Kilmarnock

Kilmarnock slideshow

A makeshift and inexperienced Scotland side were beaten 2-0 by World Cup-bound Peru at the frenzied Estadio Nacional in Lima. It was all going pretty well for Alex McLeish's men until the 37th minute when Christian Cueva scored from the spot after defender Scott McKenna had handled in the penalty area. Lokomotiv Moscow's Jefferson Farfan made it 2-0 from close range in the 47th minute with Millwall keeper Jordan Archer, one of four starting debutants, looking culpable again after his misjudgement had led to the earlier penalty. Peru are on the way to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years and in front of 40,000 exuberant home fans Ricardo Gareca's side, ranked 11th in the world, threatened to impose more damage. However, the Scots steadied themselves and looked solid enough while ending the night with seven new faces having made their first appearances for the national team. McLeish said: "The first goal was a big set-back. I felt we contained Peru very well, they are a good team, technically good, very strong, quick. "It was very disappointing to lose the goal at the moment we lost it, just before half-time. "It was really a basic ball over the top and normally it should be easy for the defender, but we didn't deal with it well. But overall I was happy with the team's display. Scotland fielded seven debutants during the match in Lima Credit: reuters "I thought the defenders were very strong, very organised, didn't make it easy for Peru. The second half, after the early goal, it gave them some more confidence to show their skills and at that moment in the game it was a bit difficult. "We got over it and made a couple of chances in the end, but never really threatened the goal. But maybe if we did other things we could maybe have had a goal out of the game." It was always going to be difficult for McLeish to shape up a team capable of giving the South Americans a real test. After six call-offs to a squad which was already without a clutch of regulars, the former Scotland defender had nine uncapped players, including all three keepers, with Archer selected for the first time. Kilmarnock right-back Stephen O'Donnell and Hibernian duo, Lewis Stevenson and Dylan McGeouch, were included in a side captained by Blackburn Rovers skipper Charlie Mulgrew who, in winning his 35th cap, was the most experienced player in the team. The Incas, on an unprecedented 12-game unbeaten run, were missing their captain Paolo Guerrero to a 14-month drug ban but had the influential Farfan leading the line. Peru are preparing for the World Cup in Russia Credit: reuters Archer started the game strongly, diving low to his right within minutes to make a decent save from Cueva's 25-yard free-kick. However, the Scots played their way into the game, growing in confidence with each passing minute. Archer, though, was tested again in the 32nd minute, this time by a Farfan drive from outside the box. But when the Lokomotiv striker's curling shot at goal was blocked by the hand of McKenna, after the Scotland keeper had rushed out to the edge of the box to collide with Mulgrew, Mexican referee Fernando Guerrero pointed to the spot. Cueva fired his penalty low and hard into the corner of the net and suddenly the home side raised their game with Archer spilling a powerful drive from Andre Carrillo, with the Scots surviving. However, two minutes after the restart Archer again did not look too clever as Farfan's 12-yard drive from a Edison Flores cut-back went under his body. In the 63rd minute Oliver McBurnie and Callum Paterson replaced Jamie Murphy and John McGinn before Celtic new boy Lewis Morgan replaced Matt Phillips to makes his debut and there was a tinkering of formation. Paterson almost found McBurnie with a good ball to the back post, a move that encouraged the few hundred Tartan Army inside the ground who saw Graeme Shinnie replace McGeouch in the 76th minute to make his debut. McLeish ext takes his inexperienced team to face Mexico at the Azteca stadium on June 2.
Makeshift Scotland beaten 2-0 by World Cup-bound Peru
A makeshift and inexperienced Scotland side were beaten 2-0 by World Cup-bound Peru at the frenzied Estadio Nacional in Lima. It was all going pretty well for Alex McLeish's men until the 37th minute when Christian Cueva scored from the spot after defender Scott McKenna had handled in the penalty area. Lokomotiv Moscow's Jefferson Farfan made it 2-0 from close range in the 47th minute with Millwall keeper Jordan Archer, one of four starting debutants, looking culpable again after his misjudgement had led to the earlier penalty. Peru are on the way to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years and in front of 40,000 exuberant home fans Ricardo Gareca's side, ranked 11th in the world, threatened to impose more damage. However, the Scots steadied themselves and looked solid enough while ending the night with seven new faces having made their first appearances for the national team. McLeish said: "The first goal was a big set-back. I felt we contained Peru very well, they are a good team, technically good, very strong, quick. "It was very disappointing to lose the goal at the moment we lost it, just before half-time. "It was really a basic ball over the top and normally it should be easy for the defender, but we didn't deal with it well. But overall I was happy with the team's display. Scotland fielded seven debutants during the match in Lima Credit: reuters "I thought the defenders were very strong, very organised, didn't make it easy for Peru. The second half, after the early goal, it gave them some more confidence to show their skills and at that moment in the game it was a bit difficult. "We got over it and made a couple of chances in the end, but never really threatened the goal. But maybe if we did other things we could maybe have had a goal out of the game." It was always going to be difficult for McLeish to shape up a team capable of giving the South Americans a real test. After six call-offs to a squad which was already without a clutch of regulars, the former Scotland defender had nine uncapped players, including all three keepers, with Archer selected for the first time. Kilmarnock right-back Stephen O'Donnell and Hibernian duo, Lewis Stevenson and Dylan McGeouch, were included in a side captained by Blackburn Rovers skipper Charlie Mulgrew who, in winning his 35th cap, was the most experienced player in the team. The Incas, on an unprecedented 12-game unbeaten run, were missing their captain Paolo Guerrero to a 14-month drug ban but had the influential Farfan leading the line. Peru are preparing for the World Cup in Russia Credit: reuters Archer started the game strongly, diving low to his right within minutes to make a decent save from Cueva's 25-yard free-kick. However, the Scots played their way into the game, growing in confidence with each passing minute. Archer, though, was tested again in the 32nd minute, this time by a Farfan drive from outside the box. But when the Lokomotiv striker's curling shot at goal was blocked by the hand of McKenna, after the Scotland keeper had rushed out to the edge of the box to collide with Mulgrew, Mexican referee Fernando Guerrero pointed to the spot. Cueva fired his penalty low and hard into the corner of the net and suddenly the home side raised their game with Archer spilling a powerful drive from Andre Carrillo, with the Scots surviving. However, two minutes after the restart Archer again did not look too clever as Farfan's 12-yard drive from a Edison Flores cut-back went under his body. In the 63rd minute Oliver McBurnie and Callum Paterson replaced Jamie Murphy and John McGinn before Celtic new boy Lewis Morgan replaced Matt Phillips to makes his debut and there was a tinkering of formation. Paterson almost found McBurnie with a good ball to the back post, a move that encouraged the few hundred Tartan Army inside the ground who saw Graeme Shinnie replace McGeouch in the 76th minute to make his debut. McLeish ext takes his inexperienced team to face Mexico at the Azteca stadium on June 2.
A makeshift and inexperienced Scotland side were beaten 2-0 by World Cup-bound Peru at the frenzied Estadio Nacional in Lima. It was all going pretty well for Alex McLeish's men until the 37th minute when Christian Cueva scored from the spot after defender Scott McKenna had handled in the penalty area. Lokomotiv Moscow's Jefferson Farfan made it 2-0 from close range in the 47th minute with Millwall keeper Jordan Archer, one of four starting debutants, looking culpable again after his misjudgement had led to the earlier penalty. Peru are on the way to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years and in front of 40,000 exuberant home fans Ricardo Gareca's side, ranked 11th in the world, threatened to impose more damage. However, the Scots steadied themselves and looked solid enough while ending the night with seven new faces having made their first appearances for the national team. McLeish said: "The first goal was a big set-back. I felt we contained Peru very well, they are a good team, technically good, very strong, quick. "It was very disappointing to lose the goal at the moment we lost it, just before half-time. "It was really a basic ball over the top and normally it should be easy for the defender, but we didn't deal with it well. But overall I was happy with the team's display. Scotland fielded seven debutants during the match in Lima Credit: reuters "I thought the defenders were very strong, very organised, didn't make it easy for Peru. The second half, after the early goal, it gave them some more confidence to show their skills and at that moment in the game it was a bit difficult. "We got over it and made a couple of chances in the end, but never really threatened the goal. But maybe if we did other things we could maybe have had a goal out of the game." It was always going to be difficult for McLeish to shape up a team capable of giving the South Americans a real test. After six call-offs to a squad which was already without a clutch of regulars, the former Scotland defender had nine uncapped players, including all three keepers, with Archer selected for the first time. Kilmarnock right-back Stephen O'Donnell and Hibernian duo, Lewis Stevenson and Dylan McGeouch, were included in a side captained by Blackburn Rovers skipper Charlie Mulgrew who, in winning his 35th cap, was the most experienced player in the team. The Incas, on an unprecedented 12-game unbeaten run, were missing their captain Paolo Guerrero to a 14-month drug ban but had the influential Farfan leading the line. Peru are preparing for the World Cup in Russia Credit: reuters Archer started the game strongly, diving low to his right within minutes to make a decent save from Cueva's 25-yard free-kick. However, the Scots played their way into the game, growing in confidence with each passing minute. Archer, though, was tested again in the 32nd minute, this time by a Farfan drive from outside the box. But when the Lokomotiv striker's curling shot at goal was blocked by the hand of McKenna, after the Scotland keeper had rushed out to the edge of the box to collide with Mulgrew, Mexican referee Fernando Guerrero pointed to the spot. Cueva fired his penalty low and hard into the corner of the net and suddenly the home side raised their game with Archer spilling a powerful drive from Andre Carrillo, with the Scots surviving. However, two minutes after the restart Archer again did not look too clever as Farfan's 12-yard drive from a Edison Flores cut-back went under his body. In the 63rd minute Oliver McBurnie and Callum Paterson replaced Jamie Murphy and John McGinn before Celtic new boy Lewis Morgan replaced Matt Phillips to makes his debut and there was a tinkering of formation. Paterson almost found McBurnie with a good ball to the back post, a move that encouraged the few hundred Tartan Army inside the ground who saw Graeme Shinnie replace McGeouch in the 76th minute to make his debut. McLeish ext takes his inexperienced team to face Mexico at the Azteca stadium on June 2.
Makeshift Scotland beaten 2-0 by World Cup-bound Peru
A makeshift and inexperienced Scotland side were beaten 2-0 by World Cup-bound Peru at the frenzied Estadio Nacional in Lima. It was all going pretty well for Alex McLeish's men until the 37th minute when Christian Cueva scored from the spot after defender Scott McKenna had handled in the penalty area. Lokomotiv Moscow's Jefferson Farfan made it 2-0 from close range in the 47th minute with Millwall keeper Jordan Archer, one of four starting debutants, looking culpable again after his misjudgement had led to the earlier penalty. Peru are on the way to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years and in front of 40,000 exuberant home fans Ricardo Gareca's side, ranked 11th in the world, threatened to impose more damage. However, the Scots steadied themselves and looked solid enough while ending the night with seven new faces having made their first appearances for the national team. McLeish said: "The first goal was a big set-back. I felt we contained Peru very well, they are a good team, technically good, very strong, quick. "It was very disappointing to lose the goal at the moment we lost it, just before half-time. "It was really a basic ball over the top and normally it should be easy for the defender, but we didn't deal with it well. But overall I was happy with the team's display. Scotland fielded seven debutants during the match in Lima Credit: reuters "I thought the defenders were very strong, very organised, didn't make it easy for Peru. The second half, after the early goal, it gave them some more confidence to show their skills and at that moment in the game it was a bit difficult. "We got over it and made a couple of chances in the end, but never really threatened the goal. But maybe if we did other things we could maybe have had a goal out of the game." It was always going to be difficult for McLeish to shape up a team capable of giving the South Americans a real test. After six call-offs to a squad which was already without a clutch of regulars, the former Scotland defender had nine uncapped players, including all three keepers, with Archer selected for the first time. Kilmarnock right-back Stephen O'Donnell and Hibernian duo, Lewis Stevenson and Dylan McGeouch, were included in a side captained by Blackburn Rovers skipper Charlie Mulgrew who, in winning his 35th cap, was the most experienced player in the team. The Incas, on an unprecedented 12-game unbeaten run, were missing their captain Paolo Guerrero to a 14-month drug ban but had the influential Farfan leading the line. Peru are preparing for the World Cup in Russia Credit: reuters Archer started the game strongly, diving low to his right within minutes to make a decent save from Cueva's 25-yard free-kick. However, the Scots played their way into the game, growing in confidence with each passing minute. Archer, though, was tested again in the 32nd minute, this time by a Farfan drive from outside the box. But when the Lokomotiv striker's curling shot at goal was blocked by the hand of McKenna, after the Scotland keeper had rushed out to the edge of the box to collide with Mulgrew, Mexican referee Fernando Guerrero pointed to the spot. Cueva fired his penalty low and hard into the corner of the net and suddenly the home side raised their game with Archer spilling a powerful drive from Andre Carrillo, with the Scots surviving. However, two minutes after the restart Archer again did not look too clever as Farfan's 12-yard drive from a Edison Flores cut-back went under his body. In the 63rd minute Oliver McBurnie and Callum Paterson replaced Jamie Murphy and John McGinn before Celtic new boy Lewis Morgan replaced Matt Phillips to makes his debut and there was a tinkering of formation. Paterson almost found McBurnie with a good ball to the back post, a move that encouraged the few hundred Tartan Army inside the ground who saw Graeme Shinnie replace McGeouch in the 76th minute to make his debut. McLeish ext takes his inexperienced team to face Mexico at the Azteca stadium on June 2.
A makeshift and inexperienced Scotland side were beaten 2-0 by World Cup-bound Peru at the frenzied Estadio Nacional in Lima. It was all going pretty well for Alex McLeish's men until the 37th minute when Christian Cueva scored from the spot after defender Scott McKenna had handled in the penalty area. Lokomotiv Moscow's Jefferson Farfan made it 2-0 from close range in the 47th minute with Millwall keeper Jordan Archer, one of four starting debutants, looking culpable again after his misjudgement had led to the earlier penalty. Peru are on the way to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years and in front of 40,000 exuberant home fans Ricardo Gareca's side, ranked 11th in the world, threatened to impose more damage. However, the Scots steadied themselves and looked solid enough while ending the night with seven new faces having made their first appearances for the national team. McLeish said: "The first goal was a big set-back. I felt we contained Peru very well, they are a good team, technically good, very strong, quick. "It was very disappointing to lose the goal at the moment we lost it, just before half-time. "It was really a basic ball over the top and normally it should be easy for the defender, but we didn't deal with it well. But overall I was happy with the team's display. Scotland fielded seven debutants during the match in Lima Credit: reuters "I thought the defenders were very strong, very organised, didn't make it easy for Peru. The second half, after the early goal, it gave them some more confidence to show their skills and at that moment in the game it was a bit difficult. "We got over it and made a couple of chances in the end, but never really threatened the goal. But maybe if we did other things we could maybe have had a goal out of the game." It was always going to be difficult for McLeish to shape up a team capable of giving the South Americans a real test. After six call-offs to a squad which was already without a clutch of regulars, the former Scotland defender had nine uncapped players, including all three keepers, with Archer selected for the first time. Kilmarnock right-back Stephen O'Donnell and Hibernian duo, Lewis Stevenson and Dylan McGeouch, were included in a side captained by Blackburn Rovers skipper Charlie Mulgrew who, in winning his 35th cap, was the most experienced player in the team. The Incas, on an unprecedented 12-game unbeaten run, were missing their captain Paolo Guerrero to a 14-month drug ban but had the influential Farfan leading the line. Peru are preparing for the World Cup in Russia Credit: reuters Archer started the game strongly, diving low to his right within minutes to make a decent save from Cueva's 25-yard free-kick. However, the Scots played their way into the game, growing in confidence with each passing minute. Archer, though, was tested again in the 32nd minute, this time by a Farfan drive from outside the box. But when the Lokomotiv striker's curling shot at goal was blocked by the hand of McKenna, after the Scotland keeper had rushed out to the edge of the box to collide with Mulgrew, Mexican referee Fernando Guerrero pointed to the spot. Cueva fired his penalty low and hard into the corner of the net and suddenly the home side raised their game with Archer spilling a powerful drive from Andre Carrillo, with the Scots surviving. However, two minutes after the restart Archer again did not look too clever as Farfan's 12-yard drive from a Edison Flores cut-back went under his body. In the 63rd minute Oliver McBurnie and Callum Paterson replaced Jamie Murphy and John McGinn before Celtic new boy Lewis Morgan replaced Matt Phillips to makes his debut and there was a tinkering of formation. Paterson almost found McBurnie with a good ball to the back post, a move that encouraged the few hundred Tartan Army inside the ground who saw Graeme Shinnie replace McGeouch in the 76th minute to make his debut. McLeish ext takes his inexperienced team to face Mexico at the Azteca stadium on June 2.
Makeshift Scotland beaten 2-0 by World Cup-bound Peru
A makeshift and inexperienced Scotland side were beaten 2-0 by World Cup-bound Peru at the frenzied Estadio Nacional in Lima. It was all going pretty well for Alex McLeish's men until the 37th minute when Christian Cueva scored from the spot after defender Scott McKenna had handled in the penalty area. Lokomotiv Moscow's Jefferson Farfan made it 2-0 from close range in the 47th minute with Millwall keeper Jordan Archer, one of four starting debutants, looking culpable again after his misjudgement had led to the earlier penalty. Peru are on the way to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years and in front of 40,000 exuberant home fans Ricardo Gareca's side, ranked 11th in the world, threatened to impose more damage. However, the Scots steadied themselves and looked solid enough while ending the night with seven new faces having made their first appearances for the national team. McLeish said: "The first goal was a big set-back. I felt we contained Peru very well, they are a good team, technically good, very strong, quick. "It was very disappointing to lose the goal at the moment we lost it, just before half-time. "It was really a basic ball over the top and normally it should be easy for the defender, but we didn't deal with it well. But overall I was happy with the team's display. Scotland fielded seven debutants during the match in Lima Credit: reuters "I thought the defenders were very strong, very organised, didn't make it easy for Peru. The second half, after the early goal, it gave them some more confidence to show their skills and at that moment in the game it was a bit difficult. "We got over it and made a couple of chances in the end, but never really threatened the goal. But maybe if we did other things we could maybe have had a goal out of the game." It was always going to be difficult for McLeish to shape up a team capable of giving the South Americans a real test. After six call-offs to a squad which was already without a clutch of regulars, the former Scotland defender had nine uncapped players, including all three keepers, with Archer selected for the first time. Kilmarnock right-back Stephen O'Donnell and Hibernian duo, Lewis Stevenson and Dylan McGeouch, were included in a side captained by Blackburn Rovers skipper Charlie Mulgrew who, in winning his 35th cap, was the most experienced player in the team. The Incas, on an unprecedented 12-game unbeaten run, were missing their captain Paolo Guerrero to a 14-month drug ban but had the influential Farfan leading the line. Peru are preparing for the World Cup in Russia Credit: reuters Archer started the game strongly, diving low to his right within minutes to make a decent save from Cueva's 25-yard free-kick. However, the Scots played their way into the game, growing in confidence with each passing minute. Archer, though, was tested again in the 32nd minute, this time by a Farfan drive from outside the box. But when the Lokomotiv striker's curling shot at goal was blocked by the hand of McKenna, after the Scotland keeper had rushed out to the edge of the box to collide with Mulgrew, Mexican referee Fernando Guerrero pointed to the spot. Cueva fired his penalty low and hard into the corner of the net and suddenly the home side raised their game with Archer spilling a powerful drive from Andre Carrillo, with the Scots surviving. However, two minutes after the restart Archer again did not look too clever as Farfan's 12-yard drive from a Edison Flores cut-back went under his body. In the 63rd minute Oliver McBurnie and Callum Paterson replaced Jamie Murphy and John McGinn before Celtic new boy Lewis Morgan replaced Matt Phillips to makes his debut and there was a tinkering of formation. Paterson almost found McBurnie with a good ball to the back post, a move that encouraged the few hundred Tartan Army inside the ground who saw Graeme Shinnie replace McGeouch in the 76th minute to make his debut. McLeish ext takes his inexperienced team to face Mexico at the Azteca stadium on June 2.
An unforeseen symmetry returns Motherwell to Hampden Park for the William Hill Scottish Cup final, 10 months after they opened their season at the same venue. Back on July 15, the Steelmen beat Queen’s Park 5-1 in a Betfred Scottish League Cup group stage tie to begin a progress that saw them to the tournament final in November. On that occasion – as again here – Motherwell’s opponents were Celtic, who secured the first instalment of what could be a second clean sweep of the Scottish honours with a 2-0 victory. While a repeat of that outcome today would surprise few beyond the confines of Fir Park, Stephen Robinson has derived encouragement from his players’ experiences at Hampden since their romp against Queen’s Park. To claim the right to contest the two Scottish finals Motherwell beat Rangers in October and Aberdeen last month. “It is the fifth time we have been here, including the start against Queen’s Park,” Robinson said. “The boys are accustomed to the surroundings and I don’t think it is going to faze them. We showed we can deal with that in two big semi-finals against Rangers and Aberdeen in front of big crowds so I think we are over that now – as Celtic are because they are also in this sort of occasion on a regular basis. I am sure we will be able to handle it.” Motherwell's Ryan Bowman will take on Celtic's Kristoffer Ajer again at Hampden on Saturday Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire There has been much talk around the club about 1991, when Motherwell last won the Scottish Cup, beating Dundee United 4-3 after extra time in a memorable final. That success occurred only a generation ago but it is overlaid with poignancy because four of the squad members – Davie Cooper, Jamie Dolan, Phil O’Donnell and Paul McGrillen – died, all in their 30s. “You still hear people speaking of the 1991 squad that won the cup and they are revered around the football club,” Robinson said. “In terms of management it would be the biggest thing I have ever achieved and I would imagine that would be the case for 100 per cent of our players. “They have all come from non-league teams, under-23 teams and League Two. None of them have played at any real level in the game and it would be a huge achievement for us.” Motherwell's Curtis Main, right, celebrates with Christopher Cadden after scoring their first goal in the semi-final victory over Aberdeen Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS Celtic have been beaten this season by Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and Kilmarnock but, rather than cite those examples to his players, the manager has focused on their own display in a rousing meeting with the Hoops only three days after the Scottish League Cup final. “What’s inspired me is our first half performance when we went down to 10 men at Fir Park,” he said. “As well as that, there was the game where we lost a penalty in the last minute when we were beating them. That has inspired me. We have to look at ourselves and how we caused them problems and how we can do that again. “Celtic are a very good side with individuals who can win the game but we have also caused them problems. The clips we have watched back and used to give our boys the belief you speak about have all been Celtic’s games against us.” Motherwell will not be able to bully Celtic as they did to Aberdeen and Rangers, but they will be entitled to nourish hope if they can get decent supply to the front pair of Curtis Main and Ryan Bowman. In response to Motherwell’s underdog status, Robinson cites two instances of success against heavy odds. “People say things are impossible in sport,” he said. “But I think Leicester City and Northern Ireland have proved that’s not the case.” Motherwell (probable) (3-1-4-2) Carson; Kipre, Aldred, Dunne; Rose; Tait, Campbell, Cadden, Grimshaw; Main, Bowman.
Motherwell draw on spirit of 1991 to inspire Scottish Cup final shock
An unforeseen symmetry returns Motherwell to Hampden Park for the William Hill Scottish Cup final, 10 months after they opened their season at the same venue. Back on July 15, the Steelmen beat Queen’s Park 5-1 in a Betfred Scottish League Cup group stage tie to begin a progress that saw them to the tournament final in November. On that occasion – as again here – Motherwell’s opponents were Celtic, who secured the first instalment of what could be a second clean sweep of the Scottish honours with a 2-0 victory. While a repeat of that outcome today would surprise few beyond the confines of Fir Park, Stephen Robinson has derived encouragement from his players’ experiences at Hampden since their romp against Queen’s Park. To claim the right to contest the two Scottish finals Motherwell beat Rangers in October and Aberdeen last month. “It is the fifth time we have been here, including the start against Queen’s Park,” Robinson said. “The boys are accustomed to the surroundings and I don’t think it is going to faze them. We showed we can deal with that in two big semi-finals against Rangers and Aberdeen in front of big crowds so I think we are over that now – as Celtic are because they are also in this sort of occasion on a regular basis. I am sure we will be able to handle it.” Motherwell's Ryan Bowman will take on Celtic's Kristoffer Ajer again at Hampden on Saturday Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire There has been much talk around the club about 1991, when Motherwell last won the Scottish Cup, beating Dundee United 4-3 after extra time in a memorable final. That success occurred only a generation ago but it is overlaid with poignancy because four of the squad members – Davie Cooper, Jamie Dolan, Phil O’Donnell and Paul McGrillen – died, all in their 30s. “You still hear people speaking of the 1991 squad that won the cup and they are revered around the football club,” Robinson said. “In terms of management it would be the biggest thing I have ever achieved and I would imagine that would be the case for 100 per cent of our players. “They have all come from non-league teams, under-23 teams and League Two. None of them have played at any real level in the game and it would be a huge achievement for us.” Motherwell's Curtis Main, right, celebrates with Christopher Cadden after scoring their first goal in the semi-final victory over Aberdeen Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS Celtic have been beaten this season by Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and Kilmarnock but, rather than cite those examples to his players, the manager has focused on their own display in a rousing meeting with the Hoops only three days after the Scottish League Cup final. “What’s inspired me is our first half performance when we went down to 10 men at Fir Park,” he said. “As well as that, there was the game where we lost a penalty in the last minute when we were beating them. That has inspired me. We have to look at ourselves and how we caused them problems and how we can do that again. “Celtic are a very good side with individuals who can win the game but we have also caused them problems. The clips we have watched back and used to give our boys the belief you speak about have all been Celtic’s games against us.” Motherwell will not be able to bully Celtic as they did to Aberdeen and Rangers, but they will be entitled to nourish hope if they can get decent supply to the front pair of Curtis Main and Ryan Bowman. In response to Motherwell’s underdog status, Robinson cites two instances of success against heavy odds. “People say things are impossible in sport,” he said. “But I think Leicester City and Northern Ireland have proved that’s not the case.” Motherwell (probable) (3-1-4-2) Carson; Kipre, Aldred, Dunne; Rose; Tait, Campbell, Cadden, Grimshaw; Main, Bowman.
An unforeseen symmetry returns Motherwell to Hampden Park for the William Hill Scottish Cup final, 10 months after they opened their season at the same venue. Back on July 15, the Steelmen beat Queen’s Park 5-1 in a Betfred Scottish League Cup group stage tie to begin a progress that saw them to the tournament final in November. On that occasion – as again here – Motherwell’s opponents were Celtic, who secured the first instalment of what could be a second clean sweep of the Scottish honours with a 2-0 victory. While a repeat of that outcome today would surprise few beyond the confines of Fir Park, Stephen Robinson has derived encouragement from his players’ experiences at Hampden since their romp against Queen’s Park. To claim the right to contest the two Scottish finals Motherwell beat Rangers in October and Aberdeen last month. “It is the fifth time we have been here, including the start against Queen’s Park,” Robinson said. “The boys are accustomed to the surroundings and I don’t think it is going to faze them. We showed we can deal with that in two big semi-finals against Rangers and Aberdeen in front of big crowds so I think we are over that now – as Celtic are because they are also in this sort of occasion on a regular basis. I am sure we will be able to handle it.” Motherwell's Ryan Bowman will take on Celtic's Kristoffer Ajer again at Hampden on Saturday Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire There has been much talk around the club about 1991, when Motherwell last won the Scottish Cup, beating Dundee United 4-3 after extra time in a memorable final. That success occurred only a generation ago but it is overlaid with poignancy because four of the squad members – Davie Cooper, Jamie Dolan, Phil O’Donnell and Paul McGrillen – died, all in their 30s. “You still hear people speaking of the 1991 squad that won the cup and they are revered around the football club,” Robinson said. “In terms of management it would be the biggest thing I have ever achieved and I would imagine that would be the case for 100 per cent of our players. “They have all come from non-league teams, under-23 teams and League Two. None of them have played at any real level in the game and it would be a huge achievement for us.” Motherwell's Curtis Main, right, celebrates with Christopher Cadden after scoring their first goal in the semi-final victory over Aberdeen Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS Celtic have been beaten this season by Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and Kilmarnock but, rather than cite those examples to his players, the manager has focused on their own display in a rousing meeting with the Hoops only three days after the Scottish League Cup final. “What’s inspired me is our first half performance when we went down to 10 men at Fir Park,” he said. “As well as that, there was the game where we lost a penalty in the last minute when we were beating them. That has inspired me. We have to look at ourselves and how we caused them problems and how we can do that again. “Celtic are a very good side with individuals who can win the game but we have also caused them problems. The clips we have watched back and used to give our boys the belief you speak about have all been Celtic’s games against us.” Motherwell will not be able to bully Celtic as they did to Aberdeen and Rangers, but they will be entitled to nourish hope if they can get decent supply to the front pair of Curtis Main and Ryan Bowman. In response to Motherwell’s underdog status, Robinson cites two instances of success against heavy odds. “People say things are impossible in sport,” he said. “But I think Leicester City and Northern Ireland have proved that’s not the case.” Motherwell (probable) (3-1-4-2) Carson; Kipre, Aldred, Dunne; Rose; Tait, Campbell, Cadden, Grimshaw; Main, Bowman.
Motherwell draw on spirit of 1991 to inspire Scottish Cup final shock
An unforeseen symmetry returns Motherwell to Hampden Park for the William Hill Scottish Cup final, 10 months after they opened their season at the same venue. Back on July 15, the Steelmen beat Queen’s Park 5-1 in a Betfred Scottish League Cup group stage tie to begin a progress that saw them to the tournament final in November. On that occasion – as again here – Motherwell’s opponents were Celtic, who secured the first instalment of what could be a second clean sweep of the Scottish honours with a 2-0 victory. While a repeat of that outcome today would surprise few beyond the confines of Fir Park, Stephen Robinson has derived encouragement from his players’ experiences at Hampden since their romp against Queen’s Park. To claim the right to contest the two Scottish finals Motherwell beat Rangers in October and Aberdeen last month. “It is the fifth time we have been here, including the start against Queen’s Park,” Robinson said. “The boys are accustomed to the surroundings and I don’t think it is going to faze them. We showed we can deal with that in two big semi-finals against Rangers and Aberdeen in front of big crowds so I think we are over that now – as Celtic are because they are also in this sort of occasion on a regular basis. I am sure we will be able to handle it.” Motherwell's Ryan Bowman will take on Celtic's Kristoffer Ajer again at Hampden on Saturday Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire There has been much talk around the club about 1991, when Motherwell last won the Scottish Cup, beating Dundee United 4-3 after extra time in a memorable final. That success occurred only a generation ago but it is overlaid with poignancy because four of the squad members – Davie Cooper, Jamie Dolan, Phil O’Donnell and Paul McGrillen – died, all in their 30s. “You still hear people speaking of the 1991 squad that won the cup and they are revered around the football club,” Robinson said. “In terms of management it would be the biggest thing I have ever achieved and I would imagine that would be the case for 100 per cent of our players. “They have all come from non-league teams, under-23 teams and League Two. None of them have played at any real level in the game and it would be a huge achievement for us.” Motherwell's Curtis Main, right, celebrates with Christopher Cadden after scoring their first goal in the semi-final victory over Aberdeen Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS Celtic have been beaten this season by Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and Kilmarnock but, rather than cite those examples to his players, the manager has focused on their own display in a rousing meeting with the Hoops only three days after the Scottish League Cup final. “What’s inspired me is our first half performance when we went down to 10 men at Fir Park,” he said. “As well as that, there was the game where we lost a penalty in the last minute when we were beating them. That has inspired me. We have to look at ourselves and how we caused them problems and how we can do that again. “Celtic are a very good side with individuals who can win the game but we have also caused them problems. The clips we have watched back and used to give our boys the belief you speak about have all been Celtic’s games against us.” Motherwell will not be able to bully Celtic as they did to Aberdeen and Rangers, but they will be entitled to nourish hope if they can get decent supply to the front pair of Curtis Main and Ryan Bowman. In response to Motherwell’s underdog status, Robinson cites two instances of success against heavy odds. “People say things are impossible in sport,” he said. “But I think Leicester City and Northern Ireland have proved that’s not the case.” Motherwell (probable) (3-1-4-2) Carson; Kipre, Aldred, Dunne; Rose; Tait, Campbell, Cadden, Grimshaw; Main, Bowman.
An unforeseen symmetry returns Motherwell to Hampden Park for the William Hill Scottish Cup final, 10 months after they opened their season at the same venue. Back on July 15, the Steelmen beat Queen’s Park 5-1 in a Betfred Scottish League Cup group stage tie to begin a progress that saw them to the tournament final in November. On that occasion – as again here – Motherwell’s opponents were Celtic, who secured the first instalment of what could be a second clean sweep of the Scottish honours with a 2-0 victory. While a repeat of that outcome today would surprise few beyond the confines of Fir Park, Stephen Robinson has derived encouragement from his players’ experiences at Hampden since their romp against Queen’s Park. To claim the right to contest the two Scottish finals Motherwell beat Rangers in October and Aberdeen last month. “It is the fifth time we have been here, including the start against Queen’s Park,” Robinson said. “The boys are accustomed to the surroundings and I don’t think it is going to faze them. We showed we can deal with that in two big semi-finals against Rangers and Aberdeen in front of big crowds so I think we are over that now – as Celtic are because they are also in this sort of occasion on a regular basis. I am sure we will be able to handle it.” Motherwell's Ryan Bowman will take on Celtic's Kristoffer Ajer again at Hampden on Saturday Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire There has been much talk around the club about 1991, when Motherwell last won the Scottish Cup, beating Dundee United 4-3 after extra time in a memorable final. That success occurred only a generation ago but it is overlaid with poignancy because four of the squad members – Davie Cooper, Jamie Dolan, Phil O’Donnell and Paul McGrillen – died, all in their 30s. “You still hear people speaking of the 1991 squad that won the cup and they are revered around the football club,” Robinson said. “In terms of management it would be the biggest thing I have ever achieved and I would imagine that would be the case for 100 per cent of our players. “They have all come from non-league teams, under-23 teams and League Two. None of them have played at any real level in the game and it would be a huge achievement for us.” Motherwell's Curtis Main, right, celebrates with Christopher Cadden after scoring their first goal in the semi-final victory over Aberdeen Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS Celtic have been beaten this season by Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and Kilmarnock but, rather than cite those examples to his players, the manager has focused on their own display in a rousing meeting with the Hoops only three days after the Scottish League Cup final. “What’s inspired me is our first half performance when we went down to 10 men at Fir Park,” he said. “As well as that, there was the game where we lost a penalty in the last minute when we were beating them. That has inspired me. We have to look at ourselves and how we caused them problems and how we can do that again. “Celtic are a very good side with individuals who can win the game but we have also caused them problems. The clips we have watched back and used to give our boys the belief you speak about have all been Celtic’s games against us.” Motherwell will not be able to bully Celtic as they did to Aberdeen and Rangers, but they will be entitled to nourish hope if they can get decent supply to the front pair of Curtis Main and Ryan Bowman. In response to Motherwell’s underdog status, Robinson cites two instances of success against heavy odds. “People say things are impossible in sport,” he said. “But I think Leicester City and Northern Ireland have proved that’s not the case.” Motherwell (probable) (3-1-4-2) Carson; Kipre, Aldred, Dunne; Rose; Tait, Campbell, Cadden, Grimshaw; Main, Bowman.
Motherwell draw on spirit of 1991 to inspire Scottish Cup final shock
An unforeseen symmetry returns Motherwell to Hampden Park for the William Hill Scottish Cup final, 10 months after they opened their season at the same venue. Back on July 15, the Steelmen beat Queen’s Park 5-1 in a Betfred Scottish League Cup group stage tie to begin a progress that saw them to the tournament final in November. On that occasion – as again here – Motherwell’s opponents were Celtic, who secured the first instalment of what could be a second clean sweep of the Scottish honours with a 2-0 victory. While a repeat of that outcome today would surprise few beyond the confines of Fir Park, Stephen Robinson has derived encouragement from his players’ experiences at Hampden since their romp against Queen’s Park. To claim the right to contest the two Scottish finals Motherwell beat Rangers in October and Aberdeen last month. “It is the fifth time we have been here, including the start against Queen’s Park,” Robinson said. “The boys are accustomed to the surroundings and I don’t think it is going to faze them. We showed we can deal with that in two big semi-finals against Rangers and Aberdeen in front of big crowds so I think we are over that now – as Celtic are because they are also in this sort of occasion on a regular basis. I am sure we will be able to handle it.” Motherwell's Ryan Bowman will take on Celtic's Kristoffer Ajer again at Hampden on Saturday Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire There has been much talk around the club about 1991, when Motherwell last won the Scottish Cup, beating Dundee United 4-3 after extra time in a memorable final. That success occurred only a generation ago but it is overlaid with poignancy because four of the squad members – Davie Cooper, Jamie Dolan, Phil O’Donnell and Paul McGrillen – died, all in their 30s. “You still hear people speaking of the 1991 squad that won the cup and they are revered around the football club,” Robinson said. “In terms of management it would be the biggest thing I have ever achieved and I would imagine that would be the case for 100 per cent of our players. “They have all come from non-league teams, under-23 teams and League Two. None of them have played at any real level in the game and it would be a huge achievement for us.” Motherwell's Curtis Main, right, celebrates with Christopher Cadden after scoring their first goal in the semi-final victory over Aberdeen Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS Celtic have been beaten this season by Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and Kilmarnock but, rather than cite those examples to his players, the manager has focused on their own display in a rousing meeting with the Hoops only three days after the Scottish League Cup final. “What’s inspired me is our first half performance when we went down to 10 men at Fir Park,” he said. “As well as that, there was the game where we lost a penalty in the last minute when we were beating them. That has inspired me. We have to look at ourselves and how we caused them problems and how we can do that again. “Celtic are a very good side with individuals who can win the game but we have also caused them problems. The clips we have watched back and used to give our boys the belief you speak about have all been Celtic’s games against us.” Motherwell will not be able to bully Celtic as they did to Aberdeen and Rangers, but they will be entitled to nourish hope if they can get decent supply to the front pair of Curtis Main and Ryan Bowman. In response to Motherwell’s underdog status, Robinson cites two instances of success against heavy odds. “People say things are impossible in sport,” he said. “But I think Leicester City and Northern Ireland have proved that’s not the case.” Motherwell (probable) (3-1-4-2) Carson; Kipre, Aldred, Dunne; Rose; Tait, Campbell, Cadden, Grimshaw; Main, Bowman.
