half time were to that effect. After the game everyone was obviously delighted with the result and to be able to show that resilience at a tough place like Hibs, where we haven’t enjoyed great results in our last few encounters. We were just delighted to win and continue the run we’re on and now we know we’ll have it tough against St Johnstone.” It was against St Johnstone, albeit in Perth, that last year’s run of wins came to an end and, if Rangers need further warning of potential hazard, they need only reference Tommy Wright’s ability to coax his players into quarrying points from unpromising fixtures. Saints drew home and away with Rangers in the second half of last season and they left Celtic Park with a 1-1 draw in August. Wright is arguably the most undervalued manager in the division – his name scarcely featured in the reckoning for a successor to Pedro Caixinha at Ibrox, a hiatus that has stretched for seven weeks – and the Northern Irishman was in prickly mood on Monday when he said: “Even our own support is negative about us at the minute, but we cannot let that affect us.” Rangers are still searching for a permanent manager but have secured positive results under Graeme Murty's watch Credit: PA St Johnstone lost at home to Aberdeen on Wednesday and Wright surely spies an opportunity in Rangers’ patchy home form. In nine league games at Ibrox, Rangers have won four, drawn two and lost three. “If we want to achieve anything this season we have to fix the home form because it's not been good enough,” said Wilson. “If we had taken more points at home, we would have been closer to first, but we are not looking too far ahead because, like I say, we know where we have just been.” Rangers will be without Kenny Miller, victim of a hamstring injury, and the veteran striker might still be absent when his colleagues travel to Celtic Park on December 30. Graham Dorrans, meanwhile, has not featured in midfield since the 1-1 home draw with Kilmarnock on October 25 and will be out for at least another three months after having undergone ankle surgery. “Graham is really unfortunate and I feel for him,” said Graeme Murty, Rangers’ interim manager. “On medical advice we took a conservative path with his initial rehab and that didn’t work. "I know he’s down and he’s quite low and before we talk about length of time being out I want to make sure the fellow is alright. Having been there myself, I know that coming up to Christmas it’s a brilliant time to be a footballer. “You get loads of games and at home everything is done for you. It’s all geared towards you performing in an extended way and you do miss it. We have to make sure Graham as a person is taken care of and then we’ll take care of the player after that.”
Danny Wilson says Rangers must improve at home to stand a chance of winning trophies
It is a measure of Rangers’ fortunes on and off the field that, if they win on Saturday at home to St Johnstone, they will have recorded five successive league victories for the first time in as many years. The last time they accomplished the feat was between July and September 2011 when, with Ally McCoist in charge, they prevailed against St Johnstone, Inverness Caley Thistle, Motherwell, Aberdeen, Dundee United and Celtic. Later that season, of course, came the club’s financial meltdown under Craig Whyte, after which four campaigns were spent in pursuit of a return to the top flight of Scottish football. That was achieved last year under Mark Warburton but the best sequence assembled by the Englishman in the Scottish Premiership fell between St Andrew’s Day and Christmas Eve, with full points taken from meetings with Aberdeen, Hearts, Hamilton and Inverness. Rangers’ current run, with four successive wins against Aberdeen home and away, Ross County at Ibrox and Hibernian at Easter Road is not, however, evidence of a tide of superior form, as Danny Wilson admitted readily yesterday. At half time in the game against Hibs, the Rangers central defender berated his team mates in the dressing room, despite the fact that they were leading 2-1. “Within those four results there have been some good performances and some really bad performances as a team,” Wilson said. “We can do much better than we did at Hibs. “I haven’t watched the game back but, from playing in it, I felt we were miles off it in terms of what we want to do and achieve as a team. However, we were able to dig the result out and that was probably something people have held against us - that when the going got tough, we went under. Wilson in action during the 2-1 win over Hibs Credit: ACTION PLUS “There’s no doubt we were well below the standards required. The words at half time were to that effect. After the game everyone was obviously delighted with the result and to be able to show that resilience at a tough place like Hibs, where we haven’t enjoyed great results in our last few encounters. We were just delighted to win and continue the run we’re on and now we know we’ll have it tough against St Johnstone.” It was against St Johnstone, albeit in Perth, that last year’s run of wins came to an end and, if Rangers need further warning of potential hazard, they need only reference Tommy Wright’s ability to coax his players into quarrying points from unpromising fixtures. Saints drew home and away with Rangers in the second half of last season and they left Celtic Park with a 1-1 draw in August. Wright is arguably the most undervalued manager in the division – his name scarcely featured in the reckoning for a successor to Pedro Caixinha at Ibrox, a hiatus that has stretched for seven weeks – and the Northern Irishman was in prickly mood on Monday when he said: “Even our own support is negative about us at the minute, but we cannot let that affect us.” Rangers are still searching for a permanent manager but have secured positive results under Graeme Murty's watch Credit: PA St Johnstone lost at home to Aberdeen on Wednesday and Wright surely spies an opportunity in Rangers’ patchy home form. In nine league games at Ibrox, Rangers have won four, drawn two and lost three. “If we want to achieve anything this season we have to fix the home form because it's not been good enough,” said Wilson. “If we had taken more points at home, we would have been closer to first, but we are not looking too far ahead because, like I say, we know where we have just been.” Rangers will be without Kenny Miller, victim of a hamstring injury, and the veteran striker might still be absent when his colleagues travel to Celtic Park on December 30. Graham Dorrans, meanwhile, has not featured in midfield since the 1-1 home draw with Kilmarnock on October 25 and will be out for at least another three months after having undergone ankle surgery. “Graham is really unfortunate and I feel for him,” said Graeme Murty, Rangers’ interim manager. “On medical advice we took a conservative path with his initial rehab and that didn’t work. "I know he’s down and he’s quite low and before we talk about length of time being out I want to make sure the fellow is alright. Having been there myself, I know that coming up to Christmas it’s a brilliant time to be a footballer. “You get loads of games and at home everything is done for you. It’s all geared towards you performing in an extended way and you do miss it. We have to make sure Graham as a person is taken care of and then we’ll take care of the player after that.”
