Hibernian

Hibernian slideshow

Hibernian's Efe Ambrose haunts Celtic

The 29-year-old defender rescued a point for the Hibs against his former club in Sunday’s Scottish top-flight outing

Celtic Fan View: Three talking points as Hoops let two points slip at Hibernian

Celtic Fan View: Three talking points as Hoops let two points slip at Hibernian

Celtic Fan View: Three talking points as Hoops let two points slip at Hibernian

Hibernian 2 Celtic 2: Substitute Oli Shaw grabs second-half equaliser to deny visitors all three points

Efe Ambrose praises Hibernian's 'fighting spirit' in win at Partick Thistle

Efe Ambrose praises Hibernian's 'fighting spirit' in win at Partick Thistle

Efe Ambrose praises Hibernian's 'fighting spirit' in win at Partick Thistle

Having kept their unbeaten away record intact with Saturday's win at Firhill, the defender has hailed his side's determination and resilience

Efe Ambrose praises Hibernian's 'fighting spirit' in win at Partick Thistle

Efe Ambrose praises Hibernian's 'fighting spirit' in win at Partick Thistle

Celtic's form has James Forrest dreaming of a European run to rival 2003

James Forrest played for Celtic last time they were in a European final, when the Hoops lost 3-2 to Porto after extra time in Seville in 2003. To be more precise, while Martin O’Neill’s men were edged out of the silverware by a Porto side under the leadership of Jose Mourinho, Forrest was featuring as an 11-year-old for one of the Parkhead club’s boys’ teams. On Tuesday night, however, Celtic can secure European football after Christmas providing that they get any result better than a 4-0 defeat at home to Anderlecht in their final Champions League group match. Brendan Rodgers’ players would then go into the Europa League, a tournament which offers them the chance of progress at that level into the spring of next year. Celtic would require a degree of luck in the draw because although there are no teams of the calibre of Paris Saint-Germain – who have beaten them 5-0 in Glasgow and 7-1 in France in their Champions League group – the Europa League knockout stage will still feature the likes of Arsenal, AC Milan, Lazio, Diamo Kiev, Olympique Marseille and Villareal. Still, Hoops fans nourish hope of a campaign that would rekindle memories of the adventures of their 2003 side, who prevailed against Blackburn Rovers, Celta Vigo, Stuttgart, Liverpool and Boavista to reach the final, to which they were followed by an estimated 80,000 supporters, fewer than half of whom had tickets for the match. “It was a memorable year, a special season,” said Forrest. “They did really well, they got on a run, but back then, they were probably just taking it a game at time. I don't think they would have predicted that they would get to the final. Celtic's players trudge off after defeat in the 2003 Uefa Cup final Credit: REx feautures “We’re the same. I don't think anybody has really thought about the Europa League. At the start of the season the goal was to get into the Champions League and we wanted to be in Europe after Christmas. “Now we’re coming to the last Champions League game at home at Celtic Park and we want to make sure we have a good result and a positive performance and take it from there, game by game.” Forrest has enjoyed a buoyant campaign so far. Never a prolific scorer, his most productive season was 2011-12, when he netted nine times in 43 appearances. This time around he is on 10 goals from 32 outings and his strike for the opener in last Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final helped ensure him a 12th medal to show for his nine years at the club. “I’ve matched Bobby Lennox now by scoring in three League Cup Finals, which is great,” said the 26-year-old. “But I don't sit and count the medals. At Celtic, when you play in a final, you've normally got a game a few days later, so you just win it and move on. Celtic breezed past Motherwell Credit: Getty images “And you never want to stop with what you've got. I've been in the first team for seven years and only Broony (Scott Brown) is still here from when I made my debut. “The number of players who have come and gone is scary, but it's gone quite quickly. There have been ups and downs but it's been really enjoyable. “It’s hard to imagine myself playing for any other club. I've been here since I was nine years old so anywhere but Celtic would feel strange. “All my medals are in my flat. I'm not one for framing stuff but it's great to have so many – and the most important one is the next.” Rodgers made six changes to his team with Anderlecht in mind next week Credit: Getty images Forrest was on the bench for the third meeting on the bounce of Celtic and Motherwell. With the Anderlecht tie in mind, Rodgers made no fewer than six changes to the team who drew 1-1 at Fir Park in midweek. One of the incomers, Odsonne Edouard, made an immediate impact with two first half goals and only a very slow offside decision denied Tom Rogic another when he was put clear by Olivier Ntcham just before the break. Elliot Frear reduced the deficit against the run of play in the second half before Forrest arrived as a sub to net Celtic’s third and fifth in the 76th minute, before Odsonne secured his hat-trick from close range.       Elsewhere, there were victories for Kilmarnock at St Johnstone, Dundee away to Ross County and Hibernian against Partick Thistle at Firhill, while Hearts drew at home with Hamilton. Sunday sees attention switch to Pittodrie, where Aberdeen meet Rangers for the second time in four days, the Dons having lost 3-0 at Ibrox on Wednesday. The game will proceed against a background of intense speculation within Scottish football that Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, remains Rangers’ principal target to replace Pedro Caixinha, who was sacked in October and that developments could occur as early as Monday.

Celtic's form has James Forrest dreaming of a European run to rival 2003

James Forrest played for Celtic last time they were in a European final, when the Hoops lost 3-2 to Porto after extra time in Seville in 2003. To be more precise, while Martin O’Neill’s men were edged out of the silverware by a Porto side under the leadership of Jose Mourinho, Forrest was featuring as an 11-year-old for one of the Parkhead club’s boys’ teams. On Tuesday night, however, Celtic can secure European football after Christmas providing that they get any result better than a 4-0 defeat at home to Anderlecht in their final Champions League group match. Brendan Rodgers’ players would then go into the Europa League, a tournament which offers them the chance of progress at that level into the spring of next year. Celtic would require a degree of luck in the draw because although there are no teams of the calibre of Paris Saint-Germain – who have beaten them 5-0 in Glasgow and 7-1 in France in their Champions League group – the Europa League knockout stage will still feature the likes of Arsenal, AC Milan, Lazio, Diamo Kiev, Olympique Marseille and Villareal. Still, Hoops fans nourish hope of a campaign that would rekindle memories of the adventures of their 2003 side, who prevailed against Blackburn Rovers, Celta Vigo, Stuttgart, Liverpool and Boavista to reach the final, to which they were followed by an estimated 80,000 supporters, fewer than half of whom had tickets for the match. “It was a memorable year, a special season,” said Forrest. “They did really well, they got on a run, but back then, they were probably just taking it a game at time. I don't think they would have predicted that they would get to the final. Celtic's players trudge off after defeat in the 2003 Uefa Cup final Credit: REx feautures “We’re the same. I don't think anybody has really thought about the Europa League. At the start of the season the goal was to get into the Champions League and we wanted to be in Europe after Christmas. “Now we’re coming to the last Champions League game at home at Celtic Park and we want to make sure we have a good result and a positive performance and take it from there, game by game.” Forrest has enjoyed a buoyant campaign so far. Never a prolific scorer, his most productive season was 2011-12, when he netted nine times in 43 appearances. This time around he is on 10 goals from 32 outings and his strike for the opener in last Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final helped ensure him a 12th medal to show for his nine years at the club. “I’ve matched Bobby Lennox now by scoring in three League Cup Finals, which is great,” said the 26-year-old. “But I don't sit and count the medals. At Celtic, when you play in a final, you've normally got a game a few days later, so you just win it and move on. Celtic breezed past Motherwell Credit: Getty images “And you never want to stop with what you've got. I've been in the first team for seven years and only Broony (Scott Brown) is still here from when I made my debut. “The number of players who have come and gone is scary, but it's gone quite quickly. There have been ups and downs but it's been really enjoyable. “It’s hard to imagine myself playing for any other club. I've been here since I was nine years old so anywhere but Celtic would feel strange. “All my medals are in my flat. I'm not one for framing stuff but it's great to have so many – and the most important one is the next.” Rodgers made six changes to his team with Anderlecht in mind next week Credit: Getty images Forrest was on the bench for the third meeting on the bounce of Celtic and Motherwell. With the Anderlecht tie in mind, Rodgers made no fewer than six changes to the team who drew 1-1 at Fir Park in midweek. One of the incomers, Odsonne Edouard, made an immediate impact with two first half goals and only a very slow offside decision denied Tom Rogic another when he was put clear by Olivier Ntcham just before the break. Elliot Frear reduced the deficit against the run of play in the second half before Forrest arrived as a sub to net Celtic’s third and fifth in the 76th minute, before Odsonne secured his hat-trick from close range.       Elsewhere, there were victories for Kilmarnock at St Johnstone, Dundee away to Ross County and Hibernian against Partick Thistle at Firhill, while Hearts drew at home with Hamilton. Sunday sees attention switch to Pittodrie, where Aberdeen meet Rangers for the second time in four days, the Dons having lost 3-0 at Ibrox on Wednesday. The game will proceed against a background of intense speculation within Scottish football that Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, remains Rangers’ principal target to replace Pedro Caixinha, who was sacked in October and that developments could occur as early as Monday.

Celtic's form has James Forrest dreaming of a European run to rival 2003

James Forrest played for Celtic last time they were in a European final, when the Hoops lost 3-2 to Porto after extra time in Seville in 2003. To be more precise, while Martin O’Neill’s men were edged out of the silverware by a Porto side under the leadership of Jose Mourinho, Forrest was featuring as an 11-year-old for one of the Parkhead club’s boys’ teams. On Tuesday night, however, Celtic can secure European football after Christmas providing that they get any result better than a 4-0 defeat at home to Anderlecht in their final Champions League group match. Brendan Rodgers’ players would then go into the Europa League, a tournament which offers them the chance of progress at that level into the spring of next year. Celtic would require a degree of luck in the draw because although there are no teams of the calibre of Paris Saint-Germain – who have beaten them 5-0 in Glasgow and 7-1 in France in their Champions League group – the Europa League knockout stage will still feature the likes of Arsenal, AC Milan, Lazio, Diamo Kiev, Olympique Marseille and Villareal. Still, Hoops fans nourish hope of a campaign that would rekindle memories of the adventures of their 2003 side, who prevailed against Blackburn Rovers, Celta Vigo, Stuttgart, Liverpool and Boavista to reach the final, to which they were followed by an estimated 80,000 supporters, fewer than half of whom had tickets for the match. “It was a memorable year, a special season,” said Forrest. “They did really well, they got on a run, but back then, they were probably just taking it a game at time. I don't think they would have predicted that they would get to the final. Celtic's players trudge off after defeat in the 2003 Uefa Cup final Credit: REx feautures “We’re the same. I don't think anybody has really thought about the Europa League. At the start of the season the goal was to get into the Champions League and we wanted to be in Europe after Christmas. “Now we’re coming to the last Champions League game at home at Celtic Park and we want to make sure we have a good result and a positive performance and take it from there, game by game.” Forrest has enjoyed a buoyant campaign so far. Never a prolific scorer, his most productive season was 2011-12, when he netted nine times in 43 appearances. This time around he is on 10 goals from 32 outings and his strike for the opener in last Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final helped ensure him a 12th medal to show for his nine years at the club. “I’ve matched Bobby Lennox now by scoring in three League Cup Finals, which is great,” said the 26-year-old. “But I don't sit and count the medals. At Celtic, when you play in a final, you've normally got a game a few days later, so you just win it and move on. Celtic breezed past Motherwell Credit: Getty images “And you never want to stop with what you've got. I've been in the first team for seven years and only Broony (Scott Brown) is still here from when I made my debut. “The number of players who have come and gone is scary, but it's gone quite quickly. There have been ups and downs but it's been really enjoyable. “It’s hard to imagine myself playing for any other club. I've been here since I was nine years old so anywhere but Celtic would feel strange. “All my medals are in my flat. I'm not one for framing stuff but it's great to have so many – and the most important one is the next.” Rodgers made six changes to his team with Anderlecht in mind next week Credit: Getty images Forrest was on the bench for the third meeting on the bounce of Celtic and Motherwell. With the Anderlecht tie in mind, Rodgers made no fewer than six changes to the team who drew 1-1 at Fir Park in midweek. One of the incomers, Odsonne Edouard, made an immediate impact with two first half goals and only a very slow offside decision denied Tom Rogic another when he was put clear by Olivier Ntcham just before the break. Elliot Frear reduced the deficit against the run of play in the second half before Forrest arrived as a sub to net Celtic’s third and fifth in the 76th minute, before Odsonne secured his hat-trick from close range.       Elsewhere, there were victories for Kilmarnock at St Johnstone, Dundee away to Ross County and Hibernian against Partick Thistle at Firhill, while Hearts drew at home with Hamilton. Sunday sees attention switch to Pittodrie, where Aberdeen meet Rangers for the second time in four days, the Dons having lost 3-0 at Ibrox on Wednesday. The game will proceed against a background of intense speculation within Scottish football that Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, remains Rangers’ principal target to replace Pedro Caixinha, who was sacked in October and that developments could occur as early as Monday.