Ask not for whom the bell tolls - it tolls for Steven Gerrard and Neil Lennon. Alarms have been ringing at Ibrox, hence the recruitment of Gerrard in hope that he can restore battered morale, although – according to caretaker manager, Jimmy Nicholl – the former Liverpool and England midfielder might have a more sizeable task than he first realised. Neil Lennon, too, should have been alert to the clamour of an alarm but, ahead of Rangers’ visit to Easter Road on Sunday, the Hibernian manager literally slept through it. Lennon was so upset in the aftermath of Wednesday’s defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle - which cost Hibs the chance of finishing second in the Scottish Premiership - that he declared that he would reconsider his position during the summer, in order to calibrate the ambition both of his players and directors. Garry Parker, Lennon’s assistant, took the pre-match media briefing but played down speculation that the manager would soon cut himself adrift from the club. “That was the heat of the moment,” Parker said. “You know what he is like. He is a winner. After a game, if things don’t go his way he just lets it all go. He doesn’t like getting beat at anything - cards, anything - and he loses it.” Of the fact that Lennon had not been seen at the training ground since Wednesday, Parker said: “He is at home in Glasgow. He's overslept. His wife woke him up and then he has gone back to sleep - which is, in fact, a true story. He will be coming in at some point today but when I don’t know.” Meanwhile, Lennon’s fellow Northern Irishman, Nicholl, spoke of the disillusionment that set in after he had agreed to a January request by Rangers’ interim manager, Graeme Murty, to act as his assistant. “At the start I was the happiest man in the word - because we went straight to Florida,” said Nicholl, who had two spells at Rangers as a full-back. Rangers' caretaker manager Jimmy Nicholl thinks Steven Gerrard hs to get more out of the players at Ibrox than the club has managed this season Credit: REUTERS/Scott Heppell “Things started great. We beat Aberdeen, we had six wins in a row - and then you just get a wee setback. All the stuff that was good, all of a sudden, it’s not good enough. “You think, ‘This is what it’s really like’ and you see a difference in the players. They are a wee bit tentative in their approach to games. It’s the reaction to losing games that I was always interested in. “That’s why the Kilmarnock game after the Celtic 3-2 game was a disappointment for me. We did well against Celtic, although we didn’t win it, and then we get beaten by Kilmarnock. “There have been too many games like that while I’ve been here and before that. Sometimes you can see why. I couldn’t see it when I first came in and then I thought - ‘I know now’. You get to know people and you get to know their characters and their wee traits in training, how they react on a Monday and Tuesday after a defeat, how long it takes them to get going again.” Asked how many players would have to be recruited by Gerrard, whose Ibrox tenure begins on June 1, Nicholl said: “I hope he doesn’t need eight or nine. I hope in the end he only needs three or four. Steven Gerrard will flourish or fail at Rangers on his record against Celtic “He should get more out of the boys who are here. If they have anything about them, then he will do. They will respond to his demands. People might say he’s an inexperienced manager, but it doesn’t matter. If someone’s not doing it on the training pitch or on a Saturday for you, then it’s just a case of ‘away you go’. “I was player-manager of Raith Rovers when I was 33 and dealing with older players at that time, making hard decisions and hopefully the right ones. Twenty or more years on, you still make the same decisions and sometimes the same mistakes. “Steven will know right away when he’s out on that training pitch what he needs. I don’t think there are many leaders at clubs unless it’s a top, top club. “Celtic maybe only have one, Scott Brown. In my days, eight or nine of us used to pull two or three through. Now you’re lucky if you have two or three pulling eight or nine through. Not just here, everywhere, in my opinion.” A win for Rangers – if Aberdeen draw or lose to Celtic – would see the Ibrox side finish second, although Nicholl does not expect the achievement to be greeted rapturously, should it occur “The supporters hate to hear that,” he said. Players, too, will turn around and say: ‘What’s second place mean?’ “At least it puts you on a good platform for the manager to come into. People will say a massive achievement for Rangers is winning the league and hopefully that will happen one day, but not at this moment in time. This is now the best we can do.”
Alarm bells ring for Rangers and Hibernian
Ask not for whom the bell tolls - it tolls for Steven Gerrard and Neil Lennon. Alarms have been ringing at Ibrox, hence the recruitment of Gerrard in hope that he can restore battered morale, although – according to caretaker manager, Jimmy Nicholl – the former Liverpool and England midfielder might have a more sizeable task than he first realised. Neil Lennon, too, should have been alert to the clamour of an alarm but, ahead of Rangers’ visit to Easter Road on Sunday, the Hibernian manager literally slept through it. Lennon was so upset in the aftermath of Wednesday’s defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle - which cost Hibs the chance of finishing second in the Scottish Premiership - that he declared that he would reconsider his position during the summer, in order to calibrate the ambition both of his players and directors. Garry Parker, Lennon’s assistant, took the pre-match media briefing but played down speculation that the manager would soon cut himself adrift from the club. “That was the heat of the moment,” Parker said. “You know what he is like. He is a winner. After a game, if things don’t go his way he just lets it all go. He doesn’t like getting beat at anything - cards, anything - and he loses it.” Of the fact that Lennon had not been seen at the training ground since Wednesday, Parker said: “He is at home in Glasgow. He's overslept. His wife woke him up and then he has gone back to sleep - which is, in fact, a true story. He will be coming in at some point today but when I don’t know.” Meanwhile, Lennon’s fellow Northern Irishman, Nicholl, spoke of the disillusionment that set in after he had agreed to a January request by Rangers’ interim manager, Graeme Murty, to act as his assistant. “At the start I was the happiest man in the word - because we went straight to Florida,” said Nicholl, who had two spells at Rangers as a full-back. Rangers' caretaker manager Jimmy Nicholl thinks Steven Gerrard hs to get more out of the players at Ibrox than the club has managed this season Credit: REUTERS/Scott Heppell “Things started great. We beat Aberdeen, we had six wins in a row - and then you just get a wee setback. All the stuff that was good, all of a sudden, it’s not good enough. “You think, ‘This is what it’s really like’ and you see a difference in the players. They are a wee bit tentative in their approach to games. It’s the reaction to losing games that I was always interested in. “That’s why the Kilmarnock game after the Celtic 3-2 game was a disappointment for me. We did well against Celtic, although we didn’t win it, and then we get beaten by Kilmarnock. “There have been too many games like that while I’ve been here and before that. Sometimes you can see why. I couldn’t see it when I first came in and then I thought - ‘I know now’. You get to know people and you get to know their characters and their wee traits in training, how they react on a Monday and Tuesday after a defeat, how long it takes them to get going again.” Asked how many players would have to be recruited by Gerrard, whose Ibrox tenure begins on June 1, Nicholl said: “I hope he doesn’t need eight or nine. I hope in the end he only needs three or four. Steven Gerrard will flourish or fail at Rangers on his record against Celtic “He should get more out of the boys who are here. If they have anything about them, then he will do. They will respond to his demands. People might say he’s an inexperienced manager, but it doesn’t matter. If someone’s not doing it on the training pitch or on a Saturday for you, then it’s just a case of ‘away you go’. “I was player-manager of Raith Rovers when I was 33 and dealing with older players at that time, making hard decisions and hopefully the right ones. Twenty or more years on, you still make the same decisions and sometimes the same mistakes. “Steven will know right away when he’s out on that training pitch what he needs. I don’t think there are many leaders at clubs unless it’s a top, top club. “Celtic maybe only have one, Scott Brown. In my days, eight or nine of us used to pull two or three through. Now you’re lucky if you have two or three pulling eight or nine through. Not just here, everywhere, in my opinion.” A win for Rangers – if Aberdeen draw or lose to Celtic – would see the Ibrox side finish second, although Nicholl does not expect the achievement to be greeted rapturously, should it occur “The supporters hate to hear that,” he said. Players, too, will turn around and say: ‘What’s second place mean?’ “At least it puts you on a good platform for the manager to come into. People will say a massive achievement for Rangers is winning the league and hopefully that will happen one day, but not at this moment in time. This is now the best we can do.”
Ask not for whom the bell tolls - it tolls for Steven Gerrard and Neil Lennon. Alarms have been ringing at Ibrox, hence the recruitment of Gerrard in hope that he can restore battered morale, although – according to caretaker manager, Jimmy Nicholl – the former Liverpool and England midfielder might have a more sizeable task than he first realised. Neil Lennon, too, should have been alert to the clamour of an alarm but, ahead of Rangers’ visit to Easter Road on Sunday, the Hibernian manager literally slept through it. Lennon was so upset in the aftermath of Wednesday’s defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle - which cost Hibs the chance of finishing second in the Scottish Premiership - that he declared that he would reconsider his position during the summer, in order to calibrate the ambition both of his players and directors. Garry Parker, Lennon’s assistant, took the pre-match media briefing but played down speculation that the manager would soon cut himself adrift from the club. “That was the heat of the moment,” Parker said. “You know what he is like. He is a winner. After a game, if things don’t go his way he just lets it all go. He doesn’t like getting beat at anything - cards, anything - and he loses it.” Of the fact that Lennon had not been seen at the training ground since Wednesday, Parker said: “He is at home in Glasgow. He's overslept. His wife woke him up and then he has gone back to sleep - which is, in fact, a true story. He will be coming in at some point today but when I don’t know.” Meanwhile, Lennon’s fellow Northern Irishman, Nicholl, spoke of the disillusionment that set in after he had agreed to a January request by Rangers’ interim manager, Graeme Murty, to act as his assistant. “At the start I was the happiest man in the word - because we went straight to Florida,” said Nicholl, who had two spells at Rangers as a full-back. Rangers' caretaker manager Jimmy Nicholl thinks Steven Gerrard hs to get more out of the players at Ibrox than the club has managed this season Credit: REUTERS/Scott Heppell “Things started great. We beat Aberdeen, we had six wins in a row - and then you just get a wee setback. All the stuff that was good, all of a sudden, it’s not good enough. “You think, ‘This is what it’s really like’ and you see a difference in the players. They are a wee bit tentative in their approach to games. It’s the reaction to losing games that I was always interested in. “That’s why the Kilmarnock game after the Celtic 3-2 game was a disappointment for me. We did well against Celtic, although we didn’t win it, and then we get beaten by Kilmarnock. “There have been too many games like that while I’ve been here and before that. Sometimes you can see why. I couldn’t see it when I first came in and then I thought - ‘I know now’. You get to know people and you get to know their characters and their wee traits in training, how they react on a Monday and Tuesday after a defeat, how long it takes them to get going again.” Asked how many players would have to be recruited by Gerrard, whose Ibrox tenure begins on June 1, Nicholl said: “I hope he doesn’t need eight or nine. I hope in the end he only needs three or four. Steven Gerrard will flourish or fail at Rangers on his record against Celtic “He should get more out of the boys who are here. If they have anything about them, then he will do. They will respond to his demands. People might say he’s an inexperienced manager, but it doesn’t matter. If someone’s not doing it on the training pitch or on a Saturday for you, then it’s just a case of ‘away you go’. “I was player-manager of Raith Rovers when I was 33 and dealing with older players at that time, making hard decisions and hopefully the right ones. Twenty or more years on, you still make the same decisions and sometimes the same mistakes. “Steven will know right away when he’s out on that training pitch what he needs. I don’t think there are many leaders at clubs unless it’s a top, top club. “Celtic maybe only have one, Scott Brown. In my days, eight or nine of us used to pull two or three through. Now you’re lucky if you have two or three pulling eight or nine through. Not just here, everywhere, in my opinion.” A win for Rangers – if Aberdeen draw or lose to Celtic – would see the Ibrox side finish second, although Nicholl does not expect the achievement to be greeted rapturously, should it occur “The supporters hate to hear that,” he said. Players, too, will turn around and say: ‘What’s second place mean?’ “At least it puts you on a good platform for the manager to come into. People will say a massive achievement for Rangers is winning the league and hopefully that will happen one day, but not at this moment in time. This is now the best we can do.”
Alarm bells ring for Rangers and Hibernian
Ask not for whom the bell tolls - it tolls for Steven Gerrard and Neil Lennon. Alarms have been ringing at Ibrox, hence the recruitment of Gerrard in hope that he can restore battered morale, although – according to caretaker manager, Jimmy Nicholl – the former Liverpool and England midfielder might have a more sizeable task than he first realised. Neil Lennon, too, should have been alert to the clamour of an alarm but, ahead of Rangers’ visit to Easter Road on Sunday, the Hibernian manager literally slept through it. Lennon was so upset in the aftermath of Wednesday’s defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle - which cost Hibs the chance of finishing second in the Scottish Premiership - that he declared that he would reconsider his position during the summer, in order to calibrate the ambition both of his players and directors. Garry Parker, Lennon’s assistant, took the pre-match media briefing but played down speculation that the manager would soon cut himself adrift from the club. “That was the heat of the moment,” Parker said. “You know what he is like. He is a winner. After a game, if things don’t go his way he just lets it all go. He doesn’t like getting beat at anything - cards, anything - and he loses it.” Of the fact that Lennon had not been seen at the training ground since Wednesday, Parker said: “He is at home in Glasgow. He's overslept. His wife woke him up and then he has gone back to sleep - which is, in fact, a true story. He will be coming in at some point today but when I don’t know.” Meanwhile, Lennon’s fellow Northern Irishman, Nicholl, spoke of the disillusionment that set in after he had agreed to a January request by Rangers’ interim manager, Graeme Murty, to act as his assistant. “At the start I was the happiest man in the word - because we went straight to Florida,” said Nicholl, who had two spells at Rangers as a full-back. Rangers' caretaker manager Jimmy Nicholl thinks Steven Gerrard hs to get more out of the players at Ibrox than the club has managed this season Credit: REUTERS/Scott Heppell “Things started great. We beat Aberdeen, we had six wins in a row - and then you just get a wee setback. All the stuff that was good, all of a sudden, it’s not good enough. “You think, ‘This is what it’s really like’ and you see a difference in the players. They are a wee bit tentative in their approach to games. It’s the reaction to losing games that I was always interested in. “That’s why the Kilmarnock game after the Celtic 3-2 game was a disappointment for me. We did well against Celtic, although we didn’t win it, and then we get beaten by Kilmarnock. “There have been too many games like that while I’ve been here and before that. Sometimes you can see why. I couldn’t see it when I first came in and then I thought - ‘I know now’. You get to know people and you get to know their characters and their wee traits in training, how they react on a Monday and Tuesday after a defeat, how long it takes them to get going again.” Asked how many players would have to be recruited by Gerrard, whose Ibrox tenure begins on June 1, Nicholl said: “I hope he doesn’t need eight or nine. I hope in the end he only needs three or four. Steven Gerrard will flourish or fail at Rangers on his record against Celtic “He should get more out of the boys who are here. If they have anything about them, then he will do. They will respond to his demands. People might say he’s an inexperienced manager, but it doesn’t matter. If someone’s not doing it on the training pitch or on a Saturday for you, then it’s just a case of ‘away you go’. “I was player-manager of Raith Rovers when I was 33 and dealing with older players at that time, making hard decisions and hopefully the right ones. Twenty or more years on, you still make the same decisions and sometimes the same mistakes. “Steven will know right away when he’s out on that training pitch what he needs. I don’t think there are many leaders at clubs unless it’s a top, top club. “Celtic maybe only have one, Scott Brown. In my days, eight or nine of us used to pull two or three through. Now you’re lucky if you have two or three pulling eight or nine through. Not just here, everywhere, in my opinion.” A win for Rangers – if Aberdeen draw or lose to Celtic – would see the Ibrox side finish second, although Nicholl does not expect the achievement to be greeted rapturously, should it occur “The supporters hate to hear that,” he said. Players, too, will turn around and say: ‘What’s second place mean?’ “At least it puts you on a good platform for the manager to come into. People will say a massive achievement for Rangers is winning the league and hopefully that will happen one day, but not at this moment in time. This is now the best we can do.”
Steven Gerrard must wait to discover when he will take charge of Rangers for the first time in a competitive game as the Ibrox club jostle with Aberdeen and Hibernian for Scotland’s quota of Europa League places. As matters stand, the Scottish Cup winners will enter the tournament in the second qualifying round, with the Scottish Premiership runners-up and the third placed side starting in the first round of qualifiers. The best scenario for Gerrard would be for Celtic to win the Scottish Cup and for Rangers to finish as league runners-up, in which case his players would begin their competitive season on July 26, giving the former Liverpool and England midfielder a little more breathing space as he attempts to reconstruct Rangers after the current dispiriting season. The nightmare scenario for the Ibrox board would be a fourth-place finish and a Motherwell win in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park on May 19. That combination would cost Rangers domestic prize money and exclude them from European football. Gerrard will sit down this week with Rangers’ director of football, Mark Allen, to identify signing targets. “That’s next on the list,” he said, when asked about his timetable on his first foray into football management. “We’ve already had a couple of brief chats but we will have lots of discussions as we try to make the team capable of competing.” With two fixture cards remaining, Rangers closed to within a point of Aberdeen after beating Kilmarnock for the first time this season. Jimmy Nicholl is in charge of Rangers for what remains of their campaign and he restored David Bates – bound for Hamburg in the summer – to central defence for the first time since March, with Ross McCrorie making way. The injured Josh Windass was replaced by Colombian striker, Alfredo Morelos, who had another frustrating outing in the Old Firm derby. None of these changes had proved productive by half time, with the game goalless and some of the home fans grumbling. The mood of frustration grew as the stalemate persisted into the closing stages of the contest. Nevertheless, Nicholl’s selection of Bates proved to be the ace card for Rangers in the 87th minute, when the centre-back got into the Kilmarnock area to turn home a Sean Goss cross. On Tuesday, Rangers travel to Pittodrie, where disparate trends encountered each other in the shape of Aberdeen and Hibs. The visitors had not won on their four most recent visits to the Granite City but arrived on an unbeaten run stretching back for 11 games. The Dons, meanwhile, had not won in May in a 13-game sequence which began in 2009. Hibs passed up a splendid opportunity to take an early lead when Jamie Maclaren was barged to the ground inside the box for a penalty kick which the Australian chose to take, only for Joe Lewis to read his intent and save with a dive low to his right to turn the ball up and over his crossbar. Maclaren was culpable again when he rose to meet a perfect cross from Martin Boyle six yards out and unmarked, but the striker placed his effort wide of the mark. Aberdeen took time to impose themselves but they came close when a Scott McKenna header was scooped off the line by Darren McGregor and, as the interval approached, Niall McGinn cracked a 25-yard free kick off the bar. John McGinn, the Hibs midfielder, alarmed Aberdeen with a 20-yard drive that was blocked by Lewis just before the hour mark, but his effort proved to be the last decent piece of work in a match which became more untidy as it wore on. “I am pleased with the performance and the mentality – and I’m disappointed not to come away with the three points,” said Neil Lennon. The Hibernian manager added: “Their goalkeeper got the man of the match and that says it all. We were comfortable and dealt with their aerial threat very well. We’ve still got a chance of finishing second. We are well in it.” Elsewhere, Motherwell seemed distracted by their appearance in the William Hill Scottish Cup final at Hampden in two weeks, as they were thrashed 5-1 at home to St Johnstone, for whom Steve MacLean scored a hat-trick on his final appearance for the Perth club. “It is what dreams are made of,” MacLean said, who was Saints’ captain for the day. “When I woke up I would not have thought about signing off with that. I am so happy to go off that way and I wish them every success in the future.”
Waiting game for Steven Gerrard as Rangers do battle for second in Scottish Premiership and a place in Europe
Steven Gerrard must wait to discover when he will take charge of Rangers for the first time in a competitive game as the Ibrox club jostle with Aberdeen and Hibernian for Scotland’s quota of Europa League places. As matters stand, the Scottish Cup winners will enter the tournament in the second qualifying round, with the Scottish Premiership runners-up and the third placed side starting in the first round of qualifiers. The best scenario for Gerrard would be for Celtic to win the Scottish Cup and for Rangers to finish as league runners-up, in which case his players would begin their competitive season on July 26, giving the former Liverpool and England midfielder a little more breathing space as he attempts to reconstruct Rangers after the current dispiriting season. The nightmare scenario for the Ibrox board would be a fourth-place finish and a Motherwell win in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park on May 19. That combination would cost Rangers domestic prize money and exclude them from European football. Gerrard will sit down this week with Rangers’ director of football, Mark Allen, to identify signing targets. “That’s next on the list,” he said, when asked about his timetable on his first foray into football management. “We’ve already had a couple of brief chats but we will have lots of discussions as we try to make the team capable of competing.” With two fixture cards remaining, Rangers closed to within a point of Aberdeen after beating Kilmarnock for the first time this season. Jimmy Nicholl is in charge of Rangers for what remains of their campaign and he restored David Bates – bound for Hamburg in the summer – to central defence for the first time since March, with Ross McCrorie making way. The injured Josh Windass was replaced by Colombian striker, Alfredo Morelos, who had another frustrating outing in the Old Firm derby. None of these changes had proved productive by half time, with the game goalless and some of the home fans grumbling. The mood of frustration grew as the stalemate persisted into the closing stages of the contest. Nevertheless, Nicholl’s selection of Bates proved to be the ace card for Rangers in the 87th minute, when the centre-back got into the Kilmarnock area to turn home a Sean Goss cross. On Tuesday, Rangers travel to Pittodrie, where disparate trends encountered each other in the shape of Aberdeen and Hibs. The visitors had not won on their four most recent visits to the Granite City but arrived on an unbeaten run stretching back for 11 games. The Dons, meanwhile, had not won in May in a 13-game sequence which began in 2009. Hibs passed up a splendid opportunity to take an early lead when Jamie Maclaren was barged to the ground inside the box for a penalty kick which the Australian chose to take, only for Joe Lewis to read his intent and save with a dive low to his right to turn the ball up and over his crossbar. Maclaren was culpable again when he rose to meet a perfect cross from Martin Boyle six yards out and unmarked, but the striker placed his effort wide of the mark. Aberdeen took time to impose themselves but they came close when a Scott McKenna header was scooped off the line by Darren McGregor and, as the interval approached, Niall McGinn cracked a 25-yard free kick off the bar. John McGinn, the Hibs midfielder, alarmed Aberdeen with a 20-yard drive that was blocked by Lewis just before the hour mark, but his effort proved to be the last decent piece of work in a match which became more untidy as it wore on. “I am pleased with the performance and the mentality – and I’m disappointed not to come away with the three points,” said Neil Lennon. The Hibernian manager added: “Their goalkeeper got the man of the match and that says it all. We were comfortable and dealt with their aerial threat very well. We’ve still got a chance of finishing second. We are well in it.” Elsewhere, Motherwell seemed distracted by their appearance in the William Hill Scottish Cup final at Hampden in two weeks, as they were thrashed 5-1 at home to St Johnstone, for whom Steve MacLean scored a hat-trick on his final appearance for the Perth club. “It is what dreams are made of,” MacLean said, who was Saints’ captain for the day. “When I woke up I would not have thought about signing off with that. I am so happy to go off that way and I wish them every success in the future.”
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 General view of birds after the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 General view of birds after the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Rangers’ Andy Halliday is challenged by Kilmarnock’s Eamonn Brophy during the Scottish Premiership match.
Rangers give Steven Gerrard stark reminder of challenge to come
Rangers’ Andy Halliday is challenged by Kilmarnock’s Eamonn Brophy during the Scottish Premiership match.
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 General view after the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 General view after the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 General view after the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 General view after the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 General view of birds after the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 General view of birds after the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' David Bates celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' David Bates celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' David Bates scores their first goal REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' David Bates scores their first goal REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' David Bates celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' David Bates celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' David Bates celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' David Bates celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' David Bates celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' David Bates celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' Alfredo Morelos reacts after a save from Kilmarnock's Jamie McDonald REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' Alfredo Morelos reacts after a save from Kilmarnock's Jamie McDonald REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' James Tavernier in action REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' James Tavernier in action REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' Alfredo Morelos reacts after a save from Kilmarnock's Jamie McDonald REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' Alfredo Morelos reacts after a save from Kilmarnock's Jamie McDonald REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Kilmarnock's Youssuf Mulumbu in action with Rangers' Graham Dorrans REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Kilmarnock's Youssuf Mulumbu in action with Rangers' Graham Dorrans REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Kilmarnock's Eamonn Brophy in action REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Kilmarnock's Eamonn Brophy in action REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Kilmarnock's Eamonn Brophy in action REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Kilmarnock's Eamonn Brophy in action REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' James Tavernier in action with Kilmarnock's Jordan Jones REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers' James Tavernier in action with Kilmarnock's Jordan Jones REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers co-caretaker manager Jimmy Nicholl and Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers co-caretaker manager Jimmy Nicholl and Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers co-caretaker manager Jimmy Nicholl REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers co-caretaker manager Jimmy Nicholl REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers fans before the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers fans before the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers co-caretaker manager Jimmy Nicholl before the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers co-caretaker manager Jimmy Nicholl before the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers co-caretaker manager Jimmy Nicholl before the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 Rangers co-caretaker manager Jimmy Nicholl before the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 General view outside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 General view outside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 A Rangers fan with badges on his top before the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 A Rangers fan with badges on his top before the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 General view outside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 General view outside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 General view outside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock
Soccer Football - Scottish Premiership - Rangers vs Kilmarnock - Ibrox, Glasgow, Britain - May 5, 2018 General view outside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Steven Gerrard walked into the goldfish bowl of life as Rangers manager and declared himself “ready for the challenge” after revealing he had turned down eight other job offers before getting “a special feeling” about taking over at Ibrox. The former England captain was unveiled in front of a crowd of 7,000 fans as the 37-year-old quit his job as Liverpool Under-18 coach to take on the daunting task of overhauling Celtic and his old manager, Brendan Rodgers. Gerrard vowed to “ leave his ego” at the door as he spelt out why he had taken the Rangers job after revealing he had turned down numerous offers to leave his role at Liverpool. And he also admitted that until Liverpool made him aware of the approach from the 54-time Scottish champions he had expected to stay at Anfield and emerge as a potential successor to Jürgen Klopp. When asked if he had been tempted to stay at Liverpool and be in the frame to manage the club, Gerrard replied: “Yes. I had probably as many as eight other opportunities to be a manager, to be a number two, to be a coach, which presented themselves since I came home from Los Angeles [Galaxy, where he finished his playing career], but I never got the right feeling from them. When Rangers came, it was a game changer. “The first phone call came from Liverpool. They made me aware Rangers had been in touch and wanted permission to speak to me. Steven Gerrard will flourish or fail at Rangers on his record against Celtic “It wasn’t a phone call I was expecting. I had a special feeling inside my stomach. My reply was ‘Yes, I would like the opportunity to speak to Rangers’.” If Gerrard were unaware of the excitement his arrival has caused then the reception he received will have changed that. There were so many supporters at Ibrox that police had to close to road outside the stadium, and when a fire engine raced past it prompted the thought this would have been an entirely apt mode of transport for Gerrard’s first managerial appointment. He takes the job in the immediate aftermath of two crushing defeats by a Celtic side who looked as though they were operating in a different league from their ancient rivals, but as Gerrard pointed out, he has never shirked a challenge. Gary McAllister (left) will be Steven Gerrard's assistant Credit: EPA "I have weighed the gamble up and the risk and I understand other people thinking it is because it is my first job in management, but I have confidence in myself that I can deliver for these supporters,” he said. “My parents brought me up in life to always front a challenge, if you feel like that challenge is the right one for you, go for it.” Asked if his heart had sunk while watching the beatings inflicted at Hampden Park and Parkhead, like everyone else connected with Rangers, Gerrard replied crisply: “I wasn’t connected with Rangers at that time. “To be honest, where I sit right now, it’s not the right time and place for me to talk about Celtic. There will be plenty of time for that in the future when we move forward and we start the challenge from the new season. “My priority is Rangers. I need to get this house in order, I need to produce a team and squad that’s capable of winning football matches. I want the supporters to skip into this place to watch that team and be proud of them and to see that we can take the team and club forward and make it competitive. Graeme Murty has been sacked as interim Rangers manager Credit: PA “That’s my priority, not what Celtic have been doing and not what other people have been doing in the league. I have to focus on every challenge that’s coming at us but for us to win those challenges and come out on top of them we need to sort Rangers out first.” Gerrard will not be Rangers manager until June 1, which means that the team’s three remaining matches – at home to Kilmarnock today (Sat), followed by a trip to Aberdeen on Tuesday and the visit of Hibernian next weekend – are not his responsibility. Instead, that burden falls upon Jimmy Nicholl, now acting as a caretaker boss for the third time in his career. Given the possibility that Rangers might lose any or all of these encounters, it is a deft ploy on the club’s part to keep their star acquisition free from the taint of failure at this fledgling stage of his career. Gerrard, of course, was never going to walk alone into the bearpit of Ibrox. Speculation that he would choose as an assistant someone who had played for the club turned out to be wide of the mark. Instead, he will be accompanied by Gary McAllister, whose most vivid memory of Ibrox is scoring for Leeds United there in the inaugural Champions League in 1992. “We have known each other for a long time and the key thing you are looking for when you are looking for an assistant is trust,” he said. “Gary ticks that box. He is a football man, he has been around the game for a long time as a player, a coach, an assistant and he has also been around Liverpool of late. “He is as excited as me, he can’t wait to get going. It was important that I found someone with experience because everyone knows in the room this is the first job opportunity for me that I have taken. He will certainly be the perfect assistant for me. “I’m going to make mistakes going forward. I’ve made plenty in my playing career and I’ve made many this season as a coach, but I believe in the staff I’m going to be bringing to share this journey with me. “I’m not perfect but I will put people around me to support me, to complement where I need a bit of help and guidance. We will park the egos at the front door.” Of Brendan Rodgers, his erstwhile manager, mentor and future Old Firm counterpart, there was only a fleeting mention. “I’m not sure how the relationship will change,” Gerrard said. “Right now, as I sit here, everything is fine. I really enjoyed my time as a player under Brendan, I have nothing but respect for the man and the coach. “The way I see it, it’s a very exciting challenge for myself to go up against not just Brendan but the other top managers in the league and the managers around Europe as well. That’s where I am now and that’s what I’ve got to face, that competition from other managers around the world, not just the closest ones.”
Steven Gerrard has 'special feeling' about taking over at Rangers
Steven Gerrard walked into the goldfish bowl of life as Rangers manager and declared himself “ready for the challenge” after revealing he had turned down eight other job offers before getting “a special feeling” about taking over at Ibrox. The former England captain was unveiled in front of a crowd of 7,000 fans as the 37-year-old quit his job as Liverpool Under-18 coach to take on the daunting task of overhauling Celtic and his old manager, Brendan Rodgers. Gerrard vowed to “ leave his ego” at the door as he spelt out why he had taken the Rangers job after revealing he had turned down numerous offers to leave his role at Liverpool. And he also admitted that until Liverpool made him aware of the approach from the 54-time Scottish champions he had expected to stay at Anfield and emerge as a potential successor to Jürgen Klopp. When asked if he had been tempted to stay at Liverpool and be in the frame to manage the club, Gerrard replied: “Yes. I had probably as many as eight other opportunities to be a manager, to be a number two, to be a coach, which presented themselves since I came home from Los Angeles [Galaxy, where he finished his playing career], but I never got the right feeling from them. When Rangers came, it was a game changer. “The first phone call came from Liverpool. They made me aware Rangers had been in touch and wanted permission to speak to me. Steven Gerrard will flourish or fail at Rangers on his record against Celtic “It wasn’t a phone call I was expecting. I had a special feeling inside my stomach. My reply was ‘Yes, I would like the opportunity to speak to Rangers’.” If Gerrard were unaware of the excitement his arrival has caused then the reception he received will have changed that. There were so many supporters at Ibrox that police had to close to road outside the stadium, and when a fire engine raced past it prompted the thought this would have been an entirely apt mode of transport for Gerrard’s first managerial appointment. He takes the job in the immediate aftermath of two crushing defeats by a Celtic side who looked as though they were operating in a different league from their ancient rivals, but as Gerrard pointed out, he has never shirked a challenge. Gary McAllister (left) will be Steven Gerrard's assistant Credit: EPA "I have weighed the gamble up and the risk and I understand other people thinking it is because it is my first job in management, but I have confidence in myself that I can deliver for these supporters,” he said. “My parents brought me up in life to always front a challenge, if you feel like that challenge is the right one for you, go for it.” Asked if his heart had sunk while watching the beatings inflicted at Hampden Park and Parkhead, like everyone else connected with Rangers, Gerrard replied crisply: “I wasn’t connected with Rangers at that time. “To be honest, where I sit right now, it’s not the right time and place for me to talk about Celtic. There will be plenty of time for that in the future when we move forward and we start the challenge from the new season. “My priority is Rangers. I need to get this house in order, I need to produce a team and squad that’s capable of winning football matches. I want the supporters to skip into this place to watch that team and be proud of them and to see that we can take the team and club forward and make it competitive. Graeme Murty has been sacked as interim Rangers manager Credit: PA “That’s my priority, not what Celtic have been doing and not what other people have been doing in the league. I have to focus on every challenge that’s coming at us but for us to win those challenges and come out on top of them we need to sort Rangers out first.” Gerrard will not be Rangers manager until June 1, which means that the team’s three remaining matches – at home to Kilmarnock today (Sat), followed by a trip to Aberdeen on Tuesday and the visit of Hibernian next weekend – are not his responsibility. Instead, that burden falls upon Jimmy Nicholl, now acting as a caretaker boss for the third time in his career. Given the possibility that Rangers might lose any or all of these encounters, it is a deft ploy on the club’s part to keep their star acquisition free from the taint of failure at this fledgling stage of his career. Gerrard, of course, was never going to walk alone into the bearpit of Ibrox. Speculation that he would choose as an assistant someone who had played for the club turned out to be wide of the mark. Instead, he will be accompanied by Gary McAllister, whose most vivid memory of Ibrox is scoring for Leeds United there in the inaugural Champions League in 1992. “We have known each other for a long time and the key thing you are looking for when you are looking for an assistant is trust,” he said. “Gary ticks that box. He is a football man, he has been around the game for a long time as a player, a coach, an assistant and he has also been around Liverpool of late. “He is as excited as me, he can’t wait to get going. It was important that I found someone with experience because everyone knows in the room this is the first job opportunity for me that I have taken. He will certainly be the perfect assistant for me. “I’m going to make mistakes going forward. I’ve made plenty in my playing career and I’ve made many this season as a coach, but I believe in the staff I’m going to be bringing to share this journey with me. “I’m not perfect but I will put people around me to support me, to complement where I need a bit of help and guidance. We will park the egos at the front door.” Of Brendan Rodgers, his erstwhile manager, mentor and future Old Firm counterpart, there was only a fleeting mention. “I’m not sure how the relationship will change,” Gerrard said. “Right now, as I sit here, everything is fine. I really enjoyed my time as a player under Brendan, I have nothing but respect for the man and the coach. “The way I see it, it’s a very exciting challenge for myself to go up against not just Brendan but the other top managers in the league and the managers around Europe as well. That’s where I am now and that’s what I’ve got to face, that competition from other managers around the world, not just the closest ones.”
Steven Gerrard walked into the goldfish bowl of life as Rangers manager and declared himself “ready for the challenge” after revealing he had turned down eight other job offers before getting “a special feeling” about taking over at Ibrox. The former England captain was unveiled in front of a crowd of 7,000 fans as the 37-year-old quit his job as Liverpool Under-18 coach to take on the daunting task of overhauling Celtic and his old manager, Brendan Rodgers. Gerrard vowed to “ leave his ego” at the door as he spelt out why he had taken the Rangers job after revealing he had turned down numerous offers to leave his role at Liverpool. And he also admitted that until Liverpool made him aware of the approach from the 54-time Scottish champions he had expected to stay at Anfield and emerge as a potential successor to Jürgen Klopp. When asked if he had been tempted to stay at Liverpool and be in the frame to manage the club, Gerrard replied: “Yes. I had probably as many as eight other opportunities to be a manager, to be a number two, to be a coach, which presented themselves since I came home from Los Angeles [Galaxy, where he finished his playing career], but I never got the right feeling from them. When Rangers came, it was a game changer. “The first phone call came from Liverpool. They made me aware Rangers had been in touch and wanted permission to speak to me. Steven Gerrard will flourish or fail at Rangers on his record against Celtic “It wasn’t a phone call I was expecting. I had a special feeling inside my stomach. My reply was ‘Yes, I would like the opportunity to speak to Rangers’.” If Gerrard were unaware of the excitement his arrival has caused then the reception he received will have changed that. There were so many supporters at Ibrox that police had to close to road outside the stadium, and when a fire engine raced past it prompted the thought this would have been an entirely apt mode of transport for Gerrard’s first managerial appointment. He takes the job in the immediate aftermath of two crushing defeats by a Celtic side who looked as though they were operating in a different league from their ancient rivals, but as Gerrard pointed out, he has never shirked a challenge. Gary McAllister (left) will be Steven Gerrard's assistant Credit: EPA "I have weighed the gamble up and the risk and I understand other people thinking it is because it is my first job in management, but I have confidence in myself that I can deliver for these supporters,” he said. “My parents brought me up in life to always front a challenge, if you feel like that challenge is the right one for you, go for it.” Asked if his heart had sunk while watching the beatings inflicted at Hampden Park and Parkhead, like everyone else connected with Rangers, Gerrard replied crisply: “I wasn’t connected with Rangers at that time. “To be honest, where I sit right now, it’s not the right time and place for me to talk about Celtic. There will be plenty of time for that in the future when we move forward and we start the challenge from the new season. “My priority is Rangers. I need to get this house in order, I need to produce a team and squad that’s capable of winning football matches. I want the supporters to skip into this place to watch that team and be proud of them and to see that we can take the team and club forward and make it competitive. Graeme Murty has been sacked as interim Rangers manager Credit: PA “That’s my priority, not what Celtic have been doing and not what other people have been doing in the league. I have to focus on every challenge that’s coming at us but for us to win those challenges and come out on top of them we need to sort Rangers out first.” Gerrard will not be Rangers manager until June 1, which means that the team’s three remaining matches – at home to Kilmarnock today (Sat), followed by a trip to Aberdeen on Tuesday and the visit of Hibernian next weekend – are not his responsibility. Instead, that burden falls upon Jimmy Nicholl, now acting as a caretaker boss for the third time in his career. Given the possibility that Rangers might lose any or all of these encounters, it is a deft ploy on the club’s part to keep their star acquisition free from the taint of failure at this fledgling stage of his career. Gerrard, of course, was never going to walk alone into the bearpit of Ibrox. Speculation that he would choose as an assistant someone who had played for the club turned out to be wide of the mark. Instead, he will be accompanied by Gary McAllister, whose most vivid memory of Ibrox is scoring for Leeds United there in the inaugural Champions League in 1992. “We have known each other for a long time and the key thing you are looking for when you are looking for an assistant is trust,” he said. “Gary ticks that box. He is a football man, he has been around the game for a long time as a player, a coach, an assistant and he has also been around Liverpool of late. “He is as excited as me, he can’t wait to get going. It was important that I found someone with experience because everyone knows in the room this is the first job opportunity for me that I have taken. He will certainly be the perfect assistant for me. “I’m going to make mistakes going forward. I’ve made plenty in my playing career and I’ve made many this season as a coach, but I believe in the staff I’m going to be bringing to share this journey with me. “I’m not perfect but I will put people around me to support me, to complement where I need a bit of help and guidance. We will park the egos at the front door.” Of Brendan Rodgers, his erstwhile manager, mentor and future Old Firm counterpart, there was only a fleeting mention. “I’m not sure how the relationship will change,” Gerrard said. “Right now, as I sit here, everything is fine. I really enjoyed my time as a player under Brendan, I have nothing but respect for the man and the coach. “The way I see it, it’s a very exciting challenge for myself to go up against not just Brendan but the other top managers in the league and the managers around Europe as well. That’s where I am now and that’s what I’ve got to face, that competition from other managers around the world, not just the closest ones.”