If Michael O’Neill becomes Scotland manager, Brendan Rodgers will form an alliance with his Northern Irish compatriot for their mutual benefit, according to the Celtic manager. O’Neill will meet the Scottish Football Association next week to discuss the national team job, vacant since Gordon Strachan’s departure last month. Should he accept, he will inherit a group of Celtic players who formed the backbone of Strachan’s team. Asked if he expected to be speaking regularly with O’Neill under such circumstances, Rodgers said: “Absolutely, and I want to help. There is a real energy about the Celtic players when they go there, a real core of them that can help. “He has lived in Scotland for a number of years, played in Scotland and knows what you are all like. “He has spent six years or so at Northern Ireland and has done a European Championship and just missed out on a World Cup. Their top players over the next few years will move on. “If you look at Scotland, it is an exciting group and if he can pull them together and develop them, then he would maybe have a chance of getting them to their first Euros in 20-odd years and then maybe on to a World Cup after that. I am sure it is one he will think about.” Rodgers thinks St Johnstone's Tommy Wright would be a perfect replacement for Michael O'Neill at Northern Ireland Credit: Jane Barlow/PA Rodgers also backed another fellow countryman to take over the Northern Ireland job should O’Neill quit. Tommy Wright, the St Johnstone manager, has surmounted the Perth club’s limited resources to post three successive fourth-place finishes and in 2014 guided them to their first major trophy success with a victory over Dundee United in the Scottish Cup final. Surprisingly to some, Wright has not been in the frame for the managerial vacancy at Rangers, for which the favourite remains Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes, but his feats have been noted by the Irish Football Association. “Tommy would be perfect for Northern Ireland if Michael moved on,” said Rodgers. “He has earned his stripes at St Johnstone. For me, for the Rangers job, Derek McInnes and him would be obvious stand-outs, but I really hope he gets the chance given the work he has done to do it on a bigger stage.” The resumption of domestic fixtures after the international break sees Celtic travel to Dingwall tomorrow where they will attempt to extend their run of successive unbeaten domestic fixtures to 64 against Ross County. “It’ll end at some point,” Rodgers said. “We only focus on the next game. The squad is coming back now. I see the competitiveness in the players – we have Patrick Roberts, Jozo Simunovic and Leigh Griffiths back training this week. Erik [Sviatchenko] played 45 minutes of a practice match last week. They are fit, if not football fit, but the availability is there.” That match will mark another milestone in the career path of Kieran Tierney, when the defender makes his 100th appearance for Celtic at the ripe old age of 20. He also earned the accolade of captain of Scotland in the recent friendly with The Netherlands. “He can be a great leader for Scotland and I think he will be a captain here at Celtic one day,” said Rodgers. “He is developing and maturing on and off the field. I heard him speak at the end of the season at the Scottish Football Writers’ Association dinner and thought he spoke so well. It is nice to see young players come on in all aspects.”
Brendan Rodgers welcomes mutually beneficial possible alliance with Michael O'Neill
If Michael O’Neill becomes Scotland manager, Brendan Rodgers will form an alliance with his Northern Irish compatriot for their mutual benefit, according to the Celtic manager. O’Neill will meet the Scottish Football Association next week to discuss the national team job, vacant since Gordon Strachan’s departure last month. Should he accept, he will inherit a group of Celtic players who formed the backbone of Strachan’s team. Asked if he expected to be speaking regularly with O’Neill under such circumstances, Rodgers said: “Absolutely, and I want to help. There is a real energy about the Celtic players when they go there, a real core of them that can help. “He has lived in Scotland for a number of years, played in Scotland and knows what you are all like. “He has spent six years or so at Northern Ireland and has done a European Championship and just missed out on a World Cup. Their top players over the next few years will move on. “If you look at Scotland, it is an exciting group and if he can pull them together and develop them, then he would maybe have a chance of getting them to their first Euros in 20-odd years and then maybe on to a World Cup after that. I am sure it is one he will think about.” Rodgers thinks St Johnstone's Tommy Wright would be a perfect replacement for Michael O'Neill at Northern Ireland Credit: Jane Barlow/PA Rodgers also backed another fellow countryman to take over the Northern Ireland job should O’Neill quit. Tommy Wright, the St Johnstone manager, has surmounted the Perth club’s limited resources to post three successive fourth-place finishes and in 2014 guided them to their first major trophy success with a victory over Dundee United in the Scottish Cup final. Surprisingly to some, Wright has not been in the frame for the managerial vacancy at Rangers, for which the favourite remains Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes, but his feats have been noted by the Irish Football Association. “Tommy would be perfect for Northern Ireland if Michael moved on,” said Rodgers. “He has earned his stripes at St Johnstone. For me, for the Rangers job, Derek McInnes and him would be obvious stand-outs, but I really hope he gets the chance given the work he has done to do it on a bigger stage.” The resumption of domestic fixtures after the international break sees Celtic travel to Dingwall tomorrow where they will attempt to extend their run of successive unbeaten domestic fixtures to 64 against Ross County. “It’ll end at some point,” Rodgers said. “We only focus on the next game. The squad is coming back now. I see the competitiveness in the players – we have Patrick Roberts, Jozo Simunovic and Leigh Griffiths back training this week. Erik [Sviatchenko] played 45 minutes of a practice match last week. They are fit, if not football fit, but the availability is there.” That match will mark another milestone in the career path of Kieran Tierney, when the defender makes his 100th appearance for Celtic at the ripe old age of 20. He also earned the accolade of captain of Scotland in the recent friendly with The Netherlands. “He can be a great leader for Scotland and I think he will be a captain here at Celtic one day,” said Rodgers. “He is developing and maturing on and off the field. I heard him speak at the end of the season at the Scottish Football Writers’ Association dinner and thought he spoke so well. It is nice to see young players come on in all aspects.”