Celtic's form has James Forrest dreaming of a European run to rival 2003

James Forrest played for Celtic last time they were in a European final, when the Hoops lost 3-2 to Porto after extra time in Seville in 2003. To be more precise, while Martin O’Neill’s men were edged out of the silverware by a Porto side under the leadership of Jose Mourinho, Forrest was featuring as an 11-year-old for one of the Parkhead club’s boys’ teams. On Tuesday night, however, Celtic can secure European football after Christmas providing that they get any result better than a 4-0 defeat at home to Anderlecht in their final Champions League group match. Brendan Rodgers’ players would then go into the Europa League, a tournament which offers them the chance of progress at that level into the spring of next year. Celtic would require a degree of luck in the draw because although there are no teams of the calibre of Paris Saint-Germain – who have beaten them 5-0 in Glasgow and 7-1 in France in their Champions League group – the Europa League knockout stage will still feature the likes of Arsenal, AC Milan, Lazio, Diamo Kiev, Olympique Marseille and Villareal. Still, Hoops fans nourish hope of a campaign that would rekindle memories of the adventures of their 2003 side, who prevailed against Blackburn Rovers, Celta Vigo, Stuttgart, Liverpool and Boavista to reach the final, to which they were followed by an estimated 80,000 supporters, fewer than half of whom had tickets for the match. “It was a memorable year, a special season,” said Forrest. “They did really well, they got on a run, but back then, they were probably just taking it a game at time. I don't think they would have predicted that they would get to the final. Celtic's players trudge off after defeat in the 2003 Uefa Cup final Credit: REx feautures “We’re the same. I don't think anybody has really thought about the Europa League. At the start of the season the goal was to get into the Champions League and we wanted to be in Europe after Christmas. “Now we’re coming to the last Champions League game at home at Celtic Park and we want to make sure we have a good result and a positive performance and take it from there, game by game.” Forrest has enjoyed a buoyant campaign so far. Never a prolific scorer, his most productive season was 2011-12, when he netted nine times in 43 appearances. This time around he is on 10 goals from 32 outings and his strike for the opener in last Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final helped ensure him a 12th medal to show for his nine years at the club. “I’ve matched Bobby Lennox now by scoring in three League Cup Finals, which is great,” said the 26-year-old. “But I don't sit and count the medals. At Celtic, when you play in a final, you've normally got a game a few days later, so you just win it and move on. Celtic breezed past Motherwell Credit: Getty images “And you never want to stop with what you've got. I've been in the first team for seven years and only Broony (Scott Brown) is still here from when I made my debut. “The number of players who have come and gone is scary, but it's gone quite quickly. There have been ups and downs but it's been really enjoyable. “It’s hard to imagine myself playing for any other club. I've been here since I was nine years old so anywhere but Celtic would feel strange. “All my medals are in my flat. I'm not one for framing stuff but it's great to have so many – and the most important one is the next.” Rodgers made six changes to his team with Anderlecht in mind next week Credit: Getty images Forrest was on the bench for the third meeting on the bounce of Celtic and Motherwell. With the Anderlecht tie in mind, Rodgers made no fewer than six changes to the team who drew 1-1 at Fir Park in midweek. One of the incomers, Odsonne Edouard, made an immediate impact with two first half goals and only a very slow offside decision denied Tom Rogic another when he was put clear by Olivier Ntcham just before the break. Elliot Frear reduced the deficit against the run of play in the second half before Forrest arrived as a sub to net Celtic’s third and fifth in the 76th minute, before Odsonne secured his hat-trick from close range.       Elsewhere, there were victories for Kilmarnock at St Johnstone, Dundee away to Ross County and Hibernian against Partick Thistle at Firhill, while Hearts drew at home with Hamilton. Sunday sees attention switch to Pittodrie, where Aberdeen meet Rangers for the second time in four days, the Dons having lost 3-0 at Ibrox on Wednesday. The game will proceed against a background of intense speculation within Scottish football that Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, remains Rangers’ principal target to replace Pedro Caixinha, who was sacked in October and that developments could occur as early as Monday.

Graeme Murty fears Celtic will stretch gap on Rangers further if they don't get appointment right

As the Rangers directors search for their third manager in 2017, they must get this appointment right or be compelled to watch Celtic go unchallenged for the foreseeable future. The warning was issued by Graeme Murty, who is acting as interim manager for the second time this year, first after Mark Warburton departed last February, then following Pedro Caixinha's dismissal last month. The Ibrox board have been criticised by fans and pundits for the time taken to identify the next manager and will be questioned about the process at the club’s annual general meeting in Glasgow tomorrow. Murty, however, proposed that the exercise had to be thorough, in view of the potential consequences. “The last thing we want is for the other guys across town to get further away from us. We want to close the gap,” he said. “We want to get in to European football regularly. If we get the next five years right, this club is a massive club, an epic name. Pedro Caixinha was sacked last month Credit: PA “We want to get it back to where it deserves to be. This is the key signing for the next three years at the football club. “If it takes a couple of weeks more than the fans would like, to make sure we move forward, then I would ask them for a bit of understanding. I know people want things sorted out and I know they want a resolution now, but the correct resolution would be better for the football club than a hasty one.” Murty’s immediate task, however, is to prevent defeats at home to Hamilton and away to Dundee being extended in the double-header against Aberdeen, tonight at Ibrox and on Sunday at Pittodrie. Rangers are already nine points behind Celtic, six adrift of Aberdeen and two points short of Hibernian. Another two losses would greatly shrink their chances of finishing midway between Celtic and Aberdeen – the target set out by the Rangers chairman, Dave King, when Caixinha was appointed in March. “I asked the players, ‘How do you want to be perceived? As winners?’,” Murty said. “Then they have to go out and do it and grasp that opportunity because that opportunity won’t stay there for very long.” Miller says Rangers' situation looks a bit of a mess Credit: PA Kenny Miller echoed Murty’s sentiments. “We’re not the only club in Britain that is taking a month to find a manager – there are others in the same boat,” the veteran striker said. “These things do take time but we haven’t won football matches, and there has been massive inconsistency in our performances and results, as well as the fact that we don’t have a manager. “When you throw it all into the one pot it looks a bit of a mess. There is not a better way to respond than winning a double-header against Aberdeen.” It is widely believed that the Rangers dressing room is split, with Caixinha’s summer signings struggling to meet expectations and now further adrift after the departure of the Portuguese coach. “This is a place where you can either sink or swim,” said Miller. “You find out a lot about yourself and your team-mates when you’re faced with that kind of adversity and scrutiny. “Over the course of the years we have had more players than not who are able to deal with it. “We’re four or five months into a season with a new group which has lots of different nationalities and cultures but there is no honeymoon period here. You need to hit the ground running.” Miller’s relationship with Caixinha was fraught and the striker was omitted from the squad in the weeks before the manager’s sacking, amid allegations that the player had leaked details of a dressing room row after Rangers’ defeat by Celtic in September. “I’ve not spoken about it publicly and I’m not going to go into any detail,” Miller said. “It was really frustrating around that time because of everything surrounding the issue – an absolute load of nonsense was going on. Whether there were other agendas going on behind the scenes, I don’t know, but only one man could have answered the question – and cleared things up – and that wasn’t me. “There were absolutely malicious things going about – nonsense and defamatory towards me and my character.”  Kenny Miller was speaking in support of the Rainbow Laces campaign, which also has the backing of the SPFL, to make sporting environments more inclusive for LGBT fans and players by raising awareness of anti-LGBT abuse. He said: “It’s great to see this initiative in football and I’m delighted that SPFL clubs are getting behind the campaign.  “I will be wearing the laces with pride at the match against Aberdeen tomorrow.  We want all fans to feel welcome and included at our games.” 

Graeme Murty fears Celtic will stretch gap on Rangers further if they don't get appointment right

As the Rangers directors search for their third manager in 2017, they must get this appointment right or be compelled to watch Celtic go unchallenged for the foreseeable future. The warning was issued by Graeme Murty, who is acting as interim manager for the second time this year, first after Mark Warburton departed last February, then following Pedro Caixinha's dismissal last month. The Ibrox board have been criticised by fans and pundits for the time taken to identify the next manager and will be questioned about the process at the club’s annual general meeting in Glasgow tomorrow. Murty, however, proposed that the exercise had to be thorough, in view of the potential consequences. “The last thing we want is for the other guys across town to get further away from us. We want to close the gap,” he said. “We want to get in to European football regularly. If we get the next five years right, this club is a massive club, an epic name. Pedro Caixinha was sacked last month Credit: PA “We want to get it back to where it deserves to be. This is the key signing for the next three years at the football club. “If it takes a couple of weeks more than the fans would like, to make sure we move forward, then I would ask them for a bit of understanding. I know people want things sorted out and I know they want a resolution now, but the correct resolution would be better for the football club than a hasty one.” Murty’s immediate task, however, is to prevent defeats at home to Hamilton and away to Dundee being extended in the double-header against Aberdeen, tonight at Ibrox and on Sunday at Pittodrie. Rangers are already nine points behind Celtic, six adrift of Aberdeen and two points short of Hibernian. Another two losses would greatly shrink their chances of finishing midway between Celtic and Aberdeen – the target set out by the Rangers chairman, Dave King, when Caixinha was appointed in March. “I asked the players, ‘How do you want to be perceived? As winners?’,” Murty said. “Then they have to go out and do it and grasp that opportunity because that opportunity won’t stay there for very long.” Miller says Rangers' situation looks a bit of a mess Credit: PA Kenny Miller echoed Murty’s sentiments. “We’re not the only club in Britain that is taking a month to find a manager – there are others in the same boat,” the veteran striker said. “These things do take time but we haven’t won football matches, and there has been massive inconsistency in our performances and results, as well as the fact that we don’t have a manager. “When you throw it all into the one pot it looks a bit of a mess. There is not a better way to respond than winning a double-header against Aberdeen.” It is widely believed that the Rangers dressing room is split, with Caixinha’s summer signings struggling to meet expectations and now further adrift after the departure of the Portuguese coach. “This is a place where you can either sink or swim,” said Miller. “You find out a lot about yourself and your team-mates when you’re faced with that kind of adversity and scrutiny. “Over the course of the years we have had more players than not who are able to deal with it. “We’re four or five months into a season with a new group which has lots of different nationalities and cultures but there is no honeymoon period here. You need to hit the ground running.” Miller’s relationship with Caixinha was fraught and the striker was omitted from the squad in the weeks before the manager’s sacking, amid allegations that the player had leaked details of a dressing room row after Rangers’ defeat by Celtic in September. “I’ve not spoken about it publicly and I’m not going to go into any detail,” Miller said. “It was really frustrating around that time because of everything surrounding the issue – an absolute load of nonsense was going on. Whether there were other agendas going on behind the scenes, I don’t know, but only one man could have answered the question – and cleared things up – and that wasn’t me. “There were absolutely malicious things going about – nonsense and defamatory towards me and my character.”  Kenny Miller was speaking in support of the Rainbow Laces campaign, which also has the backing of the SPFL, to make sporting environments more inclusive for LGBT fans and players by raising awareness of anti-LGBT abuse. He said: “It’s great to see this initiative in football and I’m delighted that SPFL clubs are getting behind the campaign.  “I will be wearing the laces with pride at the match against Aberdeen tomorrow.  We want all fans to feel welcome and included at our games.” 