Steven Gerrard has 'special feeling' about taking over at Rangers
Steven Gerrard walked into the goldfish bowl of life as Rangers manager and declared himself “ready for the challenge” after revealing he had turned down eight other job offers before getting “a special feeling” about taking over at Ibrox. The former England captain was unveiled in front of a crowd of 7,000 fans as the 37-year-old quit his job as Liverpool Under-18 coach to take on the daunting task of overhauling Celtic and his old manager, Brendan Rodgers. Gerrard vowed to “ leave his ego” at the door as he spelt out why he had taken the Rangers job after revealing he had turned down numerous offers to leave his role at Liverpool. And he also admitted that until Liverpool made him aware of the approach from the 54-time Scottish champions he had expected to stay at Anfield and emerge as a potential successor to Jürgen Klopp. When asked if he had been tempted to stay at Liverpool and be in the frame to manage the club, Gerrard replied: “Yes. I had probably as many as eight other opportunities to be a manager, to be a number two, to be a coach, which presented themselves since I came home from Los Angeles [Galaxy, where he finished his playing career], but I never got the right feeling from them. When Rangers came, it was a game changer. “The first phone call came from Liverpool. They made me aware Rangers had been in touch and wanted permission to speak to me. Steven Gerrard will flourish or fail at Rangers on his record against Celtic “It wasn’t a phone call I was expecting. I had a special feeling inside my stomach. My reply was ‘Yes, I would like the opportunity to speak to Rangers’.” If Gerrard were unaware of the excitement his arrival has caused then the reception he received will have changed that. There were so many supporters at Ibrox that police had to close to road outside the stadium, and when a fire engine raced past it prompted the thought this would have been an entirely apt mode of transport for Gerrard’s first managerial appointment. He takes the job in the immediate aftermath of two crushing defeats by a Celtic side who looked as though they were operating in a different league from their ancient rivals, but as Gerrard pointed out, he has never shirked a challenge. Gary McAllister (left) will be Steven Gerrard's assistant Credit: EPA "I have weighed the gamble up and the risk and I understand other people thinking it is because it is my first job in management, but I have confidence in myself that I can deliver for these supporters,” he said. “My parents brought me up in life to always front a challenge, if you feel like that challenge is the right one for you, go for it.” Asked if his heart had sunk while watching the beatings inflicted at Hampden Park and Parkhead, like everyone else connected with Rangers, Gerrard replied crisply: “I wasn’t connected with Rangers at that time. “To be honest, where I sit right now, it’s not the right time and place for me to talk about Celtic. There will be plenty of time for that in the future when we move forward and we start the challenge from the new season. “My priority is Rangers. I need to get this house in order, I need to produce a team and squad that’s capable of winning football matches. I want the supporters to skip into this place to watch that team and be proud of them and to see that we can take the team and club forward and make it competitive. Graeme Murty has been sacked as interim Rangers manager Credit: PA “That’s my priority, not what Celtic have been doing and not what other people have been doing in the league. I have to focus on every challenge that’s coming at us but for us to win those challenges and come out on top of them we need to sort Rangers out first.” Gerrard will not be Rangers manager until June 1, which means that the team’s three remaining matches – at home to Kilmarnock today (Sat), followed by a trip to Aberdeen on Tuesday and the visit of Hibernian next weekend – are not his responsibility. Instead, that burden falls upon Jimmy Nicholl, now acting as a caretaker boss for the third time in his career. Given the possibility that Rangers might lose any or all of these encounters, it is a deft ploy on the club’s part to keep their star acquisition free from the taint of failure at this fledgling stage of his career. Gerrard, of course, was never going to walk alone into the bearpit of Ibrox. Speculation that he would choose as an assistant someone who had played for the club turned out to be wide of the mark. Instead, he will be accompanied by Gary McAllister, whose most vivid memory of Ibrox is scoring for Leeds United there in the inaugural Champions League in 1992. “We have known each other for a long time and the key thing you are looking for when you are looking for an assistant is trust,” he said. “Gary ticks that box. He is a football man, he has been around the game for a long time as a player, a coach, an assistant and he has also been around Liverpool of late. “He is as excited as me, he can’t wait to get going. It was important that I found someone with experience because everyone knows in the room this is the first job opportunity for me that I have taken. He will certainly be the perfect assistant for me. “I’m going to make mistakes going forward. I’ve made plenty in my playing career and I’ve made many this season as a coach, but I believe in the staff I’m going to be bringing to share this journey with me. “I’m not perfect but I will put people around me to support me, to complement where I need a bit of help and guidance. We will park the egos at the front door.” Of Brendan Rodgers, his erstwhile manager, mentor and future Old Firm counterpart, there was only a fleeting mention. “I’m not sure how the relationship will change,” Gerrard said. “Right now, as I sit here, everything is fine. I really enjoyed my time as a player under Brendan, I have nothing but respect for the man and the coach. “The way I see it, it’s a very exciting challenge for myself to go up against not just Brendan but the other top managers in the league and the managers around Europe as well. That’s where I am now and that’s what I’ve got to face, that competition from other managers around the world, not just the closest ones.”
Steven Gerrard walked into the goldfish bowl of life as Rangers manager and declared himself “ready for the challenge” after revealing he had turned down eight other job offers before getting “a special feeling” about taking over at Ibrox. The former England captain was unveiled in front of a crowd of 7,000 fans as the 37-year-old quit his job as Liverpool Under-18 coach to take on the daunting task of overhauling Celtic and his old manager, Brendan Rodgers. Gerrard vowed to “ leave his ego” at the door as he spelt out why he had taken the Rangers job after revealing he had turned down numerous offers to leave his role at Liverpool. And he also admitted that until Liverpool made him aware of the approach from the 54-time Scottish champions he had expected to stay at Anfield and emerge as a potential successor to Jürgen Klopp. When asked if he had been tempted to stay at Liverpool and be in the frame to manage the club, Gerrard replied: “Yes. I had probably as many as eight other opportunities to be a manager, to be a number two, to be a coach, which presented themselves since I came home from Los Angeles [Galaxy, where he finished his playing career], but I never got the right feeling from them. When Rangers came, it was a game changer. “The first phone call came from Liverpool. They made me aware Rangers had been in touch and wanted permission to speak to me. Steven Gerrard will flourish or fail at Rangers on his record against Celtic “It wasn’t a phone call I was expecting. I had a special feeling inside my stomach. My reply was ‘Yes, I would like the opportunity to speak to Rangers’.” If Gerrard were unaware of the excitement his arrival has caused then the reception he received will have changed that. There were so many supporters at Ibrox that police had to close to road outside the stadium, and when a fire engine raced past it prompted the thought this would have been an entirely apt mode of transport for Gerrard’s first managerial appointment. He takes the job in the immediate aftermath of two crushing defeats by a Celtic side who looked as though they were operating in a different league from their ancient rivals, but as Gerrard pointed out, he has never shirked a challenge. Gary McAllister (left) will be Steven Gerrard's assistant Credit: EPA "I have weighed the gamble up and the risk and I understand other people thinking it is because it is my first job in management, but I have confidence in myself that I can deliver for these supporters,” he said. “My parents brought me up in life to always front a challenge, if you feel like that challenge is the right one for you, go for it.” Asked if his heart had sunk while watching the beatings inflicted at Hampden Park and Parkhead, like everyone else connected with Rangers, Gerrard replied crisply: “I wasn’t connected with Rangers at that time. “To be honest, where I sit right now, it’s not the right time and place for me to talk about Celtic. There will be plenty of time for that in the future when we move forward and we start the challenge from the new season. “My priority is Rangers. I need to get this house in order, I need to produce a team and squad that’s capable of winning football matches. I want the supporters to skip into this place to watch that team and be proud of them and to see that we can take the team and club forward and make it competitive. Graeme Murty has been sacked as interim Rangers manager Credit: PA “That’s my priority, not what Celtic have been doing and not what other people have been doing in the league. I have to focus on every challenge that’s coming at us but for us to win those challenges and come out on top of them we need to sort Rangers out first.” Gerrard will not be Rangers manager until June 1, which means that the team’s three remaining matches – at home to Kilmarnock today (Sat), followed by a trip to Aberdeen on Tuesday and the visit of Hibernian next weekend – are not his responsibility. Instead, that burden falls upon Jimmy Nicholl, now acting as a caretaker boss for the third time in his career. Given the possibility that Rangers might lose any or all of these encounters, it is a deft ploy on the club’s part to keep their star acquisition free from the taint of failure at this fledgling stage of his career. Gerrard, of course, was never going to walk alone into the bearpit of Ibrox. Speculation that he would choose as an assistant someone who had played for the club turned out to be wide of the mark. Instead, he will be accompanied by Gary McAllister, whose most vivid memory of Ibrox is scoring for Leeds United there in the inaugural Champions League in 1992. “We have known each other for a long time and the key thing you are looking for when you are looking for an assistant is trust,” he said. “Gary ticks that box. He is a football man, he has been around the game for a long time as a player, a coach, an assistant and he has also been around Liverpool of late. “He is as excited as me, he can’t wait to get going. It was important that I found someone with experience because everyone knows in the room this is the first job opportunity for me that I have taken. He will certainly be the perfect assistant for me. “I’m going to make mistakes going forward. I’ve made plenty in my playing career and I’ve made many this season as a coach, but I believe in the staff I’m going to be bringing to share this journey with me. “I’m not perfect but I will put people around me to support me, to complement where I need a bit of help and guidance. We will park the egos at the front door.” Of Brendan Rodgers, his erstwhile manager, mentor and future Old Firm counterpart, there was only a fleeting mention. “I’m not sure how the relationship will change,” Gerrard said. “Right now, as I sit here, everything is fine. I really enjoyed my time as a player under Brendan, I have nothing but respect for the man and the coach. “The way I see it, it’s a very exciting challenge for myself to go up against not just Brendan but the other top managers in the league and the managers around Europe as well. That’s where I am now and that’s what I’ve got to face, that competition from other managers around the world, not just the closest ones.”
Steven Gerrard has 'special feeling' about taking over at Rangers
Steven Gerrard walked into the goldfish bowl of life as Rangers manager and declared himself “ready for the challenge” after revealing he had turned down eight other job offers before getting “a special feeling” about taking over at Ibrox. The former England captain was unveiled in front of a crowd of 7,000 fans as the 37-year-old quit his job as Liverpool Under-18 coach to take on the daunting task of overhauling Celtic and his old manager, Brendan Rodgers. Gerrard vowed to “ leave his ego” at the door as he spelt out why he had taken the Rangers job after revealing he had turned down numerous offers to leave his role at Liverpool. And he also admitted that until Liverpool made him aware of the approach from the 54-time Scottish champions he had expected to stay at Anfield and emerge as a potential successor to Jürgen Klopp. When asked if he had been tempted to stay at Liverpool and be in the frame to manage the club, Gerrard replied: “Yes. I had probably as many as eight other opportunities to be a manager, to be a number two, to be a coach, which presented themselves since I came home from Los Angeles [Galaxy, where he finished his playing career], but I never got the right feeling from them. When Rangers came, it was a game changer. “The first phone call came from Liverpool. They made me aware Rangers had been in touch and wanted permission to speak to me. Steven Gerrard will flourish or fail at Rangers on his record against Celtic “It wasn’t a phone call I was expecting. I had a special feeling inside my stomach. My reply was ‘Yes, I would like the opportunity to speak to Rangers’.” If Gerrard were unaware of the excitement his arrival has caused then the reception he received will have changed that. There were so many supporters at Ibrox that police had to close to road outside the stadium, and when a fire engine raced past it prompted the thought this would have been an entirely apt mode of transport for Gerrard’s first managerial appointment. He takes the job in the immediate aftermath of two crushing defeats by a Celtic side who looked as though they were operating in a different league from their ancient rivals, but as Gerrard pointed out, he has never shirked a challenge. Gary McAllister (left) will be Steven Gerrard's assistant Credit: EPA "I have weighed the gamble up and the risk and I understand other people thinking it is because it is my first job in management, but I have confidence in myself that I can deliver for these supporters,” he said. “My parents brought me up in life to always front a challenge, if you feel like that challenge is the right one for you, go for it.” Asked if his heart had sunk while watching the beatings inflicted at Hampden Park and Parkhead, like everyone else connected with Rangers, Gerrard replied crisply: “I wasn’t connected with Rangers at that time. “To be honest, where I sit right now, it’s not the right time and place for me to talk about Celtic. There will be plenty of time for that in the future when we move forward and we start the challenge from the new season. “My priority is Rangers. I need to get this house in order, I need to produce a team and squad that’s capable of winning football matches. I want the supporters to skip into this place to watch that team and be proud of them and to see that we can take the team and club forward and make it competitive. Graeme Murty has been sacked as interim Rangers manager Credit: PA “That’s my priority, not what Celtic have been doing and not what other people have been doing in the league. I have to focus on every challenge that’s coming at us but for us to win those challenges and come out on top of them we need to sort Rangers out first.” Gerrard will not be Rangers manager until June 1, which means that the team’s three remaining matches – at home to Kilmarnock today (Sat), followed by a trip to Aberdeen on Tuesday and the visit of Hibernian next weekend – are not his responsibility. Instead, that burden falls upon Jimmy Nicholl, now acting as a caretaker boss for the third time in his career. Given the possibility that Rangers might lose any or all of these encounters, it is a deft ploy on the club’s part to keep their star acquisition free from the taint of failure at this fledgling stage of his career. Gerrard, of course, was never going to walk alone into the bearpit of Ibrox. Speculation that he would choose as an assistant someone who had played for the club turned out to be wide of the mark. Instead, he will be accompanied by Gary McAllister, whose most vivid memory of Ibrox is scoring for Leeds United there in the inaugural Champions League in 1992. “We have known each other for a long time and the key thing you are looking for when you are looking for an assistant is trust,” he said. “Gary ticks that box. He is a football man, he has been around the game for a long time as a player, a coach, an assistant and he has also been around Liverpool of late. “He is as excited as me, he can’t wait to get going. It was important that I found someone with experience because everyone knows in the room this is the first job opportunity for me that I have taken. He will certainly be the perfect assistant for me. “I’m going to make mistakes going forward. I’ve made plenty in my playing career and I’ve made many this season as a coach, but I believe in the staff I’m going to be bringing to share this journey with me. “I’m not perfect but I will put people around me to support me, to complement where I need a bit of help and guidance. We will park the egos at the front door.” Of Brendan Rodgers, his erstwhile manager, mentor and future Old Firm counterpart, there was only a fleeting mention. “I’m not sure how the relationship will change,” Gerrard said. “Right now, as I sit here, everything is fine. I really enjoyed my time as a player under Brendan, I have nothing but respect for the man and the coach. “The way I see it, it’s a very exciting challenge for myself to go up against not just Brendan but the other top managers in the league and the managers around Europe as well. That’s where I am now and that’s what I’ve got to face, that competition from other managers around the world, not just the closest ones.”
Graeme Murty’s departure from Rangers is the inevitable conclusion to a tawdry chapter which saw this decent man and dedicated coach ‘thrown under the bus’, in the words of Brendan Rodgers. The club website confirmed the news in a statement which read: “Graeme Murty has this morning been relieved of his duties as manager of Rangers. “Jimmy Nicholl and Jonatan Johansson will take charge of the team for the three remaining matches of the season. Rangers are grateful to Graeme, who did not hesitate when asked last October to become interim manager after the departure of Pedro Caixinha and then, at the turn of the year, when he was offered the role as manager until the end of the season. “Graeme has had to contend with difficult and challenging circumstances but conducted himself in a thoroughly professional manner. He will take some time to consider his options, which include returning to his role at the Rangers Academy.” The 43-year-old Murty – who played for York City, Reading, Southampton and Scotland as a defender – began his coaching career at Southampton before moving in 2014 to Norwich City, as coach of the under-16 and then the under-18s. In the summer of 2016 Rangers appointed him as Head Development Squad Coach and their then academy director, Craig Mulholland, said: “It is important that we appoint individuals who understand our philosophy and will fit into our one club culture, we believe in Graeme we have found such an individual. The Rangers board are optimistic over appointing Steven Gerrard Credit: Getty Images “Graeme demonstrated throughout the process a desire to learn and improve and that is what we seek to achieve on a daily basis with our players and staff. We believe Rangers and our young players will benefit from his input as a modern innovative coach.” Within eight months, however, Murty was asked to undertake a vastly more demanding task, as interim manager after the departure of Mark Warburton. Against expectations, Murty supervised a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park, in a game watched by Warburton’s successor, Pedro Caixinha. The Portuguese manager, however, did not learn from Murty’s tactics and was overwhelmed in his first Old Firm match at Ibrox, where Celtic achieved a record score of 5-1 on their rivals’ ground. When Caixinha was sacked after a succession of ignominious results - including ejection from the Europa League in the first qualifying round by the microscopic Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg - Murty was again asked to take over in an interim capacity. He produced some creditable results, including another draw at Parkhead and wins away to Aberdeen and Hibernian, although there were also defeats home and away against Steve Clarke’s Kilmarnock side and another inflicted by Hibs at Ibrox. Murty was told, nevertheless, that he would be considered for the job on a longer-term basis if he could secure a second-place finish in the Scottish Premiership. During February and March, Rangers put together a run of six victories in the league and Scottish Cup, their best sequence since returning to the top flight of the game north of the border in 2016. On March 11, though, Rangers were beaten at home by a 10-man Celtic side, although they could have achieved another draw, or even an unlikely victory, had their Colombian striker, Alfredo Morelos, not missed two outstanding chances. An abysmal performance at Fir Park at the end of last month saw Rangers 2-0 down to Motherwell at half-time but a dressing room rant by Murty salvaged a 2-2 draw ahead of the meeting with Celtic at Hampden Park in the semi-final of the William Hill Scottish Cup. Then, during the build-up to the cup derby, the Ibrox chairman, Dave King, wrote to the club’s season ticket holders to say that the board were engaged in a search for a new manager whose remit would be the provision of ‘immediate success’. The upshot was that Murty was forced to spend time and energy fending off speculation about his own situation ahead of the game. The cracks that had been evident at Fir Park then became fissures at Hampden as abject Rangers slumped to a 4-0 defeat and were riven by dissension which saw Andy Halliday mouth imprecations as he was replaced five minutes before the interval and veterans Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller suspended by the club for their part in a row after the final whistle. Rangers recovered to beat Hearts at Ibrox the following weekend, but Celtic’s defeat by Hibs at Easter Road postponed the celebration of the Hoops’ seventh successive Scottish title until the final Old Firm collision of the season at Parkhead on Sunday. Although Murty could cite two draws in the east end of Glasgow during his spells in charge, he was again jostled aside in the headlines by the news that the Ibrox board had identified Steven Gerrard as their next manager and were optimistic about securing the Liverpool youth coach’s services. The upshot was a 5-0 humiliation, only modulated by the fact that Celtic did not impose their superiority sufficiently to surpass their 7-1 victory in the 1957 Scottish League Cup final which remains the record margin of victory in an Old Firm fixture. On the insistence of his media minders, Murty did not appear for interviews after the match. Rangers, meanwhile, concluded today’s website statement with: “The club hopes to be in a position to comment further on the managerial situation in the near future.” The translation of which reads: “Please God, send Steven Gerrard to take the heat off us as quickly as possible..."
Graeme Murty sacked by Rangers, paving the way for Steven Gerrard
Graeme Murty’s departure from Rangers is the inevitable conclusion to a tawdry chapter which saw this decent man and dedicated coach ‘thrown under the bus’, in the words of Brendan Rodgers. The club website confirmed the news in a statement which read: “Graeme Murty has this morning been relieved of his duties as manager of Rangers. “Jimmy Nicholl and Jonatan Johansson will take charge of the team for the three remaining matches of the season. Rangers are grateful to Graeme, who did not hesitate when asked last October to become interim manager after the departure of Pedro Caixinha and then, at the turn of the year, when he was offered the role as manager until the end of the season. “Graeme has had to contend with difficult and challenging circumstances but conducted himself in a thoroughly professional manner. He will take some time to consider his options, which include returning to his role at the Rangers Academy.” The 43-year-old Murty – who played for York City, Reading, Southampton and Scotland as a defender – began his coaching career at Southampton before moving in 2014 to Norwich City, as coach of the under-16 and then the under-18s. In the summer of 2016 Rangers appointed him as Head Development Squad Coach and their then academy director, Craig Mulholland, said: “It is important that we appoint individuals who understand our philosophy and will fit into our one club culture, we believe in Graeme we have found such an individual. The Rangers board are optimistic over appointing Steven Gerrard Credit: Getty Images “Graeme demonstrated throughout the process a desire to learn and improve and that is what we seek to achieve on a daily basis with our players and staff. We believe Rangers and our young players will benefit from his input as a modern innovative coach.” Within eight months, however, Murty was asked to undertake a vastly more demanding task, as interim manager after the departure of Mark Warburton. Against expectations, Murty supervised a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park, in a game watched by Warburton’s successor, Pedro Caixinha. The Portuguese manager, however, did not learn from Murty’s tactics and was overwhelmed in his first Old Firm match at Ibrox, where Celtic achieved a record score of 5-1 on their rivals’ ground. When Caixinha was sacked after a succession of ignominious results - including ejection from the Europa League in the first qualifying round by the microscopic Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg - Murty was again asked to take over in an interim capacity. He produced some creditable results, including another draw at Parkhead and wins away to Aberdeen and Hibernian, although there were also defeats home and away against Steve Clarke’s Kilmarnock side and another inflicted by Hibs at Ibrox. Murty was told, nevertheless, that he would be considered for the job on a longer-term basis if he could secure a second-place finish in the Scottish Premiership. During February and March, Rangers put together a run of six victories in the league and Scottish Cup, their best sequence since returning to the top flight of the game north of the border in 2016. On March 11, though, Rangers were beaten at home by a 10-man Celtic side, although they could have achieved another draw, or even an unlikely victory, had their Colombian striker, Alfredo Morelos, not missed two outstanding chances. An abysmal performance at Fir Park at the end of last month saw Rangers 2-0 down to Motherwell at half-time but a dressing room rant by Murty salvaged a 2-2 draw ahead of the meeting with Celtic at Hampden Park in the semi-final of the William Hill Scottish Cup. Then, during the build-up to the cup derby, the Ibrox chairman, Dave King, wrote to the club’s season ticket holders to say that the board were engaged in a search for a new manager whose remit would be the provision of ‘immediate success’. The upshot was that Murty was forced to spend time and energy fending off speculation about his own situation ahead of the game. The cracks that had been evident at Fir Park then became fissures at Hampden as abject Rangers slumped to a 4-0 defeat and were riven by dissension which saw Andy Halliday mouth imprecations as he was replaced five minutes before the interval and veterans Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller suspended by the club for their part in a row after the final whistle. Rangers recovered to beat Hearts at Ibrox the following weekend, but Celtic’s defeat by Hibs at Easter Road postponed the celebration of the Hoops’ seventh successive Scottish title until the final Old Firm collision of the season at Parkhead on Sunday. Although Murty could cite two draws in the east end of Glasgow during his spells in charge, he was again jostled aside in the headlines by the news that the Ibrox board had identified Steven Gerrard as their next manager and were optimistic about securing the Liverpool youth coach’s services. The upshot was a 5-0 humiliation, only modulated by the fact that Celtic did not impose their superiority sufficiently to surpass their 7-1 victory in the 1957 Scottish League Cup final which remains the record margin of victory in an Old Firm fixture. On the insistence of his media minders, Murty did not appear for interviews after the match. Rangers, meanwhile, concluded today’s website statement with: “The club hopes to be in a position to comment further on the managerial situation in the near future.” The translation of which reads: “Please God, send Steven Gerrard to take the heat off us as quickly as possible..."
Graeme Murty’s departure from Rangers is the inevitable conclusion to a tawdry chapter which saw this decent man and dedicated coach ‘thrown under the bus’, in the words of Brendan Rodgers. The club website confirmed the news in a statement which read: “Graeme Murty has this morning been relieved of his duties as manager of Rangers. “Jimmy Nicholl and Jonatan Johansson will take charge of the team for the three remaining matches of the season. Rangers are grateful to Graeme, who did not hesitate when asked last October to become interim manager after the departure of Pedro Caixinha and then, at the turn of the year, when he was offered the role as manager until the end of the season. “Graeme has had to contend with difficult and challenging circumstances but conducted himself in a thoroughly professional manner. He will take some time to consider his options, which include returning to his role at the Rangers Academy.” The 43-year-old Murty – who played for York City, Reading, Southampton and Scotland as a defender – began his coaching career at Southampton before moving in 2014 to Norwich City, as coach of the under-16 and then the under-18s. In the summer of 2016 Rangers appointed him as Head Development Squad Coach and their then academy director, Craig Mulholland, said: “It is important that we appoint individuals who understand our philosophy and will fit into our one club culture, we believe in Graeme we have found such an individual. The Rangers board are optimistic over appointing Steven Gerrard Credit: Getty Images “Graeme demonstrated throughout the process a desire to learn and improve and that is what we seek to achieve on a daily basis with our players and staff. We believe Rangers and our young players will benefit from his input as a modern innovative coach.” Within eight months, however, Murty was asked to undertake a vastly more demanding task, as interim manager after the departure of Mark Warburton. Against expectations, Murty supervised a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park, in a game watched by Warburton’s successor, Pedro Caixinha. The Portuguese manager, however, did not learn from Murty’s tactics and was overwhelmed in his first Old Firm match at Ibrox, where Celtic achieved a record score of 5-1 on their rivals’ ground. When Caixinha was sacked after a succession of ignominious results - including ejection from the Europa League in the first qualifying round by the microscopic Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg - Murty was again asked to take over in an interim capacity. He produced some creditable results, including another draw at Parkhead and wins away to Aberdeen and Hibernian, although there were also defeats home and away against Steve Clarke’s Kilmarnock side and another inflicted by Hibs at Ibrox. Murty was told, nevertheless, that he would be considered for the job on a longer-term basis if he could secure a second-place finish in the Scottish Premiership. During February and March, Rangers put together a run of six victories in the league and Scottish Cup, their best sequence since returning to the top flight of the game north of the border in 2016. On March 11, though, Rangers were beaten at home by a 10-man Celtic side, although they could have achieved another draw, or even an unlikely victory, had their Colombian striker, Alfredo Morelos, not missed two outstanding chances. An abysmal performance at Fir Park at the end of last month saw Rangers 2-0 down to Motherwell at half-time but a dressing room rant by Murty salvaged a 2-2 draw ahead of the meeting with Celtic at Hampden Park in the semi-final of the William Hill Scottish Cup. Then, during the build-up to the cup derby, the Ibrox chairman, Dave King, wrote to the club’s season ticket holders to say that the board were engaged in a search for a new manager whose remit would be the provision of ‘immediate success’. The upshot was that Murty was forced to spend time and energy fending off speculation about his own situation ahead of the game. The cracks that had been evident at Fir Park then became fissures at Hampden as abject Rangers slumped to a 4-0 defeat and were riven by dissension which saw Andy Halliday mouth imprecations as he was replaced five minutes before the interval and veterans Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller suspended by the club for their part in a row after the final whistle. Rangers recovered to beat Hearts at Ibrox the following weekend, but Celtic’s defeat by Hibs at Easter Road postponed the celebration of the Hoops’ seventh successive Scottish title until the final Old Firm collision of the season at Parkhead on Sunday. Although Murty could cite two draws in the east end of Glasgow during his spells in charge, he was again jostled aside in the headlines by the news that the Ibrox board had identified Steven Gerrard as their next manager and were optimistic about securing the Liverpool youth coach’s services. The upshot was a 5-0 humiliation, only modulated by the fact that Celtic did not impose their superiority sufficiently to surpass their 7-1 victory in the 1957 Scottish League Cup final which remains the record margin of victory in an Old Firm fixture. On the insistence of his media minders, Murty did not appear for interviews after the match. Rangers, meanwhile, concluded today’s website statement with: “The club hopes to be in a position to comment further on the managerial situation in the near future.” The translation of which reads: “Please God, send Steven Gerrard to take the heat off us as quickly as possible..."
Graeme Murty sacked by Rangers, paving the way for Steven Gerrard
Graeme Murty’s departure from Rangers is the inevitable conclusion to a tawdry chapter which saw this decent man and dedicated coach ‘thrown under the bus’, in the words of Brendan Rodgers. The club website confirmed the news in a statement which read: “Graeme Murty has this morning been relieved of his duties as manager of Rangers. “Jimmy Nicholl and Jonatan Johansson will take charge of the team for the three remaining matches of the season. Rangers are grateful to Graeme, who did not hesitate when asked last October to become interim manager after the departure of Pedro Caixinha and then, at the turn of the year, when he was offered the role as manager until the end of the season. “Graeme has had to contend with difficult and challenging circumstances but conducted himself in a thoroughly professional manner. He will take some time to consider his options, which include returning to his role at the Rangers Academy.” The 43-year-old Murty – who played for York City, Reading, Southampton and Scotland as a defender – began his coaching career at Southampton before moving in 2014 to Norwich City, as coach of the under-16 and then the under-18s. In the summer of 2016 Rangers appointed him as Head Development Squad Coach and their then academy director, Craig Mulholland, said: “It is important that we appoint individuals who understand our philosophy and will fit into our one club culture, we believe in Graeme we have found such an individual. The Rangers board are optimistic over appointing Steven Gerrard Credit: Getty Images “Graeme demonstrated throughout the process a desire to learn and improve and that is what we seek to achieve on a daily basis with our players and staff. We believe Rangers and our young players will benefit from his input as a modern innovative coach.” Within eight months, however, Murty was asked to undertake a vastly more demanding task, as interim manager after the departure of Mark Warburton. Against expectations, Murty supervised a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park, in a game watched by Warburton’s successor, Pedro Caixinha. The Portuguese manager, however, did not learn from Murty’s tactics and was overwhelmed in his first Old Firm match at Ibrox, where Celtic achieved a record score of 5-1 on their rivals’ ground. When Caixinha was sacked after a succession of ignominious results - including ejection from the Europa League in the first qualifying round by the microscopic Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg - Murty was again asked to take over in an interim capacity. He produced some creditable results, including another draw at Parkhead and wins away to Aberdeen and Hibernian, although there were also defeats home and away against Steve Clarke’s Kilmarnock side and another inflicted by Hibs at Ibrox. Murty was told, nevertheless, that he would be considered for the job on a longer-term basis if he could secure a second-place finish in the Scottish Premiership. During February and March, Rangers put together a run of six victories in the league and Scottish Cup, their best sequence since returning to the top flight of the game north of the border in 2016. On March 11, though, Rangers were beaten at home by a 10-man Celtic side, although they could have achieved another draw, or even an unlikely victory, had their Colombian striker, Alfredo Morelos, not missed two outstanding chances. An abysmal performance at Fir Park at the end of last month saw Rangers 2-0 down to Motherwell at half-time but a dressing room rant by Murty salvaged a 2-2 draw ahead of the meeting with Celtic at Hampden Park in the semi-final of the William Hill Scottish Cup. Then, during the build-up to the cup derby, the Ibrox chairman, Dave King, wrote to the club’s season ticket holders to say that the board were engaged in a search for a new manager whose remit would be the provision of ‘immediate success’. The upshot was that Murty was forced to spend time and energy fending off speculation about his own situation ahead of the game. The cracks that had been evident at Fir Park then became fissures at Hampden as abject Rangers slumped to a 4-0 defeat and were riven by dissension which saw Andy Halliday mouth imprecations as he was replaced five minutes before the interval and veterans Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller suspended by the club for their part in a row after the final whistle. Rangers recovered to beat Hearts at Ibrox the following weekend, but Celtic’s defeat by Hibs at Easter Road postponed the celebration of the Hoops’ seventh successive Scottish title until the final Old Firm collision of the season at Parkhead on Sunday. Although Murty could cite two draws in the east end of Glasgow during his spells in charge, he was again jostled aside in the headlines by the news that the Ibrox board had identified Steven Gerrard as their next manager and were optimistic about securing the Liverpool youth coach’s services. The upshot was a 5-0 humiliation, only modulated by the fact that Celtic did not impose their superiority sufficiently to surpass their 7-1 victory in the 1957 Scottish League Cup final which remains the record margin of victory in an Old Firm fixture. On the insistence of his media minders, Murty did not appear for interviews after the match. Rangers, meanwhile, concluded today’s website statement with: “The club hopes to be in a position to comment further on the managerial situation in the near future.” The translation of which reads: “Please God, send Steven Gerrard to take the heat off us as quickly as possible..."
Kris Boyd scored the goal of the game as Kilmanock lost 5-3 to Hibernian in a thriller at Easter Road Stadium on Saturday.
Kris Boyd with thunderbolt free-kick in Kilmarnock thriller
Kris Boyd scored the goal of the game as Kilmanock lost 5-3 to Hibernian in a thriller at Easter Road Stadium on Saturday.
Kris Boyd scored the goal of the game as Kilmanock lost 5-3 to Hibernian in a thriller at Easter Road Stadium on Saturday.
Kris Boyd with thunderbolt free-kick in Kilmarnock thriller
Kris Boyd scored the goal of the game as Kilmanock lost 5-3 to Hibernian in a thriller at Easter Road Stadium on Saturday.
Kris Boyd scored the goal of the game as Kilmanock lost 5-3 to Hibernian in a thriller at Easter Road Stadium on Saturday.
Kris Boyd with thunderbolt free-kick in Kilmarnock thriller
Kris Boyd scored the goal of the game as Kilmanock lost 5-3 to Hibernian in a thriller at Easter Road Stadium on Saturday.
The lead-up to a potentially crushing Old Firm derby – and likely an extravagant Celtic title party – is an opportune time for Rangers fans to hear the name of Steven Gerrard connected with their team, albeit as an untried management candidate. Telegraph Sport can confirm that the Ibrox directors have been in touch with representatives of the Liverpool youth coach. The scar tissue sustained in the battering by Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals remains livid and, although the Rangers die-hards will do their best to present a defiant face at Parkhead on Sunday, there is a ravenous appetite for any evidence to suggest that the Ibrox board has some form of viable plan to create a credible challenge to their arch-foes. Brendan Rodgers, in his singular fashion, has brought Celtic to the brink of the unprecedented feat of a second successive clean sweep of the Scottish honours. He is unbeaten in 10 Old Firm derbies and has supervised four-goal winning margins in three, including a record 5-1 victory at Ibrox last season – the first time ever that the Hoops had scored as many goals on the other side of Glasgow. Three successive Rangers managers have now been on the wrong end of these humiliations. Mark Warburton’s first taste of Old Firm intensity was a 5-1 drubbing at Celtic Park and his successor, the hapless Pedro Caixinha, was in charge when Celtic repeated the trick in Govan a year ago. Between times, Graeme Murty supervised a 1-1 draw at Parkhead in his first stint as Rangers’ interim boss and also quarried a goalless draw from the same location in December. Murty could even make a decent claim to have come close to interrupting Rodgers’ domination at Ibrox last month, when Rangers lost 3-2 to a Celtic side reduced to 10 men in the closing stages, but who were also fortunate that Alfredo Morelos extended his record of missing gilt-edged chances on such occasions. Celtic have been dominant under Brendan Rodgers Credit: Getty images The Scottish Cup debacle and its aftermath – a dressing room row which ended with veterans Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller suspended by the club – effectively took Murty out of the running for the position in the longer term, despite his record of decent results away to Celtic plus wins away to Aberdeen and Hibernian, the teams immediately behind Rangers in the Scottish Premiership table. Despite a recovery of sorts with a 2-1 victory over Hearts on Sunday, the Rangers support remained angry, brandishing a set of banners that included the barbed message, ‘Incompetent on & off the pitch’. Since then, Allan McGregor and Scott Arfield have been identified as summer arrivals by the Ibrox director of football, Mark Allen. At the same time, other managerial candidates to pique the interest of Rangers’ head hunters have included Graham Potter, the Englishman in charge of Ostersunds in Sweden, Cardiff City’s Neil Warnock, Alex Neil of Preston and Steve Clarke, whose Kilmarnock side have beaten Rangers twice and beaten and drawn with Celtic. Gerrard is the latest to top the bookies’ rankings. While the playing reputation gained with England and Liverpool plus familiarity with Rodgers and a degree of first-hand knowledge of the Glasgow scene – Gerrard was at Ibrox for last month’s league derby – are all positives, the appointment of a tyro manager would represent a substantial gamble by the Rangers board. In any case, no matter who is appointed at Ibrox – and whether or not Rodgers returns to England, with Arsenal or another alluring club – the legacy of the cash burn that drained Rangers’ resources after the 2012 insolvency under Craig Whyte is a financial gap with Celtic that widens every time the Parkhead team reach the Champions League group stage. It will be a significant achievement if anybody on Rangers’ managerial shortlist can bridge that gulf in time to stop Celtic reaching a record of 10 successive Scottish titles.
Rangers contact Liverpool over Steven Gerrard's availability for manager role
The lead-up to a potentially crushing Old Firm derby – and likely an extravagant Celtic title party – is an opportune time for Rangers fans to hear the name of Steven Gerrard connected with their team, albeit as an untried management candidate. Telegraph Sport can confirm that the Ibrox directors have been in touch with representatives of the Liverpool youth coach. The scar tissue sustained in the battering by Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals remains livid and, although the Rangers die-hards will do their best to present a defiant face at Parkhead on Sunday, there is a ravenous appetite for any evidence to suggest that the Ibrox board has some form of viable plan to create a credible challenge to their arch-foes. Brendan Rodgers, in his singular fashion, has brought Celtic to the brink of the unprecedented feat of a second successive clean sweep of the Scottish honours. He is unbeaten in 10 Old Firm derbies and has supervised four-goal winning margins in three, including a record 5-1 victory at Ibrox last season – the first time ever that the Hoops had scored as many goals on the other side of Glasgow. Three successive Rangers managers have now been on the wrong end of these humiliations. Mark Warburton’s first taste of Old Firm intensity was a 5-1 drubbing at Celtic Park and his successor, the hapless Pedro Caixinha, was in charge when Celtic repeated the trick in Govan a year ago. Between times, Graeme Murty supervised a 1-1 draw at Parkhead in his first stint as Rangers’ interim boss and also quarried a goalless draw from the same location in December. Murty could even make a decent claim to have come close to interrupting Rodgers’ domination at Ibrox last month, when Rangers lost 3-2 to a Celtic side reduced to 10 men in the closing stages, but who were also fortunate that Alfredo Morelos extended his record of missing gilt-edged chances on such occasions. Celtic have been dominant under Brendan Rodgers Credit: Getty images The Scottish Cup debacle and its aftermath – a dressing room row which ended with veterans Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller suspended by the club – effectively took Murty out of the running for the position in the longer term, despite his record of decent results away to Celtic plus wins away to Aberdeen and Hibernian, the teams immediately behind Rangers in the Scottish Premiership table. Despite a recovery of sorts with a 2-1 victory over Hearts on Sunday, the Rangers support remained angry, brandishing a set of banners that included the barbed message, ‘Incompetent on & off the pitch’. Since then, Allan McGregor and Scott Arfield have been identified as summer arrivals by the Ibrox director of football, Mark Allen. At the same time, other managerial candidates to pique the interest of Rangers’ head hunters have included Graham Potter, the Englishman in charge of Ostersunds in Sweden, Cardiff City’s Neil Warnock, Alex Neil of Preston and Steve Clarke, whose Kilmarnock side have beaten Rangers twice and beaten and drawn with Celtic. Gerrard is the latest to top the bookies’ rankings. While the playing reputation gained with England and Liverpool plus familiarity with Rodgers and a degree of first-hand knowledge of the Glasgow scene – Gerrard was at Ibrox for last month’s league derby – are all positives, the appointment of a tyro manager would represent a substantial gamble by the Rangers board. In any case, no matter who is appointed at Ibrox – and whether or not Rodgers returns to England, with Arsenal or another alluring club – the legacy of the cash burn that drained Rangers’ resources after the 2012 insolvency under Craig Whyte is a financial gap with Celtic that widens every time the Parkhead team reach the Champions League group stage. It will be a significant achievement if anybody on Rangers’ managerial shortlist can bridge that gulf in time to stop Celtic reaching a record of 10 successive Scottish titles.
The lead-up to a potentially crushing Old Firm derby – and likely an extravagant Celtic title party – is an opportune time for Rangers fans to hear the name of Steven Gerrard connected with their team, albeit as an untried management candidate. Telegraph Sport can confirm that the Ibrox directors have been in touch with representatives of the Liverpool youth coach. The scar tissue sustained in the battering by Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals remains livid and, although the Rangers die-hards will do their best to present a defiant face at Parkhead on Sunday, there is a ravenous appetite for any evidence to suggest that the Ibrox board has some form of viable plan to create a credible challenge to their arch-foes. Brendan Rodgers, in his singular fashion, has brought Celtic to the brink of the unprecedented feat of a second successive clean sweep of the Scottish honours. He is unbeaten in 10 Old Firm derbies and has supervised four-goal winning margins in three, including a record 5-1 victory at Ibrox last season – the first time ever that the Hoops had scored as many goals on the other side of Glasgow. Three successive Rangers managers have now been on the wrong end of these humiliations. Mark Warburton’s first taste of Old Firm intensity was a 5-1 drubbing at Celtic Park and his successor, the hapless Pedro Caixinha, was in charge when Celtic repeated the trick in Govan a year ago. Between times, Graeme Murty supervised a 1-1 draw at Parkhead in his first stint as Rangers’ interim boss and also quarried a goalless draw from the same location in December. Murty could even make a decent claim to have come close to interrupting Rodgers’ domination at Ibrox last month, when Rangers lost 3-2 to a Celtic side reduced to 10 men in the closing stages, but who were also fortunate that Alfredo Morelos extended his record of missing gilt-edged chances on such occasions. Celtic have been dominant under Brendan Rodgers Credit: Getty images The Scottish Cup debacle and its aftermath – a dressing room row which ended with veterans Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller suspended by the club – effectively took Murty out of the running for the position in the longer term, despite his record of decent results away to Celtic plus wins away to Aberdeen and Hibernian, the teams immediately behind Rangers in the Scottish Premiership table. Despite a recovery of sorts with a 2-1 victory over Hearts on Sunday, the Rangers support remained angry, brandishing a set of banners that included the barbed message, ‘Incompetent on & off the pitch’. Since then, Allan McGregor and Scott Arfield have been identified as summer arrivals by the Ibrox director of football, Mark Allen. At the same time, other managerial candidates to pique the interest of Rangers’ head hunters have included Graham Potter, the Englishman in charge of Ostersunds in Sweden, Cardiff City’s Neil Warnock, Alex Neil of Preston and Steve Clarke, whose Kilmarnock side have beaten Rangers twice and beaten and drawn with Celtic. Gerrard is the latest to top the bookies’ rankings. While the playing reputation gained with England and Liverpool plus familiarity with Rodgers and a degree of first-hand knowledge of the Glasgow scene – Gerrard was at Ibrox for last month’s league derby – are all positives, the appointment of a tyro manager would represent a substantial gamble by the Rangers board. In any case, no matter who is appointed at Ibrox – and whether or not Rodgers returns to England, with Arsenal or another alluring club – the legacy of the cash burn that drained Rangers’ resources after the 2012 insolvency under Craig Whyte is a financial gap with Celtic that widens every time the Parkhead team reach the Champions League group stage. It will be a significant achievement if anybody on Rangers’ managerial shortlist can bridge that gulf in time to stop Celtic reaching a record of 10 successive Scottish titles.