If Michael O’Neill becomes Scotland manager, Brendan Rodgers will form an alliance with his Northern Irish compatriot for their mutual benefit, according to the Celtic manager. O’Neill will meet the Scottish Football Association next week to discuss the national team job, vacant since Gordon Strachan’s departure last month. Should he accept, he will inherit a group of Celtic players who formed the backbone of Strachan’s team. Asked if he expected to be speaking regularly with O’Neill under such circumstances, Rodgers said: “Absolutely, and I want to help. There is a real energy about the Celtic players when they go there, a real core of them that can help. “He has lived in Scotland for a number of years, played in Scotland and knows what you are all like. “He has spent six years or so at Northern Ireland and has done a European Championship and just missed out on a World Cup. Their top players over the next few years will move on. “If you look at Scotland, it is an exciting group and if he can pull them together and develop them, then he would maybe have a chance of getting them to their first Euros in 20-odd years and then maybe on to a World Cup after that. I am sure it is one he will think about.” Rodgers thinks St Johnstone's Tommy Wright would be a perfect replacement for Michael O'Neill at Northern Ireland Credit: Jane Barlow/PA Rodgers also backed another fellow countryman to take over the Northern Ireland job should O’Neill quit. Tommy Wright, the St Johnstone manager, has surmounted the Perth club’s limited resources to post three successive fourth-place finishes and in 2014 guided them to their first major trophy success with a victory over Dundee United in the Scottish Cup final. Surprisingly to some, Wright has not been in the frame for the managerial vacancy at Rangers, for which the favourite remains Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes, but his feats have been noted by the Irish Football Association. “Tommy would be perfect for Northern Ireland if Michael moved on,” said Rodgers. “He has earned his stripes at St Johnstone. For me, for the Rangers job, Derek McInnes and him would be obvious stand-outs, but I really hope he gets the chance given the work he has done to do it on a bigger stage.” The resumption of domestic fixtures after the international break sees Celtic travel to Dingwall tomorrow where they will attempt to extend their run of successive unbeaten domestic fixtures to 64 against Ross County. “It’ll end at some point,” Rodgers said. “We only focus on the next game. The squad is coming back now. I see the competitiveness in the players – we have Patrick Roberts, Jozo Simunovic and Leigh Griffiths back training this week. Erik [Sviatchenko] played 45 minutes of a practice match last week. They are fit, if not football fit, but the availability is there.” That match will mark another milestone in the career path of Kieran Tierney, when the defender makes his 100th appearance for Celtic at the ripe old age of 20. He also earned the accolade of captain of Scotland in the recent friendly with The Netherlands. “He can be a great leader for Scotland and I think he will be a captain here at Celtic one day,” said Rodgers. “He is developing and maturing on and off the field. I heard him speak at the end of the season at the Scottish Football Writers’ Association dinner and thought he spoke so well. It is nice to see young players come on in all aspects.”
Brendan Rodgers welcomes mutually beneficial possible alliance with Michael O'Neill
If Michael O’Neill becomes Scotland manager, Brendan Rodgers will form an alliance with his Northern Irish compatriot for their mutual benefit, according to the Celtic manager. O’Neill will meet the Scottish Football Association next week to discuss the national team job, vacant since Gordon Strachan’s departure last month. Should he accept, he will inherit a group of Celtic players who formed the backbone of Strachan’s team. Asked if he expected to be speaking regularly with O’Neill under such circumstances, Rodgers said: “Absolutely, and I want to help. There is a real energy about the Celtic players when they go there, a real core of them that can help. “He has lived in Scotland for a number of years, played in Scotland and knows what you are all like. “He has spent six years or so at Northern Ireland and has done a European Championship and just missed out on a World Cup. Their top players over the next few years will move on. “If you look at Scotland, it is an exciting group and if he can pull them together and develop them, then he would maybe have a chance of getting them to their first Euros in 20-odd years and then maybe on to a World Cup after that. I am sure it is one he will think about.” Rodgers thinks St Johnstone's Tommy Wright would be a perfect replacement for Michael O'Neill at Northern Ireland Credit: Jane Barlow/PA Rodgers also backed another fellow countryman to take over the Northern Ireland job should O’Neill quit. Tommy Wright, the St Johnstone manager, has surmounted the Perth club’s limited resources to post three successive fourth-place finishes and in 2014 guided them to their first major trophy success with a victory over Dundee United in the Scottish Cup final. Surprisingly to some, Wright has not been in the frame for the managerial vacancy at Rangers, for which the favourite remains Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes, but his feats have been noted by the Irish Football Association. “Tommy would be perfect for Northern Ireland if Michael moved on,” said Rodgers. “He has earned his stripes at St Johnstone. For me, for the Rangers job, Derek McInnes and him would be obvious stand-outs, but I really hope he gets the chance given the work he has done to do it on a bigger stage.” The resumption of domestic fixtures after the international break sees Celtic travel to Dingwall tomorrow where they will attempt to extend their run of successive unbeaten domestic fixtures to 64 against Ross County. “It’ll end at some point,” Rodgers said. “We only focus on the next game. The squad is coming back now. I see the competitiveness in the players – we have Patrick Roberts, Jozo Simunovic and Leigh Griffiths back training this week. Erik [Sviatchenko] played 45 minutes of a practice match last week. They are fit, if not football fit, but the availability is there.” That match will mark another milestone in the career path of Kieran Tierney, when the defender makes his 100th appearance for Celtic at the ripe old age of 20. He also earned the accolade of captain of Scotland in the recent friendly with The Netherlands. “He can be a great leader for Scotland and I think he will be a captain here at Celtic one day,” said Rodgers. “He is developing and maturing on and off the field. I heard him speak at the end of the season at the Scottish Football Writers’ Association dinner and thought he spoke so well. It is nice to see young players come on in all aspects.”