Graeme Murty fears Celtic will stretch gap on Rangers further if they don't get appointment right

As the Rangers directors search for their third manager in 2017, they must get this appointment right or be compelled to watch Celtic go unchallenged for the foreseeable future. The warning was issued by Graeme Murty, who is acting as interim manager for the second time this year, first after Mark Warburton departed last February, then following Pedro Caixinha's dismissal last month. The Ibrox board have been criticised by fans and pundits for the time taken to identify the next manager and will be questioned about the process at the club’s annual general meeting in Glasgow tomorrow. Murty, however, proposed that the exercise had to be thorough, in view of the potential consequences. “The last thing we want is for the other guys across town to get further away from us. We want to close the gap,” he said. “We want to get in to European football regularly. If we get the next five years right, this club is a massive club, an epic name. Pedro Caixinha was sacked last month Credit: PA “We want to get it back to where it deserves to be. This is the key signing for the next three years at the football club. “If it takes a couple of weeks more than the fans would like, to make sure we move forward, then I would ask them for a bit of understanding. I know people want things sorted out and I know they want a resolution now, but the correct resolution would be better for the football club than a hasty one.” Murty’s immediate task, however, is to prevent defeats at home to Hamilton and away to Dundee being extended in the double-header against Aberdeen, tonight at Ibrox and on Sunday at Pittodrie. Rangers are already nine points behind Celtic, six adrift of Aberdeen and two points short of Hibernian. Another two losses would greatly shrink their chances of finishing midway between Celtic and Aberdeen – the target set out by the Rangers chairman, Dave King, when Caixinha was appointed in March. “I asked the players, ‘How do you want to be perceived? As winners?’,” Murty said. “Then they have to go out and do it and grasp that opportunity because that opportunity won’t stay there for very long.” Miller says Rangers' situation looks a bit of a mess Credit: PA Kenny Miller echoed Murty’s sentiments. “We’re not the only club in Britain that is taking a month to find a manager – there are others in the same boat,” the veteran striker said. “These things do take time but we haven’t won football matches, and there has been massive inconsistency in our performances and results, as well as the fact that we don’t have a manager. “When you throw it all into the one pot it looks a bit of a mess. There is not a better way to respond than winning a double-header against Aberdeen.” It is widely believed that the Rangers dressing room is split, with Caixinha’s summer signings struggling to meet expectations and now further adrift after the departure of the Portuguese coach. “This is a place where you can either sink or swim,” said Miller. “You find out a lot about yourself and your team-mates when you’re faced with that kind of adversity and scrutiny. “Over the course of the years we have had more players than not who are able to deal with it. “We’re four or five months into a season with a new group which has lots of different nationalities and cultures but there is no honeymoon period here. You need to hit the ground running.” Miller’s relationship with Caixinha was fraught and the striker was omitted from the squad in the weeks before the manager’s sacking, amid allegations that the player had leaked details of a dressing room row after Rangers’ defeat by Celtic in September. “I’ve not spoken about it publicly and I’m not going to go into any detail,” Miller said. “It was really frustrating around that time because of everything surrounding the issue – an absolute load of nonsense was going on. Whether there were other agendas going on behind the scenes, I don’t know, but only one man could have answered the question – and cleared things up – and that wasn’t me. “There were absolutely malicious things going about – nonsense and defamatory towards me and my character.”  Kenny Miller was speaking in support of the Rainbow Laces campaign, which also has the backing of the SPFL, to make sporting environments more inclusive for LGBT fans and players by raising awareness of anti-LGBT abuse. He said: “It’s great to see this initiative in football and I’m delighted that SPFL clubs are getting behind the campaign.  “I will be wearing the laces with pride at the match against Aberdeen tomorrow.  We want all fans to feel welcome and included at our games.” 

Celtic's Scott Sinclair ready to put critics to bed as he prepares for Scottish League Cup final 

Scott Sinclair has been learning on the double about the game north of the border this season, a surprising admission from the Celtic winger who was voted Scotland’s player of the year by his fellow professionals and also the Scottish Football Writers’ Association last time out. A widespread feeling that Sinclair’s form has shaded is, however, not shared by the 28-year-old from Bath. What has changed following his much-lauded performances in Celtic’s treble-winning season is that opposing clubs have attempted to insure themselves against his depredations from the left flank. “People can talk about me having lost my form but it’s not the case,” he said, ahead of Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final meeting with Motherwell at Hampden Park. “My form is there but I just feel like I have two players on me in every game. Defenders are doubling up on me. That wasn’t happening last season. I’m getting a player standing next to me for the whole game, doing nothing. “They are making it much harder for me to get on the ball. I’ve got to come up with different things to go forward, create and score goals. I’ve been doing so. The stats are still not too bad but it’s up to me to make more happen.” Brendan Rodgers' Celtic left France looking dejected after a thrashing from Paris Saint-Germain  Credit: Getty Images  The stats are indeed respectable, despite Sinclair’s changed circumstances. Last season he scored 25 goals in 50 club appearances and in the current campaign his return is only just below the 50 per cent mark, with 11 goals from 24 outings. Despite having constant company for 90 minutes at a time, Sinclair’s is a solitary role, though he admits to wishing that there was the possibility of an exchange of remarks, however desultory, with his markers. “No one talks to me! Sometimes I want to but I’m so focused when I go on the pitch that I don’t have time to have a laugh and a joke,” he said. “I come away from the game and talk to my friends and talk about how the defender literally goes everywhere with me. I could go right back and he’d follow me, even if I was in goal. “I’m always focused and there will always be one moment. He might man-mark me for 89 minutes and then I’ll get away from him and get the goal.” Sinclair was an unused substitute for the Champions League encounter with Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital on Wednesday night, prompting the notion that he and Stuart Armstrong – another who did not come off the bench – were being held back for Sunday’s occasion. Whatever the reason, there is a case for saying that Sinclair dodged a bullet – or rather, a hail of them – as the tournament favourites followed up their 5-0 win in Glasgow in September with a 7-1 battering  in midweek. Sinclair admits to needing more creativity this season after finding himself picked out by defenders  Credit: Getty Images  Sinclair, though, suggested that inclusion in the starting line-up would have been an educational experience. “Yeah, we were playing one of the best teams – they’ll be right up there to win the whole competition, so it’s for us to learn from the best as a team and as individuals. “I’d say they were better than Barcelona. The way they attack with so much pace, the finishing was so clinical – every time they shot it hit the back of the net. “The manager pulled me the day before the game in midweek and said 'Look, I’m going to keep you out of this one.’ Obviously, you want to play in the Champions League and in any game, for that matter.” Indeed, Sunday’s final offers Sinclair the chance to remedy one of his few disappointments last season because, although he played in every tie in the Betfred Scottish League Cup until the final against Aberdeen, he missed the showpiece occasion because of injury. “I went to the game but to miss a final, you’re devastated,” Sinclair said. “It would have been my first cup final with the club as well, but that’s behind me now and I’m just looking forward to this one. I managed to get a medal. When you play every game leading up to the final, you feel part of the victory and I think you deserve the medal, even if you miss the final. “The manager pulled me afterwards and gave me a medal. I’ll still feel like I earned one more this year if I play and we can win, though.” Elsewhere, there were only two games in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday. Hamilton continued their recent impressive form by holding Hibernian to a 1-1 draw, Antonio Rojano’s second-half strike equalising Simon Murray’s first-half opener, while Hearts and Ross County finished 0-0.

Celtic's Scott Sinclair ready to put critics to bed as he prepares for Scottish League Cup final 

Scott Sinclair has been learning on the double about the game north of the border this season, a surprising admission from the Celtic winger who was voted Scotland’s player of the year by his fellow professionals and also the Scottish Football Writers’ Association last time out. A widespread feeling that Sinclair’s form has shaded is, however, not shared by the 28-year-old from Bath. What has changed following his much-lauded performances in Celtic’s treble-winning season is that opposing clubs have attempted to insure themselves against his depredations from the left flank. “People can talk about me having lost my form but it’s not the case,” he said, ahead of Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final meeting with Motherwell at Hampden Park. “My form is there but I just feel like I have two players on me in every game. Defenders are doubling up on me. That wasn’t happening last season. I’m getting a player standing next to me for the whole game, doing nothing. “They are making it much harder for me to get on the ball. I’ve got to come up with different things to go forward, create and score goals. I’ve been doing so. The stats are still not too bad but it’s up to me to make more happen.” Brendan Rodgers' Celtic left France looking dejected after a thrashing from Paris Saint-Germain  Credit: Getty Images  The stats are indeed respectable, despite Sinclair’s changed circumstances. Last season he scored 25 goals in 50 club appearances and in the current campaign his return is only just below the 50 per cent mark, with 11 goals from 24 outings. Despite having constant company for 90 minutes at a time, Sinclair’s is a solitary role, though he admits to wishing that there was the possibility of an exchange of remarks, however desultory, with his markers. “No one talks to me! Sometimes I want to but I’m so focused when I go on the pitch that I don’t have time to have a laugh and a joke,” he said. “I come away from the game and talk to my friends and talk about how the defender literally goes everywhere with me. I could go right back and he’d follow me, even if I was in goal. “I’m always focused and there will always be one moment. He might man-mark me for 89 minutes and then I’ll get away from him and get the goal.” Sinclair was an unused substitute for the Champions League encounter with Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital on Wednesday night, prompting the notion that he and Stuart Armstrong – another who did not come off the bench – were being held back for Sunday’s occasion. Whatever the reason, there is a case for saying that Sinclair dodged a bullet – or rather, a hail of them – as the tournament favourites followed up their 5-0 win in Glasgow in September with a 7-1 battering  in midweek. Sinclair admits to needing more creativity this season after finding himself picked out by defenders  Credit: Getty Images  Sinclair, though, suggested that inclusion in the starting line-up would have been an educational experience. “Yeah, we were playing one of the best teams – they’ll be right up there to win the whole competition, so it’s for us to learn from the best as a team and as individuals. “I’d say they were better than Barcelona. The way they attack with so much pace, the finishing was so clinical – every time they shot it hit the back of the net. “The manager pulled me the day before the game in midweek and said 'Look, I’m going to keep you out of this one.’ Obviously, you want to play in the Champions League and in any game, for that matter.” Indeed, Sunday’s final offers Sinclair the chance to remedy one of his few disappointments last season because, although he played in every tie in the Betfred Scottish League Cup until the final against Aberdeen, he missed the showpiece occasion because of injury. “I went to the game but to miss a final, you’re devastated,” Sinclair said. “It would have been my first cup final with the club as well, but that’s behind me now and I’m just looking forward to this one. I managed to get a medal. When you play every game leading up to the final, you feel part of the victory and I think you deserve the medal, even if you miss the final. “The manager pulled me afterwards and gave me a medal. I’ll still feel like I earned one more this year if I play and we can win, though.” Elsewhere, there were only two games in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday. Hamilton continued their recent impressive form by holding Hibernian to a 1-1 draw, Antonio Rojano’s second-half strike equalising Simon Murray’s first-half opener, while Hearts and Ross County finished 0-0.