Rangers contact Liverpool over Steven Gerrard's availability for manager role
The lead-up to a potentially crushing Old Firm derby – and likely an extravagant Celtic title party – is an opportune time for Rangers fans to hear the name of Steven Gerrard connected with their team, albeit as an untried management candidate. Telegraph Sport can confirm that the Ibrox directors have been in touch with representatives of the Liverpool youth coach. The scar tissue sustained in the battering by Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals remains livid and, although the Rangers die-hards will do their best to present a defiant face at Parkhead on Sunday, there is a ravenous appetite for any evidence to suggest that the Ibrox board has some form of viable plan to create a credible challenge to their arch-foes. Brendan Rodgers, in his singular fashion, has brought Celtic to the brink of the unprecedented feat of a second successive clean sweep of the Scottish honours. He is unbeaten in 10 Old Firm derbies and has supervised four-goal winning margins in three, including a record 5-1 victory at Ibrox last season – the first time ever that the Hoops had scored as many goals on the other side of Glasgow. Three successive Rangers managers have now been on the wrong end of these humiliations. Mark Warburton’s first taste of Old Firm intensity was a 5-1 drubbing at Celtic Park and his successor, the hapless Pedro Caixinha, was in charge when Celtic repeated the trick in Govan a year ago. Between times, Graeme Murty supervised a 1-1 draw at Parkhead in his first stint as Rangers’ interim boss and also quarried a goalless draw from the same location in December. Murty could even make a decent claim to have come close to interrupting Rodgers’ domination at Ibrox last month, when Rangers lost 3-2 to a Celtic side reduced to 10 men in the closing stages, but who were also fortunate that Alfredo Morelos extended his record of missing gilt-edged chances on such occasions. Celtic have been dominant under Brendan Rodgers Credit: Getty images The Scottish Cup debacle and its aftermath – a dressing room row which ended with veterans Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller suspended by the club – effectively took Murty out of the running for the position in the longer term, despite his record of decent results away to Celtic plus wins away to Aberdeen and Hibernian, the teams immediately behind Rangers in the Scottish Premiership table. Despite a recovery of sorts with a 2-1 victory over Hearts on Sunday, the Rangers support remained angry, brandishing a set of banners that included the barbed message, ‘Incompetent on & off the pitch’. Since then, Allan McGregor and Scott Arfield have been identified as summer arrivals by the Ibrox director of football, Mark Allen. At the same time, other managerial candidates to pique the interest of Rangers’ head hunters have included Graham Potter, the Englishman in charge of Ostersunds in Sweden, Cardiff City’s Neil Warnock, Alex Neil of Preston and Steve Clarke, whose Kilmarnock side have beaten Rangers twice and beaten and drawn with Celtic. Gerrard is the latest to top the bookies’ rankings. While the playing reputation gained with England and Liverpool plus familiarity with Rodgers and a degree of first-hand knowledge of the Glasgow scene – Gerrard was at Ibrox for last month’s league derby – are all positives, the appointment of a tyro manager would represent a substantial gamble by the Rangers board. In any case, no matter who is appointed at Ibrox – and whether or not Rodgers returns to England, with Arsenal or another alluring club – the legacy of the cash burn that drained Rangers’ resources after the 2012 insolvency under Craig Whyte is a financial gap with Celtic that widens every time the Parkhead team reach the Champions League group stage. It will be a significant achievement if anybody on Rangers’ managerial shortlist can bridge that gulf in time to stop Celtic reaching a record of 10 successive Scottish titles.
Le sucedió al portero del Kilmarnock de Escocia
Un golazo... ¡Con toda la cara!
Le sucedió al portero del Kilmarnock de Escocia
Kilmarnock goalkeeper Leo Fasan suffered some debut embarrassment scoring an unfortunate own goal against Hamilton.
Fasan's Kilmarnock debut own goal nightmare
Kilmarnock goalkeeper Leo Fasan suffered some debut embarrassment scoring an unfortunate own goal against Hamilton.
Kilmarnock goalkeeper Leo Fasan suffered some debut embarrassment scoring an unfortunate own goal against Hamilton.
Fasan's Kilmarnock debut own goal nightmare
Kilmarnock goalkeeper Leo Fasan suffered some debut embarrassment scoring an unfortunate own goal against Hamilton.
Kilmarnock goalkeeper Leo Fasan suffered some debut embarrassment scoring an unfortunate own goal against Hamilton.
Fasan's Kilmarnock debut own goal nightmare
Kilmarnock goalkeeper Leo Fasan suffered some debut embarrassment scoring an unfortunate own goal against Hamilton.
Ally McCoist believes that Graeme Murty’s future at Ibrox should not hinge upon the outcome of Sunday’s Old Firm derby in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals, despite a strong hint from the Rangers chairman that such is the case - or even that the interim manager’s destiny has been decided already. Celtic are one victory away from securing a seventh successive Scottish title and a win on Sunday would bring the feat of consecutive clean sweeps of the domestic honours within their immediate grasp. Murty, who has never been in charge of a winning Rangers side against their arch-foes, has at least supervised two goalless league draws at Parkhead, although last month’s match at Ibrox ended in the disappointment of defeat by a 10-man Celtic team. This week, Dave King, the Rangers chairman, declared in a message to season ticket holders that a new manager would be expected to deliver instant reward. “Whoever is appointed must be able to meet the unique challenges of managing Rangers and ensuring immediate success,” King said. “It is a priority that we commence next season with the best appointment we can make and that we move forward rapidly.” The timing of King’s comment raises questions. The Ibrox board is known to be identifying targets for the manager’s job, but there is a significant element of risk in saying so just before Murty’s last chance to prevent Celtic acquiring a second successive Scottish treble. “The feeling seems to be that it’s a defining game, and that’s not necessarily correct in my opinion,” McCoist said. “Celtic are the best team in the country at present. Rangers chairman, Dave King, has hinted that Murty's future at Ibrox hinges on victory in the Old Firm Scottish Cup semi-final Credit: Steve Welsh/Getty Images “A lot of people expect them to win the game regardless. It’s probably true that if Graeme manages to win he stands a better chance of getting the job, but it would be wrong, in my opinion, to judge the man over one game. “Any fair-minded person would look at his overall performance which I think has been good. His signings have been good and there has certainly been an improvement in terms of performances although, at Rangers, you are only ever one game away from a crisis. “Losing to Celtic, losing to Kilmarnock was not ideal, but it shouldn’t be as simple as to say that because of that he doesn’t get the job. It would be extremely difficult to keep it quiet if a decision had been made. “Dave King will let everyone know when the time is right what the plans to move forward will be. The timing was perhaps a little bit strange but he hasn’t said that Graeme isn’t getting the job. Ally McCoist says whether the next Rangers manager is successful or not depends on his ability to spend Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire “People are jumping to conclusions. It’s difficult for me to say whether he’s done enough because I don’t know what the options are. What I would say is that I don’t think Graeme has done his chances any harm at all. “I’ve heard the rumours about Frank de Boer and Derek McInnes has been mentioned again as has Alan Pardew. There is value in continuity as long as things are progressing in the right manner and you have to say Rangers are doing that. “The question for the board is, ‘Are they doing it quickly enough?' And if not, do they believe someone else could come in and do it faster? “On another day, Rangers could have won the last two Old Firm games. Morelos missed a great chance at Celtic Park and I felt in the last game Celtic only really took control when they went down to 10 men. “Rangers had a chance at 2-2 and they should certainly have made it 3-3. “The gap has undoubtedly closed, whether it’s closed enough for Dave King and the board only time will tell. “It depends also what you mean by instant success - winning a trophy or does it mean winning the league? “For me, the next step would be winning a trophy. If that’s to happen then the manager - whoever that may be - must be able to invest in his squad.” Ally McCoist was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup
Graeme Murty's future at Rangers should not hang on Old Firm semi-final, says Ally McCoist
Ally McCoist believes that Graeme Murty’s future at Ibrox should not hinge upon the outcome of Sunday’s Old Firm derby in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals, despite a strong hint from the Rangers chairman that such is the case - or even that the interim manager’s destiny has been decided already. Celtic are one victory away from securing a seventh successive Scottish title and a win on Sunday would bring the feat of consecutive clean sweeps of the domestic honours within their immediate grasp. Murty, who has never been in charge of a winning Rangers side against their arch-foes, has at least supervised two goalless league draws at Parkhead, although last month’s match at Ibrox ended in the disappointment of defeat by a 10-man Celtic team. This week, Dave King, the Rangers chairman, declared in a message to season ticket holders that a new manager would be expected to deliver instant reward. “Whoever is appointed must be able to meet the unique challenges of managing Rangers and ensuring immediate success,” King said. “It is a priority that we commence next season with the best appointment we can make and that we move forward rapidly.” The timing of King’s comment raises questions. The Ibrox board is known to be identifying targets for the manager’s job, but there is a significant element of risk in saying so just before Murty’s last chance to prevent Celtic acquiring a second successive Scottish treble. “The feeling seems to be that it’s a defining game, and that’s not necessarily correct in my opinion,” McCoist said. “Celtic are the best team in the country at present. Rangers chairman, Dave King, has hinted that Murty's future at Ibrox hinges on victory in the Old Firm Scottish Cup semi-final Credit: Steve Welsh/Getty Images “A lot of people expect them to win the game regardless. It’s probably true that if Graeme manages to win he stands a better chance of getting the job, but it would be wrong, in my opinion, to judge the man over one game. “Any fair-minded person would look at his overall performance which I think has been good. His signings have been good and there has certainly been an improvement in terms of performances although, at Rangers, you are only ever one game away from a crisis. “Losing to Celtic, losing to Kilmarnock was not ideal, but it shouldn’t be as simple as to say that because of that he doesn’t get the job. It would be extremely difficult to keep it quiet if a decision had been made. “Dave King will let everyone know when the time is right what the plans to move forward will be. The timing was perhaps a little bit strange but he hasn’t said that Graeme isn’t getting the job. Ally McCoist says whether the next Rangers manager is successful or not depends on his ability to spend Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire “People are jumping to conclusions. It’s difficult for me to say whether he’s done enough because I don’t know what the options are. What I would say is that I don’t think Graeme has done his chances any harm at all. “I’ve heard the rumours about Frank de Boer and Derek McInnes has been mentioned again as has Alan Pardew. There is value in continuity as long as things are progressing in the right manner and you have to say Rangers are doing that. “The question for the board is, ‘Are they doing it quickly enough?' And if not, do they believe someone else could come in and do it faster? “On another day, Rangers could have won the last two Old Firm games. Morelos missed a great chance at Celtic Park and I felt in the last game Celtic only really took control when they went down to 10 men. “Rangers had a chance at 2-2 and they should certainly have made it 3-3. “The gap has undoubtedly closed, whether it’s closed enough for Dave King and the board only time will tell. “It depends also what you mean by instant success - winning a trophy or does it mean winning the league? “For me, the next step would be winning a trophy. If that’s to happen then the manager - whoever that may be - must be able to invest in his squad.” Ally McCoist was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup
Ally McCoist believes that Graeme Murty’s future at Ibrox should not hinge upon the outcome of Sunday’s Old Firm derby in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals, despite a strong hint from the Rangers chairman that such is the case - or even that the interim manager’s destiny has been decided already. Celtic are one victory away from securing a seventh successive Scottish title and a win on Sunday would bring the feat of consecutive clean sweeps of the domestic honours within their immediate grasp. Murty, who has never been in charge of a winning Rangers side against their arch-foes, has at least supervised two goalless league draws at Parkhead, although last month’s match at Ibrox ended in the disappointment of defeat by a 10-man Celtic team. This week, Dave King, the Rangers chairman, declared in a message to season ticket holders that a new manager would be expected to deliver instant reward. “Whoever is appointed must be able to meet the unique challenges of managing Rangers and ensuring immediate success,” King said. “It is a priority that we commence next season with the best appointment we can make and that we move forward rapidly.” The timing of King’s comment raises questions. The Ibrox board is known to be identifying targets for the manager’s job, but there is a significant element of risk in saying so just before Murty’s last chance to prevent Celtic acquiring a second successive Scottish treble. “The feeling seems to be that it’s a defining game, and that’s not necessarily correct in my opinion,” McCoist said. “Celtic are the best team in the country at present. Rangers chairman, Dave King, has hinted that Murty's future at Ibrox hinges on victory in the Old Firm Scottish Cup semi-final Credit: Steve Welsh/Getty Images “A lot of people expect them to win the game regardless. It’s probably true that if Graeme manages to win he stands a better chance of getting the job, but it would be wrong, in my opinion, to judge the man over one game. “Any fair-minded person would look at his overall performance which I think has been good. His signings have been good and there has certainly been an improvement in terms of performances although, at Rangers, you are only ever one game away from a crisis. “Losing to Celtic, losing to Kilmarnock was not ideal, but it shouldn’t be as simple as to say that because of that he doesn’t get the job. It would be extremely difficult to keep it quiet if a decision had been made. “Dave King will let everyone know when the time is right what the plans to move forward will be. The timing was perhaps a little bit strange but he hasn’t said that Graeme isn’t getting the job. Ally McCoist says whether the next Rangers manager is successful or not depends on his ability to spend Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire “People are jumping to conclusions. It’s difficult for me to say whether he’s done enough because I don’t know what the options are. What I would say is that I don’t think Graeme has done his chances any harm at all. “I’ve heard the rumours about Frank de Boer and Derek McInnes has been mentioned again as has Alan Pardew. There is value in continuity as long as things are progressing in the right manner and you have to say Rangers are doing that. “The question for the board is, ‘Are they doing it quickly enough?' And if not, do they believe someone else could come in and do it faster? “On another day, Rangers could have won the last two Old Firm games. Morelos missed a great chance at Celtic Park and I felt in the last game Celtic only really took control when they went down to 10 men. “Rangers had a chance at 2-2 and they should certainly have made it 3-3. “The gap has undoubtedly closed, whether it’s closed enough for Dave King and the board only time will tell. “It depends also what you mean by instant success - winning a trophy or does it mean winning the league? “For me, the next step would be winning a trophy. If that’s to happen then the manager - whoever that may be - must be able to invest in his squad.” Ally McCoist was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup
Graeme Murty's future at Rangers should not hang on Old Firm semi-final, says Ally McCoist
Ally McCoist believes that Graeme Murty’s future at Ibrox should not hinge upon the outcome of Sunday’s Old Firm derby in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals, despite a strong hint from the Rangers chairman that such is the case - or even that the interim manager’s destiny has been decided already. Celtic are one victory away from securing a seventh successive Scottish title and a win on Sunday would bring the feat of consecutive clean sweeps of the domestic honours within their immediate grasp. Murty, who has never been in charge of a winning Rangers side against their arch-foes, has at least supervised two goalless league draws at Parkhead, although last month’s match at Ibrox ended in the disappointment of defeat by a 10-man Celtic team. This week, Dave King, the Rangers chairman, declared in a message to season ticket holders that a new manager would be expected to deliver instant reward. “Whoever is appointed must be able to meet the unique challenges of managing Rangers and ensuring immediate success,” King said. “It is a priority that we commence next season with the best appointment we can make and that we move forward rapidly.” The timing of King’s comment raises questions. The Ibrox board is known to be identifying targets for the manager’s job, but there is a significant element of risk in saying so just before Murty’s last chance to prevent Celtic acquiring a second successive Scottish treble. “The feeling seems to be that it’s a defining game, and that’s not necessarily correct in my opinion,” McCoist said. “Celtic are the best team in the country at present. Rangers chairman, Dave King, has hinted that Murty's future at Ibrox hinges on victory in the Old Firm Scottish Cup semi-final Credit: Steve Welsh/Getty Images “A lot of people expect them to win the game regardless. It’s probably true that if Graeme manages to win he stands a better chance of getting the job, but it would be wrong, in my opinion, to judge the man over one game. “Any fair-minded person would look at his overall performance which I think has been good. His signings have been good and there has certainly been an improvement in terms of performances although, at Rangers, you are only ever one game away from a crisis. “Losing to Celtic, losing to Kilmarnock was not ideal, but it shouldn’t be as simple as to say that because of that he doesn’t get the job. It would be extremely difficult to keep it quiet if a decision had been made. “Dave King will let everyone know when the time is right what the plans to move forward will be. The timing was perhaps a little bit strange but he hasn’t said that Graeme isn’t getting the job. Ally McCoist says whether the next Rangers manager is successful or not depends on his ability to spend Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire “People are jumping to conclusions. It’s difficult for me to say whether he’s done enough because I don’t know what the options are. What I would say is that I don’t think Graeme has done his chances any harm at all. “I’ve heard the rumours about Frank de Boer and Derek McInnes has been mentioned again as has Alan Pardew. There is value in continuity as long as things are progressing in the right manner and you have to say Rangers are doing that. “The question for the board is, ‘Are they doing it quickly enough?' And if not, do they believe someone else could come in and do it faster? “On another day, Rangers could have won the last two Old Firm games. Morelos missed a great chance at Celtic Park and I felt in the last game Celtic only really took control when they went down to 10 men. “Rangers had a chance at 2-2 and they should certainly have made it 3-3. “The gap has undoubtedly closed, whether it’s closed enough for Dave King and the board only time will tell. “It depends also what you mean by instant success - winning a trophy or does it mean winning the league? “For me, the next step would be winning a trophy. If that’s to happen then the manager - whoever that may be - must be able to invest in his squad.” Ally McCoist was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup
Ally McCoist believes that Graeme Murty’s future at Ibrox should not hinge upon the outcome of Sunday’s Old Firm derby in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals, despite a strong hint from the Rangers chairman that such is the case - or even that the interim manager’s destiny has been decided already. Celtic are one victory away from securing a seventh successive Scottish title and a win on Sunday would bring the feat of consecutive clean sweeps of the domestic honours within their immediate grasp. Murty, who has never been in charge of a winning Rangers side against their arch-foes, has at least supervised two goalless league draws at Parkhead, although last month’s match at Ibrox ended in the disappointment of defeat by a 10-man Celtic team. This week, Dave King, the Rangers chairman, declared in a message to season ticket holders that a new manager would be expected to deliver instant reward. “Whoever is appointed must be able to meet the unique challenges of managing Rangers and ensuring immediate success,” King said. “It is a priority that we commence next season with the best appointment we can make and that we move forward rapidly.” The timing of King’s comment raises questions. The Ibrox board is known to be identifying targets for the manager’s job, but there is a significant element of risk in saying so just before Murty’s last chance to prevent Celtic acquiring a second successive Scottish treble. “The feeling seems to be that it’s a defining game, and that’s not necessarily correct in my opinion,” McCoist said. “Celtic are the best team in the country at present. Rangers chairman, Dave King, has hinted that Murty's future at Ibrox hinges on victory in the Old Firm Scottish Cup semi-final Credit: Steve Welsh/Getty Images “A lot of people expect them to win the game regardless. It’s probably true that if Graeme manages to win he stands a better chance of getting the job, but it would be wrong, in my opinion, to judge the man over one game. “Any fair-minded person would look at his overall performance which I think has been good. His signings have been good and there has certainly been an improvement in terms of performances although, at Rangers, you are only ever one game away from a crisis. “Losing to Celtic, losing to Kilmarnock was not ideal, but it shouldn’t be as simple as to say that because of that he doesn’t get the job. It would be extremely difficult to keep it quiet if a decision had been made. “Dave King will let everyone know when the time is right what the plans to move forward will be. The timing was perhaps a little bit strange but he hasn’t said that Graeme isn’t getting the job. Ally McCoist says whether the next Rangers manager is successful or not depends on his ability to spend Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire “People are jumping to conclusions. It’s difficult for me to say whether he’s done enough because I don’t know what the options are. What I would say is that I don’t think Graeme has done his chances any harm at all. “I’ve heard the rumours about Frank de Boer and Derek McInnes has been mentioned again as has Alan Pardew. There is value in continuity as long as things are progressing in the right manner and you have to say Rangers are doing that. “The question for the board is, ‘Are they doing it quickly enough?' And if not, do they believe someone else could come in and do it faster? “On another day, Rangers could have won the last two Old Firm games. Morelos missed a great chance at Celtic Park and I felt in the last game Celtic only really took control when they went down to 10 men. “Rangers had a chance at 2-2 and they should certainly have made it 3-3. “The gap has undoubtedly closed, whether it’s closed enough for Dave King and the board only time will tell. “It depends also what you mean by instant success - winning a trophy or does it mean winning the league? “For me, the next step would be winning a trophy. If that’s to happen then the manager - whoever that may be - must be able to invest in his squad.” Ally McCoist was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup
Graeme Murty's future at Rangers should not hang on Old Firm semi-final, says Ally McCoist
Ally McCoist believes that Graeme Murty’s future at Ibrox should not hinge upon the outcome of Sunday’s Old Firm derby in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals, despite a strong hint from the Rangers chairman that such is the case - or even that the interim manager’s destiny has been decided already. Celtic are one victory away from securing a seventh successive Scottish title and a win on Sunday would bring the feat of consecutive clean sweeps of the domestic honours within their immediate grasp. Murty, who has never been in charge of a winning Rangers side against their arch-foes, has at least supervised two goalless league draws at Parkhead, although last month’s match at Ibrox ended in the disappointment of defeat by a 10-man Celtic team. This week, Dave King, the Rangers chairman, declared in a message to season ticket holders that a new manager would be expected to deliver instant reward. “Whoever is appointed must be able to meet the unique challenges of managing Rangers and ensuring immediate success,” King said. “It is a priority that we commence next season with the best appointment we can make and that we move forward rapidly.” The timing of King’s comment raises questions. The Ibrox board is known to be identifying targets for the manager’s job, but there is a significant element of risk in saying so just before Murty’s last chance to prevent Celtic acquiring a second successive Scottish treble. “The feeling seems to be that it’s a defining game, and that’s not necessarily correct in my opinion,” McCoist said. “Celtic are the best team in the country at present. Rangers chairman, Dave King, has hinted that Murty's future at Ibrox hinges on victory in the Old Firm Scottish Cup semi-final Credit: Steve Welsh/Getty Images “A lot of people expect them to win the game regardless. It’s probably true that if Graeme manages to win he stands a better chance of getting the job, but it would be wrong, in my opinion, to judge the man over one game. “Any fair-minded person would look at his overall performance which I think has been good. His signings have been good and there has certainly been an improvement in terms of performances although, at Rangers, you are only ever one game away from a crisis. “Losing to Celtic, losing to Kilmarnock was not ideal, but it shouldn’t be as simple as to say that because of that he doesn’t get the job. It would be extremely difficult to keep it quiet if a decision had been made. “Dave King will let everyone know when the time is right what the plans to move forward will be. The timing was perhaps a little bit strange but he hasn’t said that Graeme isn’t getting the job. Ally McCoist says whether the next Rangers manager is successful or not depends on his ability to spend Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire “People are jumping to conclusions. It’s difficult for me to say whether he’s done enough because I don’t know what the options are. What I would say is that I don’t think Graeme has done his chances any harm at all. “I’ve heard the rumours about Frank de Boer and Derek McInnes has been mentioned again as has Alan Pardew. There is value in continuity as long as things are progressing in the right manner and you have to say Rangers are doing that. “The question for the board is, ‘Are they doing it quickly enough?' And if not, do they believe someone else could come in and do it faster? “On another day, Rangers could have won the last two Old Firm games. Morelos missed a great chance at Celtic Park and I felt in the last game Celtic only really took control when they went down to 10 men. “Rangers had a chance at 2-2 and they should certainly have made it 3-3. “The gap has undoubtedly closed, whether it’s closed enough for Dave King and the board only time will tell. “It depends also what you mean by instant success - winning a trophy or does it mean winning the league? “For me, the next step would be winning a trophy. If that’s to happen then the manager - whoever that may be - must be able to invest in his squad.” Ally McCoist was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup
Far from being troubled if he sees some of his players close to meltdown before next week’s Old Firm collision at Hampden Park, Graeme Murty will be relieved that Rangers’ build-up is going to plan. The William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final will be the Ibrox club’s last chance to prevent Celtic closing in on the unprecedented achievement of consecutive domestic trebles. For Murty, the looming showdown has evoked recollections of the mind games he employed as a footballer, ahead of such occasions. “As a player, I knew how to get myself to that state - I performed best about three or four percent short of panic,” he disclosed. “Anything more than that and I was too hyper and expended my energy straight away, which can happen in big games. Anything less than that and I felt really lethargic. You need to get yourself right into that zone to give yourself the best chance of performing, regardless of all the stuff around it. “You have to be walk on to that football pitch ready, prepped and at the right state of arousal to go and hit max and it’s our job to make sure that the players do that. I’ll be trying to get myself to that state on the side line.” Murty has a mixed record in charge of Rangers against the Hoops. In his first spell as interim manager, between the tenures of Mark Warburton and Pedro Caixinha he left Parkhead with an unexpected share of the points after a 1-1 draw and he repeated the feat in a goalless encounter in December. Murty wants his Rangers players to get into battle mode for the Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic Credit: PA A run of good form going into the most recent derby extended as far as Rangers going 1-0 up at Ibrox last month, an occurrence which almost overwhelmed Murty. “I must say that I’ve never experienced anything like the noise that hit me when we scored the goal after three or four minutes,” he said. “Being that bit removed at Hampden, where you’re further away from the crowd, I believe will allow me a bit more clarity in my thoughts to concentrate on remaining calm and giving the guys what they need if that’s what I need to do. Other than that, it will be a new experience for me. I’ll be like a sponge, I’ll soak everything up and hopefully the output will match the needs of the tie.” Asked if he felt that Rangers had been overconfident ahead of the game on March 11, Murty said: “I’m not sure our approach was any different. People came into the ground who had seen us in good form. They’d seen us score lots of goals and we were quite open. “We went toe to toe with Celtic in a football match to try to get one over on them. I thought that we represented most of our values quite well, although we didn’t come up with a positive result. “We have to make sure our level of performance matches the game plan. We have to be better at matching their threats because they have quality players all over the pitch. We have to understand that and adjust our game accordingly. “A clean sheet would be fantastic. So same again, because I’ve got no doubt that we possess the ability to go and hurt them, but they have such good players and I’m not sure how many others in the league could go and score a goal like Rogic scored. Rangers swept Dundee aside at Ibrox Credit: PA “We have to be tighter. We have to be more compact without the ball, while still posing them the threat that we did with the ball. But for the width of a goalpost, everything could be very, very different right now.” Rangers got their first league win since before the March derby when they rolled over Dundee at Ibrox. The Dens Park side travelled to Glasgow for the second time in three days, buoyed by their goalless draw against Celtic on Wednesday, but fell behind to a Kenny Miller goal before the break and were buried afterwards by strikes from Alfredo Morelos, Jamie Murphy and Daniel Candeias. The win put Rangers back in second place in the table, ahead of Aberdeen on goal difference after the Dons lost to Hearts at Tynecastle, where Steven Naismith and David Milinkovic were the scorers. Elsewhere, Partick Thistle are a point adrift of Ross County at the bottom. The Jags lost 1-0 at home to Stuart Findlay’s goal for Kilmarnock, while Billy McKay put County ahead against Hibs in Dingwall, before Oli Shaw’s late equaliser. The only goalless game of the day in the Scottish Premiership was between St Johnstone and Motherwell in Perth. Celtic can go 13 points clear with five games left if they beat Accies in Sunday's lunchtime kick-off at Hamilton.
Graeme Murty turns attention to Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic after Rangers sweep Dundee aside
Far from being troubled if he sees some of his players close to meltdown before next week’s Old Firm collision at Hampden Park, Graeme Murty will be relieved that Rangers’ build-up is going to plan. The William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final will be the Ibrox club’s last chance to prevent Celtic closing in on the unprecedented achievement of consecutive domestic trebles. For Murty, the looming showdown has evoked recollections of the mind games he employed as a footballer, ahead of such occasions. “As a player, I knew how to get myself to that state - I performed best about three or four percent short of panic,” he disclosed. “Anything more than that and I was too hyper and expended my energy straight away, which can happen in big games. Anything less than that and I felt really lethargic. You need to get yourself right into that zone to give yourself the best chance of performing, regardless of all the stuff around it. “You have to be walk on to that football pitch ready, prepped and at the right state of arousal to go and hit max and it’s our job to make sure that the players do that. I’ll be trying to get myself to that state on the side line.” Murty has a mixed record in charge of Rangers against the Hoops. In his first spell as interim manager, between the tenures of Mark Warburton and Pedro Caixinha he left Parkhead with an unexpected share of the points after a 1-1 draw and he repeated the feat in a goalless encounter in December. Murty wants his Rangers players to get into battle mode for the Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic Credit: PA A run of good form going into the most recent derby extended as far as Rangers going 1-0 up at Ibrox last month, an occurrence which almost overwhelmed Murty. “I must say that I’ve never experienced anything like the noise that hit me when we scored the goal after three or four minutes,” he said. “Being that bit removed at Hampden, where you’re further away from the crowd, I believe will allow me a bit more clarity in my thoughts to concentrate on remaining calm and giving the guys what they need if that’s what I need to do. Other than that, it will be a new experience for me. I’ll be like a sponge, I’ll soak everything up and hopefully the output will match the needs of the tie.” Asked if he felt that Rangers had been overconfident ahead of the game on March 11, Murty said: “I’m not sure our approach was any different. People came into the ground who had seen us in good form. They’d seen us score lots of goals and we were quite open. “We went toe to toe with Celtic in a football match to try to get one over on them. I thought that we represented most of our values quite well, although we didn’t come up with a positive result. “We have to make sure our level of performance matches the game plan. We have to be better at matching their threats because they have quality players all over the pitch. We have to understand that and adjust our game accordingly. “A clean sheet would be fantastic. So same again, because I’ve got no doubt that we possess the ability to go and hurt them, but they have such good players and I’m not sure how many others in the league could go and score a goal like Rogic scored. Rangers swept Dundee aside at Ibrox Credit: PA “We have to be tighter. We have to be more compact without the ball, while still posing them the threat that we did with the ball. But for the width of a goalpost, everything could be very, very different right now.” Rangers got their first league win since before the March derby when they rolled over Dundee at Ibrox. The Dens Park side travelled to Glasgow for the second time in three days, buoyed by their goalless draw against Celtic on Wednesday, but fell behind to a Kenny Miller goal before the break and were buried afterwards by strikes from Alfredo Morelos, Jamie Murphy and Daniel Candeias. The win put Rangers back in second place in the table, ahead of Aberdeen on goal difference after the Dons lost to Hearts at Tynecastle, where Steven Naismith and David Milinkovic were the scorers. Elsewhere, Partick Thistle are a point adrift of Ross County at the bottom. The Jags lost 1-0 at home to Stuart Findlay’s goal for Kilmarnock, while Billy McKay put County ahead against Hibs in Dingwall, before Oli Shaw’s late equaliser. The only goalless game of the day in the Scottish Premiership was between St Johnstone and Motherwell in Perth. Celtic can go 13 points clear with five games left if they beat Accies in Sunday's lunchtime kick-off at Hamilton.
Far from being troubled if he sees some of his players close to meltdown before next week’s Old Firm collision at Hampden Park, Graeme Murty will be relieved that Rangers’ build-up is going to plan. The William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final will be the Ibrox club’s last chance to prevent Celtic closing in on the unprecedented achievement of consecutive domestic trebles. For Murty, the looming showdown has evoked recollections of the mind games he employed as a footballer, ahead of such occasions. “As a player, I knew how to get myself to that state - I performed best about three or four percent short of panic,” he disclosed. “Anything more than that and I was too hyper and expended my energy straight away, which can happen in big games. Anything less than that and I felt really lethargic. You need to get yourself right into that zone to give yourself the best chance of performing, regardless of all the stuff around it. “You have to be walk on to that football pitch ready, prepped and at the right state of arousal to go and hit max and it’s our job to make sure that the players do that. I’ll be trying to get myself to that state on the side line.” Murty has a mixed record in charge of Rangers against the Hoops. In his first spell as interim manager, between the tenures of Mark Warburton and Pedro Caixinha he left Parkhead with an unexpected share of the points after a 1-1 draw and he repeated the feat in a goalless encounter in December. Murty wants his Rangers players to get into battle mode for the Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic Credit: PA A run of good form going into the most recent derby extended as far as Rangers going 1-0 up at Ibrox last month, an occurrence which almost overwhelmed Murty. “I must say that I’ve never experienced anything like the noise that hit me when we scored the goal after three or four minutes,” he said. “Being that bit removed at Hampden, where you’re further away from the crowd, I believe will allow me a bit more clarity in my thoughts to concentrate on remaining calm and giving the guys what they need if that’s what I need to do. Other than that, it will be a new experience for me. I’ll be like a sponge, I’ll soak everything up and hopefully the output will match the needs of the tie.” Asked if he felt that Rangers had been overconfident ahead of the game on March 11, Murty said: “I’m not sure our approach was any different. People came into the ground who had seen us in good form. They’d seen us score lots of goals and we were quite open. “We went toe to toe with Celtic in a football match to try to get one over on them. I thought that we represented most of our values quite well, although we didn’t come up with a positive result. “We have to make sure our level of performance matches the game plan. We have to be better at matching their threats because they have quality players all over the pitch. We have to understand that and adjust our game accordingly. “A clean sheet would be fantastic. So same again, because I’ve got no doubt that we possess the ability to go and hurt them, but they have such good players and I’m not sure how many others in the league could go and score a goal like Rogic scored. Rangers swept Dundee aside at Ibrox Credit: PA “We have to be tighter. We have to be more compact without the ball, while still posing them the threat that we did with the ball. But for the width of a goalpost, everything could be very, very different right now.” Rangers got their first league win since before the March derby when they rolled over Dundee at Ibrox. The Dens Park side travelled to Glasgow for the second time in three days, buoyed by their goalless draw against Celtic on Wednesday, but fell behind to a Kenny Miller goal before the break and were buried afterwards by strikes from Alfredo Morelos, Jamie Murphy and Daniel Candeias. The win put Rangers back in second place in the table, ahead of Aberdeen on goal difference after the Dons lost to Hearts at Tynecastle, where Steven Naismith and David Milinkovic were the scorers. Elsewhere, Partick Thistle are a point adrift of Ross County at the bottom. The Jags lost 1-0 at home to Stuart Findlay’s goal for Kilmarnock, while Billy McKay put County ahead against Hibs in Dingwall, before Oli Shaw’s late equaliser. The only goalless game of the day in the Scottish Premiership was between St Johnstone and Motherwell in Perth. Celtic can go 13 points clear with five games left if they beat Accies in Sunday's lunchtime kick-off at Hamilton.
Graeme Murty turns attention to Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic after Rangers sweep Dundee aside
Far from being troubled if he sees some of his players close to meltdown before next week’s Old Firm collision at Hampden Park, Graeme Murty will be relieved that Rangers’ build-up is going to plan. The William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final will be the Ibrox club’s last chance to prevent Celtic closing in on the unprecedented achievement of consecutive domestic trebles. For Murty, the looming showdown has evoked recollections of the mind games he employed as a footballer, ahead of such occasions. “As a player, I knew how to get myself to that state - I performed best about three or four percent short of panic,” he disclosed. “Anything more than that and I was too hyper and expended my energy straight away, which can happen in big games. Anything less than that and I felt really lethargic. You need to get yourself right into that zone to give yourself the best chance of performing, regardless of all the stuff around it. “You have to be walk on to that football pitch ready, prepped and at the right state of arousal to go and hit max and it’s our job to make sure that the players do that. I’ll be trying to get myself to that state on the side line.” Murty has a mixed record in charge of Rangers against the Hoops. In his first spell as interim manager, between the tenures of Mark Warburton and Pedro Caixinha he left Parkhead with an unexpected share of the points after a 1-1 draw and he repeated the feat in a goalless encounter in December. Murty wants his Rangers players to get into battle mode for the Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic Credit: PA A run of good form going into the most recent derby extended as far as Rangers going 1-0 up at Ibrox last month, an occurrence which almost overwhelmed Murty. “I must say that I’ve never experienced anything like the noise that hit me when we scored the goal after three or four minutes,” he said. “Being that bit removed at Hampden, where you’re further away from the crowd, I believe will allow me a bit more clarity in my thoughts to concentrate on remaining calm and giving the guys what they need if that’s what I need to do. Other than that, it will be a new experience for me. I’ll be like a sponge, I’ll soak everything up and hopefully the output will match the needs of the tie.” Asked if he felt that Rangers had been overconfident ahead of the game on March 11, Murty said: “I’m not sure our approach was any different. People came into the ground who had seen us in good form. They’d seen us score lots of goals and we were quite open. “We went toe to toe with Celtic in a football match to try to get one over on them. I thought that we represented most of our values quite well, although we didn’t come up with a positive result. “We have to make sure our level of performance matches the game plan. We have to be better at matching their threats because they have quality players all over the pitch. We have to understand that and adjust our game accordingly. “A clean sheet would be fantastic. So same again, because I’ve got no doubt that we possess the ability to go and hurt them, but they have such good players and I’m not sure how many others in the league could go and score a goal like Rogic scored. Rangers swept Dundee aside at Ibrox Credit: PA “We have to be tighter. We have to be more compact without the ball, while still posing them the threat that we did with the ball. But for the width of a goalpost, everything could be very, very different right now.” Rangers got their first league win since before the March derby when they rolled over Dundee at Ibrox. The Dens Park side travelled to Glasgow for the second time in three days, buoyed by their goalless draw against Celtic on Wednesday, but fell behind to a Kenny Miller goal before the break and were buried afterwards by strikes from Alfredo Morelos, Jamie Murphy and Daniel Candeias. The win put Rangers back in second place in the table, ahead of Aberdeen on goal difference after the Dons lost to Hearts at Tynecastle, where Steven Naismith and David Milinkovic were the scorers. Elsewhere, Partick Thistle are a point adrift of Ross County at the bottom. The Jags lost 1-0 at home to Stuart Findlay’s goal for Kilmarnock, while Billy McKay put County ahead against Hibs in Dingwall, before Oli Shaw’s late equaliser. The only goalless game of the day in the Scottish Premiership was between St Johnstone and Motherwell in Perth. Celtic can go 13 points clear with five games left if they beat Accies in Sunday's lunchtime kick-off at Hamilton.