Scottish football has not been at the top table of international competition for 20 years – hence the SFA’s urgent desire to find a manager with the Midas touch – but the country’s clubs have never been more successful at providing aid to charities and worthy causes in their communities. Independent research commissioned by the Scottish Professional Football League has revealed that 770,000 local people – an annual increase of over 60,000 - have been engaged in community initiatives involving all 42 league clubs. The research also found that season ticket holders were well served by making a commitment to back their team throughout the campaign. Headline figures show that clubs engaged with approximately 772,000 people via community activity in season 2016/17, many supported by programmes run and organised by the SPFL Trust, the charitable arm of the league. Around 86 per cent of all clubs provide free tickets to matches for community groups, charities and other worthy causes, with an estimated total of 84,000 donated last season. The number of clubs offering free admission to children has risen to 62 per cent, up 5 per cent on last year’s figure. The average maximum saving for supporters across all four divisions buying a 2017/18 season ticket is £96.20, when compared with paying at the gate. Attendance figures also told an encouraging story, with total crowds for the four Ladbrokes divisions exceeding four million in season 2016/17, a 12 per cent increase year on year, while almost a quarter of a million supporters attended the first two matches of the 2017/18 season to set a new record for the SPFL. Nicky Reid, chief executive of the SPFL Trust, said: “The recent Responsiball annual report now places the SPFL as the fourth most community-focused league in the world, based on their analysis of the 25 biggest national competitions. “A rise of three places year on year, shows that this is an area of significant strength and opportunity for Scottish football. In the past year, the SPFL Trust and our clubs have been trusted to work on projects funded by the Scottish Government, Big Lottery Fund, Erasmus, Scottish Water, Kinder+Sport, and the SPFL itself amongst others. “Our Trusted Trophy Tour also visited more than 20 clubs and demonstrated the power that football has for good across a wide range of projects. Trust is hard-earned and we all accept the responsibilities that come with that, but the direction of travel is extremely positive.” The SFA, meanwhile, announced that its Elite club football academies are Aberdeen, Celtic, Hamilton, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Kilmarnock, Motherwell and Rangers. The second-tier Progressive grade consists of Ayr United, Dundee United, Forth Valley, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Partick Thistle, Ross County,St Mirren and St Johnstone. The third-tier Progressive level academies are Dundee, Fife, Greenock Morton and Queen’s Park. Scottish FA Performance Director Malky Mackay said: “What I would like to stress is that the bandings are not fixed and they will be reassessed in June 2018. No door is closed to clubs outside of the Elite bracket with aspirations to move up.”
Scottish clubs set national charity records, with SPFL now 'fourth most community-focused league in the world'
Scottish football has not been at the top table of international competition for 20 years – hence the SFA’s urgent desire to find a manager with the Midas touch – but the country’s clubs have never been more successful at providing aid to charities and worthy causes in their communities. Independent research commissioned by the Scottish Professional Football League has revealed that 770,000 local people – an annual increase of over 60,000 - have been engaged in community initiatives involving all 42 league clubs. The research also found that season ticket holders were well served by making a commitment to back their team throughout the campaign. Headline figures show that clubs engaged with approximately 772,000 people via community activity in season 2016/17, many supported by programmes run and organised by the SPFL Trust, the charitable arm of the league. Around 86 per cent of all clubs provide free tickets to matches for community groups, charities and other worthy causes, with an estimated total of 84,000 donated last season. The number of clubs offering free admission to children has risen to 62 per cent, up 5 per cent on last year’s figure. The average maximum saving for supporters across all four divisions buying a 2017/18 season ticket is £96.20, when compared with paying at the gate. Attendance figures also told an encouraging story, with total crowds for the four Ladbrokes divisions exceeding four million in season 2016/17, a 12 per cent increase year on year, while almost a quarter of a million supporters attended the first two matches of the 2017/18 season to set a new record for the SPFL. Nicky Reid, chief executive of the SPFL Trust, said: “The recent Responsiball annual report now places the SPFL as the fourth most community-focused league in the world, based on their analysis of the 25 biggest national competitions. “A rise of three places year on year, shows that this is an area of significant strength and opportunity for Scottish football. In the past year, the SPFL Trust and our clubs have been trusted to work on projects funded by the Scottish Government, Big Lottery Fund, Erasmus, Scottish Water, Kinder+Sport, and the SPFL itself amongst others. “Our Trusted Trophy Tour also visited more than 20 clubs and demonstrated the power that football has for good across a wide range of projects. Trust is hard-earned and we all accept the responsibilities that come with that, but the direction of travel is extremely positive.” The SFA, meanwhile, announced that its Elite club football academies are Aberdeen, Celtic, Hamilton, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Kilmarnock, Motherwell and Rangers. The second-tier Progressive grade consists of Ayr United, Dundee United, Forth Valley, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Partick Thistle, Ross County,St Mirren and St Johnstone. The third-tier Progressive level academies are Dundee, Fife, Greenock Morton and Queen’s Park. Scottish FA Performance Director Malky Mackay said: “What I would like to stress is that the bandings are not fixed and they will be reassessed in June 2018. No door is closed to clubs outside of the Elite bracket with aspirations to move up.”