Celtic's Scott Sinclair ready to put critics to bed as he prepares for Scottish League Cup final 

Scott Sinclair has been learning on the double about the game north of the border this season, a surprising admission from the Celtic winger who was voted Scotland’s player of the year by his fellow professionals and also the Scottish Football Writers’ Association last time out. A widespread feeling that Sinclair’s form has shaded is, however, not shared by the 28-year-old from Bath. What has changed following his much-lauded performances in Celtic’s treble-winning season is that opposing clubs have attempted to insure themselves against his depredations from the left flank. “People can talk about me having lost my form but it’s not the case,” he said, ahead of Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final meeting with Motherwell at Hampden Park. “My form is there but I just feel like I have two players on me in every game. Defenders are doubling up on me. That wasn’t happening last season. I’m getting a player standing next to me for the whole game, doing nothing. “They are making it much harder for me to get on the ball. I’ve got to come up with different things to go forward, create and score goals. I’ve been doing so. The stats are still not too bad but it’s up to me to make more happen.” Brendan Rodgers' Celtic left France looking dejected after a thrashing from Paris Saint-Germain  Credit: Getty Images  The stats are indeed respectable, despite Sinclair’s changed circumstances. Last season he scored 25 goals in 50 club appearances and in the current campaign his return is only just below the 50 per cent mark, with 11 goals from 24 outings. Despite having constant company for 90 minutes at a time, Sinclair’s is a solitary role, though he admits to wishing that there was the possibility of an exchange of remarks, however desultory, with his markers. “No one talks to me! Sometimes I want to but I’m so focused when I go on the pitch that I don’t have time to have a laugh and a joke,” he said. “I come away from the game and talk to my friends and talk about how the defender literally goes everywhere with me. I could go right back and he’d follow me, even if I was in goal. “I’m always focused and there will always be one moment. He might man-mark me for 89 minutes and then I’ll get away from him and get the goal.” Sinclair was an unused substitute for the Champions League encounter with Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital on Wednesday night, prompting the notion that he and Stuart Armstrong – another who did not come off the bench – were being held back for Sunday’s occasion. Whatever the reason, there is a case for saying that Sinclair dodged a bullet – or rather, a hail of them – as the tournament favourites followed up their 5-0 win in Glasgow in September with a 7-1 battering  in midweek. Sinclair admits to needing more creativity this season after finding himself picked out by defenders  Credit: Getty Images  Sinclair, though, suggested that inclusion in the starting line-up would have been an educational experience. “Yeah, we were playing one of the best teams – they’ll be right up there to win the whole competition, so it’s for us to learn from the best as a team and as individuals. “I’d say they were better than Barcelona. The way they attack with so much pace, the finishing was so clinical – every time they shot it hit the back of the net. “The manager pulled me the day before the game in midweek and said 'Look, I’m going to keep you out of this one.’ Obviously, you want to play in the Champions League and in any game, for that matter.” Indeed, Sunday’s final offers Sinclair the chance to remedy one of his few disappointments last season because, although he played in every tie in the Betfred Scottish League Cup until the final against Aberdeen, he missed the showpiece occasion because of injury. “I went to the game but to miss a final, you’re devastated,” Sinclair said. “It would have been my first cup final with the club as well, but that’s behind me now and I’m just looking forward to this one. I managed to get a medal. When you play every game leading up to the final, you feel part of the victory and I think you deserve the medal, even if you miss the final. “The manager pulled me afterwards and gave me a medal. I’ll still feel like I earned one more this year if I play and we can win, though.” Elsewhere, there were only two games in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday. Hamilton continued their recent impressive form by holding Hibernian to a 1-1 draw, Antonio Rojano’s second-half strike equalising Simon Murray’s first-half opener, while Hearts and Ross County finished 0-0.

Celtic midfielder Nir Bitton takes step back into defence ahead of ultimate test against PSG in Champions League

Nir Bitton was not called upon to endure the painful experience of facing Paris St-Germain when they inflicted a 5-0 home defeat on Celtic in the Champions League group stage tie in September but on Wednesday he could be called upon to stand against the fearsome trio of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappé when the teams meet again in the French capital. That prospect is not lightened by the fact that Bitton has been operating as a makeshift centre-back, a role that has seen him draw fire from critics who regard the Israel international midfielder as a risk at the heart of the back line. He was allotted the task because of injuries to Jozo Simunovic and Erik Sviatchenko, both of whom are now back in training. The Celtic manager, Brendan Rodgers, however, praised Bitton after his side's 1-0 win against Ross County in Dingwall on Saturday, when he said: “This guy gets slated for not being a centre-half, but I haven’t seen one better outside of Celtic [in the SPFL].” When Rodgers’ comment was subsequently relayed to Bitton, the 26-year-old grinned. “I told you a few weeks ago I’m a £50 million player,” he said. “No, I am trying to do my best and still trying to learn the position. “I don’t know if you see it but Dedryck Boyata is talking to me all through the game. I don’t know if he has lost his voice by now. He is trying to help and guide me. “I haven’t played centre midfield for a long time now. If the gaffer thinks I deserve to play centre back, that’s what I will do. If he thinks I should play as goalkeeper, that’s what I will do. I am enjoying it, I am enjoying my football and winning and I am just trying to keep that going.” Beating Spurs is Arsenal's Cup final 39:00 Recent performances have revealed a more assertive streak to Bitton in his newly-acquired incarnation. “I don’t know if it’s more aggression but as a centre-back you need to jump, you need to be strong, you need to press the strikers,” he said. “For football players it’s all about confidence. When you get confidence from the manager and from the players around you, you can do things you didn’t do before, but it’s still an early stage for me as a centre-back and I’m still trying to learn the position. I’m trying to be better and there are a lot of things to do.” Should Bitton be called upon to go in against the might of the PSG front three, he will have no illusions about the magnitude of the task. “In every respect Wednesday is going to be different conditions from the game at Ross County – very different players and maybe the best front three in the world right now. “You just need to face it and you just need to enjoy it as much as you can. Everybody knows that PSG are better than Celtic but we need to compete and show that we deserve to play at this level and hopefully we will do that. “When you play against Neymar, Mbappé, Cavani – it doesn’t matter who plays there – you need to make no mistakes and compete and, if we do that, hopefully Wednesday will be another kind of game. With Aberdeen held to a home draw by Motherwell and Rangers and Hibernian losing at home to Hamilton Academical and St Johnstone respectively, Celtic are now six points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership ahead of next Sunday’s meeting with Motherwell in the Betfred Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park.

Brendan Rodgers looks to January transfer window in preparation for busy summer

The World Cup and Champions League will combine to give Brendan Rodgers a headache next summer when the Celtic manager must address the overlap of two competitions involving his players. Tom Rogic, Cristian Gamboa and Mikael Lustig are set to be at the World Cup finals with Australia, Costa Rica and Sweden respectively, while Erik Sviatchenko could also be in Russia with Denmark if he regains a place in the squad after his injury lay-off. The finals get under way on June 14 and end on July 15, but changes to the Champions League qualifying process mean that Celtic are likely to be involved in that tournament’s first round on July 10 or 11, and Rodgers has to ensure he has resources at right-back, where both Lustig and Gamboa play. “It is the way it is,” he said. “We have to prepare for that in the next window to ensure we’re covered. Gambo and Lustig are both right-sided defensive players, so that’s going to be a key area because we don’t want to be short. “We will manage our schedule accordingly. We do have Tony Ralston who is here and so I think we cover, but it is an area we need to consider going through the summer. “We have been short in certain areas over the last two summers, so January is a bid window for us if we feel we need to do something. “It [the Champions League schedule] is punishing to say the least, with eight games in as many weeks. Normally, you get a wee breather in there. There are the other games you need to play to get fit, and the league might be up and running, so it’s certainly not made any easier for the team which is trying to qualify.” Lustiq is expected to be in the Sweden squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia Credit: Getty Images In the meantime, World Cup qualification for the lucky trio has had a positive knock-on effect, according to Rodgers. “I think there is a real good-feel factor there. Everyone is happy for them,” he said. “You would have seen Mikael’s celebrations in the week, and he’s come back full of enthusiasm. That’s contagious, and it goes around the group. “Tom Rogic? God, if anybody deserves to be at the World Cup it’s him, given how far he’s had to travel – constantly all around tKhe world. Cristian Gamboa will be there as well, and if Erik Sviatchenko gets into Danish squad the second part of the season, then there’s a chance for him as well.” Celtic, of course, have immediate business in this season’s Champions League when they meet Paris Saint-Germain in Paris on Wednesday. The Scottish champions cannot make the knockout stage but remain favourites to claim the Europa League spot ahead of Anderlecht and, although they lost 2-1 at home to Bayern Munich in their previous outing, Rodgers saw improvement in his players’ performance. “We performed very well in that game but didn’t get the result, so we can learn from that,” he said. “There were lots of great moments in that game, but our frustration was that from when we scored, there were three minutes till they went ahead again and what’s so important in the 10 minutes after you score is you keep the ball as much as you can. That was our only downfall. We gave everything in the game. We defended well, we came from being behind and got level and with 15 minutes to go, we have a great chance of getting a result. But after we scored, we gave the ball away three times and didn’t press as hard as we normally would. “Then all of a sudden, you are 2-1 behind, so that’s typical of the lessons that we are finding out all the time. At this level, it’s not so much about the possession you have, it’s about dangerous possession. “Can you show the personality and confidence to show you belong on that stage? These teams, PSG and Bayern Munich, are expected to go all the way in the competition. “So realistically, it is tough for us. The question on Wednesday is can we play our game and improve?” Celtic were in Dingwall for yesterday’s lunchtime meeting with Ross County, seeking a 64th successive domestic fixture unbeaten. Although they were dominant from first to last, the Scottish Premiership leaders had to wait until the 75th minute to secure their victory when Leigh Griffiths, a late substitute, struck one of his trademark free kicks from 25 yards to beat Aaron McCarey, on the occasion of left-back Kieran Tierney’s 100th appearance for Celtic. A good afternoon for Celtic got even better as the chasing pack were all defeated in the 3pm kick-offs. League Cup finalists Motherwell –who will contest the first silverware of the season against Celtic at Hampden a week today – secured an excellent 2-0 win in Aberdeen with a Louis Moult double. Hibernian were beaten 2-1 at home when Steven MacLean scored for St Johnstone with the last kick of the game. Most surprisingly, Rangers lost at home to Hamilton for the first time in the league for 91 years as goals by David Templeton and Darren Taylor made history at Ibrox. Elsewhere, Dundee and Kilmarnock saw out a 0-0 draw at Dens Park.