Far from being troubled if he sees some of his players close to meltdown before next week’s Old Firm collision at Hampden Park, Graeme Murty will be relieved that Rangers’ build-up is going to plan. The William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final will be the Ibrox club’s last chance to prevent Celtic closing in on the unprecedented achievement of consecutive domestic trebles. For Murty, the looming showdown has evoked recollections of the mind games he employed as a footballer, ahead of such occasions. “As a player, I knew how to get myself to that state - I performed best about three or four percent short of panic,” he disclosed. “Anything more than that and I was too hyper and expended my energy straight away, which can happen in big games. Anything less than that and I felt really lethargic. You need to get yourself right into that zone to give yourself the best chance of performing, regardless of all the stuff around it. “You have to be walk on to that football pitch ready, prepped and at the right state of arousal to go and hit max and it’s our job to make sure that the players do that. I’ll be trying to get myself to that state on the side line.” Murty has a mixed record in charge of Rangers against the Hoops. In his first spell as interim manager, between the tenures of Mark Warburton and Pedro Caixinha he left Parkhead with an unexpected share of the points after a 1-1 draw and he repeated the feat in a goalless encounter in December. Murty wants his Rangers players to get into battle mode for the Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic Credit: PA A run of good form going into the most recent derby extended as far as Rangers going 1-0 up at Ibrox last month, an occurrence which almost overwhelmed Murty. “I must say that I’ve never experienced anything like the noise that hit me when we scored the goal after three or four minutes,” he said. “Being that bit removed at Hampden, where you’re further away from the crowd, I believe will allow me a bit more clarity in my thoughts to concentrate on remaining calm and giving the guys what they need if that’s what I need to do. Other than that, it will be a new experience for me. I’ll be like a sponge, I’ll soak everything up and hopefully the output will match the needs of the tie.” Asked if he felt that Rangers had been overconfident ahead of the game on March 11, Murty said: “I’m not sure our approach was any different. People came into the ground who had seen us in good form. They’d seen us score lots of goals and we were quite open. “We went toe to toe with Celtic in a football match to try to get one over on them. I thought that we represented most of our values quite well, although we didn’t come up with a positive result. “We have to make sure our level of performance matches the game plan. We have to be better at matching their threats because they have quality players all over the pitch. We have to understand that and adjust our game accordingly. “A clean sheet would be fantastic. So same again, because I’ve got no doubt that we possess the ability to go and hurt them, but they have such good players and I’m not sure how many others in the league could go and score a goal like Rogic scored. Rangers swept Dundee aside at Ibrox Credit: PA “We have to be tighter. We have to be more compact without the ball, while still posing them the threat that we did with the ball. But for the width of a goalpost, everything could be very, very different right now.” Rangers got their first league win since before the March derby when they rolled over Dundee at Ibrox. The Dens Park side travelled to Glasgow for the second time in three days, buoyed by their goalless draw against Celtic on Wednesday, but fell behind to a Kenny Miller goal before the break and were buried afterwards by strikes from Alfredo Morelos, Jamie Murphy and Daniel Candeias. The win put Rangers back in second place in the table, ahead of Aberdeen on goal difference after the Dons lost to Hearts at Tynecastle, where Steven Naismith and David Milinkovic were the scorers. Elsewhere, Partick Thistle are a point adrift of Ross County at the bottom. The Jags lost 1-0 at home to Stuart Findlay’s goal for Kilmarnock, while Billy McKay put County ahead against Hibs in Dingwall, before Oli Shaw’s late equaliser. The only goalless game of the day in the Scottish Premiership was between St Johnstone and Motherwell in Perth. Celtic can go 13 points clear with five games left if they beat Accies in Sunday's lunchtime kick-off at Hamilton.
Graeme Murty turns attention to Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic after Rangers sweep Dundee aside
Far from being troubled if he sees some of his players close to meltdown before next week’s Old Firm collision at Hampden Park, Graeme Murty will be relieved that Rangers’ build-up is going to plan. The William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final will be the Ibrox club’s last chance to prevent Celtic closing in on the unprecedented achievement of consecutive domestic trebles. For Murty, the looming showdown has evoked recollections of the mind games he employed as a footballer, ahead of such occasions. “As a player, I knew how to get myself to that state - I performed best about three or four percent short of panic,” he disclosed. “Anything more than that and I was too hyper and expended my energy straight away, which can happen in big games. Anything less than that and I felt really lethargic. You need to get yourself right into that zone to give yourself the best chance of performing, regardless of all the stuff around it. “You have to be walk on to that football pitch ready, prepped and at the right state of arousal to go and hit max and it’s our job to make sure that the players do that. I’ll be trying to get myself to that state on the side line.” Murty has a mixed record in charge of Rangers against the Hoops. In his first spell as interim manager, between the tenures of Mark Warburton and Pedro Caixinha he left Parkhead with an unexpected share of the points after a 1-1 draw and he repeated the feat in a goalless encounter in December. Murty wants his Rangers players to get into battle mode for the Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic Credit: PA A run of good form going into the most recent derby extended as far as Rangers going 1-0 up at Ibrox last month, an occurrence which almost overwhelmed Murty. “I must say that I’ve never experienced anything like the noise that hit me when we scored the goal after three or four minutes,” he said. “Being that bit removed at Hampden, where you’re further away from the crowd, I believe will allow me a bit more clarity in my thoughts to concentrate on remaining calm and giving the guys what they need if that’s what I need to do. Other than that, it will be a new experience for me. I’ll be like a sponge, I’ll soak everything up and hopefully the output will match the needs of the tie.” Asked if he felt that Rangers had been overconfident ahead of the game on March 11, Murty said: “I’m not sure our approach was any different. People came into the ground who had seen us in good form. They’d seen us score lots of goals and we were quite open. “We went toe to toe with Celtic in a football match to try to get one over on them. I thought that we represented most of our values quite well, although we didn’t come up with a positive result. “We have to make sure our level of performance matches the game plan. We have to be better at matching their threats because they have quality players all over the pitch. We have to understand that and adjust our game accordingly. “A clean sheet would be fantastic. So same again, because I’ve got no doubt that we possess the ability to go and hurt them, but they have such good players and I’m not sure how many others in the league could go and score a goal like Rogic scored. Rangers swept Dundee aside at Ibrox Credit: PA “We have to be tighter. We have to be more compact without the ball, while still posing them the threat that we did with the ball. But for the width of a goalpost, everything could be very, very different right now.” Rangers got their first league win since before the March derby when they rolled over Dundee at Ibrox. The Dens Park side travelled to Glasgow for the second time in three days, buoyed by their goalless draw against Celtic on Wednesday, but fell behind to a Kenny Miller goal before the break and were buried afterwards by strikes from Alfredo Morelos, Jamie Murphy and Daniel Candeias. The win put Rangers back in second place in the table, ahead of Aberdeen on goal difference after the Dons lost to Hearts at Tynecastle, where Steven Naismith and David Milinkovic were the scorers. Elsewhere, Partick Thistle are a point adrift of Ross County at the bottom. The Jags lost 1-0 at home to Stuart Findlay’s goal for Kilmarnock, while Billy McKay put County ahead against Hibs in Dingwall, before Oli Shaw’s late equaliser. The only goalless game of the day in the Scottish Premiership was between St Johnstone and Motherwell in Perth. Celtic can go 13 points clear with five games left if they beat Accies in Sunday's lunchtime kick-off at Hamilton.
Neil McCann has never earned a living in the freight transfer business, but he has the character for it, to judge by the ease with which the Dundee manager dispatched a sizeable chunk of baggage to his opposite number at Ibrox. Dundee have taken two points from a possible nine in their three most recent outings and would be in immediate peril of dropping into the Scottish Premiership play-off place had it not been for Partick Thistle’s midweek defeat at Ross County, which has opened a four-point gap between the two bottom clubs and the Dens Park side. Rangers, meanwhile, have shed eight points in three games against Celtic, Kilmarnock and Motherwell and have slipped back to third in the table, a circumstance which McCann interpreted in terms of the stress borne by Graeme Murty, who is in charge at Ibrox on an interim basis. “I’d imagine Graeme would be under an enormous amount of pressure because it’s a short-term appointment,” McCann said. “The expectation levels at Rangers are enormous anyway so he probably has to get results quicker. McCann was encouraged by Dundee's display at Celtic Park Credit: PA “I certainly think he has grown into that job since the last time he was here and we beat them (in November). He probably looks a little more comfortable in his own skin as being Rangers manager. To be a manager of an Old Firm team, I can only imagine it must be an incredible thing to deal with.” Ahead of Dundee’s visit to Ibrox on Saturday, McCann has been buoyed by his players’ sound showing in Wednesday’s goalless draw at Celtic Park, where Murty was impressed by their display. “Dundee were excellent at Celtic Park in midweek,” said the Rangers manager. “Their organisation, structure, intensity and work rate for one another was great and they caused Celtic a threat at times so we have to be aware of what they’re going to do, but we have to go and push the issue and press the game and make sure we play the right intensity and tempo to put them on the back foot and make them as uncomfortable as possible.” Aberdeen leapfrogged Rangers into second place in midweek and, given that the aim specified by the Ibrox chairman, Dave King, was to finish midway between the Dons and Celtic, Murty has a daunting task to achieve that target, especially after having had to berate his players at half-time at Motherwell last week, before they recovered to earn a 2-2 draw. “I think it will go down to the wire,” he said. “Everyone is playing well and everyone is capable of beating one another. It’s good for the league, it’s really good for the neutral. Murty's Rangers side have slipped back to the third in the Scottish Premiership Credit: PA “I don’t think it’s necessarily good for the managers in terms of stress levels, but it’s the most competitive it’s been in a while. Sometimes you are scratching your head as to why it doesn’t translate into a good performance.” In Rangers’ case, one obvious factor was defeat by the odd goal in five to a Celtic side reduced to 10 men in the Old Firm derby last month. “Given the expectancy in the air going into the game - from the players, from the fans, from Ibrox - going up twice and coming away with a negative in that game has possibly had more of an impact that we had foreseen,” Murty said. “But we have to reinforce the players’ belief in one another in themselves and what we’re doing to continue our journey on an upward path.” Since he was asked to take charge of the team until the end of the season, after the hapless Pedro Caixinha was sacked in October, Murty has presented a courteous and level-headed demeanour, both to the public and his players. The notion that he is perennially mild-mannered, though, evaporated during his interval rant at Fir Park, following an embarrassing display of ineptitude which Motherwell exploited to take a 2-0 lead. “That’s a side they wouldn’t have seen of me,” he said. “We’re all capable of being many different people. You have to be able to utilise the right tool for the right situation and the time was right I felt to be a wee bit angry. “It hasn’t been necessary before. When I’ve had to change things before it’s been more tactical or personnel based. “I just felt we didn’t stand up to the challenge in the first half and I said to the players they had to step up because I couldn’t do it for them. You can cajole and change shape structurally but once they cross the white line the players have to step up and do it because I can’t pass the ball and put it in the net for them.”
Dundee manager Neil McCann happy to let Rangers' Graeme Murty take the pressure ahead of Ibrox game
Neil McCann has never earned a living in the freight transfer business, but he has the character for it, to judge by the ease with which the Dundee manager dispatched a sizeable chunk of baggage to his opposite number at Ibrox. Dundee have taken two points from a possible nine in their three most recent outings and would be in immediate peril of dropping into the Scottish Premiership play-off place had it not been for Partick Thistle’s midweek defeat at Ross County, which has opened a four-point gap between the two bottom clubs and the Dens Park side. Rangers, meanwhile, have shed eight points in three games against Celtic, Kilmarnock and Motherwell and have slipped back to third in the table, a circumstance which McCann interpreted in terms of the stress borne by Graeme Murty, who is in charge at Ibrox on an interim basis. “I’d imagine Graeme would be under an enormous amount of pressure because it’s a short-term appointment,” McCann said. “The expectation levels at Rangers are enormous anyway so he probably has to get results quicker. McCann was encouraged by Dundee's display at Celtic Park Credit: PA “I certainly think he has grown into that job since the last time he was here and we beat them (in November). He probably looks a little more comfortable in his own skin as being Rangers manager. To be a manager of an Old Firm team, I can only imagine it must be an incredible thing to deal with.” Ahead of Dundee’s visit to Ibrox on Saturday, McCann has been buoyed by his players’ sound showing in Wednesday’s goalless draw at Celtic Park, where Murty was impressed by their display. “Dundee were excellent at Celtic Park in midweek,” said the Rangers manager. “Their organisation, structure, intensity and work rate for one another was great and they caused Celtic a threat at times so we have to be aware of what they’re going to do, but we have to go and push the issue and press the game and make sure we play the right intensity and tempo to put them on the back foot and make them as uncomfortable as possible.” Aberdeen leapfrogged Rangers into second place in midweek and, given that the aim specified by the Ibrox chairman, Dave King, was to finish midway between the Dons and Celtic, Murty has a daunting task to achieve that target, especially after having had to berate his players at half-time at Motherwell last week, before they recovered to earn a 2-2 draw. “I think it will go down to the wire,” he said. “Everyone is playing well and everyone is capable of beating one another. It’s good for the league, it’s really good for the neutral. Murty's Rangers side have slipped back to the third in the Scottish Premiership Credit: PA “I don’t think it’s necessarily good for the managers in terms of stress levels, but it’s the most competitive it’s been in a while. Sometimes you are scratching your head as to why it doesn’t translate into a good performance.” In Rangers’ case, one obvious factor was defeat by the odd goal in five to a Celtic side reduced to 10 men in the Old Firm derby last month. “Given the expectancy in the air going into the game - from the players, from the fans, from Ibrox - going up twice and coming away with a negative in that game has possibly had more of an impact that we had foreseen,” Murty said. “But we have to reinforce the players’ belief in one another in themselves and what we’re doing to continue our journey on an upward path.” Since he was asked to take charge of the team until the end of the season, after the hapless Pedro Caixinha was sacked in October, Murty has presented a courteous and level-headed demeanour, both to the public and his players. The notion that he is perennially mild-mannered, though, evaporated during his interval rant at Fir Park, following an embarrassing display of ineptitude which Motherwell exploited to take a 2-0 lead. “That’s a side they wouldn’t have seen of me,” he said. “We’re all capable of being many different people. You have to be able to utilise the right tool for the right situation and the time was right I felt to be a wee bit angry. “It hasn’t been necessary before. When I’ve had to change things before it’s been more tactical or personnel based. “I just felt we didn’t stand up to the challenge in the first half and I said to the players they had to step up because I couldn’t do it for them. You can cajole and change shape structurally but once they cross the white line the players have to step up and do it because I can’t pass the ball and put it in the net for them.”
Neil McCann has never earned a living in the freight transfer business, but he has the character for it, to judge by the ease with which the Dundee manager dispatched a sizeable chunk of baggage to his opposite number at Ibrox. Dundee have taken two points from a possible nine in their three most recent outings and would be in immediate peril of dropping into the Scottish Premiership play-off place had it not been for Partick Thistle’s midweek defeat at Ross County, which has opened a four-point gap between the two bottom clubs and the Dens Park side. Rangers, meanwhile, have shed eight points in three games against Celtic, Kilmarnock and Motherwell and have slipped back to third in the table, a circumstance which McCann interpreted in terms of the stress borne by Graeme Murty, who is in charge at Ibrox on an interim basis. “I’d imagine Graeme would be under an enormous amount of pressure because it’s a short-term appointment,” McCann said. “The expectation levels at Rangers are enormous anyway so he probably has to get results quicker. McCann was encouraged by Dundee's display at Celtic Park Credit: PA “I certainly think he has grown into that job since the last time he was here and we beat them (in November). He probably looks a little more comfortable in his own skin as being Rangers manager. To be a manager of an Old Firm team, I can only imagine it must be an incredible thing to deal with.” Ahead of Dundee’s visit to Ibrox on Saturday, McCann has been buoyed by his players’ sound showing in Wednesday’s goalless draw at Celtic Park, where Murty was impressed by their display. “Dundee were excellent at Celtic Park in midweek,” said the Rangers manager. “Their organisation, structure, intensity and work rate for one another was great and they caused Celtic a threat at times so we have to be aware of what they’re going to do, but we have to go and push the issue and press the game and make sure we play the right intensity and tempo to put them on the back foot and make them as uncomfortable as possible.” Aberdeen leapfrogged Rangers into second place in midweek and, given that the aim specified by the Ibrox chairman, Dave King, was to finish midway between the Dons and Celtic, Murty has a daunting task to achieve that target, especially after having had to berate his players at half-time at Motherwell last week, before they recovered to earn a 2-2 draw. “I think it will go down to the wire,” he said. “Everyone is playing well and everyone is capable of beating one another. It’s good for the league, it’s really good for the neutral. Murty's Rangers side have slipped back to the third in the Scottish Premiership Credit: PA “I don’t think it’s necessarily good for the managers in terms of stress levels, but it’s the most competitive it’s been in a while. Sometimes you are scratching your head as to why it doesn’t translate into a good performance.” In Rangers’ case, one obvious factor was defeat by the odd goal in five to a Celtic side reduced to 10 men in the Old Firm derby last month. “Given the expectancy in the air going into the game - from the players, from the fans, from Ibrox - going up twice and coming away with a negative in that game has possibly had more of an impact that we had foreseen,” Murty said. “But we have to reinforce the players’ belief in one another in themselves and what we’re doing to continue our journey on an upward path.” Since he was asked to take charge of the team until the end of the season, after the hapless Pedro Caixinha was sacked in October, Murty has presented a courteous and level-headed demeanour, both to the public and his players. The notion that he is perennially mild-mannered, though, evaporated during his interval rant at Fir Park, following an embarrassing display of ineptitude which Motherwell exploited to take a 2-0 lead. “That’s a side they wouldn’t have seen of me,” he said. “We’re all capable of being many different people. You have to be able to utilise the right tool for the right situation and the time was right I felt to be a wee bit angry. “It hasn’t been necessary before. When I’ve had to change things before it’s been more tactical or personnel based. “I just felt we didn’t stand up to the challenge in the first half and I said to the players they had to step up because I couldn’t do it for them. You can cajole and change shape structurally but once they cross the white line the players have to step up and do it because I can’t pass the ball and put it in the net for them.”
Dundee manager Neil McCann happy to let Rangers' Graeme Murty take the pressure ahead of Ibrox game
Neil McCann has never earned a living in the freight transfer business, but he has the character for it, to judge by the ease with which the Dundee manager dispatched a sizeable chunk of baggage to his opposite number at Ibrox. Dundee have taken two points from a possible nine in their three most recent outings and would be in immediate peril of dropping into the Scottish Premiership play-off place had it not been for Partick Thistle’s midweek defeat at Ross County, which has opened a four-point gap between the two bottom clubs and the Dens Park side. Rangers, meanwhile, have shed eight points in three games against Celtic, Kilmarnock and Motherwell and have slipped back to third in the table, a circumstance which McCann interpreted in terms of the stress borne by Graeme Murty, who is in charge at Ibrox on an interim basis. “I’d imagine Graeme would be under an enormous amount of pressure because it’s a short-term appointment,” McCann said. “The expectation levels at Rangers are enormous anyway so he probably has to get results quicker. McCann was encouraged by Dundee's display at Celtic Park Credit: PA “I certainly think he has grown into that job since the last time he was here and we beat them (in November). He probably looks a little more comfortable in his own skin as being Rangers manager. To be a manager of an Old Firm team, I can only imagine it must be an incredible thing to deal with.” Ahead of Dundee’s visit to Ibrox on Saturday, McCann has been buoyed by his players’ sound showing in Wednesday’s goalless draw at Celtic Park, where Murty was impressed by their display. “Dundee were excellent at Celtic Park in midweek,” said the Rangers manager. “Their organisation, structure, intensity and work rate for one another was great and they caused Celtic a threat at times so we have to be aware of what they’re going to do, but we have to go and push the issue and press the game and make sure we play the right intensity and tempo to put them on the back foot and make them as uncomfortable as possible.” Aberdeen leapfrogged Rangers into second place in midweek and, given that the aim specified by the Ibrox chairman, Dave King, was to finish midway between the Dons and Celtic, Murty has a daunting task to achieve that target, especially after having had to berate his players at half-time at Motherwell last week, before they recovered to earn a 2-2 draw. “I think it will go down to the wire,” he said. “Everyone is playing well and everyone is capable of beating one another. It’s good for the league, it’s really good for the neutral. Murty's Rangers side have slipped back to the third in the Scottish Premiership Credit: PA “I don’t think it’s necessarily good for the managers in terms of stress levels, but it’s the most competitive it’s been in a while. Sometimes you are scratching your head as to why it doesn’t translate into a good performance.” In Rangers’ case, one obvious factor was defeat by the odd goal in five to a Celtic side reduced to 10 men in the Old Firm derby last month. “Given the expectancy in the air going into the game - from the players, from the fans, from Ibrox - going up twice and coming away with a negative in that game has possibly had more of an impact that we had foreseen,” Murty said. “But we have to reinforce the players’ belief in one another in themselves and what we’re doing to continue our journey on an upward path.” Since he was asked to take charge of the team until the end of the season, after the hapless Pedro Caixinha was sacked in October, Murty has presented a courteous and level-headed demeanour, both to the public and his players. The notion that he is perennially mild-mannered, though, evaporated during his interval rant at Fir Park, following an embarrassing display of ineptitude which Motherwell exploited to take a 2-0 lead. “That’s a side they wouldn’t have seen of me,” he said. “We’re all capable of being many different people. You have to be able to utilise the right tool for the right situation and the time was right I felt to be a wee bit angry. “It hasn’t been necessary before. When I’ve had to change things before it’s been more tactical or personnel based. “I just felt we didn’t stand up to the challenge in the first half and I said to the players they had to step up because I couldn’t do it for them. You can cajole and change shape structurally but once they cross the white line the players have to step up and do it because I can’t pass the ball and put it in the net for them.”
Neil McCann has never earned a living in the freight transfer business, but he has the character for it, to judge by the ease with which the Dundee manager dispatched a sizeable chunk of baggage to his opposite number at Ibrox. Dundee have taken two points from a possible nine in their three most recent outings and would be in immediate peril of dropping into the Scottish Premiership play-off place had it not been for Partick Thistle’s midweek defeat at Ross County, which has opened a four-point gap between the two bottom clubs and the Dens Park side. Rangers, meanwhile, have shed eight points in three games against Celtic, Kilmarnock and Motherwell and have slipped back to third in the table, a circumstance which McCann interpreted in terms of the stress borne by Graeme Murty, who is in charge at Ibrox on an interim basis. “I’d imagine Graeme would be under an enormous amount of pressure because it’s a short-term appointment,” McCann said. “The expectation levels at Rangers are enormous anyway so he probably has to get results quicker. McCann was encouraged by Dundee's display at Celtic Park Credit: PA “I certainly think he has grown into that job since the last time he was here and we beat them (in November). He probably looks a little more comfortable in his own skin as being Rangers manager. To be a manager of an Old Firm team, I can only imagine it must be an incredible thing to deal with.” Ahead of Dundee’s visit to Ibrox on Saturday, McCann has been buoyed by his players’ sound showing in Wednesday’s goalless draw at Celtic Park, where Murty was impressed by their display. “Dundee were excellent at Celtic Park in midweek,” said the Rangers manager. “Their organisation, structure, intensity and work rate for one another was great and they caused Celtic a threat at times so we have to be aware of what they’re going to do, but we have to go and push the issue and press the game and make sure we play the right intensity and tempo to put them on the back foot and make them as uncomfortable as possible.” Aberdeen leapfrogged Rangers into second place in midweek and, given that the aim specified by the Ibrox chairman, Dave King, was to finish midway between the Dons and Celtic, Murty has a daunting task to achieve that target, especially after having had to berate his players at half-time at Motherwell last week, before they recovered to earn a 2-2 draw. “I think it will go down to the wire,” he said. “Everyone is playing well and everyone is capable of beating one another. It’s good for the league, it’s really good for the neutral. Murty's Rangers side have slipped back to the third in the Scottish Premiership Credit: PA “I don’t think it’s necessarily good for the managers in terms of stress levels, but it’s the most competitive it’s been in a while. Sometimes you are scratching your head as to why it doesn’t translate into a good performance.” In Rangers’ case, one obvious factor was defeat by the odd goal in five to a Celtic side reduced to 10 men in the Old Firm derby last month. “Given the expectancy in the air going into the game - from the players, from the fans, from Ibrox - going up twice and coming away with a negative in that game has possibly had more of an impact that we had foreseen,” Murty said. “But we have to reinforce the players’ belief in one another in themselves and what we’re doing to continue our journey on an upward path.” Since he was asked to take charge of the team until the end of the season, after the hapless Pedro Caixinha was sacked in October, Murty has presented a courteous and level-headed demeanour, both to the public and his players. The notion that he is perennially mild-mannered, though, evaporated during his interval rant at Fir Park, following an embarrassing display of ineptitude which Motherwell exploited to take a 2-0 lead. “That’s a side they wouldn’t have seen of me,” he said. “We’re all capable of being many different people. You have to be able to utilise the right tool for the right situation and the time was right I felt to be a wee bit angry. “It hasn’t been necessary before. When I’ve had to change things before it’s been more tactical or personnel based. “I just felt we didn’t stand up to the challenge in the first half and I said to the players they had to step up because I couldn’t do it for them. You can cajole and change shape structurally but once they cross the white line the players have to step up and do it because I can’t pass the ball and put it in the net for them.”
Dundee manager Neil McCann happy to let Rangers' Graeme Murty take the pressure ahead of Ibrox game
Neil McCann has never earned a living in the freight transfer business, but he has the character for it, to judge by the ease with which the Dundee manager dispatched a sizeable chunk of baggage to his opposite number at Ibrox. Dundee have taken two points from a possible nine in their three most recent outings and would be in immediate peril of dropping into the Scottish Premiership play-off place had it not been for Partick Thistle’s midweek defeat at Ross County, which has opened a four-point gap between the two bottom clubs and the Dens Park side. Rangers, meanwhile, have shed eight points in three games against Celtic, Kilmarnock and Motherwell and have slipped back to third in the table, a circumstance which McCann interpreted in terms of the stress borne by Graeme Murty, who is in charge at Ibrox on an interim basis. “I’d imagine Graeme would be under an enormous amount of pressure because it’s a short-term appointment,” McCann said. “The expectation levels at Rangers are enormous anyway so he probably has to get results quicker. McCann was encouraged by Dundee's display at Celtic Park Credit: PA “I certainly think he has grown into that job since the last time he was here and we beat them (in November). He probably looks a little more comfortable in his own skin as being Rangers manager. To be a manager of an Old Firm team, I can only imagine it must be an incredible thing to deal with.” Ahead of Dundee’s visit to Ibrox on Saturday, McCann has been buoyed by his players’ sound showing in Wednesday’s goalless draw at Celtic Park, where Murty was impressed by their display. “Dundee were excellent at Celtic Park in midweek,” said the Rangers manager. “Their organisation, structure, intensity and work rate for one another was great and they caused Celtic a threat at times so we have to be aware of what they’re going to do, but we have to go and push the issue and press the game and make sure we play the right intensity and tempo to put them on the back foot and make them as uncomfortable as possible.” Aberdeen leapfrogged Rangers into second place in midweek and, given that the aim specified by the Ibrox chairman, Dave King, was to finish midway between the Dons and Celtic, Murty has a daunting task to achieve that target, especially after having had to berate his players at half-time at Motherwell last week, before they recovered to earn a 2-2 draw. “I think it will go down to the wire,” he said. “Everyone is playing well and everyone is capable of beating one another. It’s good for the league, it’s really good for the neutral. Murty's Rangers side have slipped back to the third in the Scottish Premiership Credit: PA “I don’t think it’s necessarily good for the managers in terms of stress levels, but it’s the most competitive it’s been in a while. Sometimes you are scratching your head as to why it doesn’t translate into a good performance.” In Rangers’ case, one obvious factor was defeat by the odd goal in five to a Celtic side reduced to 10 men in the Old Firm derby last month. “Given the expectancy in the air going into the game - from the players, from the fans, from Ibrox - going up twice and coming away with a negative in that game has possibly had more of an impact that we had foreseen,” Murty said. “But we have to reinforce the players’ belief in one another in themselves and what we’re doing to continue our journey on an upward path.” Since he was asked to take charge of the team until the end of the season, after the hapless Pedro Caixinha was sacked in October, Murty has presented a courteous and level-headed demeanour, both to the public and his players. The notion that he is perennially mild-mannered, though, evaporated during his interval rant at Fir Park, following an embarrassing display of ineptitude which Motherwell exploited to take a 2-0 lead. “That’s a side they wouldn’t have seen of me,” he said. “We’re all capable of being many different people. You have to be able to utilise the right tool for the right situation and the time was right I felt to be a wee bit angry. “It hasn’t been necessary before. When I’ve had to change things before it’s been more tactical or personnel based. “I just felt we didn’t stand up to the challenge in the first half and I said to the players they had to step up because I couldn’t do it for them. You can cajole and change shape structurally but once they cross the white line the players have to step up and do it because I can’t pass the ball and put it in the net for them.”
Callum McGregor’s breakthrough as a first-choice Scotland player has boosted his morale and made him a better player, according to Brendan Rodgers, his manager at Celtic. McGregor could not get game time under former national coach Gordon Strachan but Alex McLeish signalled that the 24-year-old will be part of his plans by using him as a substitute in the friendly against Costa Rica and then giving him a start in the 1-0 victory over Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday. “The difference in him is that he has a confidence now,” said Rodgers. “He has obviously got the trust from us all here at Celtic that he is a player and performances have warranted that. “He really is a special talent because he is flexible where he can play and I think Alex will have seen that during the week. He is just consistent, seven or eight out of 10 every week for me, in terms of how he plays. “He has this incredible knack of keeping the ball. At international level that is a must. If you see some of the passes he played in the week, on a difficult pitch too, he just takes the team forward. He plays the game so simply he makes it look easy, yet there are so many players who can’t do what he does. “He has got the perfect temperament. He has never missed a day’s training since I have been here. He comes in the team, he plays in big games, he plays at left-back, he plays wide on the right, he is just the same.” Moussa Dembele celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot to put Celtic ahead against Ross County Credit: PA McGregor played in Celtic’s 3-0 home victory over Ross County on Saturday. A Moussa Dembele penalty had the Hoops ahead by the interval, by which stage County had lost their captain, Andrew Davies, to a straight red card for a lunge at Scott Brown. The visitors also had to replace Aaron McCarey with Scott Fox in goal because of injury shortly before the break and fell further behind to strikes by Stuart Armstrong and Tom Rogic, both of whom were set up by winger James Forrest. At Fir Park, it needed a wholesale transformation of Rangers’ attitude after the break to rescue a point after falling 2-0 behind to Motherwell, who took the lead with a Curtis Main penalty and doubled their advantage through Allan Campbell. After being berated by Graeme Murty at the interval, Rangers gave themselves some hope when James Tavernier was judged to have been fouled inside the box and converted the ensuing spot-kick. Five minutes later, Jamie Murphy – a former Motherwell favourite – restored parity with a solo run and shot beyond Trevor Carson. Murphy’s contribution prevented Rangers losing three consecutive matches. “It’s a point we scraped after a start where we got caught,” said manager Murty. “We got done physically at the start and we didn’t cope with balls into our area well enough. I didn’t change anything tactically at half-time. “I told them to step up, take ownership, and they did. They needed to be better and stand up to the physical challenge. We did that in the second half and got the reward, but we can’t afford to give teams a two-goal head start. It shouldn’t take, at this level, the half-time break to get a reaction. “They know they were below the standards they require of themselves. “We’re not happy with the point. Anyone who works for this fantastic club is honoured, but today is not about my status. It’s our task collectively to do more than we did today.” Aberdeen posted an emphatic 4-1 victory over St Johnstone on the much-criticised Pittodrie pitch. The opening 35 minutes were dire but Ryan Christie displayed composure to round Alan Mannus to find the net after being put free by Gary Mackay-Steven. Christie then turned provider by prompting Stevie May for the striker’s fifth goal of the season. The outcome was assured a few minutes after the break when Greg Stewart netted a double, although Matty Willock got a consolation for the Perth side. At Rugby Park, Kilmarnock – already guaranteed a top-six finish – extended their impressive form under Steve Clarke by beating Hamilton Academical with first-half goals from Lee Erwin and Stephen O’Donnell. Elsewhere, Partick Thistle’s poor run continued with a 2-0 defeat by Hibs at Easter Road, where Jamie Maclaren and Paul Hanlon were the scorers and the Jags’ Danny Devine was sent off. Off the field, the Scottish Football Association are understood to have secured an agreement in principle to purchase Hampden Park from Queen’s Park. The SFA’s contract to lease the stadium for international matches expires in 2020, but the new deal will ensure the installation of safe standing areas and extend Hampden’s status as home to the Scotland team.
Callum McGregor getting lift from Scotland call-ups, claims Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers
Callum McGregor’s breakthrough as a first-choice Scotland player has boosted his morale and made him a better player, according to Brendan Rodgers, his manager at Celtic. McGregor could not get game time under former national coach Gordon Strachan but Alex McLeish signalled that the 24-year-old will be part of his plans by using him as a substitute in the friendly against Costa Rica and then giving him a start in the 1-0 victory over Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday. “The difference in him is that he has a confidence now,” said Rodgers. “He has obviously got the trust from us all here at Celtic that he is a player and performances have warranted that. “He really is a special talent because he is flexible where he can play and I think Alex will have seen that during the week. He is just consistent, seven or eight out of 10 every week for me, in terms of how he plays. “He has this incredible knack of keeping the ball. At international level that is a must. If you see some of the passes he played in the week, on a difficult pitch too, he just takes the team forward. He plays the game so simply he makes it look easy, yet there are so many players who can’t do what he does. “He has got the perfect temperament. He has never missed a day’s training since I have been here. He comes in the team, he plays in big games, he plays at left-back, he plays wide on the right, he is just the same.” Moussa Dembele celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot to put Celtic ahead against Ross County Credit: PA McGregor played in Celtic’s 3-0 home victory over Ross County on Saturday. A Moussa Dembele penalty had the Hoops ahead by the interval, by which stage County had lost their captain, Andrew Davies, to a straight red card for a lunge at Scott Brown. The visitors also had to replace Aaron McCarey with Scott Fox in goal because of injury shortly before the break and fell further behind to strikes by Stuart Armstrong and Tom Rogic, both of whom were set up by winger James Forrest. At Fir Park, it needed a wholesale transformation of Rangers’ attitude after the break to rescue a point after falling 2-0 behind to Motherwell, who took the lead with a Curtis Main penalty and doubled their advantage through Allan Campbell. After being berated by Graeme Murty at the interval, Rangers gave themselves some hope when James Tavernier was judged to have been fouled inside the box and converted the ensuing spot-kick. Five minutes later, Jamie Murphy – a former Motherwell favourite – restored parity with a solo run and shot beyond Trevor Carson. Murphy’s contribution prevented Rangers losing three consecutive matches. “It’s a point we scraped after a start where we got caught,” said manager Murty. “We got done physically at the start and we didn’t cope with balls into our area well enough. I didn’t change anything tactically at half-time. “I told them to step up, take ownership, and they did. They needed to be better and stand up to the physical challenge. We did that in the second half and got the reward, but we can’t afford to give teams a two-goal head start. It shouldn’t take, at this level, the half-time break to get a reaction. “They know they were below the standards they require of themselves. “We’re not happy with the point. Anyone who works for this fantastic club is honoured, but today is not about my status. It’s our task collectively to do more than we did today.” Aberdeen posted an emphatic 4-1 victory over St Johnstone on the much-criticised Pittodrie pitch. The opening 35 minutes were dire but Ryan Christie displayed composure to round Alan Mannus to find the net after being put free by Gary Mackay-Steven. Christie then turned provider by prompting Stevie May for the striker’s fifth goal of the season. The outcome was assured a few minutes after the break when Greg Stewart netted a double, although Matty Willock got a consolation for the Perth side. At Rugby Park, Kilmarnock – already guaranteed a top-six finish – extended their impressive form under Steve Clarke by beating Hamilton Academical with first-half goals from Lee Erwin and Stephen O’Donnell. Elsewhere, Partick Thistle’s poor run continued with a 2-0 defeat by Hibs at Easter Road, where Jamie Maclaren and Paul Hanlon were the scorers and the Jags’ Danny Devine was sent off. Off the field, the Scottish Football Association are understood to have secured an agreement in principle to purchase Hampden Park from Queen’s Park. The SFA’s contract to lease the stadium for international matches expires in 2020, but the new deal will ensure the installation of safe standing areas and extend Hampden’s status as home to the Scotland team.
Callum McGregor’s breakthrough as a first-choice Scotland player has boosted his morale and made him a better player, according to Brendan Rodgers, his manager at Celtic. McGregor could not get game time under former national coach Gordon Strachan but Alex McLeish signalled that the 24-year-old will be part of his plans by using him as a substitute in the friendly against Costa Rica and then giving him a start in the 1-0 victory over Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday. “The difference in him is that he has a confidence now,” said Rodgers. “He has obviously got the trust from us all here at Celtic that he is a player and performances have warranted that. “He really is a special talent because he is flexible where he can play and I think Alex will have seen that during the week. He is just consistent, seven or eight out of 10 every week for me, in terms of how he plays. “He has this incredible knack of keeping the ball. At international level that is a must. If you see some of the passes he played in the week, on a difficult pitch too, he just takes the team forward. He plays the game so simply he makes it look easy, yet there are so many players who can’t do what he does. “He has got the perfect temperament. He has never missed a day’s training since I have been here. He comes in the team, he plays in big games, he plays at left-back, he plays wide on the right, he is just the same.” Moussa Dembele celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot to put Celtic ahead against Ross County Credit: PA McGregor played in Celtic’s 3-0 home victory over Ross County on Saturday. A Moussa Dembele penalty had the Hoops ahead by the interval, by which stage County had lost their captain, Andrew Davies, to a straight red card for a lunge at Scott Brown. The visitors also had to replace Aaron McCarey with Scott Fox in goal because of injury shortly before the break and fell further behind to strikes by Stuart Armstrong and Tom Rogic, both of whom were set up by winger James Forrest. At Fir Park, it needed a wholesale transformation of Rangers’ attitude after the break to rescue a point after falling 2-0 behind to Motherwell, who took the lead with a Curtis Main penalty and doubled their advantage through Allan Campbell. After being berated by Graeme Murty at the interval, Rangers gave themselves some hope when James Tavernier was judged to have been fouled inside the box and converted the ensuing spot-kick. Five minutes later, Jamie Murphy – a former Motherwell favourite – restored parity with a solo run and shot beyond Trevor Carson. Murphy’s contribution prevented Rangers losing three consecutive matches. “It’s a point we scraped after a start where we got caught,” said manager Murty. “We got done physically at the start and we didn’t cope with balls into our area well enough. I didn’t change anything tactically at half-time. “I told them to step up, take ownership, and they did. They needed to be better and stand up to the physical challenge. We did that in the second half and got the reward, but we can’t afford to give teams a two-goal head start. It shouldn’t take, at this level, the half-time break to get a reaction. “They know they were below the standards they require of themselves. “We’re not happy with the point. Anyone who works for this fantastic club is honoured, but today is not about my status. It’s our task collectively to do more than we did today.” Aberdeen posted an emphatic 4-1 victory over St Johnstone on the much-criticised Pittodrie pitch. The opening 35 minutes were dire but Ryan Christie displayed composure to round Alan Mannus to find the net after being put free by Gary Mackay-Steven. Christie then turned provider by prompting Stevie May for the striker’s fifth goal of the season. The outcome was assured a few minutes after the break when Greg Stewart netted a double, although Matty Willock got a consolation for the Perth side. At Rugby Park, Kilmarnock – already guaranteed a top-six finish – extended their impressive form under Steve Clarke by beating Hamilton Academical with first-half goals from Lee Erwin and Stephen O’Donnell. Elsewhere, Partick Thistle’s poor run continued with a 2-0 defeat by Hibs at Easter Road, where Jamie Maclaren and Paul Hanlon were the scorers and the Jags’ Danny Devine was sent off. Off the field, the Scottish Football Association are understood to have secured an agreement in principle to purchase Hampden Park from Queen’s Park. The SFA’s contract to lease the stadium for international matches expires in 2020, but the new deal will ensure the installation of safe standing areas and extend Hampden’s status as home to the Scotland team.