Michael O’Neill returned to his Edinburgh home late on Monday afternoon to find that the bookmakers had not only installed him as favourite for the vacant Scotland manager’s job but had made him third favourite for the similarly unfilled position at Rangers. Sensibly, the Northern Ireland manager will take a couple of days to reflect on the outcome of the World Cup play-off which saw Switzerland progress to the finals in Russia next summer thanks to the award of a nonsensical penalty kick in the first leg in Belfast. O’Neill’s position, as stated after Sunday’s goalless draw in Basel, is that he is under contract to the Irish Football Association and that it would be improper to speak about other positions. That said, at the age of 48 and after six years with the Northern Ireland team, it would be remarkable if O’Neill were not contemplating a fresh start and there must also be an allure in the prospect of a switch to day-to-day involvement at club level rather than the spasmodic challenge of the international game. The utterances of Stewart Regan, chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, have been scrutinised for clues to what might transpire at Hampden Park. With no interest in the World Cup finals, following failure to clear the group stage qualifying hurdles under Gordon Strachan the Scots have a friendly in Morocco in March and another in early summer before they resume competitive action in the Uefa Nations League next September. “We might have a new manager in place for those friendlies, but if we haven’t, it’s not the end of the world,” Regan said last month when announcing that Malky Mackay would act as interim manager for the friendly meeting with Holland at Pittodrie, which Scotland lost 1-0 last Thursday. One immediate assumption was that the SFA had identified O’Neill as its principal target and were prepared to wait, if Northern Ireland were to reach the finals. Sam Wallace's Power Rankings 42:04 Regan also revealed on the day of the Dutch friendly that Mackay would not be considered as a long-term candidate, prompting speculation that the SFA was clearing the way for a speedy approach to the IFA if circumstances changed quickly, as they have done. Certainly, O’Neill is as familiar with the Scottish scene as any candidate could be. He played for Dundee United, Hibernian, St Johnstone, Clydebank and Ayr United and his first management job was at Brechin City between 2006 and 2008. Moreover, O’Neill has conscripted a core of players who either play or have played for Scottish clubs, to the extent that recent squad have featured no fewer than 17 with that experience, the newest recruit being Jordan Jones of Kilmarnock, who made his debut appearance in the play-off second leg against Switzerland on Sunday. Telegraph Sport can confirm, however, that although the SFA is considering O’Neill as a candidate, its still trimming its initial roster of possible targets and has not yet reached the stage of a short-list. O’Neill’s glowing credential is that he steered Northern Ireland to their first tournament finals in 30 years and their first ever European championship when they reached Euro 2016. He also got the team beyond the group stage, an accomplishment that has never been matched by any Scotland manager. One curiosity that will surely interest the SFA, though, is that O’Neill’s win rate with Northern Ireland stands at 34.35%, compared to Gordon Strachan’s return of 44.35%. Michael O'Neill has a worse win percentage than Gordon Strachan but almost took Northern Ireland to the World Cup Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for conjecture about Rangers, an appointment to the Ibrox job would be a fascinating cultural development, given that O’Neill is a Roman Catholic from Northern Ireland, whose education included a spell at Presentation Covent Primary School in Portadown and All Saints in Ballymana and who would certainly be the first manager of the Light Blues who played Gaelic football as a boy. It would be doubly intriguing were he ever to take over at Ibrox with his fellow countryman, Jimmy Nicholl, a former Rangers favourite, as his assistant. Nicholl, indeed, recently declared that O’Neill would not remain in international football in the event of Northern Ireland failing to make the World Cup finals. “He’s young enough – if he gets a good opportunity and a good challenge at a big club on a day-to-day basis, then he’ll go,” Nicholl told BBC Scotland last month. One other consideration which might yet materialise is a club job in Scotland, but not at Ibrox. Should Rangers make a successful move for Derek McInnes, the bookies’ favourite for their vacant position, then Aberdeen would be in the market for a new manager. In those circumstances an obvious candidate – very likely the favourite – would be a man who played six games for the Dons during a loan spell in 1998. Fellow by name of O’Neill, in case you hadn’t guessed.
Rangers interested in Scotland target Michael O'Neill for vacant manager role
Michael O’Neill returned to his Edinburgh home late on Monday afternoon to find that the bookmakers had not only installed him as favourite for the vacant Scotland manager’s job but had made him third favourite for the similarly unfilled position at Rangers. Sensibly, the Northern Ireland manager will take a couple of days to reflect on the outcome of the World Cup play-off which saw Switzerland progress to the finals in Russia next summer thanks to the award of a nonsensical penalty kick in the first leg in Belfast. O’Neill’s position, as stated after Sunday’s goalless draw in Basel, is that he is under contract to the Irish Football Association and that it would be improper to speak about other positions. That said, at the age of 48 and after six years with the Northern Ireland team, it would be remarkable if O’Neill were not contemplating a fresh start and there must also be an allure in the prospect of a switch to day-to-day involvement at club level rather than the spasmodic challenge of the international game. The utterances of Stewart Regan, chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, have been scrutinised for clues to what might transpire at Hampden Park. With no interest in the World Cup finals, following failure to clear the group stage qualifying hurdles under Gordon Strachan the Scots have a friendly in Morocco in March and another in early summer before they resume competitive action in the Uefa Nations League next September. “We might have a new manager in place for those friendlies, but if we haven’t, it’s not the end of the world,” Regan said last month when announcing that Malky Mackay would act as interim manager for the friendly meeting with Holland at Pittodrie, which Scotland lost 1-0 last Thursday. One immediate assumption was that the SFA had identified O’Neill as its principal target and were prepared to wait, if Northern Ireland were to reach the finals. Sam Wallace's Power Rankings 42:04 Regan also revealed on the day of the Dutch friendly that Mackay would not be considered as a long-term candidate, prompting speculation that the SFA was clearing the way for a speedy approach to the IFA if circumstances changed quickly, as they have done. Certainly, O’Neill is as familiar with the Scottish scene as any candidate could be. He played for Dundee United, Hibernian, St Johnstone, Clydebank and Ayr United and his first management job was at Brechin City between 