Brendan Rodgers looks to January transfer window in preparation for busy summer

The World Cup and Champions League will combine to give Brendan Rodgers a headache next summer when the Celtic manager must address the overlap of two competitions involving his players. Tom Rogic, Cristian Gamboa and Mikael Lustig are set to be at the World Cup finals with Australia, Costa Rica and Sweden respectively, while Erik Sviatchenko could also be in Russia with Denmark if he regains a place in the squad after his injury lay-off. The finals get under way on June 14 and end on July 15, but changes to the Champions League qualifying process mean that Celtic are likely to be involved in that tournament’s first round on July 10 or 11, and Rodgers has to ensure he has resources at right-back, where both Lustig and Gamboa play. “It is the way it is,” he said. “We have to prepare for that in the next window to ensure we’re covered. Gambo and Lustig are both right-sided defensive players, so that’s going to be a key area because we don’t want to be short. “We will manage our schedule accordingly. We do have Tony Ralston who is here and so I think we cover, but it is an area we need to consider going through the summer. “We have been short in certain areas over the last two summers, so January is a bid window for us if we feel we need to do something. “It [the Champions League schedule] is punishing to say the least, with eight games in as many weeks. Normally, you get a wee breather in there. There are the other games you need to play to get fit, and the league might be up and running, so it’s certainly not made any easier for the team which is trying to qualify.” Lustiq is expected to be in the Sweden squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia Credit: Getty Images In the meantime, World Cup qualification for the lucky trio has had a positive knock-on effect, according to Rodgers. “I think there is a real good-feel factor there. Everyone is happy for them,” he said. “You would have seen Mikael’s celebrations in the week, and he’s come back full of enthusiasm. That’s contagious, and it goes around the group. “Tom Rogic? God, if anybody deserves to be at the World Cup it’s him, given how far he’s had to travel – constantly all around tKhe world. Cristian Gamboa will be there as well, and if Erik Sviatchenko gets into Danish squad the second part of the season, then there’s a chance for him as well.” Celtic, of course, have immediate business in this season’s Champions League when they meet Paris Saint-Germain in Paris on Wednesday. The Scottish champions cannot make the knockout stage but remain favourites to claim the Europa League spot ahead of Anderlecht and, although they lost 2-1 at home to Bayern Munich in their previous outing, Rodgers saw improvement in his players’ performance. “We performed very well in that game but didn’t get the result, so we can learn from that,” he said. “There were lots of great moments in that game, but our frustration was that from when we scored, there were three minutes till they went ahead again and what’s so important in the 10 minutes after you score is you keep the ball as much as you can. That was our only downfall. We gave everything in the game. We defended well, we came from being behind and got level and with 15 minutes to go, we have a great chance of getting a result. But after we scored, we gave the ball away three times and didn’t press as hard as we normally would. “Then all of a sudden, you are 2-1 behind, so that’s typical of the lessons that we are finding out all the time. At this level, it’s not so much about the possession you have, it’s about dangerous possession. “Can you show the personality and confidence to show you belong on that stage? These teams, PSG and Bayern Munich, are expected to go all the way in the competition. “So realistically, it is tough for us. The question on Wednesday is can we play our game and improve?” Celtic were in Dingwall for yesterday’s lunchtime meeting with Ross County, seeking a 64th successive domestic fixture unbeaten. Although they were dominant from first to last, the Scottish Premiership leaders had to wait until the 75th minute to secure their victory when Leigh Griffiths, a late substitute, struck one of his trademark free kicks from 25 yards to beat Aaron McCarey, on the occasion of left-back Kieran Tierney’s 100th appearance for Celtic. A good afternoon for Celtic got even better as the chasing pack were all defeated in the 3pm kick-offs. League Cup finalists Motherwell –who will contest the first silverware of the season against Celtic at Hampden a week today – secured an excellent 2-0 win in Aberdeen with a Louis Moult double. Hibernian were beaten 2-1 at home when Steven MacLean scored for St Johnstone with the last kick of the game. Most surprisingly, Rangers lost at home to Hamilton for the first time in the league for 91 years as goals by David Templeton and Darren Taylor made history at Ibrox. Elsewhere, Dundee and Kilmarnock saw out a 0-0 draw at Dens Park.

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.”

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.

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.

Manchester United and Celtic offer their support for Liam Miller in his battle with cancer  

Manchester United and Celtic have both tweeted their support for Liam Miller and his family after it emerged he was battling cancer. Miller began his career with Celtic before Sir Alex Ferguson brought the Republic of Ireland international to Manchester United in 2004. The 36-year-old has been inundated with messages of support since it was reported he was being treated for cancer in America. "The thoughts of everyone at Manchester United go out to Liam Miller and his loved ones at this difficult time," read a post from the club's official Twitter account. The thoughts of everyone at Manchester United go out to Liam Miller and his loved ones at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/CV2zT3xL6y— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 13, 2017 Miller spent two years at Old Trafford before a three-year spell at Sunderland. After spells with Sunderland, Leeds and QPR, Miller spent four years in the Australian A-League before signing for American third tier side Wilmington Hammerheads last year. Liam Miller in action for Manchester United against Arsenal in 2004 Credit: AP  Tam McManus, who played with Miller at Hibernian wrote: "Awful news about Liam Miller keep the fingers crossed that he somehow pulls through. "Was in the USA for treatment this month and flies back tomorrow to start chemotherapy here. He’s still fighting it. Will say a prayer for him tonight." The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Celtic Football Club are with Liam Miller and his family at this time. pic.twitter.com/qTOq0v937D— Celtic Football Club (@celticfc) November 13, 2017 The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Sunderland AFC are with Liam Miller and his family at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/LDP5u5kSLN— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) November 13, 2017 His former Celtic team-mate John Hartson tweeted his support for the former midfielder on Monday morning. "My thoughts are with Liam Miller and his family this morning. Hope he can get through this difficult time of his life," he wrote. In 2009 Hartson required emergency surgery to treat cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs. He has since set up the John Hartson Foundation to help combat the disease.

Manchester United and Celtic offer their support for Liam Miller in his battle with cancer  

Manchester United and Celtic have both tweeted their support for Liam Miller and his family after it emerged he was battling cancer. Miller began his career with Celtic before Sir Alex Ferguson brought the Republic of Ireland international to Manchester United in 2004. The 36-year-old has been inundated with messages of support since it was reported he was being treated for cancer in America. "The thoughts of everyone at Manchester United go out to Liam Miller and his loved ones at this difficult time," read a post from the club's official Twitter account. The thoughts of everyone at Manchester United go out to Liam Miller and his loved ones at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/CV2zT3xL6y— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 13, 2017 Miller spent two years at Old Trafford before a three-year spell at Sunderland. After spells with Sunderland, Leeds and QPR, Miller spent four years in the Australian A-League before signing for American third tier side Wilmington Hammerheads last year. Liam Miller in action for Manchester United against Arsenal in 2004 Credit: AP  Tam McManus, who played with Miller at Hibernian wrote: "Awful news about Liam Miller keep the fingers crossed that he somehow pulls through. "Was in the USA for treatment this month and flies back tomorrow to start chemotherapy here. He’s still fighting it. Will say a prayer for him tonight." The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Celtic Football Club are with Liam Miller and his family at this time. pic.twitter.com/qTOq0v937D— Celtic Football Club (@celticfc) November 13, 2017 The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Sunderland AFC are with Liam Miller and his family at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/LDP5u5kSLN— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) November 13, 2017 His former Celtic team-mate John Hartson tweeted his support for the former midfielder on Monday morning. "My thoughts are with Liam Miller and his family this morning. Hope he can get through this difficult time of his life," he wrote. In 2009 Hartson required emergency surgery to treat cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs. He has since set up the John Hartson Foundation to help combat the disease.

Celtic make history as 4-0 win over St Johnstone takes unbeaten record to 63

Celtic on Saturday surpassed the century-old UK record for successive unbeaten domestic matches when they extended their sequence to 63 games with a straightforward victory over St Johnstone in Perth, where Scott Sinclair set them on their way to a 4-0 win. By a quixotic twist of fortune, the record that was set against St Johnstone got under way in the aftermath of a 2-1 defeat at McDiarmid Park on May 11, 2016 when Ronny Deila was still in charge in the east end of Glasgow. The Celtic management team have consistently asserted that the accumulation of unbeaten outings has not featured in team talks, but its significance was underlined on this occasion by the selection of the same players who started in Tuesday’s match against Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stage meeting at Parkhead. Saints had no such comfort, having failed to score since their 2-1 home victory over Hamilton Academical on Sept 23. An unfortunate susceptibility to injury contributed to that melancholy record and the casualty list was again a factor, with Tommy Wright forced to operate without Murray Davidson and Brian Easton, while Michael O’Halloran was judged to have only sufficient fitness for a place on the bench. One of those restored to the home side was Steven MacLean, who was swiftly afforded two tantalising glimpses of goal because of hesitancy by Nir Bitton. The Israeli midfielder, acting once more as a stopgap central defender, was ambushed by the Saints striker on the edge of the Celtic box but managed to retrieve possession before damage could be inflicted. Bitton was fortunate again when he let a dropping ball bounce in front of him, but again MacLean was unable to take advantage. The St Johnstone forward nearly made amends with an audacious lob from 40 yards which almost caught Craig Gordon off his line, but the effort went just over the top. Celtic had not displayed much menace despite controlling 75 per cent of possession but they made the breakthrough with a corner kick straight from the training ground with which Stuart Armstrong found Scott Sinclair alone inside the box for a rising shot to net his 11th goal of the campaign. After the break, a header off the line by Aaron Comrie denied Dedryck Boyata what would have been Celtic’s second, but the progression was merely postponed until the 72nd minute, when Moussa Dembele flicked an Armstrong cutback past Zander Clark, before contributing with a cutback of his own which was turned in by Steven Anderson. The rout was completed by Olivier Ntcham with a shot from the edge of the box to make it 4-0. Olivier Ntcham wrapped up the scoring with Celtic's fourth with a minute of normal time remaining Credit: Getty Images Elsewhere, Graeme Murty, Rangers’ caretaker manager and coach of the club’s under-20s, admitted that he had thought about leaving Ibrox if he is not offered the vacant manager’s job. However, Murty, who has been asked by the Rangers directors to take charge of the first team twice this year – first when Mark Warburton left in March and then when Pedro Caixinha departed last month – asserted that he had more to gain from staying in place than by taking a manager’s job at a smaller outfit. “I’ve been thinking about that one for a while - not at the moment,” he said. “I’m in possibly the best learning environment that I’ve been in, personally and professionally. “If the board ask someone else to come in and I was to go back to the under-20s, I wouldn’t think about that. If I was to go back to the under-20s, I have a fantastic project there that I can get my teeth into. “Potentially, that is how we make up ground but, however we do it, the club is structured and geared and driving towards making that gap non-existent. We want to be challenging right at the top and experiencing some fantastic European evenings. “The players have an opportunity. All I see at the moment is potential, and a pathway that is there for them to go and play in the Rangers first-team as a player. If the player is good enough, if they are driven enough, if they are hungry enough, that is what they have to be. “The bottom line is that they won’t get any special dispensation because they are home-grown. They will get special dispensation if they are good, good players.” Murty kept up his good record as interim with Rangers achieving a 3-0 win over Partick Thistle at Ibrox on Saturday that included a first goal for the club for young defender Ross McCrorie. Daniel Candeias and Josh Windass also netted. Hamilton held Aberdeen 2-2, with Hibernian now two points behind Derek McInnes’s side after a 2-1 victory against bottom-placed Dundee. Ross County triumphed 3-2 at home versus Motherwell. 