Callum McGregor getting lift from Scotland call-ups, claims Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers
Callum McGregor’s breakthrough as a first-choice Scotland player has boosted his morale and made him a better player, according to Brendan Rodgers, his manager at Celtic. McGregor could not get game time under former national coach Gordon Strachan but Alex McLeish signalled that the 24-year-old will be part of his plans by using him as a substitute in the friendly against Costa Rica and then giving him a start in the 1-0 victory over Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday. “The difference in him is that he has a confidence now,” said Rodgers. “He has obviously got the trust from us all here at Celtic that he is a player and performances have warranted that. “He really is a special talent because he is flexible where he can play and I think Alex will have seen that during the week. He is just consistent, seven or eight out of 10 every week for me, in terms of how he plays. “He has this incredible knack of keeping the ball. At international level that is a must. If you see some of the passes he played in the week, on a difficult pitch too, he just takes the team forward. He plays the game so simply he makes it look easy, yet there are so many players who can’t do what he does. “He has got the perfect temperament. He has never missed a day’s training since I have been here. He comes in the team, he plays in big games, he plays at left-back, he plays wide on the right, he is just the same.” Moussa Dembele celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot to put Celtic ahead against Ross County Credit: PA McGregor played in Celtic’s 3-0 home victory over Ross County on Saturday. A Moussa Dembele penalty had the Hoops ahead by the interval, by which stage County had lost their captain, Andrew Davies, to a straight red card for a lunge at Scott Brown. The visitors also had to replace Aaron McCarey with Scott Fox in goal because of injury shortly before the break and fell further behind to strikes by Stuart Armstrong and Tom Rogic, both of whom were set up by winger James Forrest. At Fir Park, it needed a wholesale transformation of Rangers’ attitude after the break to rescue a point after falling 2-0 behind to Motherwell, who took the lead with a Curtis Main penalty and doubled their advantage through Allan Campbell. After being berated by Graeme Murty at the interval, Rangers gave themselves some hope when James Tavernier was judged to have been fouled inside the box and converted the ensuing spot-kick. Five minutes later, Jamie Murphy – a former Motherwell favourite – restored parity with a solo run and shot beyond Trevor Carson. Murphy’s contribution prevented Rangers losing three consecutive matches. “It’s a point we scraped after a start where we got caught,” said manager Murty. “We got done physically at the start and we didn’t cope with balls into our area well enough. I didn’t change anything tactically at half-time. “I told them to step up, take ownership, and they did. They needed to be better and stand up to the physical challenge. We did that in the second half and got the reward, but we can’t afford to give teams a two-goal head start. It shouldn’t take, at this level, the half-time break to get a reaction. “They know they were below the standards they require of themselves. “We’re not happy with the point. Anyone who works for this fantastic club is honoured, but today is not about my status. It’s our task collectively to do more than we did today.” Aberdeen posted an emphatic 4-1 victory over St Johnstone on the much-criticised Pittodrie pitch. The opening 35 minutes were dire but Ryan Christie displayed composure to round Alan Mannus to find the net after being put free by Gary Mackay-Steven. Christie then turned provider by prompting Stevie May for the striker’s fifth goal of the season. The outcome was assured a few minutes after the break when Greg Stewart netted a double, although Matty Willock got a consolation for the Perth side. At Rugby Park, Kilmarnock – already guaranteed a top-six finish – extended their impressive form under Steve Clarke by beating Hamilton Academical with first-half goals from Lee Erwin and Stephen O’Donnell. Elsewhere, Partick Thistle’s poor run continued with a 2-0 defeat by Hibs at Easter Road, where Jamie Maclaren and Paul Hanlon were the scorers and the Jags’ Danny Devine was sent off. Off the field, the Scottish Football Association are understood to have secured an agreement in principle to purchase Hampden Park from Queen’s Park. The SFA’s contract to lease the stadium for international matches expires in 2020, but the new deal will ensure the installation of safe standing areas and extend Hampden’s status as home to the Scotland team.
An absorbing contest at Fir Park saw Celtic increase their lead over Rangers to 10 points as, for the second week in succession, they were involved in a game which finished short of the full complement of players. In contrast to their previous outing at Ibrox, where Jozo Simunovic was sent off but Celtic won, on this occasion Motherwell were depleted by the dismissal of Cedric Kipre but kept a clean sheet against the league leaders in a game notable for fine performances by both goalkeepers. The Celtic team selection contained bad news for Alex McLeish ahead of Scotland’s friendly against Costa Rica at Hampden Park on Friday. Absent was Kieran Tierney, victim of what Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers described as a tweaked calf. Motherwell, too, were minus significant players in Craig Tanner and Andy Rose, both having sustained knee injuries. The evidence of the opening 10 minutes suggested that Motherwell were more afflicted than the visitors by their casualties and the possession ratio favoured the champions by 3:1, but Chris Cadden signalled a shift in the balance of opportunities when he struck a speculative effort from 25 yards that was blocked by Scott Bain. The Celtic goalkeeper had been third choice behind Craig Gordon and Dorus de Vries, but injuries to both meant that he made his club debut at Ibrox and was sufficiently impressive to retain his place at the expense of his Dutch colleague, who was on the bench. Bain was forced to be surprisingly active throughout the rest of the first half but he should have been beaten when Curtis Main met a cross from Elliot Frear with a downward header from close range. The English striker, however, did not get sufficient force to put the ball beyond the keeper, who dropped to his left to scoop it off the line. A third attempt to confound Bain within two minutes was similarly frustrated. Frear again provided the prompt with another high ball from the left flank, this time played off Main’s chest to Ryan Bowman, whose shot on the bounce was almost straight at the goalkeeper, who was able to make another crucial intervention. Motherwell continued to animate their fans with expansive play and had supporters on their feet for what looked a certain goal from a fiery, low free kick from 30 yards by Main, but Bain dived full length to turn the ball around the post. His next test was to read a dangerous chip from Cadden, which was duly tipped over the crossbar. Motherwell’s momentum was checked four minutes before the break by a needless reaction by Kipre, who stuck out a boot when shoved by Brown. The action was petulant rather than malicious but it took place in full view of Craig Thomson, who immediately showed the red card to the French midfielder. It was the fifth time this season that Thomson had sent off a Motherwell player. Kipre took his time departing the scene, protesting all the while that he had done nothing to merit the sanction. In that regard, he had the support of Stephen Robinson. “I’m 100% certain it’s not a red card,” the Motherwell manager said. “Cedric has brushed his leg against him, certainly not the stamp that was indicated. “It could have been two yellow cards for the boys and nobody would have blinked an eye. It spoiled the game for the supporters again. We’ve got a big crowd, the game is very competitive and then we have to sit back and play for a point.” The balance of play pivoted upon the dismissal and beyond the interval it was Trevor Carson who had to produce a sequence of saves to keep Celtic at bay. After defying James Forrest, the Northern Irishman thwarted Tom Rogic twice within a minute with eye-catching blocks. Celtic tried to spring the home defence by ceaselessly working the ball from flank to flank and fuelled their efforts by sending on Stuart Armstrong, Scott Sinclair and Patrick Roberts for Olivier Ntcham, James Forrest and Odsonne Edouard. Motherwell, though, defended doggedly, never more so than in the last few seconds of stoppage time. They had mustered sufficient stamina to mount a late surge on the Celtic box where Main tried to hustle Jack Hendry, who retaliated by grabbing the striker’s jersey. Main and the Motherwell fans howled for a penalty kick but Celtic broke to the other end where Sinclair, with a clear view of goal, got his shot away only for the tireless Richard Tait to throw out one leg for a spectacular block – sufficient to maintain the Steelmen’s frail hopes of a top-six finish and also to guarantee the same prize for Kilmarnock.
Motherwell 0 Celtic 0: Ten-man hosts hold out for draw; league leaders move 10 points clear at top
An absorbing contest at Fir Park saw Celtic increase their lead over Rangers to 10 points as, for the second week in succession, they were involved in a game which finished short of the full complement of players. In contrast to their previous outing at Ibrox, where Jozo Simunovic was sent off but Celtic won, on this occasion Motherwell were depleted by the dismissal of Cedric Kipre but kept a clean sheet against the league leaders in a game notable for fine performances by both goalkeepers. The Celtic team selection contained bad news for Alex McLeish ahead of Scotland’s friendly against Costa Rica at Hampden Park on Friday. Absent was Kieran Tierney, victim of what Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers described as a tweaked calf. Motherwell, too, were minus significant players in Craig Tanner and Andy Rose, both having sustained knee injuries. The evidence of the opening 10 minutes suggested that Motherwell were more afflicted than the visitors by their casualties and the possession ratio favoured the champions by 3:1, but Chris Cadden signalled a shift in the balance of opportunities when he struck a speculative effort from 25 yards that was blocked by Scott Bain. The Celtic goalkeeper had been third choice behind Craig Gordon and Dorus de Vries, but injuries to both meant that he made his club debut at Ibrox and was sufficiently impressive to retain his place at the expense of his Dutch colleague, who was on the bench. Bain was forced to be surprisingly active throughout the rest of the first half but he should have been beaten when Curtis Main met a cross from Elliot Frear with a downward header from close range. The English striker, however, did not get sufficient force to put the ball beyond the keeper, who dropped to his left to scoop it off the line. A third attempt to confound Bain within two minutes was similarly frustrated. Frear again provided the prompt with another high ball from the left flank, this time played off Main’s chest to Ryan Bowman, whose shot on the bounce was almost straight at the goalkeeper, who was able to make another crucial intervention. Motherwell continued to animate their fans with expansive play and had supporters on their feet for what looked a certain goal from a fiery, low free kick from 30 yards by Main, but Bain dived full length to turn the ball around the post. His next test was to read a dangerous chip from Cadden, which was duly tipped over the crossbar. Motherwell’s momentum was checked four minutes before the break by a needless reaction by Kipre, who stuck out a boot when shoved by Brown. The action was petulant rather than malicious but it took place in full view of Craig Thomson, who immediately showed the red card to the French midfielder. It was the fifth time this season that Thomson had sent off a Motherwell player. Kipre took his time departing the scene, protesting all the while that he had done nothing to merit the sanction. In that regard, he had the support of Stephen Robinson. “I’m 100% certain it’s not a red card,” the Motherwell manager said. “Cedric has brushed his leg against him, certainly not the stamp that was indicated. “It could have been two yellow cards for the boys and nobody would have blinked an eye. It spoiled the game for the supporters again. We’ve got a big crowd, the game is very competitive and then we have to sit back and play for a point.” The balance of play pivoted upon the dismissal and beyond the interval it was Trevor Carson who had to produce a sequence of saves to keep Celtic at bay. After defying James Forrest, the Northern Irishman thwarted Tom Rogic twice within a minute with eye-catching blocks. Celtic tried to spring the home defence by ceaselessly working the ball from flank to flank and fuelled their efforts by sending on Stuart Armstrong, Scott Sinclair and Patrick Roberts for Olivier Ntcham, James Forrest and Odsonne Edouard. Motherwell, though, defended doggedly, never more so than in the last few seconds of stoppage time. They had mustered sufficient stamina to mount a late surge on the Celtic box where Main tried to hustle Jack Hendry, who retaliated by grabbing the striker’s jersey. Main and the Motherwell fans howled for a penalty kick but Celtic broke to the other end where Sinclair, with a clear view of goal, got his shot away only for the tireless Richard Tait to throw out one leg for a spectacular block – sufficient to maintain the Steelmen’s frail hopes of a top-six finish and also to guarantee the same prize for Kilmarnock.
Rangers forward Alfredo Morelos paid the price for his notorious miss against Celtic last week when he was relegated to the bench for the visit of Kilmarnock on Saturday. However, the 21-year-old Colombian, who was the subject of an £8 million bid by Beijing Renhe, which Rangers rejected during the January transfer window, will regain his confidence, according to the Ibrox assistant coach, Jonatan Johansson. The Finn was speaking both from the point of view of a former Rangers striker – he played for the club between 1997 and 2000 – and as the man whose assessment of Morelos was crucial in persuading ex-Ibrox manager Pedro Caixinha to bring him to Glasgow from HJK Helsinki last summer. “People forget sometimes how young Alfredo is because he plays such a physical game,” Johansson said. “In the last two or three years he has moved countries and had to learn new languages, so these have been big changes for him. Moving from Finland to Rangers is a huge step up. Missing chances will make him angry. “No one at this club doubts what Alfredo can do. The fans seem to love the way he plays. Every career has highs and lows, so that is something that will make him stronger. He is such an important player for us. “Alfredo is very strong in what he gives to the team. His movement is good, he is a goalscorer and he creates chances for others. “In every game he gets into three or four positions to score and that’s what you want from your striker. As long as he keeps making those chances his goals will keep coming.” One unavoidable assessment passed on all Rangers forwards is their effectiveness against Celtic. Last weekend, aside from missing an open goal from close range, Morelos failed to beat the stand-in Hoops goalkeeper, Scott Bain, with another gift chance. He also had three excellent chances in the Old Firm derby at Celtic Park in December, none of which he converted. “You want to score against your big rivals in any league,” Johansson said. “I think the way he has played in the two games and the way he has created chances in them and caused problems shows how good he is. “The goals unfortunately didn’t come but I’m sure they will. He has been on a long journey for such a young lad, but he is a tough boy. He has a great personality but he doesn’t speak English that well, so he is taking lessons. “Once he gets the language it will help him even more. He loves playing football and you see him coming alive in games and even in training. He is very happy with life right now.” When the bid for Morelos came from China there was speculation that the player was unsettled in Glasgow, especially after Caixinha was sacked in October, depriving the player of a Spanish-speaking mentor. Johansson, however, dismissed the notion. “With Alfredo it was never that he was desperate to move on because he didn’t like Rangers. It just so happened that a big offer came in for him. That is great in one way because it means he is doing well for Rangers and that we as a club are doing something right. “At that period of time the interest was back and forward and it didn’t help, but now he has committed himself to the club with a new contract and that shows just how happy he is to be here at Rangers. “I felt his good points would suit the Scottish game quite well. He is strong and likes to hold the ball up and battles with defenders, plus he scores goals. How quickly he has fitted in and the number of goals he has scored is brilliant. You never know with transfers how they will turn out but Alfredo has been great.” By half-time on Saturday, the Rangers v Kilmarnock fixture was the only Scottish Premiership fixture to remain goalless. When the deadlock was broken nine minutes after the break it was Kris Boyd – a former Rangers striker – who found the net for his 20th goal of the season after he was first to react to the rebound from a Youssouf Mulumbu effort that was blocked by Wes Foderingham. Boyd was replaced by Rory McKenzie shortly afterwards and Rangers sent on Morelos for Josh Windass at the same time but there was no further scoring, although Russell Martin came agonisingly close to an equaliser with a header that came off the underside of the Killie crossbar and then clipped the inside of a post. Elsewhere, it proved a tough afternoon for the bottom three clubs. Ross County, without a permanent manager, might have supposed that their luck had turned at home to Hamilton when Jamie Lindsay put them ahead midway through the first half. Accies, though, responded with Doug Imrie’s equaliser from the penalty spot four minutes after the break and the visitors went ahead with a shot from Marios Ogboe in the 52nd minute. Andrew Davies salvaged a point for the Staggies when he made it 2-2 with 13 minutes left to play. At Tynecastle, Partick Thistle were beaten 3-0 and the damage was done before the break. Kyle Lafferty opened the scoring for Hearts after 17 minutes and, within four minutes of that strike, the Jags were further behind when Joaquim Adao supplied Steven Naismith for Hearts’ second goal. John Souttar added another a few seconds before the interval. Dundee have endured turbulence lately and their situation deteriorated when a fumble by their goalkeeper, Elliot Parish, allowed Graeme Shinnie to put Aberdeen ahead at Pittodrie in the 35th minute, with what proved to be the only goal of the game.
Rangers' Alfredo Morelos backed to regain confidence after being dropped to bench after Celtic miss
Rangers forward Alfredo Morelos paid the price for his notorious miss against Celtic last week when he was relegated to the bench for the visit of Kilmarnock on Saturday. However, the 21-year-old Colombian, who was the subject of an £8 million bid by Beijing Renhe, which Rangers rejected during the January transfer window, will regain his confidence, according to the Ibrox assistant coach, Jonatan Johansson. The Finn was speaking both from the point of view of a former Rangers striker – he played for the club between 1997 and 2000 – and as the man whose assessment of Morelos was crucial in persuading ex-Ibrox manager Pedro Caixinha to bring him to Glasgow from HJK Helsinki last summer. “People forget sometimes how young Alfredo is because he plays such a physical game,” Johansson said. “In the last two or three years he has moved countries and had to learn new languages, so these have been big changes for him. Moving from Finland to Rangers is a huge step up. Missing chances will make him angry. “No one at this club doubts what Alfredo can do. The fans seem to love the way he plays. Every career has highs and lows, so that is something that will make him stronger. He is such an important player for us. “Alfredo is very strong in what he gives to the team. His movement is good, he is a goalscorer and he creates chances for others. “In every game he gets into three or four positions to score and that’s what you want from your striker. As long as he keeps making those chances his goals will keep coming.” One unavoidable assessment passed on all Rangers forwards is their effectiveness against Celtic. Last weekend, aside from missing an open goal from close range, Morelos failed to beat the stand-in Hoops goalkeeper, Scott Bain, with another gift chance. He also had three excellent chances in the Old Firm derby at Celtic Park in December, none of which he converted. “You want to score against your big rivals in any league,” Johansson said. “I think the way he has played in the two games and the way he has created chances in them and caused problems shows how good he is. “The goals unfortunately didn’t come but I’m sure they will. He has been on a long journey for such a young lad, but he is a tough boy. He has a great personality but he doesn’t speak English that well, so he is taking lessons. “Once he gets the language it will help him even more. He loves playing football and you see him coming alive in games and even in training. He is very happy with life right now.” When the bid for Morelos came from China there was speculation that the player was unsettled in Glasgow, especially after Caixinha was sacked in October, depriving the player of a Spanish-speaking mentor. Johansson, however, dismissed the notion. “With Alfredo it was never that he was desperate to move on because he didn’t like Rangers. It just so happened that a big offer came in for him. That is great in one way because it means he is doing well for Rangers and that we as a club are doing something right. “At that period of time the interest was back and forward and it didn’t help, but now he has committed himself to the club with a new contract and that shows just how happy he is to be here at Rangers. “I felt his good points would suit the Scottish game quite well. He is strong and likes to hold the ball up and battles with defenders, plus he scores goals. How quickly he has fitted in and the number of goals he has scored is brilliant. You never know with transfers how they will turn out but Alfredo has been great.” By half-time on Saturday, the Rangers v Kilmarnock fixture was the only Scottish Premiership fixture to remain goalless. When the deadlock was broken nine minutes after the break it was Kris Boyd – a former Rangers striker – who found the net for his 20th goal of the season after he was first to react to the rebound from a Youssouf Mulumbu effort that was blocked by Wes Foderingham. Boyd was replaced by Rory McKenzie shortly afterwards and Rangers sent on Morelos for Josh Windass at the same time but there was no further scoring, although Russell Martin came agonisingly close to an equaliser with a header that came off the underside of the Killie crossbar and then clipped the inside of a post. Elsewhere, it proved a tough afternoon for the bottom three clubs. Ross County, without a permanent manager, might have supposed that their luck had turned at home to Hamilton when Jamie Lindsay put them ahead midway through the first half. Accies, though, responded with Doug Imrie’s equaliser from the penalty spot four minutes after the break and the visitors went ahead with a shot from Marios Ogboe in the 52nd minute. Andrew Davies salvaged a point for the Staggies when he made it 2-2 with 13 minutes left to play. At Tynecastle, Partick Thistle were beaten 3-0 and the damage was done before the break. Kyle Lafferty opened the scoring for Hearts after 17 minutes and, within four minutes of that strike, the Jags were further behind when Joaquim Adao supplied Steven Naismith for Hearts’ second goal. John Souttar added another a few seconds before the interval. Dundee have endured turbulence lately and their situation deteriorated when a fumble by their goalkeeper, Elliot Parish, allowed Graeme Shinnie to put Aberdeen ahead at Pittodrie in the 35th minute, with what proved to be the only goal of the game.
After the hype, the low. Rangers’ home defeat in last weekend’s Old Firm derby ensured that Graeme Murty would embark on a rigorous bout of soul-searching – the invariable lot of the beaten manager in this fixture. “I watched the game back three or four times and in the 10 minutes up until they scored their third goal they got out of their half once,” Murty said. “Alfredo Morelos has a one v one with the keeper and we’re dictating the tempo and, but for some defending that wasn’t our finest moment, we’re in control of the game. “I have looked back on the changes that we made and I think that, as well as the players getting better, I will get better because that is the first time I have been in the situation where we have gone into a game and people have expected us to beat Celtic. “Because we are at 2-2 and they are down to 10 men people are expecting us to win. I have never been in that situation either. “Because of the expectation, because of the fact they’d got a goal to go 3-2 up, we tried to do things all at once rather than continuing to do the things that got us success, but I have had numerous chats with different people, talking about the many positives from the game. “We can’t afford to get weighed down in the negatives because they can drag you too far. We have to make sure we understand the lessons from it and improve individually but also collectively and deal with whatever situations are thrown up." Celtic players celebrate Odsonne Edouard's winning goal in last weekend's Old Firm game Credit: REUTERS Had Sunday’s outcome been reversed, Rangers would have been playing Kilmarnock at home on Saturday in hope of drawing level on points with Celtic ahead of the champions’ visit to Motherwell on Sunday. Instead, the imposition of sober reality means that, even should Rangers prevail against the Ayrshire side, Celtic are closing in on a seventh successive Scottish title with a comfort margin that will include two games in hand before kick-off at Fir Park. The late miss by Alfredo Morelos in front of the gaping Celtic goal instantly became part of Old Firm folklore and left the Colombian striker looking crushed. “He was very down, he was very low, as you would expect,” Murty said. “He is another one who actually has to put it behind him and learn from it. My feeling is that we will be a better team for the experience. Walking off the football pitch with that level of performance, having to perform in a pressure environment will help them. “It is a disappointment, a hard one to take, but the next time we are in a situation like that we will be a better team, I have no doubt.” Kilmarnock, too, experienced dismay in midweek, losing their William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final replay at home to Aberdeen in a penalty decided after a 1-1 draw. Like Murty, however, Steve Clarke, chose to emphasise the progress his players have made after a poor start to the season. “When I signed my contract to come here in October the team were 12th, Clarke said. “We're now fifth. We've come a long way in a short space of time but we don't get carried away because we've actually achieved nothing. “If we could secure a top-six place I think it would be a great achievement from the players.” Kilmarnock last achieved a top six finish in 2011 and are currently fifth, four points ahead of Hearts, having played one game fewer than the Tynecastle side. Killie’s momentum has been fuelled by a prolific season for their veteran striker, Kris Boyd, who is the division’s leading scorer with 14 goals. Morelos is on 13 and his Rangers team-mate, Josh Windass – Scottish Premiership player of the month for February – has 12 to his credit. Windass revealed that he is engaged in a personal contest with Boyd and also with Morelos. “I was doing a programme with Boydie a few weeks ago. We were having a bit of banter about the top goalscorer award and I think the three of us are competing for that,” Windass said. “He’s flying, absolutely flying. I check their results every week and see that he’s scored and I’m raging. “Alfredo doesn’t speak that much English but I’m sure he doesn’t like it too much when I score and go ahead of him. He’s a competitive striker and it’s the same with me. We’re all trying to do our best to succeed for Rangers.” Windass, it is fair to say, has yet to win over some amongst the Rangers support, despite scoring the opener against Celtic. He was pilloried for gesturing for his critics to be quiet after he netted against Partick Thistle last month. “The fans were on our backs a little bit because we were having a bit of a nightmare,” he said. “I scored and thought, ‘Why not?’ “I do loads of daft stuff. Would I do it again? I don’t know. I’ll let you know next time.”
Rangers manager Graeme Murty hopes to bounce back from Celtic defeat and admits disappointment was hard to take
After the hype, the low. Rangers’ home defeat in last weekend’s Old Firm derby ensured that Graeme Murty would embark on a rigorous bout of soul-searching – the invariable lot of the beaten manager in this fixture. “I watched the game back three or four times and in the 10 minutes up until they scored their third goal they got out of their half once,” Murty said. “Alfredo Morelos has a one v one with the keeper and we’re dictating the tempo and, but for some defending that wasn’t our finest moment, we’re in control of the game. “I have looked back on the changes that we made and I think that, as well as the players getting better, I will get better because that is the first time I have been in the situation where we have gone into a game and people have expected us to beat Celtic. “Because we are at 2-2 and they are down to 10 men people are expecting us to win. I have never been in that situation either. “Because of the expectation, because of the fact they’d got a goal to go 3-2 up, we tried to do things all at once rather than continuing to do the things that got us success, but I have had numerous chats with different people, talking about the many positives from the game. “We can’t afford to get weighed down in the negatives because they can drag you too far. We have to make sure we understand the lessons from it and improve individually but also collectively and deal with whatever situations are thrown up." Celtic players celebrate Odsonne Edouard's winning goal in last weekend's Old Firm game Credit: REUTERS Had Sunday’s outcome been reversed, Rangers would have been playing Kilmarnock at home on Saturday in hope of drawing level on points with Celtic ahead of the champions’ visit to Motherwell on Sunday. Instead, the imposition of sober reality means that, even should Rangers prevail against the Ayrshire side, Celtic are closing in on a seventh successive Scottish title with a comfort margin that will include two games in hand before kick-off at Fir Park. The late miss by Alfredo Morelos in front of the gaping Celtic goal instantly became part of Old Firm folklore and left the Colombian striker looking crushed. “He was very down, he was very low, as you would expect,” Murty said. “He is another one who actually has to put it behind him and learn from it. My feeling is that we will be a better team for the experience. Walking off the football pitch with that level of performance, having to perform in a pressure environment will help them. “It is a disappointment, a hard one to take, but the next time we are in a situation like that we will be a better team, I have no doubt.” Kilmarnock, too, experienced dismay in midweek, losing their William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final replay at home to Aberdeen in a penalty decided after a 1-1 draw. Like Murty, however, Steve Clarke, chose to emphasise the progress his players have made after a poor start to the season. “When I signed my contract to come here in October the team were 12th, Clarke said. “We're now fifth. We've come a long way in a short space of time but we don't get carried away because we've actually achieved nothing. “If we could secure a top-six place I think it would be a great achievement from the players.” Kilmarnock last achieved a top six finish in 2011 and are currently fifth, four points ahead of Hearts, having played one game fewer than the Tynecastle side. Killie’s momentum has been fuelled by a prolific season for their veteran striker, Kris Boyd, who is the division’s leading scorer with 14 goals. Morelos is on 13 and his Rangers team-mate, Josh Windass – Scottish Premiership player of the month for February – has 12 to his credit. Windass revealed that he is engaged in a personal contest with Boyd and also with Morelos. “I was doing a programme with Boydie a few weeks ago. We were having a bit of banter about the top goalscorer award and I think the three of us are competing for that,” Windass said. “He’s flying, absolutely flying. I check their results every week and see that he’s scored and I’m raging. “Alfredo doesn’t speak that much English but I’m sure he doesn’t like it too much when I score and go ahead of him. He’s a competitive striker and it’s the same with me. We’re all trying to do our best to succeed for Rangers.” Windass, it is fair to say, has yet to win over some amongst the Rangers support, despite scoring the opener against Celtic. He was pilloried for gesturing for his critics to be quiet after he netted against Partick Thistle last month. “The fans were on our backs a little bit because we were having a bit of a nightmare,” he said. “I scored and thought, ‘Why not?’ “I do loads of daft stuff. Would I do it again? I don’t know. I’ll let you know next time.”
After the hype, the low. Rangers’ home defeat in last weekend’s Old Firm derby ensured that Graeme Murty would embark on a rigorous bout of soul-searching – the invariable lot of the beaten manager in this fixture. “I watched the game back three or four times and in the 10 minutes up until they scored their third goal they got out of their half once,” Murty said. “Alfredo Morelos has a one v one with the keeper and we’re dictating the tempo and, but for some defending that wasn’t our finest moment, we’re in control of the game. “I have looked back on the changes that we made and I think that, as well as the players getting better, I will get better because that is the first time I have been in the situation where we have gone into a game and people have expected us to beat Celtic. “Because we are at 2-2 and they are down to 10 men people are expecting us to win. I have never been in that situation either. “Because of the expectation, because of the fact they’d got a goal to go 3-2 up, we tried to do things all at once rather than continuing to do the things that got us success, but I have had numerous chats with different people, talking about the many positives from the game. “We can’t afford to get weighed down in the negatives because they can drag you too far. We have to make sure we understand the lessons from it and improve individually but also collectively and deal with whatever situations are thrown up." Celtic players celebrate Odsonne Edouard's winning goal in last weekend's Old Firm game Credit: REUTERS Had Sunday’s outcome been reversed, Rangers would have been playing Kilmarnock at home on Saturday in hope of drawing level on points with Celtic ahead of the champions’ visit to Motherwell on Sunday. Instead, the imposition of sober reality means that, even should Rangers prevail against the Ayrshire side, Celtic are closing in on a seventh successive Scottish title with a comfort margin that will include two games in hand before kick-off at Fir Park. The late miss by Alfredo Morelos in front of the gaping Celtic goal instantly became part of Old Firm folklore and left the Colombian striker looking crushed. “He was very down, he was very low, as you would expect,” Murty said. “He is another one who actually has to put it behind him and learn from it. My feeling is that we will be a better team for the experience. Walking off the football pitch with that level of performance, having to perform in a pressure environment will help them. “It is a disappointment, a hard one to take, but the next time we are in a situation like that we will be a better team, I have no doubt.” Kilmarnock, too, experienced dismay in midweek, losing their William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final replay at home to Aberdeen in a penalty decided after a 1-1 draw. Like Murty, however, Steve Clarke, chose to emphasise the progress his players have made after a poor start to the season. “When I signed my contract to come here in October the team were 12th, Clarke said. “We're now fifth. We've come a long way in a short space of time but we don't get carried away because we've actually achieved nothing. “If we could secure a top-six place I think it would be a great achievement from the players.” Kilmarnock last achieved a top six finish in 2011 and are currently fifth, four points ahead of Hearts, having played one game fewer than the Tynecastle side. Killie’s momentum has been fuelled by a prolific season for their veteran striker, Kris Boyd, who is the division’s leading scorer with 14 goals. Morelos is on 13 and his Rangers team-mate, Josh Windass – Scottish Premiership player of the month for February – has 12 to his credit. Windass revealed that he is engaged in a personal contest with Boyd and also with Morelos. “I was doing a programme with Boydie a few weeks ago. We were having a bit of banter about the top goalscorer award and I think the three of us are competing for that,” Windass said. “He’s flying, absolutely flying. I check their results every week and see that he’s scored and I’m raging. “Alfredo doesn’t speak that much English but I’m sure he doesn’t like it too much when I score and go ahead of him. He’s a competitive striker and it’s the same with me. We’re all trying to do our best to succeed for Rangers.” Windass, it is fair to say, has yet to win over some amongst the Rangers support, despite scoring the opener against Celtic. He was pilloried for gesturing for his critics to be quiet after he netted against Partick Thistle last month. “The fans were on our backs a little bit because we were having a bit of a nightmare,” he said. “I scored and thought, ‘Why not?’ “I do loads of daft stuff. Would I do it again? I don’t know. I’ll let you know next time.”
Rangers manager Graeme Murty hopes to bounce back from Celtic defeat and admits disappointment was hard to take
After the hype, the low. Rangers’ home defeat in last weekend’s Old Firm derby ensured that Graeme Murty would embark on a rigorous bout of soul-searching – the invariable lot of the beaten manager in this fixture. “I watched the game back three or four times and in the 10 minutes up until they scored their third goal they got out of their half once,” Murty said. “Alfredo Morelos has a one v one with the keeper and we’re dictating the tempo and, but for some defending that wasn’t our finest moment, we’re in control of the game. “I have looked back on the changes that we made and I think that, as well as the players getting better, I will get better because that is the first time I have been in the situation where we have gone into a game and people have expected us to beat Celtic. “Because we are at 2-2 and they are down to 10 men people are expecting us to win. I have never been in that situation either. “Because of the expectation, because of the fact they’d got a goal to go 3-2 up, we tried to do things all at once rather than continuing to do the things that got us success, but I have had numerous chats with different people, talking about the many positives from the game. “We can’t afford to get weighed down in the negatives because they can drag you too far. We have to make sure we understand the lessons from it and improve individually but also collectively and deal with whatever situations are thrown up." Celtic players celebrate Odsonne Edouard's winning goal in last weekend's Old Firm game Credit: REUTERS Had Sunday’s outcome been reversed, Rangers would have been playing Kilmarnock at home on Saturday in hope of drawing level on points with Celtic ahead of the champions’ visit to Motherwell on Sunday. Instead, the imposition of sober reality means that, even should Rangers prevail against the Ayrshire side, Celtic are closing in on a seventh successive Scottish title with a comfort margin that will include two games in hand before kick-off at Fir Park. The late miss by Alfredo Morelos in front of the gaping Celtic goal instantly became part of Old Firm folklore and left the Colombian striker looking crushed. “He was very down, he was very low, as you would expect,” Murty said. “He is another one who actually has to put it behind him and learn from it. My feeling is that we will be a better team for the experience. Walking off the football pitch with that level of performance, having to perform in a pressure environment will help them. “It is a disappointment, a hard one to take, but the next time we are in a situation like that we will be a better team, I have no doubt.” Kilmarnock, too, experienced dismay in midweek, losing their William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final replay at home to Aberdeen in a penalty decided after a 1-1 draw. Like Murty, however, Steve Clarke, chose to emphasise the progress his players have made after a poor start to the season. “When I signed my contract to come here in October the team were 12th, Clarke said. “We're now fifth. We've come a long way in a short space of time but we don't get carried away because we've actually achieved nothing. “If we could secure a top-six place I think it would be a great achievement from the players.” Kilmarnock last achieved a top six finish in 2011 and are currently fifth, four points ahead of Hearts, having played one game fewer than the Tynecastle side. Killie’s momentum has been fuelled by a prolific season for their veteran striker, Kris Boyd, who is the division’s leading scorer with 14 goals. Morelos is on 13 and his Rangers team-mate, Josh Windass – Scottish Premiership player of the month for February – has 12 to his credit. Windass revealed that he is engaged in a personal contest with Boyd and also with Morelos. “I was doing a programme with Boydie a few weeks ago. We were having a bit of banter about the top goalscorer award and I think the three of us are competing for that,” Windass said. “He’s flying, absolutely flying. I check their results every week and see that he’s scored and I’m raging. “Alfredo doesn’t speak that much English but I’m sure he doesn’t like it too much when I score and go ahead of him. He’s a competitive striker and it’s the same with me. We’re all trying to do our best to succeed for Rangers.” Windass, it is fair to say, has yet to win over some amongst the Rangers support, despite scoring the opener against Celtic. He was pilloried for gesturing for his critics to be quiet after he netted against Partick Thistle last month. “The fans were on our backs a little bit because we were having a bit of a nightmare,” he said. “I scored and thought, ‘Why not?’ “I do loads of daft stuff. Would I do it again? I don’t know. I’ll let you know next time.”
The disruption visited upon the UK by a Siberian weather system could have been avoided by the simple ploy of parading the Scottish Cup through the affected areas. That claim is based on the miraculous ­capacity of the tournament’s quarter-final ties to proceed on a weekend which saw the entire league fixture card in Scotland wiped out. That said, the sight of a manned snowplough prowling the car park ahead of Celtic’s meeting with Greenock Morton on Saturday testified to the determination of the holders to take another stride ­towards the unprecedented feat of a clean sweep of the Scottish honours in successive seasons. In the title race, the Hoops can only be stopped if Rangers overturn a six-point deficit in their remaining nine games, starting with next Sunday’s Old Firm derby at Ibrox, and overcome a goal difference of 11 ­between the sides. Sobriety compels the assumption that Celtic are essentially two contests away from their historic feat and that the first of those will be another encounter with Rangers at Hampden Park in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final on the weekend of April 15/16. Rangers’ 4-1 home victory over Falkirk yesterday, in which Jason Cummings scored a hat-trick, completed the equation begun by Celtic’s 3-0 win over their visitors from the Championship, ­although Morton held out for more than an hour before Moussa Dembele’s double and a late contribution from Odsonne Edouard ensured the holders’ advance. Jason Cummings scored all four goals for Rangers in the 4-1 win over Falkirk Credit: Getty Images The Ton’s most notable disruptive action occurred before kick-off, when captain Thomas O’Ware won the coin toss and chose to make their hosts play towards the Jock Stein Stand in the first half, a reversal of the usual custom. “I think big Tam was on the wind-up with that one and I don’t think it went down well,” said Morton’s seasoned midfielder, Gary Harkins. “We made it tough for them and played quite well, although we lost a couple of bad goals, but it’s obviously a really tough place to come and we got punished in the end. The fans were brilliant and I’m from Greenock so I know how hard it was for them to get up here. They were really good.” Home town boy he may be, but Harkins has been so nomadic a footballer that it would not be startling to see him travel by camel rather than team bus. After a spell as a Celtic youth, he played in the colours of Blackburn, Huddersfield, Bury, Blackpool, Grimsby Town, Partick Thistle, Dundee (three times), Kilmarnock, St Mirren, Oldham and Ayr United before fetching up on his native patch. Harkins’ experience was evident against Celtic, when he was the most effective midfielder on view in the first half. Inevitably, he tired against inexorable pressure as the contest wore on, but he and his team-mates remain energised by another domestic prospect. Morton hold the record for promotions and relegations from the top flight of Scottish football – 10 times up and down – the most recent of which was demotion as long ago as 1988. Morton's Gary Harkins (L) arrives at Celtic Park on Saturday Credit: PA “I was three,” said Harkins. “It would be great to do it but it’s a tough run-in. We’ve been on a good run, although we had a bad result the other night against Livingston, but you’ve seen that we can play well when we come to places like Celtic. “There are a lot of boys in the team who are good enough to do it, so they should be looking at themselves and thinking, ‘I need to push on, I want to go on and do that.’ I’m still ambitious, I want to play at the highest level I can and if I could do that with my hometown club I’d be delighted.” For Celtic, the Scottish Cup semi-final now takes its place in a queue of fixtures stretching towards the season’s climax, the collision with Rangers at Ibrox being next on the agenda. Edouard, who replaced Scott Sinclair for the start of the second half against Morton, was singled out for praise by Brendan Rodgers and the 20-year-old striker, on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, hopes that his performance has pushed him into the manager’s reckoning for a place in the Old Firm derby. “For me, this is the most important match of the year,” Edouard said. “It’s against our biggest rivals. On these days, victory for the fans is very important. You cannot think about defeat. We know it will be hard at Rangers’ home but we are used to high-pressure situations. Of course, I hope I have done enough to be included in the game. It would mean everything to me to be involved. To win the treble two years in a row would be truly special. People would talk about it for many years.”