2006 and 2008. Moreover, O’Neill has conscripted a core of players who either play or have played for Scottish clubs, to the extent that recent squad have featured no fewer than 17 with that experience, the newest recruit being Jordan Jones of Kilmarnock, who made his debut appearance in the play-off second leg against Switzerland on Sunday. Telegraph Sport can confirm, however, that although the SFA is considering O’Neill as a candidate, its still trimming its initial roster of possible targets and has not yet reached the stage of a short-list. O’Neill’s glowing credential is that he steered Northern Ireland to their first tournament finals in 30 years and their first ever European championship when they reached Euro 2016. He also got the team beyond the group stage, an accomplishment that has never been matched by any Scotland manager. One curiosity that will surely interest the SFA, though, is that O’Neill’s win rate with Northern Ireland stands at 34.35%, compared to Gordon Strachan’s return of 44.35%. Michael O'Neill has a worse win percentage than Gordon Strachan but almost took Northern Ireland to the World Cup Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for conjecture about Rangers, an appointment to the Ibrox job would be a fascinating cultural development, given that O’Neill is a Roman Catholic from Northern Ireland, whose education included a spell at Presentation Covent Primary School in Portadown and All Saints in Ballymana and who would certainly be the first manager of the Light Blues who played Gaelic football as a boy. It would be doubly intriguing were he ever to take over at Ibrox with his fellow countryman, Jimmy Nicholl, a former Rangers favourite, as his assistant. Nicholl, indeed, recently declared that O’Neill would not remain in international football in the event of Northern Ireland failing to make the World Cup finals. “He’s young enough – if he gets a good opportunity and a good challenge at a big club on a day-to-day basis, then he’ll go,” Nicholl told BBC Scotland last month. One other consideration which might yet materialise is a club job in Scotland, but not at Ibrox. Should Rangers make a successful move for Derek McInnes, the bookies’ favourite for their vacant position, then Aberdeen would be in the market for a new manager. In those circumstances an obvious candidate – very likely the favourite – would be a man who played six games for the Dons during a loan spell in 1998. Fellow by name of O’Neill, in case you hadn’t guessed.
Michael O’Neill returned to his Edinburgh home late on Monday afternoon to find that the bookmakers had not only installed him as favourite for the vacant Scotland manager’s job but had made him third favourite for the similarly unfilled position at Rangers. Sensibly, the Northern Ireland manager will take a couple of days to reflect on the outcome of the World Cup play-off which saw Switzerland progress to the finals in Russia next summer thanks to the award of a nonsensical penalty kick in the first leg in Belfast. O’Neill’s position, as stated after Sunday’s goalless draw in Basel, is that he is under contract to the Irish Football Association and that it would be improper to speak about other positions. That said, at the age of 48 and after six years with the Northern Ireland team, it would be remarkable if O’Neill were not contemplating a fresh start and there must also be an allure in the prospect of a switch to day-to-day involvement at club level rather than the spasmodic challenge of the international game. The utterances of Stewart Regan, chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, have been scrutinised for clues to what might transpire at Hampden Park. With no interest in the World Cup finals, following failure to clear the group stage qualifying hurdles under Gordon Strachan the Scots have a friendly in Morocco in March and another in early summer before they resume competitive action in the Uefa Nations League next September. “We might have a new manager in place for those friendlies, but if we haven’t, it’s not the end of the world,” Regan said last month when announcing that Malky Mackay would act as interim manager for the friendly meeting with Holland at Pittodrie, which Scotland lost 1-0 last Thursday. One immediate assumption was that the SFA had identified O’Neill as its principal target and were prepared to wait, if Northern Ireland were to reach the finals. Sam Wallace's Power Rankings 42:04 Regan also revealed on the day of the Dutch friendly that Mackay would not be considered as a long-term candidate, prompting speculation that the SFA was clearing the way for a speedy approach to the IFA if circumstances changed quickly, as they have done. Certainly, O’Neill is as familiar with the Scottish scene as any candidate could be. He played for Dundee United, Hibernian, St Johnstone, Clydebank and Ayr United and his first management job was at Brechin City between 2006 and 2008. Moreover, O’Neill has conscripted a core of players who either play or have played for Scottish clubs, to the extent that recent squad have featured no fewer than 17 with that experience, the newest recruit being Jordan Jones of Kilmarnock, who made his debut appearance in the play-off second leg against Switzerland on Sunday. Telegraph Sport can confirm, however, that although the SFA is considering O’Neill as a candidate, its still trimming its initial roster of possible targets and has not yet reached the stage of a short-list. O’Neill’s glowing credential is that he steered Northern Ireland to their first tournament finals in 30 years and their first ever European championship when they reached Euro 2016. He also got the team beyond the group stage, an accomplishment that has never been matched by any Scotland manager. One curiosity that will surely interest the SFA, though, is that O’Neill’s win rate with Northern Ireland stands at 34.35%, compared to Gordon Strachan’s return of 44.35%. Michael O'Neill has a worse win percentage than Gordon Strachan but almost took Northern Ireland to the World Cup Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for conjecture about Rangers, an appointment to the Ibrox job would be a fascinating cultural development, given that O’Neill is a Roman Catholic from Northern Ireland, whose education included a spell at Presentation Covent Primary School in Portadown and All Saints in Ballymana and who would certainly be the first manager of the Light Blues who played Gaelic football as a boy. It would be doubly intriguing were he ever to take over at Ibrox with his fellow countryman, Jimmy Nicholl, a former Rangers favourite, as his assistant. Nicholl, indeed, recently declared that O’Neill would not remain in international football in the event of Northern Ireland failing to make the World Cup finals. “He’s young enough – if he gets a good opportunity and a good challenge at a big club on a day-to-day basis, then he’ll go,” Nicholl told BBC Scotland last month. One other consideration which might yet materialise is a club job in Scotland, but not at Ibrox. Should Rangers make a successful move for Derek McInnes, the bookies’ favourite for their vacant position, then Aberdeen would be in the market for a new manager. In those circumstances an obvious candidate – very likely the favourite – would be a man who played six games for the Dons during a loan spell in 1998. Fellow by name of O’Neill, in case you hadn’t guessed.