Celtic make history as 4-0 win over St Johnstone takes unbeaten record to 63

Celtic on Saturday surpassed the century-old UK record for successive unbeaten domestic matches when they extended their sequence to 63 games with a straightforward victory over St Johnstone in Perth, where Scott Sinclair set them on their way to a 4-0 win. By a quixotic twist of fortune, the record that was set against St Johnstone got under way in the aftermath of a 2-1 defeat at McDiarmid Park on May 11, 2016 when Ronny Deila was still in charge in the east end of Glasgow. The Celtic management team have consistently asserted that the accumulation of unbeaten outings has not featured in team talks, but its significance was underlined on this occasion by the selection of the same players who started in Tuesday’s match against Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stage meeting at Parkhead. Saints had no such comfort, having failed to score since their 2-1 home victory over Hamilton Academical on Sept 23. An unfortunate susceptibility to injury contributed to that melancholy record and the casualty list was again a factor, with Tommy Wright forced to operate without Murray Davidson and Brian Easton, while Michael O’Halloran was judged to have only sufficient fitness for a place on the bench. One of those restored to the home side was Steven MacLean, who was swiftly afforded two tantalising glimpses of goal because of hesitancy by Nir Bitton. The Israeli midfielder, acting once more as a stopgap central defender, was ambushed by the Saints striker on the edge of the Celtic box but managed to retrieve possession before damage could be inflicted. Bitton was fortunate again when he let a dropping ball bounce in front of him, but again MacLean was unable to take advantage. The St Johnstone forward nearly made amends with an audacious lob from 40 yards which almost caught Craig Gordon off his line, but the effort went just over the top. Celtic had not displayed much menace despite controlling 75 per cent of possession but they made the breakthrough with a corner kick straight from the training ground with which Stuart Armstrong found Scott Sinclair alone inside the box for a rising shot to net his 11th goal of the campaign. After the break, a header off the line by Aaron Comrie denied Dedryck Boyata what would have been Celtic’s second, but the progression was merely postponed until the 72nd minute, when Moussa Dembele flicked an Armstrong cutback past Zander Clark, before contributing with a cutback of his own which was turned in by Steven Anderson. The rout was completed by Olivier Ntcham with a shot from the edge of the box to make it 4-0. Olivier Ntcham wrapped up the scoring with Celtic's fourth with a minute of normal time remaining Credit: Getty Images Elsewhere, Graeme Murty, Rangers’ caretaker manager and coach of the club’s under-20s, admitted that he had thought about leaving Ibrox if he is not offered the vacant manager’s job. However, Murty, who has been asked by the Rangers directors to take charge of the first team twice this year – first when Mark Warburton left in March and then when Pedro Caixinha departed last month – asserted that he had more to gain from staying in place than by taking a manager’s job at a smaller outfit. “I’ve been thinking about that one for a while - not at the moment,” he said. “I’m in possibly the best learning environment that I’ve been in, personally and professionally. “If the board ask someone else to come in and I was to go back to the under-20s, I wouldn’t think about that. If I was to go back to the under-20s, I have a fantastic project there that I can get my teeth into. “Potentially, that is how we make up ground but, however we do it, the club is structured and geared and driving towards making that gap non-existent. We want to be challenging right at the top and experiencing some fantastic European evenings. “The players have an opportunity. All I see at the moment is potential, and a pathway that is there for them to go and play in the Rangers first-team as a player. If the player is good enough, if they are driven enough, if they are hungry enough, that is what they have to be. “The bottom line is that they won’t get any special dispensation because they are home-grown. They will get special dispensation if they are good, good players.” Murty kept up his good record as interim with Rangers achieving a 3-0 win over Partick Thistle at Ibrox on Saturday that included a first goal for the club for young defender Ross McCrorie. Daniel Candeias and Josh Windass also netted. Hamilton held Aberdeen 2-2, with Hibernian now two points behind Derek McInnes’s side after a 2-1 victory against bottom-placed Dundee. Ross County triumphed 3-2 at home versus Motherwell. 

Hibernian’s Efe Ambrose eyes Super Eagles return

Hibernian’s Efe Ambrose eyes Super Eagles return

Hibernian’s Efe Ambrose eyes Super Eagles return

Hibernian’s Efe Ambrose eyes Super Eagles return

Scottish football round-up: Kenny Miller produces star turn as Rangers end difficult week with win

Kenny Miller directed a taunting retort at Pedro Caixinha by scoring twice and setting up the other goal for Josh Windass in Rangers’ 3-1 victory over Hearts at Murrayfield, a result which delivered a satisfactory end to a tumultuous week for the Ibrox club. It had begun with dismissal from the Betfred Scottish League Cup by Motherwell and continued with a farcical draw at home to Kilmarnock, the result which triggered Caixinha’s sacking.   The Kilmarnock game ended with an equaliser for the Ayrshire side scored by Chris Burke, a former Rangers player. The melancholy catalogue looked as though it would be extended in Edinburgh when another Ibrox employee of bygone days, Kyle Lafferty, put Hearts ahead, but Miller’s interventions scooped all three points for Graeme Murty in his second spell as Rangers’ interim manager. The occasion was replete with serendipity, as in the case of Douglas Ross, one of Craig Thomson’s assistant referees. The Honourable Member for Moray, as he is known in his day job, was criticised for missing the House of Commons vote on Universal Credit in order to run the line at the Champions League group stage tie between Barcelona and Olympiakos in the Nou Camp. It is a unique situation for a Scot to qualify for the finals of a World Cup and then be forced to quit because he is a Tory MP and, perhaps even more remarkable, for him to be the object of greater abuse for a political no-show than for decisions taken by the side of the pitch. Miller reels away after scoring for Rangers Credit: PA Prior to kick-off, the Scottish Rugby Union made a media presentation of their case for Murrayfield to replace Hampden Park as the venue for Scottish football’s showpiece games. Hampden, of course, is frequently derided because of the distance between the pitch and spectators, a stricture which applies even more to the gap between the Murrayfield main stand and the edge of the playing surface. The match programme, meanwhile, still had Caixinha as Rangers manager, a consequence of early print deadlines, but the team sheet listed one name that would have been missing had the Portuguese coach still been in charge. Miller was reinstated, not only to the team but also as captain, and his presence energised the visitors, who had three corner kicks to their credit before Hearts recorded their first. Craig Levein’s side, though, made the breakthrough with a splendid example of set play technique from Lafferty. The provenance was a foul by the teenager, Ross McCrorie – a replacement for the injured Bruno Alves in central defence – who toppled Ismael Goncalves 22 yards out. Lafferty stepped forward and addressed the ball with the focused demeanour usually associated with Greig Laidlaw at this stadium and his delivery would have gratified the Scotland scrum half, albeit that the ball dropped sweetly underneath the crossbar to leave Wes Foderingham stranded. Had Ross Callachan been as deadly when a cute Goncalves reverse pass put him clear inside the box, Hearts would have been 2-0 up within two minutes of their opener. Callachacould only drive against Foderingham. Hearts would rue the missed opportunity before the interval. With only four minutes of the half left to play, Alfredo Morelos’ tenacity created an opening for Miller, whose shot nicked John Souttar’s boot and looped over Jon McLaughlin into the net. The veteran striker put Rangers in front with a textbook header across McLaughlin from a pinpoint delivery from James Tavernier. Miller did not score Rangers’ third goal but it was his punitive pass, curled ahead of Windass from distance, that left the midfielder free to tuck his finish low beyond McLaughlin. Rangers’ victory saw them move into third place, ahead of Motherwell, who lost at home to Hibernian, with Martin Boyle scoring the only goal. At the top, Celtic extended their unbeaten sequence of domestic games to 62 with a 1-1 home draw with Kilmarnock, who recovered from Leigh Griffiths’ opener to level through Jordan Jones. Aberdeen, in second place, fell behind to Michael Gardyne’s opener for Ross County but won with goals from Ryan and Christie and Kenny McLean to narrow the gap with Celtic to a single point. Dundee slumped to the foot of the table after a 3-1 defeat by Hamilton while Partick moved up by beating St Johnstone 1-0 at Firhill.

Scottish football round-up: Kenny Miller produces star turn as Rangers end difficult week with win

Kenny Miller directed a taunting retort at Pedro Caixinha by scoring twice and setting up the other goal for Josh Windass in Rangers’ 3-1 victory over Hearts at Murrayfield, a result which delivered a satisfactory end to a tumultuous week for the Ibrox club. It had begun with dismissal from the Betfred Scottish League Cup by Motherwell and continued with a farcical draw at home to Kilmarnock, the result which triggered Caixinha’s sacking.   The Kilmarnock game ended with an equaliser for the Ayrshire side scored by Chris Burke, a former Rangers player. The melancholy catalogue looked as though it would be extended in Edinburgh when another Ibrox employee of bygone days, Kyle Lafferty, put Hearts ahead, but Miller’s interventions scooped all three points for Graeme Murty in his second spell as Rangers’ interim manager. The occasion was replete with serendipity, as in the case of Douglas Ross, one of Craig Thomson’s assistant referees. The Honourable Member for Moray, as he is known in his day job, was criticised for missing the House of Commons vote on Universal Credit in order to run the line at the Champions League group stage tie between Barcelona and Olympiakos in the Nou Camp. It is a unique situation for a Scot to qualify for the finals of a World Cup and then be forced to quit because he is a Tory MP and, perhaps even more remarkable, for him to be the object of greater abuse for a political no-show than for decisions taken by the side of the pitch. Miller reels away after scoring for Rangers Credit: PA Prior to kick-off, the Scottish Rugby Union made a media presentation of their case for Murrayfield to replace Hampden Park as the venue for Scottish football’s showpiece games. Hampden, of course, is frequently derided because of the distance between the pitch and spectators, a stricture which applies even more to the gap between the Murrayfield main stand and the edge of the playing surface. The match programme, meanwhile, still had Caixinha as Rangers manager, a consequence of early print deadlines, but the team sheet listed one name that would have been missing had the Portuguese coach still been in charge. Miller was reinstated, not only to the team but also as captain, and his presence energised the visitors, who had three corner kicks to their credit before Hearts recorded their first. Craig Levein’s side, though, made the breakthrough with a splendid example of set play technique from Lafferty. The provenance was a foul by the teenager, Ross McCrorie – a replacement for the injured Bruno Alves in central defence – who toppled Ismael Goncalves 22 yards out. Lafferty stepped forward and addressed the ball with the focused demeanour usually associated with Greig Laidlaw at this stadium and his delivery would have gratified the Scotland scrum half, albeit that the ball dropped sweetly underneath the crossbar to leave Wes Foderingham stranded. Had Ross Callachan been as deadly when a cute Goncalves reverse pass put him clear inside the box, Hearts would have been 2-0 up within two minutes of their opener. Callachacould only drive against Foderingham. Hearts would rue the missed opportunity before the interval. With only four minutes of the half left to play, Alfredo Morelos’ tenacity created an opening for Miller, whose shot nicked John Souttar’s boot and looped over Jon McLaughlin into the net. The veteran striker put Rangers in front with a textbook header across McLaughlin from a pinpoint delivery from James Tavernier. Miller did not score Rangers’ third goal but it was his punitive pass, curled ahead of Windass from distance, that left the midfielder free to tuck his finish low beyond McLaughlin. Rangers’ victory saw them move into third place, ahead of Motherwell, who lost at home to Hibernian, with Martin Boyle scoring the only goal. At the top, Celtic extended their unbeaten sequence of domestic games to 62 with a 1-1 home draw with Kilmarnock, who recovered from Leigh Griffiths’ opener to level through Jordan Jones. Aberdeen, in second place, fell behind to Michael Gardyne’s opener for Ross County but won with goals from Ryan and Christie and Kenny McLean to narrow the gap with Celtic to a single point. Dundee slumped to the foot of the table after a 3-1 defeat by Hamilton while Partick moved up by beating St Johnstone 1-0 at Firhill.