Celtic near another record-breaking season unless Rangers can halt their run
The disruption visited upon the UK by a Siberian weather system could have been avoided by the simple ploy of parading the Scottish Cup through the affected areas. That claim is based on the miraculous ­capacity of the tournament’s quarter-final ties to proceed on a weekend which saw the entire league fixture card in Scotland wiped out. That said, the sight of a manned snowplough prowling the car park ahead of Celtic’s meeting with Greenock Morton on Saturday testified to the determination of the holders to take another stride ­towards the unprecedented feat of a clean sweep of the Scottish honours in successive seasons. In the title race, the Hoops can only be stopped if Rangers overturn a six-point deficit in their remaining nine games, starting with next Sunday’s Old Firm derby at Ibrox, and overcome a goal difference of 11 ­between the sides. Sobriety compels the assumption that Celtic are essentially two contests away from their historic feat and that the first of those will be another encounter with Rangers at Hampden Park in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final on the weekend of April 15/16. Rangers’ 4-1 home victory over Falkirk yesterday, in which Jason Cummings scored a hat-trick, completed the equation begun by Celtic’s 3-0 win over their visitors from the Championship, ­although Morton held out for more than an hour before Moussa Dembele’s double and a late contribution from Odsonne Edouard ensured the holders’ advance. Jason Cummings scored all four goals for Rangers in the 4-1 win over Falkirk Credit: Getty Images The Ton’s most notable disruptive action occurred before kick-off, when captain Thomas O’Ware won the coin toss and chose to make their hosts play towards the Jock Stein Stand in the first half, a reversal of the usual custom. “I think big Tam was on the wind-up with that one and I don’t think it went down well,” said Morton’s seasoned midfielder, Gary Harkins. “We made it tough for them and played quite well, although we lost a couple of bad goals, but it’s obviously a really tough place to come and we got punished in the end. The fans were brilliant and I’m from Greenock so I know how hard it was for them to get up here. They were really good.” Home town boy he may be, but Harkins has been so nomadic a footballer that it would not be startling to see him travel by camel rather than team bus. After a spell as a Celtic youth, he played in the colours of Blackburn, Huddersfield, Bury, Blackpool, Grimsby Town, Partick Thistle, Dundee (three times), Kilmarnock, St Mirren, Oldham and Ayr United before fetching up on his native patch. Harkins’ experience was evident against Celtic, when he was the most effective midfielder on view in the first half. Inevitably, he tired against inexorable pressure as the contest wore on, but he and his team-mates remain energised by another domestic prospect. Morton hold the record for promotions and relegations from the top flight of Scottish football – 10 times up and down – the most recent of which was demotion as long ago as 1988. Morton's Gary Harkins (L) arrives at Celtic Park on Saturday Credit: PA “I was three,” said Harkins. “It would be great to do it but it’s a tough run-in. We’ve been on a good run, although we had a bad result the other night against Livingston, but you’ve seen that we can play well when we come to places like Celtic. “There are a lot of boys in the team who are good enough to do it, so they should be looking at themselves and thinking, ‘I need to push on, I want to go on and do that.’ I’m still ambitious, I want to play at the highest level I can and if I could do that with my hometown club I’d be delighted.” For Celtic, the Scottish Cup semi-final now takes its place in a queue of fixtures stretching towards the season’s climax, the collision with Rangers at Ibrox being next on the agenda. Edouard, who replaced Scott Sinclair for the start of the second half against Morton, was singled out for praise by Brendan Rodgers and the 20-year-old striker, on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, hopes that his performance has pushed him into the manager’s reckoning for a place in the Old Firm derby. “For me, this is the most important match of the year,” Edouard said. “It’s against our biggest rivals. On these days, victory for the fans is very important. You cannot think about defeat. We know it will be hard at Rangers’ home but we are used to high-pressure situations. Of course, I hope I have done enough to be included in the game. It would mean everything to me to be involved. To win the treble two years in a row would be truly special. People would talk about it for many years.”
The disruption visited upon the UK by a Siberian weather system could have been avoided by the simple ploy of parading the Scottish Cup through the affected areas. That claim is based on the miraculous ­capacity of the tournament’s quarter-final ties to proceed on a weekend which saw the entire league fixture card in Scotland wiped out. That said, the sight of a manned snowplough prowling the car park ahead of Celtic’s meeting with Greenock Morton on Saturday testified to the determination of the holders to take another stride ­towards the unprecedented feat of a clean sweep of the Scottish honours in successive seasons. In the title race, the Hoops can only be stopped if Rangers overturn a six-point deficit in their remaining nine games, starting with next Sunday’s Old Firm derby at Ibrox, and overcome a goal difference of 11 ­between the sides. Sobriety compels the assumption that Celtic are essentially two contests away from their historic feat and that the first of those will be another encounter with Rangers at Hampden Park in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final on the weekend of April 15/16. Rangers’ 4-1 home victory over Falkirk yesterday, in which Jason Cummings scored a hat-trick, completed the equation begun by Celtic’s 3-0 win over their visitors from the Championship, ­although Morton held out for more than an hour before Moussa Dembele’s double and a late contribution from Odsonne Edouard ensured the holders’ advance. Jason Cummings scored all four goals for Rangers in the 4-1 win over Falkirk Credit: Getty Images The Ton’s most notable disruptive action occurred before kick-off, when captain Thomas O’Ware won the coin toss and chose to make their hosts play towards the Jock Stein Stand in the first half, a reversal of the usual custom. “I think big Tam was on the wind-up with that one and I don’t think it went down well,” said Morton’s seasoned midfielder, Gary Harkins. “We made it tough for them and played quite well, although we lost a couple of bad goals, but it’s obviously a really tough place to come and we got punished in the end. The fans were brilliant and I’m from Greenock so I know how hard it was for them to get up here. They were really good.” Home town boy he may be, but Harkins has been so nomadic a footballer that it would not be startling to see him travel by camel rather than team bus. After a spell as a Celtic youth, he played in the colours of Blackburn, Huddersfield, Bury, Blackpool, Grimsby Town, Partick Thistle, Dundee (three times), Kilmarnock, St Mirren, Oldham and Ayr United before fetching up on his native patch. Harkins’ experience was evident against Celtic, when he was the most effective midfielder on view in the first half. Inevitably, he tired against inexorable pressure as the contest wore on, but he and his team-mates remain energised by another domestic prospect. Morton hold the record for promotions and relegations from the top flight of Scottish football – 10 times up and down – the most recent of which was demotion as long ago as 1988. Morton's Gary Harkins (L) arrives at Celtic Park on Saturday Credit: PA “I was three,” said Harkins. “It would be great to do it but it’s a tough run-in. We’ve been on a good run, although we had a bad result the other night against Livingston, but you’ve seen that we can play well when we come to places like Celtic. “There are a lot of boys in the team who are good enough to do it, so they should be looking at themselves and thinking, ‘I need to push on, I want to go on and do that.’ I’m still ambitious, I want to play at the highest level I can and if I could do that with my hometown club I’d be delighted.” For Celtic, the Scottish Cup semi-final now takes its place in a queue of fixtures stretching towards the season’s climax, the collision with Rangers at Ibrox being next on the agenda. Edouard, who replaced Scott Sinclair for the start of the second half against Morton, was singled out for praise by Brendan Rodgers and the 20-year-old striker, on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, hopes that his performance has pushed him into the manager’s reckoning for a place in the Old Firm derby. “For me, this is the most important match of the year,” Edouard said. “It’s against our biggest rivals. On these days, victory for the fans is very important. You cannot think about defeat. We know it will be hard at Rangers’ home but we are used to high-pressure situations. Of course, I hope I have done enough to be included in the game. It would mean everything to me to be involved. To win the treble two years in a row would be truly special. People would talk about it for many years.”
Celtic near another record-breaking season unless Rangers can halt their run
The disruption visited upon the UK by a Siberian weather system could have been avoided by the simple ploy of parading the Scottish Cup through the affected areas. That claim is based on the miraculous ­capacity of the tournament’s quarter-final ties to proceed on a weekend which saw the entire league fixture card in Scotland wiped out. That said, the sight of a manned snowplough prowling the car park ahead of Celtic’s meeting with Greenock Morton on Saturday testified to the determination of the holders to take another stride ­towards the unprecedented feat of a clean sweep of the Scottish honours in successive seasons. In the title race, the Hoops can only be stopped if Rangers overturn a six-point deficit in their remaining nine games, starting with next Sunday’s Old Firm derby at Ibrox, and overcome a goal difference of 11 ­between the sides. Sobriety compels the assumption that Celtic are essentially two contests away from their historic feat and that the first of those will be another encounter with Rangers at Hampden Park in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final on the weekend of April 15/16. Rangers’ 4-1 home victory over Falkirk yesterday, in which Jason Cummings scored a hat-trick, completed the equation begun by Celtic’s 3-0 win over their visitors from the Championship, ­although Morton held out for more than an hour before Moussa Dembele’s double and a late contribution from Odsonne Edouard ensured the holders’ advance. Jason Cummings scored all four goals for Rangers in the 4-1 win over Falkirk Credit: Getty Images The Ton’s most notable disruptive action occurred before kick-off, when captain Thomas O’Ware won the coin toss and chose to make their hosts play towards the Jock Stein Stand in the first half, a reversal of the usual custom. “I think big Tam was on the wind-up with that one and I don’t think it went down well,” said Morton’s seasoned midfielder, Gary Harkins. “We made it tough for them and played quite well, although we lost a couple of bad goals, but it’s obviously a really tough place to come and we got punished in the end. The fans were brilliant and I’m from Greenock so I know how hard it was for them to get up here. They were really good.” Home town boy he may be, but Harkins has been so nomadic a footballer that it would not be startling to see him travel by camel rather than team bus. After a spell as a Celtic youth, he played in the colours of Blackburn, Huddersfield, Bury, Blackpool, Grimsby Town, Partick Thistle, Dundee (three times), Kilmarnock, St Mirren, Oldham and Ayr United before fetching up on his native patch. Harkins’ experience was evident against Celtic, when he was the most effective midfielder on view in the first half. Inevitably, he tired against inexorable pressure as the contest wore on, but he and his team-mates remain energised by another domestic prospect. Morton hold the record for promotions and relegations from the top flight of Scottish football – 10 times up and down – the most recent of which was demotion as long ago as 1988. Morton's Gary Harkins (L) arrives at Celtic Park on Saturday Credit: PA “I was three,” said Harkins. “It would be great to do it but it’s a tough run-in. We’ve been on a good run, although we had a bad result the other night against Livingston, but you’ve seen that we can play well when we come to places like Celtic. “There are a lot of boys in the team who are good enough to do it, so they should be looking at themselves and thinking, ‘I need to push on, I want to go on and do that.’ I’m still ambitious, I want to play at the highest level I can and if I could do that with my hometown club I’d be delighted.” For Celtic, the Scottish Cup semi-final now takes its place in a queue of fixtures stretching towards the season’s climax, the collision with Rangers at Ibrox being next on the agenda. Edouard, who replaced Scott Sinclair for the start of the second half against Morton, was singled out for praise by Brendan Rodgers and the 20-year-old striker, on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, hopes that his performance has pushed him into the manager’s reckoning for a place in the Old Firm derby. “For me, this is the most important match of the year,” Edouard said. “It’s against our biggest rivals. On these days, victory for the fans is very important. You cannot think about defeat. We know it will be hard at Rangers’ home but we are used to high-pressure situations. Of course, I hope I have done enough to be included in the game. It would mean everything to me to be involved. To win the treble two years in a row would be truly special. People would talk about it for many years.”
The disruption visited upon the UK by a Siberian weather system could have been avoided by the simple ploy of parading the Scottish Cup through the affected areas. That claim is based on the miraculous ­capacity of the tournament’s quarter-final ties to proceed on a weekend which saw the entire league fixture card in Scotland wiped out. That said, the sight of a manned snowplough prowling the car park ahead of Celtic’s meeting with Greenock Morton on Saturday testified to the determination of the holders to take another stride ­towards the unprecedented feat of a clean sweep of the Scottish honours in successive seasons. In the title race, the Hoops can only be stopped if Rangers overturn a six-point deficit in their remaining nine games, starting with next Sunday’s Old Firm derby at Ibrox, and overcome a goal difference of 11 ­between the sides. Sobriety compels the assumption that Celtic are essentially two contests away from their historic feat and that the first of those will be another encounter with Rangers at Hampden Park in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final on the weekend of April 15/16. Rangers’ 4-1 home victory over Falkirk yesterday, in which Jason Cummings scored a hat-trick, completed the equation begun by Celtic’s 3-0 win over their visitors from the Championship, ­although Morton held out for more than an hour before Moussa Dembele’s double and a late contribution from Odsonne Edouard ensured the holders’ advance. Jason Cummings scored all four goals for Rangers in the 4-1 win over Falkirk Credit: Getty Images The Ton’s most notable disruptive action occurred before kick-off, when captain Thomas O’Ware won the coin toss and chose to make their hosts play towards the Jock Stein Stand in the first half, a reversal of the usual custom. “I think big Tam was on the wind-up with that one and I don’t think it went down well,” said Morton’s seasoned midfielder, Gary Harkins. “We made it tough for them and played quite well, although we lost a couple of bad goals, but it’s obviously a really tough place to come and we got punished in the end. The fans were brilliant and I’m from Greenock so I know how hard it was for them to get up here. They were really good.” Home town boy he may be, but Harkins has been so nomadic a footballer that it would not be startling to see him travel by camel rather than team bus. After a spell as a Celtic youth, he played in the colours of Blackburn, Huddersfield, Bury, Blackpool, Grimsby Town, Partick Thistle, Dundee (three times), Kilmarnock, St Mirren, Oldham and Ayr United before fetching up on his native patch. Harkins’ experience was evident against Celtic, when he was the most effective midfielder on view in the first half. Inevitably, he tired against inexorable pressure as the contest wore on, but he and his team-mates remain energised by another domestic prospect. Morton hold the record for promotions and relegations from the top flight of Scottish football – 10 times up and down – the most recent of which was demotion as long ago as 1988. Morton's Gary Harkins (L) arrives at Celtic Park on Saturday Credit: PA “I was three,” said Harkins. “It would be great to do it but it’s a tough run-in. We’ve been on a good run, although we had a bad result the other night against Livingston, but you’ve seen that we can play well when we come to places like Celtic. “There are a lot of boys in the team who are good enough to do it, so they should be looking at themselves and thinking, ‘I need to push on, I want to go on and do that.’ I’m still ambitious, I want to play at the highest level I can and if I could do that with my hometown club I’d be delighted.” For Celtic, the Scottish Cup semi-final now takes its place in a queue of fixtures stretching towards the season’s climax, the collision with Rangers at Ibrox being next on the agenda. Edouard, who replaced Scott Sinclair for the start of the second half against Morton, was singled out for praise by Brendan Rodgers and the 20-year-old striker, on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, hopes that his performance has pushed him into the manager’s reckoning for a place in the Old Firm derby. “For me, this is the most important match of the year,” Edouard said. “It’s against our biggest rivals. On these days, victory for the fans is very important. You cannot think about defeat. We know it will be hard at Rangers’ home but we are used to high-pressure situations. Of course, I hope I have done enough to be included in the game. It would mean everything to me to be involved. To win the treble two years in a row would be truly special. People would talk about it for many years.”
Celtic near another record-breaking season unless Rangers can halt their run
The disruption visited upon the UK by a Siberian weather system could have been avoided by the simple ploy of parading the Scottish Cup through the affected areas. That claim is based on the miraculous ­capacity of the tournament’s quarter-final ties to proceed on a weekend which saw the entire league fixture card in Scotland wiped out. That said, the sight of a manned snowplough prowling the car park ahead of Celtic’s meeting with Greenock Morton on Saturday testified to the determination of the holders to take another stride ­towards the unprecedented feat of a clean sweep of the Scottish honours in successive seasons. In the title race, the Hoops can only be stopped if Rangers overturn a six-point deficit in their remaining nine games, starting with next Sunday’s Old Firm derby at Ibrox, and overcome a goal difference of 11 ­between the sides. Sobriety compels the assumption that Celtic are essentially two contests away from their historic feat and that the first of those will be another encounter with Rangers at Hampden Park in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final on the weekend of April 15/16. Rangers’ 4-1 home victory over Falkirk yesterday, in which Jason Cummings scored a hat-trick, completed the equation begun by Celtic’s 3-0 win over their visitors from the Championship, ­although Morton held out for more than an hour before Moussa Dembele’s double and a late contribution from Odsonne Edouard ensured the holders’ advance. Jason Cummings scored all four goals for Rangers in the 4-1 win over Falkirk Credit: Getty Images The Ton’s most notable disruptive action occurred before kick-off, when captain Thomas O’Ware won the coin toss and chose to make their hosts play towards the Jock Stein Stand in the first half, a reversal of the usual custom. “I think big Tam was on the wind-up with that one and I don’t think it went down well,” said Morton’s seasoned midfielder, Gary Harkins. “We made it tough for them and played quite well, although we lost a couple of bad goals, but it’s obviously a really tough place to come and we got punished in the end. The fans were brilliant and I’m from Greenock so I know how hard it was for them to get up here. They were really good.” Home town boy he may be, but Harkins has been so nomadic a footballer that it would not be startling to see him travel by camel rather than team bus. After a spell as a Celtic youth, he played in the colours of Blackburn, Huddersfield, Bury, Blackpool, Grimsby Town, Partick Thistle, Dundee (three times), Kilmarnock, St Mirren, Oldham and Ayr United before fetching up on his native patch. Harkins’ experience was evident against Celtic, when he was the most effective midfielder on view in the first half. Inevitably, he tired against inexorable pressure as the contest wore on, but he and his team-mates remain energised by another domestic prospect. Morton hold the record for promotions and relegations from the top flight of Scottish football – 10 times up and down – the most recent of which was demotion as long ago as 1988. Morton's Gary Harkins (L) arrives at Celtic Park on Saturday Credit: PA “I was three,” said Harkins. “It would be great to do it but it’s a tough run-in. We’ve been on a good run, although we had a bad result the other night against Livingston, but you’ve seen that we can play well when we come to places like Celtic. “There are a lot of boys in the team who are good enough to do it, so they should be looking at themselves and thinking, ‘I need to push on, I want to go on and do that.’ I’m still ambitious, I want to play at the highest level I can and if I could do that with my hometown club I’d be delighted.” For Celtic, the Scottish Cup semi-final now takes its place in a queue of fixtures stretching towards the season’s climax, the collision with Rangers at Ibrox being next on the agenda. Edouard, who replaced Scott Sinclair for the start of the second half against Morton, was singled out for praise by Brendan Rodgers and the 20-year-old striker, on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, hopes that his performance has pushed him into the manager’s reckoning for a place in the Old Firm derby. “For me, this is the most important match of the year,” Edouard said. “It’s against our biggest rivals. On these days, victory for the fans is very important. You cannot think about defeat. We know it will be hard at Rangers’ home but we are used to high-pressure situations. Of course, I hope I have done enough to be included in the game. It would mean everything to me to be involved. To win the treble two years in a row would be truly special. People would talk about it for many years.”
Celtic kept on course for a second successive domestic treble when they disposed of Greenock Morton in the quarter-finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup with what proved to be an ultimately comfortable victory, despite a goalless first half. The holders enjoyed 70% of possession in the first half but could not find a way through an obdurate Morton midfield and back line, marshalled by the vastly experienced Gary Harkins. By the hour mark of the lunchtime fixture some Celtic fans had begun to speculate on the possibility of a replay but their anxiety was soothed when Moussa Dembele met a fine cross from Tom Rogic with a header which Derek Gaston reached, but could not stop. Dembele added a second from the penalty spot soon afterwards, having gone down in a challenge from Michael Doyle, although the initial contact occurred outside the box. Odsonne Edouard, who had replaced Scott Sinclair at half time, struck Celtic’s third in the dying seconds and – despite having missed two simple chances while the score was still 0-0 – was praised by Brendan Rodgers. “Odsonne was the key difference in the game,” said the Hoops manager. “He shows his quality, his hold-up play, his movement, his speed, then scores a very good goal.” The second tie of the afternoon, between Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, went ahead at Pittodrie although the South Stand was closed because its water supply had been disrupted. Kilmarnock have been the surprise package of the Scottish Premiership since Steve Clarke took over in the autumn, but their record against Aberdeen is less impressive and includes two 3-1 defeats. Moussa Dembele opened the scoring for the hosts with two goals in nine minutes Credit: Getty Images The Dons seemed to be heading towards another victory when they went ahead in the first half after their captain, Graeme Shinnie, saw an attempted cross veer into the net. That advantage was, however, annulled when Shay Logan and Kari Arnason were judged to have fouled Jordan Jones for a penalty kick which was put away by the veteran Killie striker, Kris Boyd, for his 17th goal of the season, to ensure a replay at Rugby Park on March 13. Speaking to BBC Scotland afterwards, the Aberdeen manager, Derek McInnes, disputed the award that led to the equaliser when he said: “I don’t think it’s a penalty. There isn’t any contact, he (Jones) goes down and I can understand maybe why, at first, he thought it could have been a penalty but I don’t think my players bring Jones down. “We got off to a brilliant start and Shinnie’s driving runs from full-back were a key part of that in the first half. We were the better team in the first half, we had the better of the opportunities and we played the game more in their half of the field. Meanwhile, ahead of today’s meeting of Rangers and Falkirk, Graeme Murty admitted that he remains taken aback that he is in charge at Ibrox, even four months into a second interim spell in the position. Talk of a title challenge to Celtic owes more to fanciful imaginations than sober reality, but a second-place finish and a single-figure points gap would represent progress to the Rangers faithful and advance Murty’s prospect of a longer spell as manager. “I'm still stunned to be sitting here, to be perfectly honest,” Murty said. “I'm enjoying every moment and I am still thankful and grateful for the opportunity. Graeme Murty is in his second spell as Rangers interim manager Credit: PA “Whether it continues will always be outwith the people in this group and it won't be down to me, but what we can do is make sure the players put themselves in a really good situation to be successful in the latter part of the season. And if we do that, you never know what might happen. It might all have a positive outcome.” Should Rangers beat Falkirk, Murty will reacquaint himself with Hampden Park. He never played there during his four appearances for Scotland but Murty savoured a visit to the stadium when Rangers beat Ronny Deila’s Celtic in a Scottish Cup semi-final in 2016. “I love it. It’s fantastic,” he said. “My first experience as a Rangers employee of an Old Firm game was going there and watching it and the players will tell you that they’re desperate to get there. But we have to take care of the next game and when we actually walk out at Ibrox, that game at Hampden won’t be on our minds. “It’ll be making sure that we take care of business and perform properly and – credit to the players – they’ve done that remarkably well since Christmas and moved their own game forward, fairly significantly, I would say." Motherwell are at home to Hearts earlier this afternoon in the other quarter-final tie and the draw for the semi-finals will be made at Ibrox after the Rangers v Falkirk match.
Brendan Rodgers hails Odsonne Edouard as Celtic aim for another domestic treble
Celtic kept on course for a second successive domestic treble when they disposed of Greenock Morton in the quarter-finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup with what proved to be an ultimately comfortable victory, despite a goalless first half. The holders enjoyed 70% of possession in the first half but could not find a way through an obdurate Morton midfield and back line, marshalled by the vastly experienced Gary Harkins. By the hour mark of the lunchtime fixture some Celtic fans had begun to speculate on the possibility of a replay but their anxiety was soothed when Moussa Dembele met a fine cross from Tom Rogic with a header which Derek Gaston reached, but could not stop. Dembele added a second from the penalty spot soon afterwards, having gone down in a challenge from Michael Doyle, although the initial contact occurred outside the box. Odsonne Edouard, who had replaced Scott Sinclair at half time, struck Celtic’s third in the dying seconds and – despite having missed two simple chances while the score was still 0-0 – was praised by Brendan Rodgers. “Odsonne was the key difference in the game,” said the Hoops manager. “He shows his quality, his hold-up play, his movement, his speed, then scores a very good goal.” The second tie of the afternoon, between Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, went ahead at Pittodrie although the South Stand was closed because its water supply had been disrupted. Kilmarnock have been the surprise package of the Scottish Premiership since Steve Clarke took over in the autumn, but their record against Aberdeen is less impressive and includes two 3-1 defeats. Moussa Dembele opened the scoring for the hosts with two goals in nine minutes Credit: Getty Images The Dons seemed to be heading towards another victory when they went ahead in the first half after their captain, Graeme Shinnie, saw an attempted cross veer into the net. That advantage was, however, annulled when Shay Logan and Kari Arnason were judged to have fouled Jordan Jones for a penalty kick which was put away by the veteran Killie striker, Kris Boyd, for his 17th goal of the season, to ensure a replay at Rugby Park on March 13. Speaking to BBC Scotland afterwards, the Aberdeen manager, Derek McInnes, disputed the award that led to the equaliser when he said: “I don’t think it’s a penalty. There isn’t any contact, he (Jones) goes down and I can understand maybe why, at first, he thought it could have been a penalty but I don’t think my players bring Jones down. “We got off to a brilliant start and Shinnie’s driving runs from full-back were a key part of that in the first half. We were the better team in the first half, we had the better of the opportunities and we played the game more in their half of the field. Meanwhile, ahead of today’s meeting of Rangers and Falkirk, Graeme Murty admitted that he remains taken aback that he is in charge at Ibrox, even four months into a second interim spell in the position. Talk of a title challenge to Celtic owes more to fanciful imaginations than sober reality, but a second-place finish and a single-figure points gap would represent progress to the Rangers faithful and advance Murty’s prospect of a longer spell as manager. “I'm still stunned to be sitting here, to be perfectly honest,” Murty said. “I'm enjoying every moment and I am still thankful and grateful for the opportunity. Graeme Murty is in his second spell as Rangers interim manager Credit: PA “Whether it continues will always be outwith the people in this group and it won't be down to me, but what we can do is make sure the players put themselves in a really good situation to be successful in the latter part of the season. And if we do that, you never know what might happen. It might all have a positive outcome.” Should Rangers beat Falkirk, Murty will reacquaint himself with Hampden Park. He never played there during his four appearances for Scotland but Murty savoured a visit to the stadium when Rangers beat Ronny Deila’s Celtic in a Scottish Cup semi-final in 2016. “I love it. It’s fantastic,” he said. “My first experience as a Rangers employee of an Old Firm game was going there and watching it and the players will tell you that they’re desperate to get there. But we have to take care of the next game and when we actually walk out at Ibrox, that game at Hampden won’t be on our minds. “It’ll be making sure that we take care of business and perform properly and – credit to the players – they’ve done that remarkably well since Christmas and moved their own game forward, fairly significantly, I would say." Motherwell are at home to Hearts earlier this afternoon in the other quarter-final tie and the draw for the semi-finals will be made at Ibrox after the Rangers v Falkirk match.
Celtic kept on course for a second successive domestic treble when they disposed of Greenock Morton in the quarter-finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup with what proved to be an ultimately comfortable victory, despite a goalless first half. The holders enjoyed 70% of possession in the first half but could not find a way through an obdurate Morton midfield and back line, marshalled by the vastly experienced Gary Harkins. By the hour mark of the lunchtime fixture some Celtic fans had begun to speculate on the possibility of a replay but their anxiety was soothed when Moussa Dembele met a fine cross from Tom Rogic with a header which Derek Gaston reached, but could not stop. Dembele added a second from the penalty spot soon afterwards, having gone down in a challenge from Michael Doyle, although the initial contact occurred outside the box. Odsonne Edouard, who had replaced Scott Sinclair at half time, struck Celtic’s third in the dying seconds and – despite having missed two simple chances while the score was still 0-0 – was praised by Brendan Rodgers. “Odsonne was the key difference in the game,” said the Hoops manager. “He shows his quality, his hold-up play, his movement, his speed, then scores a very good goal.” The second tie of the afternoon, between Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, went ahead at Pittodrie although the South Stand was closed because its water supply had been disrupted. Kilmarnock have been the surprise package of the Scottish Premiership since Steve Clarke took over in the autumn, but their record against Aberdeen is less impressive and includes two 3-1 defeats. Moussa Dembele opened the scoring for the hosts with two goals in nine minutes Credit: Getty Images The Dons seemed to be heading towards another victory when they went ahead in the first half after their captain, Graeme Shinnie, saw an attempted cross veer into the net. That advantage was, however, annulled when Shay Logan and Kari Arnason were judged to have fouled Jordan Jones for a penalty kick which was put away by the veteran Killie striker, Kris Boyd, for his 17th goal of the season, to ensure a replay at Rugby Park on March 13. Speaking to BBC Scotland afterwards, the Aberdeen manager, Derek McInnes, disputed the award that led to the equaliser when he said: “I don’t think it’s a penalty. There isn’t any contact, he (Jones) goes down and I can understand maybe why, at first, he thought it could have been a penalty but I don’t think my players bring Jones down. “We got off to a brilliant start and Shinnie’s driving runs from full-back were a key part of that in the first half. We were the better team in the first half, we had the better of the opportunities and we played the game more in their half of the field. Meanwhile, ahead of today’s meeting of Rangers and Falkirk, Graeme Murty admitted that he remains taken aback that he is in charge at Ibrox, even four months into a second interim spell in the position. Talk of a title challenge to Celtic owes more to fanciful imaginations than sober reality, but a second-place finish and a single-figure points gap would represent progress to the Rangers faithful and advance Murty’s prospect of a longer spell as manager. “I'm still stunned to be sitting here, to be perfectly honest,” Murty said. “I'm enjoying every moment and I am still thankful and grateful for the opportunity. Graeme Murty is in his second spell as Rangers interim manager Credit: PA “Whether it continues will always be outwith the people in this group and it won't be down to me, but what we can do is make sure the players put themselves in a really good situation to be successful in the latter part of the season. And if we do that, you never know what might happen. It might all have a positive outcome.” Should Rangers beat Falkirk, Murty will reacquaint himself with Hampden Park. He never played there during his four appearances for Scotland but Murty savoured a visit to the stadium when Rangers beat Ronny Deila’s Celtic in a Scottish Cup semi-final in 2016. “I love it. It’s fantastic,” he said. “My first experience as a Rangers employee of an Old Firm game was going there and watching it and the players will tell you that they’re desperate to get there. But we have to take care of the next game and when we actually walk out at Ibrox, that game at Hampden won’t be on our minds. “It’ll be making sure that we take care of business and perform properly and – credit to the players – they’ve done that remarkably well since Christmas and moved their own game forward, fairly significantly, I would say." Motherwell are at home to Hearts earlier this afternoon in the other quarter-final tie and the draw for the semi-finals will be made at Ibrox after the Rangers v Falkirk match.
Brendan Rodgers hails Odsonne Edouard as Celtic aim for another domestic treble
Celtic kept on course for a second successive domestic treble when they disposed of Greenock Morton in the quarter-finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup with what proved to be an ultimately comfortable victory, despite a goalless first half. The holders enjoyed 70% of possession in the first half but could not find a way through an obdurate Morton midfield and back line, marshalled by the vastly experienced Gary Harkins. By the hour mark of the lunchtime fixture some Celtic fans had begun to speculate on the possibility of a replay but their anxiety was soothed when Moussa Dembele met a fine cross from Tom Rogic with a header which Derek Gaston reached, but could not stop. Dembele added a second from the penalty spot soon afterwards, having gone down in a challenge from Michael Doyle, although the initial contact occurred outside the box. Odsonne Edouard, who had replaced Scott Sinclair at half time, struck Celtic’s third in the dying seconds and – despite having missed two simple chances while the score was still 0-0 – was praised by Brendan Rodgers. “Odsonne was the key difference in the game,” said the Hoops manager. “He shows his quality, his hold-up play, his movement, his speed, then scores a very good goal.” The second tie of the afternoon, between Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, went ahead at Pittodrie although the South Stand was closed because its water supply had been disrupted. Kilmarnock have been the surprise package of the Scottish Premiership since Steve Clarke took over in the autumn, but their record against Aberdeen is less impressive and includes two 3-1 defeats. Moussa Dembele opened the scoring for the hosts with two goals in nine minutes Credit: Getty Images The Dons seemed to be heading towards another victory when they went ahead in the first half after their captain, Graeme Shinnie, saw an attempted cross veer into the net. That advantage was, however, annulled when Shay Logan and Kari Arnason were judged to have fouled Jordan Jones for a penalty kick which was put away by the veteran Killie striker, Kris Boyd, for his 17th goal of the season, to ensure a replay at Rugby Park on March 13. Speaking to BBC Scotland afterwards, the Aberdeen manager, Derek McInnes, disputed the award that led to the equaliser when he said: “I don’t think it’s a penalty. There isn’t any contact, he (Jones) goes down and I can understand maybe why, at first, he thought it could have been a penalty but I don’t think my players bring Jones down. “We got off to a brilliant start and Shinnie’s driving runs from full-back were a key part of that in the first half. We were the better team in the first half, we had the better of the opportunities and we played the game more in their half of the field. Meanwhile, ahead of today’s meeting of Rangers and Falkirk, Graeme Murty admitted that he remains taken aback that he is in charge at Ibrox, even four months into a second interim spell in the position. Talk of a title challenge to Celtic owes more to fanciful imaginations than sober reality, but a second-place finish and a single-figure points gap would represent progress to the Rangers faithful and advance Murty’s prospect of a longer spell as manager. “I'm still stunned to be sitting here, to be perfectly honest,” Murty said. “I'm enjoying every moment and I am still thankful and grateful for the opportunity. Graeme Murty is in his second spell as Rangers interim manager Credit: PA “Whether it continues will always be outwith the people in this group and it won't be down to me, but what we can do is make sure the players put themselves in a really good situation to be successful in the latter part of the season. And if we do that, you never know what might happen. It might all have a positive outcome.” Should Rangers beat Falkirk, Murty will reacquaint himself with Hampden Park. He never played there during his four appearances for Scotland but Murty savoured a visit to the stadium when Rangers beat Ronny Deila’s Celtic in a Scottish Cup semi-final in 2016. “I love it. It’s fantastic,” he said. “My first experience as a Rangers employee of an Old Firm game was going there and watching it and the players will tell you that they’re desperate to get there. But we have to take care of the next game and when we actually walk out at Ibrox, that game at Hampden won’t be on our minds. “It’ll be making sure that we take care of business and perform properly and – credit to the players – they’ve done that remarkably well since Christmas and moved their own game forward, fairly significantly, I would say." Motherwell are at home to Hearts earlier this afternoon in the other quarter-final tie and the draw for the semi-finals will be made at Ibrox after the Rangers v Falkirk match.
Celtic kept on course for a second successive domestic treble when they disposed of Greenock Morton in the quarter-finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup with what proved to be an ultimately comfortable victory, despite a goalless first half. The holders enjoyed 70% of possession in the first half but could not find a way through an obdurate Morton midfield and back line, marshalled by the vastly experienced Gary Harkins. By the hour mark of the lunchtime fixture some Celtic fans had begun to speculate on the possibility of a replay but their anxiety was soothed when Moussa Dembele met a fine cross from Tom Rogic with a header which Derek Gaston reached, but could not stop. Dembele added a second from the penalty spot soon afterwards, having gone down in a challenge from Michael Doyle, although the initial contact occurred outside the box. Odsonne Edouard, who had replaced Scott Sinclair at half time, struck Celtic’s third in the dying seconds and – despite having missed two simple chances while the score was still 0-0 – was praised by Brendan Rodgers. “Odsonne was the key difference in the game,” said the Hoops manager. “He shows his quality, his hold-up play, his movement, his speed, then scores a very good goal.” The second tie of the afternoon, between Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, went ahead at Pittodrie although the South Stand was closed because its water supply had been disrupted. Kilmarnock have been the surprise package of the Scottish Premiership since Steve Clarke took over in the autumn, but their record against Aberdeen is less impressive and includes two 3-1 defeats. Moussa Dembele opened the scoring for the hosts with two goals in nine minutes Credit: Getty Images The Dons seemed to be heading towards another victory when they went ahead in the first half after their captain, Graeme Shinnie, saw an attempted cross veer into the net. That advantage was, however, annulled when Shay Logan and Kari Arnason were judged to have fouled Jordan Jones for a penalty kick which was put away by the veteran Killie striker, Kris Boyd, for his 17th goal of the season, to ensure a replay at Rugby Park on March 13. Speaking to BBC Scotland afterwards, the Aberdeen manager, Derek McInnes, disputed the award that led to the equaliser when he said: “I don’t think it’s a penalty. There isn’t any contact, he (Jones) goes down and I can understand maybe why, at first, he thought it could have been a penalty but I don’t think my players bring Jones down. “We got off to a brilliant start and Shinnie’s driving runs from full-back were a key part of that in the first half. We were the better team in the first half, we had the better of the opportunities and we played the game more in their half of the field. Meanwhile, ahead of today’s meeting of Rangers and Falkirk, Graeme Murty admitted that he remains taken aback that he is in charge at Ibrox, even four months into a second interim spell in the position. Talk of a title challenge to Celtic owes more to fanciful imaginations than sober reality, but a second-place finish and a single-figure points gap would represent progress to the Rangers faithful and advance Murty’s prospect of a longer spell as manager. “I'm still stunned to be sitting here, to be perfectly honest,” Murty said. “I'm enjoying every moment and I am still thankful and grateful for the opportunity. Graeme Murty is in his second spell as Rangers interim manager Credit: PA “Whether it continues will always be outwith the people in this group and it won't be down to me, but what we can do is make sure the players put themselves in a really good situation to be successful in the latter part of the season. And if we do that, you never know what might happen. It might all have a positive outcome.” Should Rangers beat Falkirk, Murty will reacquaint himself with Hampden Park. He never played there during his four appearances for Scotland but Murty savoured a visit to the stadium when Rangers beat Ronny Deila’s Celtic in a Scottish Cup semi-final in 2016. “I love it. It’s fantastic,” he said. “My first experience as a Rangers employee of an Old Firm game was going there and watching it and the players will tell you that they’re desperate to get there. But we have to take care of the next game and when we actually walk out at Ibrox, that game at Hampden won’t be on our minds. “It’ll be making sure that we take care of business and perform properly and – credit to the players – they’ve done that remarkably well since Christmas and moved their own game forward, fairly significantly, I would say." Motherwell are at home to Hearts earlier this afternoon in the other quarter-final tie and the draw for the semi-finals will be made at Ibrox after the Rangers v Falkirk match.
Brendan Rodgers hails Odsonne Edouard as Celtic aim for another domestic treble
Celtic kept on course for a second successive domestic treble when they disposed of Greenock Morton in the quarter-finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup with what proved to be an ultimately comfortable victory, despite a goalless first half. The holders enjoyed 70% of possession in the first half but could not find a way through an obdurate Morton midfield and back line, marshalled by the vastly experienced Gary Harkins. By the hour mark of the lunchtime fixture some Celtic fans had begun to speculate on the possibility of a replay but their anxiety was soothed when Moussa Dembele met a fine cross from Tom Rogic with a header which Derek Gaston reached, but could not stop. Dembele added a second from the penalty spot soon afterwards, having gone down in a challenge from Michael Doyle, although the initial contact occurred outside the box. Odsonne Edouard, who had replaced Scott Sinclair at half time, struck Celtic’s third in the dying seconds and – despite having missed two simple chances while the score was still 0-0 – was praised by Brendan Rodgers. “Odsonne was the key difference in the game,” said the Hoops manager. “He shows his quality, his hold-up play, his movement, his speed, then scores a very good goal.” The second tie of the afternoon, between Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, went ahead at Pittodrie although the South Stand was closed because its water supply had been disrupted. Kilmarnock have been the surprise package of the Scottish Premiership since Steve Clarke took over in the autumn, but their record against Aberdeen is less impressive and includes two 3-1 defeats. Moussa Dembele opened the scoring for the hosts with two goals in nine minutes Credit: Getty Images The Dons seemed to be heading towards another victory when they went ahead in the first half after their captain, Graeme Shinnie, saw an attempted cross veer into the net. That advantage was, however, annulled when Shay Logan and Kari Arnason were judged to have fouled Jordan Jones for a penalty kick which was put away by the veteran Killie striker, Kris Boyd, for his 17th goal of the season, to ensure a replay at Rugby Park on March 13. Speaking to BBC Scotland afterwards, the Aberdeen manager, Derek McInnes, disputed the award that led to the equaliser when he said: “I don’t think it’s a penalty. There isn’t any contact, he (Jones) goes down and I can understand maybe why, at first, he thought it could have been a penalty but I don’t think my players bring Jones down. “We got off to a brilliant start and Shinnie’s driving runs from full-back were a key part of that in the first half. We were the better team in the first half, we had the better of the opportunities and we played the game more in their half of the field. Meanwhile, ahead of today’s meeting of Rangers and Falkirk, Graeme Murty admitted that he remains taken aback that he is in charge at Ibrox, even four months into a second interim spell in the position. Talk of a title challenge to Celtic owes more to fanciful imaginations than sober reality, but a second-place finish and a single-figure points gap would represent progress to the Rangers faithful and advance Murty’s prospect of a longer spell as manager. “I'm still stunned to be sitting here, to be perfectly honest,” Murty said. “I'm enjoying every moment and I am still thankful and grateful for the opportunity. Graeme Murty is in his second spell as Rangers interim manager Credit: PA “Whether it continues will always be outwith the people in this group and it won't be down to me, but what we can do is make sure the players put themselves in a really good situation to be successful in the latter part of the season. And if we do that, you never know what might happen. It might all have a positive outcome.” Should Rangers beat Falkirk, Murty will reacquaint himself with Hampden Park. He never played there during his four appearances for Scotland but Murty savoured a visit to the stadium when Rangers beat Ronny Deila’s Celtic in a Scottish Cup semi-final in 2016. “I love it. It’s fantastic,” he said. “My first experience as a Rangers employee of an Old Firm game was going there and watching it and the players will tell you that they’re desperate to get there. But we have to take care of the next game and when we actually walk out at Ibrox, that game at Hampden won’t be on our minds. “It’ll be making sure that we take care of business and perform properly and – credit to the players – they’ve done that remarkably well since Christmas and moved their own game forward, fairly significantly, I would say." Motherwell are at home to Hearts earlier this afternoon in the other quarter-final tie and the draw for the semi-finals will be made at Ibrox after the Rangers v Falkirk match.