Rangers interested in Scotland target Michael O'Neill for vacant manager role
Michael O’Neill returned to his Edinburgh home late on Monday afternoon to find that the bookmakers had not only installed him as favourite for the vacant Scotland manager’s job but had made him third favourite for the similarly unfilled position at Rangers. Sensibly, the Northern Ireland manager will take a couple of days to reflect on the outcome of the World Cup play-off which saw Switzerland progress to the finals in Russia next summer thanks to the award of a nonsensical penalty kick in the first leg in Belfast. O’Neill’s position, as stated after Sunday’s goalless draw in Basel, is that he is under contract to the Irish Football Association and that it would be improper to speak about other positions. That said, at the age of 48 and after six years with the Northern Ireland team, it would be remarkable if O’Neill were not contemplating a fresh start and there must also be an allure in the prospect of a switch to day-to-day involvement at club level rather than the spasmodic challenge of the international game. The utterances of Stewart Regan, chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, have been scrutinised for clues to what might transpire at Hampden Park. With no interest in the World Cup finals, following failure to clear the group stage qualifying hurdles under Gordon Strachan the Scots have a friendly in Morocco in March and another in early summer before they resume competitive action in the Uefa Nations League next September. “We might have a new manager in place for those friendlies, but if we haven’t, it’s not the end of the world,” Regan said last month when announcing that Malky Mackay would act as interim manager for the friendly meeting with Holland at Pittodrie, which Scotland lost 1-0 last Thursday. One immediate assumption was that the SFA had identified O’Neill as its principal target and were prepared to wait, if Northern Ireland were to reach the finals. Sam Wallace's Power Rankings 42:04 Regan also revealed on the day of the Dutch friendly that Mackay would not be considered as a long-term candidate, prompting speculation that the SFA was clearing the way for a speedy approach to the IFA if circumstances changed quickly, as they have done. Certainly, O’Neill is as familiar with the Scottish scene as any candidate could be. He played for Dundee United, Hibernian, St Johnstone, Clydebank and Ayr United and his first management job was at Brechin City between 2006 and 2008. Moreover, O’Neill has conscripted a core of players who either play or have played for Scottish clubs, to the extent that recent squad have featured no fewer than 17 with that experience, the newest recruit being Jordan Jones of Kilmarnock, who made his debut appearance in the play-off second leg against Switzerland on Sunday. Telegraph Sport can confirm, however, that although the SFA is considering O’Neill as a candidate, its still trimming its initial roster of possible targets and has not yet reached the stage of a short-list. O’Neill’s glowing credential is that he steered Northern Ireland to their first tournament finals in 30 years and their first ever European championship when they reached Euro 2016. He also got the team beyond the group stage, an accomplishment that has never been matched by any Scotland manager. One curiosity that will surely interest the SFA, though, is that O’Neill’s win rate with Northern Ireland stands at 34.35%, compared to Gordon Strachan’s return of 44.35%. Michael O'Neill has a worse win percentage than Gordon Strachan but almost took Northern Ireland to the World Cup Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for conjecture about Rangers, an appointment to the Ibrox job would be a fascinating cultural development, given that O’Neill is a Roman Catholic from Northern Ireland, whose education included a spell at Presentation Covent Primary School in Portadown and All Saints in Ballymana and who would certainly be the first manager of the Light Blues who played Gaelic football as a boy. It would be doubly intriguing were he ever to take over at Ibrox with his fellow countryman, Jimmy Nicholl, a former Rangers favourite, as his assistant. Nicholl, indeed, recently declared that O’Neill would not remain in international football in the event of Northern Ireland failing to make the World Cup finals. “He’s young enough – if he gets a good opportunity and a good challenge at a big club on a day-to-day basis, then he’ll go,” Nicholl told BBC Scotland last month. One other consideration which might yet materialise is a club job in Scotland, but not at Ibrox. Should Rangers make a successful move for Derek McInnes, the bookies’ favourite for their vacant position, then Aberdeen would be in the market for a new manager. In those circumstances an obvious candidate – very likely the favourite – would be a man who played six games for the Dons during a loan spell in 1998. Fellow by name of O’Neill, in case you hadn’t guessed.