Hibernian’s Efe Ambrose reveals one of his biggest decisions as a player

Hibernian’s Efe Ambrose reveals one of his biggest decisions as a player

Graeme Murty wants his players' input as he resumes his role as go-to Rangers interim manager 

Graeme Murty has one outstanding credential as the Rangers board consider who they should appoint to succeed Pedro Caixinha as their next manager. The club’s Under-20 coach, who has become the go-to man when the directors need an interim boss, succeeded in a task which eluded both Caixinha and his predecessor, Mark Warburton. On March 12, he supervised the only Rangers team to deprive Celtic of league points since the Ibrox club returned to the top level of Scottish football in the summer of 2016. The former York City, Reading and Southampton defender, who will be in charge when Rangers meet Hearts at Murrayfield on Saturday, has only to close his eyes to prompt a torrent of impressions of that afternoon in the east end of Glasgow. Pedro Caixinha was sacked as Rangers manager on Thursday  Credit: PA “The colours, the sound, how vivid it is, still,” Murty said. “More than anything, the lessons I learned about myself and about this football club from that day. “I would be a Grade A fool not to draw on those. They have informed my practice and my development now. I will be using some of those things as I move forward in this role at the moment. “I learned that the players, when they walk onto that pitch, need to be together and to have a manner of playing, an identity and a togetherness. I need to be able to remove myself at times to give the players what they need. “That was difficult at Celtic Park, but it was something I’m really proud of that we did. It was a fantastic staff that I worked with and I am really grateful to them. That’s another good lesson - that I won’t be able to do this on my own.”  Asked if his second spell as caretake could promote his reputation with the Ibrox directors as they mull over their next move, Murty said: “I am in no position to comment because that is not my remit. To be honest, I am going to prepare a team for Saturday. The bigger questions will wait until later on or for people of a much-higher pay scale than myself. Ryan Jack (second left) is available for selection for Rangers after appealing his red card Credit: PA “If the players know anything from Friday’s training session, it’s that I want their input. Within the training session, within the dressing room, within the match-prep, they have to have a voice. I will reiterate it until people are bored of me – it’s about the players, not about me.”  In the aftermath of defeat by Motherwell in the Betfred Scottish League Cup semi-final and the shambolic 1-1 draw at home to Kilmarnock on Wednesday, Murty has selection difficulties to address, with Bruno Alves suspended and Graham Dorrans and Fabio Cardoso out because of injury. He will, however, be able to deploy Ryan Jack, who has appealed the red card shown to him against Kilmarnock, as well as Kenny Miller, who spent the final three weeks of Caixinha’s reign banished from the squad because he had fallen out of favour with the outgoing manager. “I wasn’t in, I didn’t see what was going on,” Murty said. “Kenny is fit, he is available.” Asked if Miller would regain the captain’s armband, Murty said: “I haven’t made that decision yet.”  Had he not been summoned to supervise the first team, Murty would have been with the under-20s against Liverpool - “I was, potentially, going to be standing on the side with Steven Gerrard,” he said – but will now have the distinction of being the first coach to be in charge of a Rangers side at Murrayfield. Out-of-favour captain Kenny Miller could be back playing under manager Murty  Credit: Getty Images  “I’ve never been there before,” he said. “I’ve seen some footage of it. The technical area looks like I’ll need to have a drinks station half way down it. “Other than that, the pitch is going to be the same so the players have to go and deal with the atmosphere. I’m in no doubt it’s going to be good as we’ve sold loads of tickets. The fans are travelling in their thousands so we need to make sure when the players walk onto the pitch they give them a right good performance.”  Hearts are smarting from defeat by Hibernian in the Edinburgh derby on Tuesday at Easter Road and are likely to be without midfielders, Don Cowie and Arnaud Djoum. Craig Levein’s side have won only one of their four most recent league fixtures but they beat St Johnstone at Murrayfield last weekend. Meanwhile, Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager who rejected an overture from Sunderland during the summer, was cool when asked about his status as one of the favourites to succeed Caixinha. “I’m very happy being here, as I’ve stated often enough,” he said. “I’ve been supposedly linked with clubs a couple of times and, in particular, with Rangers. I’m happy here and nothing changes.”

Graeme Murty wants his players' input as he resumes his role as go-to Rangers interim manager 

Graeme Murty has one outstanding credential as the Rangers board consider who they should appoint to succeed Pedro Caixinha as their next manager. The club’s Under-20 coach, who has become the go-to man when the directors need an interim boss, succeeded in a task which eluded both Caixinha and his predecessor, Mark Warburton. On March 12, he supervised the only Rangers team to deprive Celtic of league points since the Ibrox club returned to the top level of Scottish football in the summer of 2016. The former York City, Reading and Southampton defender, who will be in charge when Rangers meet Hearts at Murrayfield on Saturday, has only to close his eyes to prompt a torrent of impressions of that afternoon in the east end of Glasgow. Pedro Caixinha was sacked as Rangers manager on Thursday  Credit: PA “The colours, the sound, how vivid it is, still,” Murty said. “More than anything, the lessons I learned about myself and about this football club from that day. “I would be a Grade A fool not to draw on those. They have informed my practice and my development now. I will be using some of those things as I move forward in this role at the moment. “I learned that the players, when they walk onto that pitch, need to be together and to have a manner of playing, an identity and a togetherness. I need to be able to remove myself at times to give the players what they need. “That was difficult at Celtic Park, but it was something I’m really proud of that we did. It was a fantastic staff that I worked with and I am really grateful to them. That’s another good lesson - that I won’t be able to do this on my own.”  Asked if his second spell as caretake could promote his reputation with the Ibrox directors as they mull over their next move, Murty said: “I am in no position to comment because that is not my remit. To be honest, I am going to prepare a team for Saturday. The bigger questions will wait until later on or for people of a much-higher pay scale than myself. Ryan Jack (second left) is available for selection for Rangers after appealing his red card Credit: PA “If the players know anything from Friday’s training session, it’s that I want their input. Within the training session, within the dressing room, within the match-prep, they have to have a voice. I will reiterate it until people are bored of me – it’s about the players, not about me.”  In the aftermath of defeat by Motherwell in the Betfred Scottish League Cup semi-final and the shambolic 1-1 draw at home to Kilmarnock on Wednesday, Murty has selection difficulties to address, with Bruno Alves suspended and Graham Dorrans and Fabio Cardoso out because of injury. He will, however, be able to deploy Ryan Jack, who has appealed the red card shown to him against Kilmarnock, as well as Kenny Miller, who spent the final three weeks of Caixinha’s reign banished from the squad because he had fallen out of favour with the outgoing manager. “I wasn’t in, I didn’t see what was going on,” Murty said. “Kenny is fit, he is available.” Asked if Miller would regain the captain’s armband, Murty said: “I haven’t made that decision yet.”  Had he not been summoned to supervise the first team, Murty would have been with the under-20s against Liverpool - “I was, potentially, going to be standing on the side with Steven Gerrard,” he said – but will now have the distinction of being the first coach to be in charge of a Rangers side at Murrayfield. Out-of-favour captain Kenny Miller could be back playing under manager Murty  Credit: Getty Images  “I’ve never been there before,” he said. “I’ve seen some footage of it. The technical area looks like I’ll need to have a drinks station half way down it. “Other than that, the pitch is going to be the same so the players have to go and deal with the atmosphere. I’m in no doubt it’s going to be good as we’ve sold loads of tickets. The fans are travelling in their thousands so we need to make sure when the players walk onto the pitch they give them a right good performance.”  Hearts are smarting from defeat by Hibernian in the Edinburgh derby on Tuesday at Easter Road and are likely to be without midfielders, Don Cowie and Arnaud Djoum. Craig Levein’s side have won only one of their four most recent league fixtures but they beat St Johnstone at Murrayfield last weekend. Meanwhile, Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager who rejected an overture from Sunderland during the summer, was cool when asked about his status as one of the favourites to succeed Caixinha. “I’m very happy being here, as I’ve stated often enough,” he said. “I’ve been supposedly linked with clubs a couple of times and, in particular, with Rangers. I’m happy here and nothing changes.”

Graeme Murty wants his players' input as he resumes his role as go-to Rangers interim manager 

Graeme Murty has one outstanding credential as the Rangers board consider who they should appoint to succeed Pedro Caixinha as their next manager. The club’s Under-20 coach, who has become the go-to man when the directors need an interim boss, succeeded in a task which eluded both Caixinha and his predecessor, Mark Warburton. On March 12, he supervised the only Rangers team to deprive Celtic of league points since the Ibrox club returned to the top level of Scottish football in the summer of 2016. The former York City, Reading and Southampton defender, who will be in charge when Rangers meet Hearts at Murrayfield on Saturday, has only to close his eyes to prompt a torrent of impressions of that afternoon in the east end of Glasgow. Pedro Caixinha was sacked as Rangers manager on Thursday  Credit: PA “The colours, the sound, how vivid it is, still,” Murty said. “More than anything, the lessons I learned about myself and about this football club from that day. “I would be a Grade A fool not to draw on those. They have informed my practice and my development now. I will be using some of those things as I move forward in this role at the moment. “I learned that the players, when they walk onto that pitch, need to be together and to have a manner of playing, an identity and a togetherness. I need to be able to remove myself at times to give the players what they need. “That was difficult at Celtic Park, but it was something I’m really proud of that we did. It was a fantastic staff that I worked with and I am really grateful to them. That’s another good lesson - that I won’t be able to do this on my own.”  Asked if his second spell as caretake could promote his reputation with the Ibrox directors as they mull over their next move, Murty said: “I am in no position to comment because that is not my remit. To be honest, I am going to prepare a team for Saturday. The bigger questions will wait until later on or for people of a much-higher pay scale than myself. Ryan Jack (second left) is available for selection for Rangers after appealing his red card Credit: PA “If the players know anything from Friday’s training session, it’s that I want their input. Within the training session, within the dressing room, within the match-prep, they have to have a voice. I will reiterate it until people are bored of me – it’s about the players, not about me.”  In the aftermath of defeat by Motherwell in the Betfred Scottish League Cup semi-final and the shambolic 1-1 draw at home to Kilmarnock on Wednesday, Murty has selection difficulties to address, with Bruno Alves suspended and Graham Dorrans and Fabio Cardoso out because of injury. He will, however, be able to deploy Ryan Jack, who has appealed the red card shown to him against Kilmarnock, as well as Kenny Miller, who spent the final three weeks of Caixinha’s reign banished from the squad because he had fallen out of favour with the outgoing manager. “I wasn’t in, I didn’t see what was going on,” Murty said. “Kenny is fit, he is available.” Asked if Miller would regain the captain’s armband, Murty said: “I haven’t made that decision yet.”  Had he not been summoned to supervise the first team, Murty would have been with the under-20s against Liverpool - “I was, potentially, going to be standing on the side with Steven Gerrard,” he said – but will now have the distinction of being the first coach to be in charge of a Rangers side at Murrayfield. Out-of-favour captain Kenny Miller could be back playing under manager Murty  Credit: Getty Images  “I’ve never been there before,” he said. “I’ve seen some footage of it. The technical area looks like I’ll need to have a drinks station half way down it. “Other than that, the pitch is going to be the same so the players have to go and deal with the atmosphere. I’m in no doubt it’s going to be good as we’ve sold loads of tickets. The fans are travelling in their thousands so we need to make sure when the players walk onto the pitch they give them a right good performance.”  Hearts are smarting from defeat by Hibernian in the Edinburgh derby on Tuesday at Easter Road and are likely to be without midfielders, Don Cowie and Arnaud Djoum. Craig Levein’s side have won only one of their four most recent league fixtures but they beat St Johnstone at Murrayfield last weekend. Meanwhile, Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager who rejected an overture from Sunderland during the summer, was cool when asked about his status as one of the favourites to succeed Caixinha. “I’m very happy being here, as I’ve stated often enough,” he said. “I’ve been supposedly linked with clubs a couple of times and, in particular, with Rangers. I’m happy here and nothing changes.”

Graeme Murty wants his players' input as he resumes his role as go-to Rangers interim manager 

Graeme Murty has one outstanding credential as the Rangers board consider who they should appoint to succeed Pedro Caixinha as their next manager. The club’s Under-20 coach, who has become the go-to man when the directors need an interim boss, succeeded in a task which eluded both Caixinha and his predecessor, Mark Warburton. On March 12, he supervised the only Rangers team to deprive Celtic of league points since the Ibrox club returned to the top level of Scottish football in the summer of 2016. The former York City, Reading and Southampton defender, who will be in charge when Rangers meet Hearts at Murrayfield on Saturday, has only to close his eyes to prompt a torrent of impressions of that afternoon in the east end of Glasgow. Pedro Caixinha was sacked as Rangers manager on Thursday  Credit: PA “The colours, the sound, how vivid it is, still,” Murty said. “More than anything, the lessons I learned about myself and about this football club from that day. “I would be a Grade A fool not to draw on those. They have informed my practice and my development now. I will be using some of those things as I move forward in this role at the moment. “I learned that the players, when they walk onto that pitch, need to be together and to have a manner of playing, an identity and a togetherness. I need to be able to remove myself at times to give the players what they need. “That was difficult at Celtic Park, but it was something I’m really proud of that we did. It was a fantastic staff that I worked with and I am really grateful to them. That’s another good lesson - that I won’t be able to do this on my own.”  Asked if his second spell as caretake could promote his reputation with the Ibrox directors as they mull over their next move, Murty said: “I am in no position to comment because that is not my remit. To be honest, I am going to prepare a team for Saturday. The bigger questions will wait until later on or for people of a much-higher pay scale than myself. Ryan Jack (second left) is available for selection for Rangers after appealing his red card Credit: PA “If the players know anything from Friday’s training session, it’s that I want their input. Within the training session, within the dressing room, within the match-prep, they have to have a voice. I will reiterate it until people are bored of me – it’s about the players, not about me.”  In the aftermath of defeat by Motherwell in the Betfred Scottish League Cup semi-final and the shambolic 1-1 draw at home to Kilmarnock on Wednesday, Murty has selection difficulties to address, with Bruno Alves suspended and Graham Dorrans and Fabio Cardoso out because of injury. He will, however, be able to deploy Ryan Jack, who has appealed the red card shown to him against Kilmarnock, as well as Kenny Miller, who spent the final three weeks of Caixinha’s reign banished from the squad because he had fallen out of favour with the outgoing manager. “I wasn’t in, I didn’t see what was going on,” Murty said. “Kenny is fit, he is available.” Asked if Miller would regain the captain’s armband, Murty said: “I haven’t made that decision yet.”  Had he not been summoned to supervise the first team, Murty would have been with the under-20s against Liverpool - “I was, potentially, going to be standing on the side with Steven Gerrard,” he said – but will now have the distinction of being the first coach to be in charge of a Rangers side at Murrayfield. Out-of-favour captain Kenny Miller could be back playing under manager Murty  Credit: Getty Images  “I’ve never been there before,” he said. “I’ve seen some footage of it. The technical area looks like I’ll need to have a drinks station half way down it. “Other than that, the pitch is going to be the same so the players have to go and deal with the atmosphere. I’m in no doubt it’s going to be good as we’ve sold loads of tickets. The fans are travelling in their thousands so we need to make sure when the players walk onto the pitch they give them a right good performance.”  Hearts are smarting from defeat by Hibernian in the Edinburgh derby on Tuesday at Easter Road and are likely to be without midfielders, Don Cowie and Arnaud Djoum. Craig Levein’s side have won only one of their four most recent league fixtures but they beat St Johnstone at Murrayfield last weekend. Meanwhile, Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager who rejected an overture from Sunderland during the summer, was cool when asked about his status as one of the favourites to succeed Caixinha. “I’m very happy being here, as I’ve stated often enough,” he said. “I’ve been supposedly linked with clubs a couple of times and, in particular, with Rangers. I’m happy here and nothing changes.”

Rangers sack manager Pedro Caixinha after just seven months at Ibrox

Pedro Caixinha was the Buster Keaton of Scottish football during his 229 days at Ibrox. The most enduring image from his ill-starred period in charge was the sight of the Portuguese coach up to his knees in shrubbery, engaging with incensed supporters after Rangers’ worst-ever European result, a defeat by Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg in the first qualifying round of the Europa League in July. Another farcical recollection was the moment during the most recent Old Firm match at Ibrox, when a sliding tackle by Josh Windass on Mikael Lustig also toppled the Rangers manager. That now seems entirely symbolic of the predicament of a character who had forfeited the loyalty of players whom he accused of embarrassing their club after Sunday’s defeat by Motherwell in the semi-finals of the Betfred Scottish League Cup. Caixinha’s appointment defied logic from the moment he was introduced as Mark Warburton’s successor in March. His managerial CV consisted of stints at Uniao Leiria and Nacional in his homeland, before he moved to Santos Laguna in Mexico and then, for two years from 2015, a spell at Al-Gharafa in Qatar. When he was paraded before the media on arrival at Ibrox it was disclosed that Caixinha had been hired to succeed Mark Warburton because his job interview had been the most impressive of any of the candidates. Alarm bells clanged, however, on his first day in charge, when he was asked what he would consider a plausible ambition for Rangers under his leadership. Caixinha replied: “We are talking about European trophies.” Soon the warnings were being sounded by klaxon, as he revealed his team selection for a league meeting with Kilmarnock in April, 30 hours before kick-off. The fixture ended in a goalless draw, one of the disfiguring results of Caixinha’s 26 games in charge, of which he won only 14. This was the same manager who, two weeks ago, complained bitterly that, ahead of a trip to St Johnstone on the final day of last season, a dressing room mole had leaked the Rangers line-up to the Perth side, an allegation rebutted by the Saints manager, Tommy Wright, with the rejoinder that Caixinha was ‘just someone who was paranoid.’ Graeme Murty will step up on an interim basis following Caixinha's departure Credit: PA The calibration of any Rangers manager’s performance which matters most to the Light Blue faithful is his record against Celtic. Caixinha’s first sight of his players in action was in an Old Firm derby at Parkhead when Graeme Murty, coach of the club’s under-20s, supervised a 1-1 draw against the odds. By contrast, Caixinha’s Old Firm blooding, a William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park ended in a defeat that was more comprehensive than the 2-0 outcome suggested. With a league meeting with Celtic due at Ibrox six days later, it was expected that the Rangers manager would attempt to remedy his side’s manifest defensive frailties. Instead, Caixinha deployed a midfield diamond, through which Celtic romped to secure a record derby victory at the home of their greatest rivals. Another unpalatable result was posted on May 17, when Rangers lost at home to Aberdeen for the first time in 26 years. The Rangers chairman, Dave King, subsequently declared that the setbacks had been part of a planned learning process for Caixinha, with the intended consequence of ensuring progress during Rangers’ return to European football for the first time since 2011, the year before the club was plunged into financial turmoil under Craig Whyte. King also declared that he and his fellow directors were content with Caixhina’s transfer dealings. That contention was made to look naive when Rangers’ competitive season opened with the humiliation by Progres Niedkorn, minuscule opponents who had never won a European tie. The domestic title campaign also began to go awry with a 3-2 home defeat by Hibernian followed by a goalless draw with Hearts at Ibrox. By the start of the recent international break, Caixinha had been branded as a manager who could not supervise three successive wins and his threadbare record worsened with Sunday’s loss to Motherwell in the semi-final of the Betfred Scottish League Cup. The single greatest indictment of Caixinha’s signing policy and motivational powers was the case of Carlos Pena, acquired from Mexican club, Leon, for a fee reportedly as high as £3.5 million. Pena looked a sorry figure in the 2-0 defeat by Celtic at Ibrox last month, by which time Caixinha had discounted any title ambitions Rangers might have nurtured. Pena continued to be selected while Kenny Miller was banished from the squad, the veteran striker having been blamed by Caixinha for leaking details of dressing room exchanges after the Old Firm defeat. Caixinha’s exit was the consequent of a slapstick finale when Rangers, leading 1-0 at home to Kilmarnock on Wednesday and having been awarded an injury time penalty kick, were reduced to 10 men by the dismissal of Ryan Jack for a scuffle off the ball, missed the spot kick and conceded an equaliser to Chris Burke – a former Ibrox player. The Rangers board’s brief statement lamented that results were “not commensurate with the level of investment that was made available.” Now they must remedy the consequence of their own misjudgement, a task made doubly difficult because Caixinha was allowed to empty their piggy bank. Buster Keaton’s most famous stunt saw him emerge unscathed as a house collapsed around him. Rangers’ fans must pray that Caixinha is not remembered for the same feat.

Rangers sack manager Pedro Caixinha after just seven months at Ibrox

Pedro Caixinha was the Buster Keaton of Scottish football during his 229 days at Ibrox. The most enduring image from his ill-starred period in charge was the sight of the Portuguese coach up to his knees in shrubbery, engaging with incensed supporters after Rangers’ worst-ever European result, a defeat by Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg in the first qualifying round of the Europa League in July. Another farcical recollection was the moment during the most recent Old Firm match at Ibrox, when a sliding tackle by Josh Windass on Mikael Lustig also toppled the Rangers manager. That now seems entirely symbolic of the predicament of a character who had forfeited the loyalty of players whom he accused of embarrassing their club after Sunday’s defeat by Motherwell in the semi-finals of the Betfred Scottish League Cup. Caixinha’s appointment defied logic from the moment he was introduced as Mark Warburton’s successor in March. His managerial CV consisted of stints at Uniao Leiria and Nacional in his homeland, before he moved to Santos Laguna in Mexico and then, for two years from 2015, a spell at Al-Gharafa in Qatar. When he was paraded before the media on arrival at Ibrox it was disclosed that Caixinha had been hired to succeed Mark Warburton because his job interview had been the most impressive of any of the candidates. Alarm bells clanged, however, on his first day in charge, when he was asked what he would consider a plausible ambition for Rangers under his leadership. Caixinha replied: “We are talking about European trophies.” Soon the warnings were being sounded by klaxon, as he revealed his team selection for a league meeting with Kilmarnock in April, 30 hours before kick-off. The fixture ended in a goalless draw, one of the disfiguring results of Caixinha’s 26 games in charge, of which he won only 14. This was the same manager who, two weeks ago, complained bitterly that, ahead of a trip to St Johnstone on the final day of last season, a dressing room mole had leaked the Rangers line-up to the Perth side, an allegation rebutted by the Saints manager, Tommy Wright, with the rejoinder that Caixinha was ‘just someone who was paranoid.’ Graeme Murty will step up on an interim basis following Caixinha's departure Credit: PA The calibration of any Rangers manager’s performance which matters most to the Light Blue faithful is his record against Celtic. Caixinha’s first sight of his players in action was in an Old Firm derby at Parkhead when Graeme Murty, coach of the club’s under-20s, supervised a 1-1 draw against the odds. By contrast, Caixinha’s Old Firm blooding, a William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park ended in a defeat that was more comprehensive than the 2-0 outcome suggested. With a league meeting with Celtic due at Ibrox six days later, it was expected that the Rangers manager would attempt to remedy his side’s manifest defensive frailties. Instead, Caixinha deployed a midfield diamond, through which Celtic romped to secure a record derby victory at the home of their greatest rivals. Another unpalatable result was posted on May 17, when Rangers lost at home to Aberdeen for the first time in 26 years. The Rangers chairman, Dave King, subsequently declared that the setbacks had been part of a planned learning process for Caixinha, with the intended consequence of ensuring progress during Rangers’ return to European football for the first time since 2011, the year before the club was plunged into financial turmoil under Craig Whyte. King also declared that he and his fellow directors were content with Caixhina’s transfer dealings. That contention was made to look naive when Rangers’ competitive season opened with the humiliation by Progres Niedkorn, minuscule opponents who had never won a European tie. The domestic title campaign also began to go awry with a 3-2 home defeat by Hibernian followed by a goalless draw with Hearts at Ibrox. By the start of the recent international break, Caixinha had been branded as a manager who could not supervise three successive wins and his threadbare record worsened with Sunday’s loss to Motherwell in the semi-final of the Betfred Scottish League Cup. The single greatest indictment of Caixinha’s signing policy and motivational powers was the case of Carlos Pena, acquired from Mexican club, Leon, for a fee reportedly as high as £3.5 million. Pena looked a sorry figure in the 2-0 defeat by Celtic at Ibrox last month, by which time Caixinha had discounted any title ambitions Rangers might have nurtured. Pena continued to be selected while Kenny Miller was banished from the squad, the veteran striker having been blamed by Caixinha for leaking details of dressing room exchanges after the Old Firm defeat. Caixinha’s exit was the consequent of a slapstick finale when Rangers, leading 1-0 at home to Kilmarnock on Wednesday and having been awarded an injury time penalty kick, were reduced to 10 men by the dismissal of Ryan Jack for a scuffle off the ball, missed the spot kick and conceded an equaliser to Chris Burke – a former Ibrox player. The Rangers board’s brief statement lamented that results were “not commensurate with the level of investment that was made available.” Now they must remedy the consequence of their own misjudgement, a task made doubly difficult because Caixinha was allowed to empty their piggy bank. Buster Keaton’s most famous stunt saw him emerge unscathed as a house collapsed around him. Rangers’ fans must pray that Caixinha is not remembered for the same feat.

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