Were the rate of managerial attrition in Celtic’s Champions League group to continue, Brendan Rodgers would soon be out of a job. Happily for Celtic fans, the Northern Irishman is under no threat, by contrast to Rene Weiler and Carlo Ancelotti, who began the season in charge of Anderlecht and Bayern Munich respectively but who have been numbered amongst the early casualties of disappointing form. In Weiler’s case, a poor start to the Belgian league season saw him gone before Anderlecht lost to Celtic in their Champions League group encounter on Wednesday while Bayern parted company with Ancelotti on Thursday after the Bundesliga club lost by the same score to Paris Saint-Germain in the other game in the section. “Carlo will probably go to Barcelona or somewhere, but my feelings this week were for Jim McIntyre and Peter Houston,” said Rodgers, of the men sacked by Ross County and Falkirk. “I didn't really see or understand the role Jim played at Ross County until I came to Celtic. “I then analysed what he'd done - winning the League Cup and keeping them up. Roy MacGregor [the Staggies’ chairman] is a lovely guy and has done brilliant work for Ross County and the area, but I have real empathy for Jim losing his job. “Look at the work he's done and the fixtures he's had. They’ve played ourselves, Aberdeen, Rangers and Hibs. I watched the full game last week and it wasn't a performance where you say the players aren't really playing for him. “I have real empathy for Jim and Peter Houston, who has been about for a long time. He's a very good coach, who did a great job for Dundee United and then Falkirk.” It has been a great honour to form part of Bayern’s history. I would like to thank the Club, the Players and it's amazing fans. #MiaSanMiapic.twitter.com/oZ7mLllers— Carlo Ancelotti (@MrAncelotti) September 28, 2017 On Saturday, Rodgers comes up against one of his predecessors at Celtic, when Hibernian arrive in the east end of Glasgow, where their manager, Neil Lennon, was a favourite, both as a player and during his spell in charge between 2010 and 2014. “If I wasn’t here, if I was to say who’ll be Celtic manager I would say Neil Lennon,” said Rodgers of the man who won three titles for the Parkhead side. “He was very good in his time here and if it ever comes to him again he would do equally as well if not better.” When Lennon left, partly because of the absence of competition following Rangers’ financial meltdown and spell in the lower leagues, Rodgers imagined that he and his fellow countryman might engage in a Merseyside rivalry. “I was at Liverpool and there was talk then of David Moyes going to Manchester United and I thought that Everton would have been a perfect job for Neil. Neil Lennon returns to Celtic Park on Saturday to play the club he graced in midfield and the dugout Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire “There is no doubt he deserved a better offer. That's no disrespect to Bolton - if they'd been in the Premier League, it would have been a great job. I felt Neil was a Premier League manager in waiting. “Maybe that's because I know the size of Celtic and what the demands and challenges are at a club like this. I could see how he'd managed that and looked at what could be his next step. “Part of my admiration for him comes from his openness and the courage he showed to come out and speak openly about his depression. I read his book and it was a real admission of his life and where he was at and it takes a lot of courage to do that. “He was a real pioneer. That was nearly a decade ago. Then there was everything else that surrounded his time here too which wasn’t nice and you don’t want anyone to go through. This is a job that is big enough itself without any additional pressures.” Celtic are bidding for a 58th successive domestic game unbeaten but they must achieve it without Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong, both of whom have hamstring injuries which will also keep them out of Scotland’s World Cup double header against Slovakia and Slovenia. “It’s just absolutely so unlucky for us and their unavailability for tomorrow but also for Scotland, which is a huge loss,” Rodgers said.
Brendan Rodgers welcomes Neil Lennon back to Celtic Park and sings his praises
Were the rate of managerial attrition in Celtic’s Champions League group to continue, Brendan Rodgers would soon be out of a job. Happily for Celtic fans, the Northern Irishman is under no threat, by contrast to Rene Weiler and Carlo Ancelotti, who began the season in charge of Anderlecht and Bayern Munich respectively but who have been numbered amongst the early casualties of disappointing form. In Weiler’s case, a poor start to the Belgian league season saw him gone before Anderlecht lost to Celtic in their Champions League group encounter on Wednesday while Bayern parted company with Ancelotti on Thursday after the Bundesliga club lost by the same score to Paris Saint-Germain in the other game in the section. “Carlo will probably go to Barcelona or somewhere, but my feelings this week were for Jim McIntyre and Peter Houston,” said Rodgers, of the men sacked by Ross County and Falkirk. “I didn't really see or understand the role Jim played at Ross County until I came to Celtic. “I then analysed what he'd done - winning the League Cup and keeping them up. Roy MacGregor [the Staggies’ chairman] is a lovely guy and has done brilliant work for Ross County and the area, but I have real empathy for Jim losing his job. “Look at the work he's done and the fixtures he's had. They’ve played ourselves, Aberdeen, Rangers and Hibs. I watched the full game last week and it wasn't a performance where you say the players aren't really playing for him. “I have real empathy for Jim and Peter Houston, who has been about for a long time. He's a very good coach, who did a great job for Dundee United and then Falkirk.” It has been a great honour to form part of Bayern’s history. I would like to thank the Club, the Players and it's amazing fans. #MiaSanMiapic.twitter.com/oZ7mLllers— Carlo Ancelotti (@MrAncelotti) September 28, 2017 On Saturday, Rodgers comes up against one of his predecessors at Celtic, when Hibernian arrive in the east end of Glasgow, where their manager, Neil Lennon, was a favourite, both as a player and during his spell in charge between 2010 and 2014. “If I wasn’t here, if I was to say who’ll be Celtic manager I would say Neil Lennon,” said Rodgers of the man who won three titles for the Parkhead side. “He was very good in his time here and if it ever comes to him again he would do equally as well if not better.” When Lennon left, partly because of the absence of competition following Rangers’ financial meltdown and spell in the lower leagues, Rodgers imagined that he and his fellow countryman might engage in a Merseyside rivalry. “I was at Liverpool and there was talk then of David Moyes going to Manchester United and I thought that Everton would have been a perfect job for Neil. Neil Lennon returns to Celtic Park on Saturday to play the club he graced in midfield and the dugout Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire “There is no doubt he deserved a better offer. That's no disrespect to Bolton - if they'd been in the Premier League, it would have been a great job. I felt Neil was a Premier League manager in waiting. “Maybe that's because I know the size of Celtic and what the demands and challenges are at a club like this. I could see how he'd managed that and looked at what could be his next step. “Part of my admiration for him comes from his openness and the courage he showed to come out and speak openly about his depression. I read his book and it was a real admission of his life and where he was at and it takes a lot of courage to do that. “He was a real pioneer. That was nearly a decade ago. Then there was everything else that surrounded his time here too which wasn’t nice and you don’t want anyone to go through. This is a job that is big enough itself without any additional pressures.” Celtic are bidding for a 58th successive domestic game unbeaten but they must achieve it without Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong, both of whom have hamstring injuries which will also keep them out of Scotland’s World Cup double header against Slovakia and Slovenia. “It’s just absolutely so unlucky for us and their unavailability for tomorrow but also for Scotland, which is a huge loss,” Rodgers said.

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