As every league game in Scotland fell victim to the Siberian conditions, the weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final ties were still standing, like the multitudinous snowmen which dot the landscape. As of last night, Celtic’s lunchtime home date with Greenock Morton, as well as the Aberdeen v Kilmarnock tie, plus Sunday’s matches – Motherwell v Hearts and Rangers v Falkirk – were declared to be playable by the Scottish Football Association. The governing body, however, was criticised by Morton’s chief executive, Warren Hawke, who said on the club website: “We will have supporters risking life and limb to travel to a football match while the Met Office is issuing warnings to avoid non-essential travel. Ultimately, it isn’t about the area around Celtic Park. “Supporter safety has to be key and I don’t think anyone can guarantee that at this moment in time and I fear for a lot of Morton supporters trying to get to this game tomorrow. Surely the Scottish Football Association and Police Scotland will come together and make a sensible early decision in the best interests of the safety of everyone.” The South Stand at Pittodrie, meanwhile, will be shut, despite thousands of tickets having been sold for that part of the ground. A statement from Aberdeen said: “After further discussions this morning which took into account the readiness of the pitch, condition of the stadium interior, surrounding areas and the latest information available from Police Scotland and Transport Scotland regarding weather and travel conditions, both clubs have agreed to progress with the match as planned. “Unfortunately, due to the weather conditions, water supplies have been affected in parts of the South Stand. As a result, the decision has been taken to close the South Stand to home supporters for this match.” Brendan Rodgers and Celtic welcome Morton with open arms Credit: Jane Barlow/PA Wire The SFA subsequently explained its stance, through Andrew McKinlay, Interim Chief Executive of the Scottish FA, who said: “As it stands there are no plans to call off any of the William Hill Scottish Cup sixth-round fixtures. The desire and hope is that they proceed as planned. “There are no pitch inspections scheduled for these matches at this stage and each host club has worked tirelessly to ensure the pitches and the surrounding areas are safe and in the best possible condition. The safety of supporters, players and staff, as always, remains our top priority. We acknowledge that, either way, some supporters are likely to be left inconvenienced. “However, we are conscious that a great many have already committed to tickets and travels plans and that – along with improving weather conditions, forecasts from authorities and the views of the majority of the clubs involved – has led to our current stance. Any supporter who does decide to travel is urged to do so with caution and consult all relevant public transport and travel bodies before embarking on any journey.” Celtic, whose midweek Scottish Premiership meeting with Dundee was called off because of the weather, are on course for a second successive domestic treble, and Brendan Rodgers said. “We wanted the game on for the team's perspective. There's not games at this stage of the season for fitness - the games at this stage of the season are for winning.” The Hoops manager added: “A lot of work has gone on around the stadium to make it safe and secure for all the supporters tomorrow. We've had a bit of a breather for a couple of days so it won't do us any harm. The guys trained very well this morning so we're ready for the game.” Rangers’ midweek meeting with St Johnstone was played before the weather deteriorated and ended in a 4-1 win for the Ibrox side which, following their 2-0 home victory over Hearts, took them to within six points of Celtic, having played a game more. Asked if success in the Scottish Cup or a tight finish to the league campaign would guarantee him the Ibrox manager’s job on a longer-term basis, Graeme Murty said: “Tell you what - if we win every game between now and the end of the season it will be an interesting conversation. “We want to be talking about how excellent we were at the end of the season when we’ve got something to show for our efforts. The next step is a big game on Sunday at home. We need to bounce into that positive, ready, aggressive and relentless against an opponent that is not going to roll over.” Whether the four Scottish Cup ties survive or not, the semi-final draw will take place live on Sky on Sunday afternoon and will be conducted by the former Ibrox goalkeeper, Neil Alexander – who won the trophy twice as a Rangers player - and Paralympic gold-winning wheelchair tennis player Gordon Reid.
Scottish Cup quarter-final ties given the go-ahead despite Morton's fears over fan safety
As every league game in Scotland fell victim to the Siberian conditions, the weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final ties were still standing, like the multitudinous snowmen which dot the landscape. As of last night, Celtic’s lunchtime home date with Greenock Morton, as well as the Aberdeen v Kilmarnock tie, plus Sunday’s matches – Motherwell v Hearts and Rangers v Falkirk – were declared to be playable by the Scottish Football Association. The governing body, however, was criticised by Morton’s chief executive, Warren Hawke, who said on the club website: “We will have supporters risking life and limb to travel to a football match while the Met Office is issuing warnings to avoid non-essential travel. Ultimately, it isn’t about the area around Celtic Park. “Supporter safety has to be key and I don’t think anyone can guarantee that at this moment in time and I fear for a lot of Morton supporters trying to get to this game tomorrow. Surely the Scottish Football Association and Police Scotland will come together and make a sensible early decision in the best interests of the safety of everyone.” The South Stand at Pittodrie, meanwhile, will be shut, despite thousands of tickets having been sold for that part of the ground. A statement from Aberdeen said: “After further discussions this morning which took into account the readiness of the pitch, condition of the stadium interior, surrounding areas and the latest information available from Police Scotland and Transport Scotland regarding weather and travel conditions, both clubs have agreed to progress with the match as planned. “Unfortunately, due to the weather conditions, water supplies have been affected in parts of the South Stand. As a result, the decision has been taken to close the South Stand to home supporters for this match.” Brendan Rodgers and Celtic welcome Morton with open arms Credit: Jane Barlow/PA Wire The SFA subsequently explained its stance, through Andrew McKinlay, Interim Chief Executive of the Scottish FA, who said: “As it stands there are no plans to call off any of the William Hill Scottish Cup sixth-round fixtures. The desire and hope is that they proceed as planned. “There are no pitch inspections scheduled for these matches at this stage and each host club has worked tirelessly to ensure the pitches and the surrounding areas are safe and in the best possible condition. The safety of supporters, players and staff, as always, remains our top priority. We acknowledge that, either way, some supporters are likely to be left inconvenienced. “However, we are conscious that a great many have already committed to tickets and travels plans and that – along with improving weather conditions, forecasts from authorities and the views of the majority of the clubs involved – has led to our current stance. Any supporter who does decide to travel is urged to do so with caution and consult all relevant public transport and travel bodies before embarking on any journey.” Celtic, whose midweek Scottish Premiership meeting with Dundee was called off because of the weather, are on course for a second successive domestic treble, and Brendan Rodgers said. “We wanted the game on for the team's perspective. There's not games at this stage of the season for fitness - the games at this stage of the season are for winning.” The Hoops manager added: “A lot of work has gone on around the stadium to make it safe and secure for all the supporters tomorrow. We've had a bit of a breather for a couple of days so it won't do us any harm. The guys trained very well this morning so we're ready for the game.” Rangers’ midweek meeting with St Johnstone was played before the weather deteriorated and ended in a 4-1 win for the Ibrox side which, following their 2-0 home victory over Hearts, took them to within six points of Celtic, having played a game more. Asked if success in the Scottish Cup or a tight finish to the league campaign would guarantee him the Ibrox manager’s job on a longer-term basis, Graeme Murty said: “Tell you what - if we win every game between now and the end of the season it will be an interesting conversation. “We want to be talking about how excellent we were at the end of the season when we’ve got something to show for our efforts. The next step is a big game on Sunday at home. We need to bounce into that positive, ready, aggressive and relentless against an opponent that is not going to roll over.” Whether the four Scottish Cup ties survive or not, the semi-final draw will take place live on Sky on Sunday afternoon and will be conducted by the former Ibrox goalkeeper, Neil Alexander – who won the trophy twice as a Rangers player - and Paralympic gold-winning wheelchair tennis player Gordon Reid.
As every league game in Scotland fell victim to the Siberian conditions, the weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final ties were still standing, like the multitudinous snowmen which dot the landscape. As of last night, Celtic’s lunchtime home date with Greenock Morton, as well as the Aberdeen v Kilmarnock tie, plus Sunday’s matches – Motherwell v Hearts and Rangers v Falkirk – were declared to be playable by the Scottish Football Association. The governing body, however, was criticised by Morton’s chief executive, Warren Hawke, who said on the club website: “We will have supporters risking life and limb to travel to a football match while the Met Office is issuing warnings to avoid non-essential travel. Ultimately, it isn’t about the area around Celtic Park. “Supporter safety has to be key and I don’t think anyone can guarantee that at this moment in time and I fear for a lot of Morton supporters trying to get to this game tomorrow. Surely the Scottish Football Association and Police Scotland will come together and make a sensible early decision in the best interests of the safety of everyone.” The South Stand at Pittodrie, meanwhile, will be shut, despite thousands of tickets having been sold for that part of the ground. A statement from Aberdeen said: “After further discussions this morning which took into account the readiness of the pitch, condition of the stadium interior, surrounding areas and the latest information available from Police Scotland and Transport Scotland regarding weather and travel conditions, both clubs have agreed to progress with the match as planned. “Unfortunately, due to the weather conditions, water supplies have been affected in parts of the South Stand. As a result, the decision has been taken to close the South Stand to home supporters for this match.” Brendan Rodgers and Celtic welcome Morton with open arms Credit: Jane Barlow/PA Wire The SFA subsequently explained its stance, through Andrew McKinlay, Interim Chief Executive of the Scottish FA, who said: “As it stands there are no plans to call off any of the William Hill Scottish Cup sixth-round fixtures. The desire and hope is that they proceed as planned. “There are no pitch inspections scheduled for these matches at this stage and each host club has worked tirelessly to ensure the pitches and the surrounding areas are safe and in the best possible condition. The safety of supporters, players and staff, as always, remains our top priority. We acknowledge that, either way, some supporters are likely to be left inconvenienced. “However, we are conscious that a great many have already committed to tickets and travels plans and that – along with improving weather conditions, forecasts from authorities and the views of the majority of the clubs involved – has led to our current stance. Any supporter who does decide to travel is urged to do so with caution and consult all relevant public transport and travel bodies before embarking on any journey.” Celtic, whose midweek Scottish Premiership meeting with Dundee was called off because of the weather, are on course for a second successive domestic treble, and Brendan Rodgers said. “We wanted the game on for the team's perspective. There's not games at this stage of the season for fitness - the games at this stage of the season are for winning.” The Hoops manager added: “A lot of work has gone on around the stadium to make it safe and secure for all the supporters tomorrow. We've had a bit of a breather for a couple of days so it won't do us any harm. The guys trained very well this morning so we're ready for the game.” Rangers’ midweek meeting with St Johnstone was played before the weather deteriorated and ended in a 4-1 win for the Ibrox side which, following their 2-0 home victory over Hearts, took them to within six points of Celtic, having played a game more. Asked if success in the Scottish Cup or a tight finish to the league campaign would guarantee him the Ibrox manager’s job on a longer-term basis, Graeme Murty said: “Tell you what - if we win every game between now and the end of the season it will be an interesting conversation. “We want to be talking about how excellent we were at the end of the season when we’ve got something to show for our efforts. The next step is a big game on Sunday at home. We need to bounce into that positive, ready, aggressive and relentless against an opponent that is not going to roll over.” Whether the four Scottish Cup ties survive or not, the semi-final draw will take place live on Sky on Sunday afternoon and will be conducted by the former Ibrox goalkeeper, Neil Alexander – who won the trophy twice as a Rangers player - and Paralympic gold-winning wheelchair tennis player Gordon Reid.
Scottish Cup quarter-final ties given the go-ahead despite Morton's fears over fan safety
As every league game in Scotland fell victim to the Siberian conditions, the weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final ties were still standing, like the multitudinous snowmen which dot the landscape. As of last night, Celtic’s lunchtime home date with Greenock Morton, as well as the Aberdeen v Kilmarnock tie, plus Sunday’s matches – Motherwell v Hearts and Rangers v Falkirk – were declared to be playable by the Scottish Football Association. The governing body, however, was criticised by Morton’s chief executive, Warren Hawke, who said on the club website: “We will have supporters risking life and limb to travel to a football match while the Met Office is issuing warnings to avoid non-essential travel. Ultimately, it isn’t about the area around Celtic Park. “Supporter safety has to be key and I don’t think anyone can guarantee that at this moment in time and I fear for a lot of Morton supporters trying to get to this game tomorrow. Surely the Scottish Football Association and Police Scotland will come together and make a sensible early decision in the best interests of the safety of everyone.” The South Stand at Pittodrie, meanwhile, will be shut, despite thousands of tickets having been sold for that part of the ground. A statement from Aberdeen said: “After further discussions this morning which took into account the readiness of the pitch, condition of the stadium interior, surrounding areas and the latest information available from Police Scotland and Transport Scotland regarding weather and travel conditions, both clubs have agreed to progress with the match as planned. “Unfortunately, due to the weather conditions, water supplies have been affected in parts of the South Stand. As a result, the decision has been taken to close the South Stand to home supporters for this match.” Brendan Rodgers and Celtic welcome Morton with open arms Credit: Jane Barlow/PA Wire The SFA subsequently explained its stance, through Andrew McKinlay, Interim Chief Executive of the Scottish FA, who said: “As it stands there are no plans to call off any of the William Hill Scottish Cup sixth-round fixtures. The desire and hope is that they proceed as planned. “There are no pitch inspections scheduled for these matches at this stage and each host club has worked tirelessly to ensure the pitches and the surrounding areas are safe and in the best possible condition. The safety of supporters, players and staff, as always, remains our top priority. We acknowledge that, either way, some supporters are likely to be left inconvenienced. “However, we are conscious that a great many have already committed to tickets and travels plans and that – along with improving weather conditions, forecasts from authorities and the views of the majority of the clubs involved – has led to our current stance. Any supporter who does decide to travel is urged to do so with caution and consult all relevant public transport and travel bodies before embarking on any journey.” Celtic, whose midweek Scottish Premiership meeting with Dundee was called off because of the weather, are on course for a second successive domestic treble, and Brendan Rodgers said. “We wanted the game on for the team's perspective. There's not games at this stage of the season for fitness - the games at this stage of the season are for winning.” The Hoops manager added: “A lot of work has gone on around the stadium to make it safe and secure for all the supporters tomorrow. We've had a bit of a breather for a couple of days so it won't do us any harm. The guys trained very well this morning so we're ready for the game.” Rangers’ midweek meeting with St Johnstone was played before the weather deteriorated and ended in a 4-1 win for the Ibrox side which, following their 2-0 home victory over Hearts, took them to within six points of Celtic, having played a game more. Asked if success in the Scottish Cup or a tight finish to the league campaign would guarantee him the Ibrox manager’s job on a longer-term basis, Graeme Murty said: “Tell you what - if we win every game between now and the end of the season it will be an interesting conversation. “We want to be talking about how excellent we were at the end of the season when we’ve got something to show for our efforts. The next step is a big game on Sunday at home. We need to bounce into that positive, ready, aggressive and relentless against an opponent that is not going to roll over.” Whether the four Scottish Cup ties survive or not, the semi-final draw will take place live on Sky on Sunday afternoon and will be conducted by the former Ibrox goalkeeper, Neil Alexander – who won the trophy twice as a Rangers player - and Paralympic gold-winning wheelchair tennis player Gordon Reid.
Concern about a fixture backlog in Scotland increased with the announcement that several weekend league games had been postponed because of the impact of severe weather. The Scottish Cup quarter-finals have not yet been disrupted but an announcement will be made today about the schedule. Of the midweek Scottish Premiership fixtures, only Tuesday’s games between Hearts and Kilmarnock – which finished 1-1 at Tynecastle – and Rangers’ 4-1 victory over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park survived the freeze. Wednesday evening’s matches – Celtic v Dundee, Hibs v Hamilton and Motherwell v Aberdeen – were all postponed as icy weather swept in from Siberia, with blizzards forcing transport to a near-standstill. Rangers are now six points behind leaders Celtic, having played one game more than the champions, ahead of the third Old Firm derby of the season at Ibrox, a week on Sunday. This weekend’s league matches which have been called off include one Premiership fixture, between St Johnstone and Hamilton. Somewhat surprisingly, the other top-flight league game between Ross County and Partick Thistle, in the division’s most northerly venue at Dingwall, was still scheduled to go ahead. Aberdeen's game against Motherwell is one of a number of games to be called off in the Scottish Premiership Credit: PA In the Championship, Dundee United v St Mirren tonight and tomorrow’s Dunfermline v Livingston match are off. League One fixtures, Airdrieonians v Stranraer and Albion Rovers v Queen’s Park, plus four League 2 matches – Berwick Rangers v Stirling Albion, Clyde v Elgin City, Edinburgh City v Cowdenbeath and Peterhead v Stenhousemuir – also fell victim to the adverse conditions. Scotland was the subject of a Met Office red warning on Wednesday night and yesterday morning, but although the alert was downgraded to amber, it is likely that more games will fall victim to the snowy conditions. An SPFL statement read: “All other SPFL matches remain on at this point but will be reviewed at the earliest opportunity tomorrow morning.” The Scottish Football Association, meanwhile, is also monitoring conditions ahead of a Scottish Cup weekend that sees Celtic at home to Greenock Morton in a lunchtime kick-off. Aberdeen are also due to be in action tomorrow at Pittodrie against Kilmarnock. On Sunday, Motherwell are to meet Hearts at Fir Park, with Rangers at home to Falkirk later in the afternoon. An SFA source said: “We have no inspections scheduled yet and, in fact, pitches are the least of the worries. The questions are – can staff and players get in and can fans travel safely? We are liaising with clubs, police and broadcasters and will update the situation in due course.” Matches are also falling victim to the freeze south of the border. Tomorrow’s Championship game between Sheffield United and Burton Albion was postponed yesterday, along with Bradford v Portsmouth, Gillingham v Rotherham and Oxford v Fleetwood in League One. The League Two match between Newport County and Accrington Stanley was also called off. Rugby Union is also suffering with five of the Pro14’s seven fixtures for this weekend being postponed yesterday. The two remaining Pro14 fixtures are unaffected by the cold snap due to being played in South Africa, with the Southern Kings hosting Dragons in Port Elizabeth and the Cheetahs taking on Connacht in Bloemfontein. A top-of-the-table clash between Scarlets and Leinster is among the Pro14 matches that must now be rescheduled, with widespread disruption at Dublin airport preventing Leinster from making the trip to west Wales. “The health and safety of supporters, match officials, players and staff from both clubs has been the foremost consideration,” read a Pro14 statement. “It is in the best interests of everyone involved to postpone the fixtures and the rescheduled date and kick-off time will be confirmed as soon as possible. “We hope that supporters understand the reasons behind this postponement and that any inconvenience caused is minor compared to the impact of making this decision closer to kick-off.” Meanwhile in the Aviva Premiership, the top-two fixture between Exeter Chiefs and Saracens at Sandy Park in Devon has been moved from tomorrow to Sunday. All remaining fixtures in the competition are expected to go ahead as scheduled.
Beast from the East wreaks havoc with Scottish football and rugby fixtures
Concern about a fixture backlog in Scotland increased with the announcement that several weekend league games had been postponed because of the impact of severe weather. The Scottish Cup quarter-finals have not yet been disrupted but an announcement will be made today about the schedule. Of the midweek Scottish Premiership fixtures, only Tuesday’s games between Hearts and Kilmarnock – which finished 1-1 at Tynecastle – and Rangers’ 4-1 victory over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park survived the freeze. Wednesday evening’s matches – Celtic v Dundee, Hibs v Hamilton and Motherwell v Aberdeen – were all postponed as icy weather swept in from Siberia, with blizzards forcing transport to a near-standstill. Rangers are now six points behind leaders Celtic, having played one game more than the champions, ahead of the third Old Firm derby of the season at Ibrox, a week on Sunday. This weekend’s league matches which have been called off include one Premiership fixture, between St Johnstone and Hamilton. Somewhat surprisingly, the other top-flight league game between Ross County and Partick Thistle, in the division’s most northerly venue at Dingwall, was still scheduled to go ahead. Aberdeen's game against Motherwell is one of a number of games to be called off in the Scottish Premiership Credit: PA In the Championship, Dundee United v St Mirren tonight and tomorrow’s Dunfermline v Livingston match are off. League One fixtures, Airdrieonians v Stranraer and Albion Rovers v Queen’s Park, plus four League 2 matches – Berwick Rangers v Stirling Albion, Clyde v Elgin City, Edinburgh City v Cowdenbeath and Peterhead v Stenhousemuir – also fell victim to the adverse conditions. Scotland was the subject of a Met Office red warning on Wednesday night and yesterday morning, but although the alert was downgraded to amber, it is likely that more games will fall victim to the snowy conditions. An SPFL statement read: “All other SPFL matches remain on at this point but will be reviewed at the earliest opportunity tomorrow morning.” The Scottish Football Association, meanwhile, is also monitoring conditions ahead of a Scottish Cup weekend that sees Celtic at home to Greenock Morton in a lunchtime kick-off. Aberdeen are also due to be in action tomorrow at Pittodrie against Kilmarnock. On Sunday, Motherwell are to meet Hearts at Fir Park, with Rangers at home to Falkirk later in the afternoon. An SFA source said: “We have no inspections scheduled yet and, in fact, pitches are the least of the worries. The questions are – can staff and players get in and can fans travel safely? We are liaising with clubs, police and broadcasters and will update the situation in due course.” Matches are also falling victim to the freeze south of the border. Tomorrow’s Championship game between Sheffield United and Burton Albion was postponed yesterday, along with Bradford v Portsmouth, Gillingham v Rotherham and Oxford v Fleetwood in League One. The League Two match between Newport County and Accrington Stanley was also called off. Rugby Union is also suffering with five of the Pro14’s seven fixtures for this weekend being postponed yesterday. The two remaining Pro14 fixtures are unaffected by the cold snap due to being played in South Africa, with the Southern Kings hosting Dragons in Port Elizabeth and the Cheetahs taking on Connacht in Bloemfontein. A top-of-the-table clash between Scarlets and Leinster is among the Pro14 matches that must now be rescheduled, with widespread disruption at Dublin airport preventing Leinster from making the trip to west Wales. “The health and safety of supporters, match officials, players and staff from both clubs has been the foremost consideration,” read a Pro14 statement. “It is in the best interests of everyone involved to postpone the fixtures and the rescheduled date and kick-off time will be confirmed as soon as possible. “We hope that supporters understand the reasons behind this postponement and that any inconvenience caused is minor compared to the impact of making this decision closer to kick-off.” Meanwhile in the Aviva Premiership, the top-two fixture between Exeter Chiefs and Saracens at Sandy Park in Devon has been moved from tomorrow to Sunday. All remaining fixtures in the competition are expected to go ahead as scheduled.
Concern about a fixture backlog in Scotland increased with the announcement that several weekend league games had been postponed because of the impact of severe weather. The Scottish Cup quarter-finals have not yet been disrupted but an announcement will be made today about the schedule. Of the midweek Scottish Premiership fixtures, only Tuesday’s games between Hearts and Kilmarnock – which finished 1-1 at Tynecastle – and Rangers’ 4-1 victory over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park survived the freeze. Wednesday evening’s matches – Celtic v Dundee, Hibs v Hamilton and Motherwell v Aberdeen – were all postponed as icy weather swept in from Siberia, with blizzards forcing transport to a near-standstill. Rangers are now six points behind leaders Celtic, having played one game more than the champions, ahead of the third Old Firm derby of the season at Ibrox, a week on Sunday. This weekend’s league matches which have been called off include one Premiership fixture, between St Johnstone and Hamilton. Somewhat surprisingly, the other top-flight league game between Ross County and Partick Thistle, in the division’s most northerly venue at Dingwall, was still scheduled to go ahead. Aberdeen's game against Motherwell is one of a number of games to be called off in the Scottish Premiership Credit: PA In the Championship, Dundee United v St Mirren tonight and tomorrow’s Dunfermline v Livingston match are off. League One fixtures, Airdrieonians v Stranraer and Albion Rovers v Queen’s Park, plus four League 2 matches – Berwick Rangers v Stirling Albion, Clyde v Elgin City, Edinburgh City v Cowdenbeath and Peterhead v Stenhousemuir – also fell victim to the adverse conditions. Scotland was the subject of a Met Office red warning on Wednesday night and yesterday morning, but although the alert was downgraded to amber, it is likely that more games will fall victim to the snowy conditions. An SPFL statement read: “All other SPFL matches remain on at this point but will be reviewed at the earliest opportunity tomorrow morning.” The Scottish Football Association, meanwhile, is also monitoring conditions ahead of a Scottish Cup weekend that sees Celtic at home to Greenock Morton in a lunchtime kick-off. Aberdeen are also due to be in action tomorrow at Pittodrie against Kilmarnock. On Sunday, Motherwell are to meet Hearts at Fir Park, with Rangers at home to Falkirk later in the afternoon. An SFA source said: “We have no inspections scheduled yet and, in fact, pitches are the least of the worries. The questions are – can staff and players get in and can fans travel safely? We are liaising with clubs, police and broadcasters and will update the situation in due course.” Matches are also falling victim to the freeze south of the border. Tomorrow’s Championship game between Sheffield United and Burton Albion was postponed yesterday, along with Bradford v Portsmouth, Gillingham v Rotherham and Oxford v Fleetwood in League One. The League Two match between Newport County and Accrington Stanley was also called off. Rugby Union is also suffering with five of the Pro14’s seven fixtures for this weekend being postponed yesterday. The two remaining Pro14 fixtures are unaffected by the cold snap due to being played in South Africa, with the Southern Kings hosting Dragons in Port Elizabeth and the Cheetahs taking on Connacht in Bloemfontein. A top-of-the-table clash between Scarlets and Leinster is among the Pro14 matches that must now be rescheduled, with widespread disruption at Dublin airport preventing Leinster from making the trip to west Wales. “The health and safety of supporters, match officials, players and staff from both clubs has been the foremost consideration,” read a Pro14 statement. “It is in the best interests of everyone involved to postpone the fixtures and the rescheduled date and kick-off time will be confirmed as soon as possible. “We hope that supporters understand the reasons behind this postponement and that any inconvenience caused is minor compared to the impact of making this decision closer to kick-off.” Meanwhile in the Aviva Premiership, the top-two fixture between Exeter Chiefs and Saracens at Sandy Park in Devon has been moved from tomorrow to Sunday. All remaining fixtures in the competition are expected to go ahead as scheduled.
Beast from the East wreaks havoc with Scottish football and rugby fixtures
Concern about a fixture backlog in Scotland increased with the announcement that several weekend league games had been postponed because of the impact of severe weather. The Scottish Cup quarter-finals have not yet been disrupted but an announcement will be made today about the schedule. Of the midweek Scottish Premiership fixtures, only Tuesday’s games between Hearts and Kilmarnock – which finished 1-1 at Tynecastle – and Rangers’ 4-1 victory over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park survived the freeze. Wednesday evening’s matches – Celtic v Dundee, Hibs v Hamilton and Motherwell v Aberdeen – were all postponed as icy weather swept in from Siberia, with blizzards forcing transport to a near-standstill. Rangers are now six points behind leaders Celtic, having played one game more than the champions, ahead of the third Old Firm derby of the season at Ibrox, a week on Sunday. This weekend’s league matches which have been called off include one Premiership fixture, between St Johnstone and Hamilton. Somewhat surprisingly, the other top-flight league game between Ross County and Partick Thistle, in the division’s most northerly venue at Dingwall, was still scheduled to go ahead. Aberdeen's game against Motherwell is one of a number of games to be called off in the Scottish Premiership Credit: PA In the Championship, Dundee United v St Mirren tonight and tomorrow’s Dunfermline v Livingston match are off. League One fixtures, Airdrieonians v Stranraer and Albion Rovers v Queen’s Park, plus four League 2 matches – Berwick Rangers v Stirling Albion, Clyde v Elgin City, Edinburgh City v Cowdenbeath and Peterhead v Stenhousemuir – also fell victim to the adverse conditions. Scotland was the subject of a Met Office red warning on Wednesday night and yesterday morning, but although the alert was downgraded to amber, it is likely that more games will fall victim to the snowy conditions. An SPFL statement read: “All other SPFL matches remain on at this point but will be reviewed at the earliest opportunity tomorrow morning.” The Scottish Football Association, meanwhile, is also monitoring conditions ahead of a Scottish Cup weekend that sees Celtic at home to Greenock Morton in a lunchtime kick-off. Aberdeen are also due to be in action tomorrow at Pittodrie against Kilmarnock. On Sunday, Motherwell are to meet Hearts at Fir Park, with Rangers at home to Falkirk later in the afternoon. An SFA source said: “We have no inspections scheduled yet and, in fact, pitches are the least of the worries. The questions are – can staff and players get in and can fans travel safely? We are liaising with clubs, police and broadcasters and will update the situation in due course.” Matches are also falling victim to the freeze south of the border. Tomorrow’s Championship game between Sheffield United and Burton Albion was postponed yesterday, along with Bradford v Portsmouth, Gillingham v Rotherham and Oxford v Fleetwood in League One. The League Two match between Newport County and Accrington Stanley was also called off. Rugby Union is also suffering with five of the Pro14’s seven fixtures for this weekend being postponed yesterday. The two remaining Pro14 fixtures are unaffected by the cold snap due to being played in South Africa, with the Southern Kings hosting Dragons in Port Elizabeth and the Cheetahs taking on Connacht in Bloemfontein. A top-of-the-table clash between Scarlets and Leinster is among the Pro14 matches that must now be rescheduled, with widespread disruption at Dublin airport preventing Leinster from making the trip to west Wales. “The health and safety of supporters, match officials, players and staff from both clubs has been the foremost consideration,” read a Pro14 statement. “It is in the best interests of everyone involved to postpone the fixtures and the rescheduled date and kick-off time will be confirmed as soon as possible. “We hope that supporters understand the reasons behind this postponement and that any inconvenience caused is minor compared to the impact of making this decision closer to kick-off.” Meanwhile in the Aviva Premiership, the top-two fixture between Exeter Chiefs and Saracens at Sandy Park in Devon has been moved from tomorrow to Sunday. All remaining fixtures in the competition are expected to go ahead as scheduled.
Kilmarnock's Jordan Jones' unstoppable strike sparked a comeback in the 2-2 draw with Hibernian.
Jones scores wonder goal for Kilmarnock
Kilmarnock's Jordan Jones' unstoppable strike sparked a comeback in the 2-2 draw with Hibernian.
Kilmarnock's Jordan Jones' unstoppable strike sparked a comeback in the 2-2 draw with Hibernian.
Jones scores wonder goal for Kilmarnock
Kilmarnock's Jordan Jones' unstoppable strike sparked a comeback in the 2-2 draw with Hibernian.
Kilmarnock's Jordan Jones' unstoppable strike sparked a comeback in the 2-2 draw with Hibernian.
Jones scores wonder goal for Kilmarnock
Kilmarnock's Jordan Jones' unstoppable strike sparked a comeback in the 2-2 draw with Hibernian.
Hibernian manager Neil Lennon lost his temper after he was sent to the stands during the draw with Kilmarnock.
Hibs boss Lennon totally loses it with referee
Hibernian manager Neil Lennon lost his temper after he was sent to the stands during the draw with Kilmarnock.
Hibernian manager Neil Lennon lost his temper after he was sent to the stands during the draw with Kilmarnock.
Hibs boss Lennon totally loses it with referee
Hibernian manager Neil Lennon lost his temper after he was sent to the stands during the draw with Kilmarnock.
Hibernian manager Neil Lennon lost his temper after he was sent to the stands during the draw with Kilmarnock.
Hibs boss Lennon totally loses it with referee
Hibernian manager Neil Lennon lost his temper after he was sent to the stands during the draw with Kilmarnock.
Despite Celtic’s advance on a second successive domestic treble, Scottish football is getting more competitive at its top level, according to Graeme Murty. The Rangers manager made his case after Saturday’s 2-0 win at home to Heart of Midlothian, which saw his side move to within six points of Celtic ahead of the leaders’ meeting with Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Sunday. Although Celtic have faltered during this campaign, those sides closest to them in the table have previously been unable to close the gap because of their own stumbles. Murty, though, cited the fact that the champions’ points advantage is significantly less than half of what it was a year ago. He said: “Their nearest rivals are closer than for a long time and getting closer to the league that we all want it to be. So, regardless of what Celtic do, our job is to push ourselves further and improve and make sure that, come the end of the season, we’re still talking about title races and challenges at the top of the table and in the Scottish Cup. “We want to be right at the top of the table and involved in every competition we compete in. I’m sure Derek McInnes is saying that at Aberdeen, Neil Lennon is saying that at Hibs and Craig Levein is saying that at Hearts. We want to be closer to what Celtic have done over the last period and, whilst being respectful to them, we want to make sure the season isn’t over by March. “We’re closer but we’re not where we need to be. We’re still improving, we’re still gelling and getting the group tighter and quicker with the ball and more cohesive in all departments.” Alfredo Morales, Rangers’ Colombian striker, stated last week that his aim was to move to an English club, a declaration which Murty declared laudable. “Yes. We want ambitious players here – players that are hungry to get to that next level,” he said. “We have just signed contracts with Josh Windass and James Tavernier, who are ambitious, still hungry to go and play at the highest level, but they understand that this place, this environment, gives them a fantastic platform. “We play in front of masses and masses of people at home. Our fans travel in their thousands away and we get fantastic coverage in the media, so there are not many places in Britain which get better coverage than we get and if Alfredo wants to go to England, he’s got things he has to do here that will bring that closer to being a reality for him. “He wants to be on the pitch scoring goals and I think that his last few performances have shown that he’s a real asset to the team. He’s shown good enthusiasm, good quality and that predatory instinct that we love. “At the moment, fatigue hasn’t become an issue. What we do have is a really, really good squad that means that, if we get the opportunity, or we need to, we can freshen things up. “As I keep on reiterating, though, this group has not finished growing yet. You’ve seen it just at the very, very start of its journey and we have to continue that growth. “There will be setbacks along the way. There will be knockbacks. We just have to understand what we are building. We are closer than we have been recently. But close doesn’t appease people. We want to be in front.” Rangers scored late in each half, taking the lead just before the break from Jamie Murphy and securing their three points two minutes before full- time when Russell Martin netted his first for the club with a tap-in. Elsewhere, Hibernian stunned Kilmarnock at Rugby Park with a first-minute strike by Florian Kamberi and a header by Ryan Porteous and by the interval the visitors could claim that they were unfortunate not to have doubled their advantage. Kilmarnock, though, responded with a swift double on their own account, first with a Jordan Jones shot and then with a penalty kick by Kris Boyd, in a match which finished 2-2. At the other end of the table, Ross County remained bottom when they lost 2-0 to St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park, where Murray Davidson netted a double and a poor day for the Staggies deteriorated when Craig Curran was sent off in the closing stages. Partick Thistle dropped into the relegation play-off place when their habit of conceding last-gasp goals materialised again with David Templeton’s injury time winner in a 2-1 defeat at Hamilton, who leapfrogged the Jags into 10th spot. Accies are now two points behind Dundee, whose fans were noisily unhappy at losing to Motherwell at Dens Park, where Craig Tanner scored the only goal.
Scottish football is getting more competitive at the top, insists Rangers manager Graeme Murty
Despite Celtic’s advance on a second successive domestic treble, Scottish football is getting more competitive at its top level, according to Graeme Murty. The Rangers manager made his case after Saturday’s 2-0 win at home to Heart of Midlothian, which saw his side move to within six points of Celtic ahead of the leaders’ meeting with Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Sunday. Although Celtic have faltered during this campaign, those sides closest to them in the table have previously been unable to close the gap because of their own stumbles. Murty, though, cited the fact that the champions’ points advantage is significantly less than half of what it was a year ago. He said: “Their nearest rivals are closer than for a long time and getting closer to the league that we all want it to be. So, regardless of what Celtic do, our job is to push ourselves further and improve and make sure that, come the end of the season, we’re still talking about title races and challenges at the top of the table and in the Scottish Cup. “We want to be right at the top of the table and involved in every competition we compete in. I’m sure Derek McInnes is saying that at Aberdeen, Neil Lennon is saying that at Hibs and Craig Levein is saying that at Hearts. We want to be closer to what Celtic have done over the last period and, whilst being respectful to them, we want to make sure the season isn’t over by March. “We’re closer but we’re not where we need to be. We’re still improving, we’re still gelling and getting the group tighter and quicker with the ball and more cohesive in all departments.” Alfredo Morales, Rangers’ Colombian striker, stated last week that his aim was to move to an English club, a declaration which Murty declared laudable. “Yes. We want ambitious players here – players that are hungry to get to that next level,” he said. “We have just signed contracts with Josh Windass and James Tavernier, who are ambitious, still hungry to go and play at the highest level, but they understand that this place, this environment, gives them a fantastic platform. “We play in front of masses and masses of people at home. Our fans travel in their thousands away and we get fantastic coverage in the media, so there are not many places in Britain which get better coverage than we get and if Alfredo wants to go to England, he’s got things he has to do here that will bring that closer to being a reality for him. “He wants to be on the pitch scoring goals and I think that his last few performances have shown that he’s a real asset to the team. He’s shown good enthusiasm, good quality and that predatory instinct that we love. “At the moment, fatigue hasn’t become an issue. What we do have is a really, really good squad that means that, if we get the opportunity, or we need to, we can freshen things up. “As I keep on reiterating, though, this group has not finished growing yet. You’ve seen it just at the very, very start of its journey and we have to continue that growth. “There will be setbacks along the way. There will be knockbacks. We just have to understand what we are building. We are closer than we have been recently. But close doesn’t appease people. We want to be in front.” Rangers scored late in each half, taking the lead just before the break from Jamie Murphy and securing their three points two minutes before full- time when Russell Martin netted his first for the club with a tap-in. Elsewhere, Hibernian stunned Kilmarnock at Rugby Park with a first-minute strike by Florian Kamberi and a header by Ryan Porteous and by the interval the visitors could claim that they were unfortunate not to have doubled their advantage. Kilmarnock, though, responded with a swift double on their own account, first with a Jordan Jones shot and then with a penalty kick by Kris Boyd, in a match which finished 2-2. At the other end of the table, Ross County remained bottom when they lost 2-0 to St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park, where Murray Davidson netted a double and a poor day for the Staggies deteriorated when Craig Curran was sent off in the closing stages. Partick Thistle dropped into the relegation play-off place when their habit of conceding last-gasp goals materialised again with David Templeton’s injury time winner in a 2-1 defeat at Hamilton, who leapfrogged the Jags into 10th spot. Accies are now two points behind Dundee, whose fans were noisily unhappy at losing to Motherwell at Dens Park, where Craig Tanner scored the only goal.
Russia occupies a curious status in Celtic’s chronicles, a trend that will be extended if Brendan Rodgers steers the Hoops past Zenit St Petersburg to a place in Friday’s draw for the last 16 of the Europa League. Despite the country’s reputation for inhospitable receptions to foreign interlopers, Celtic have found their recent visits to be productive. Tony Mowbray, whose record in Glasgow was nondescript, nevertheless became the first manager to follow a home defeat in Europe with a victory away over the same opposition when his players lost 1-0 to Dynamo at Celtic Park in the 2009 Champions League qualifiers but advanced with a 2-0 win in the Russian capital. In October 2012, Neil Lennon supervised Celtic’s first away success in the Champions League group stage when they beat Spartak 3-2. Now Rodgers has the opportunity to accomplish a feat that seemed distinctly unlikely only a couple of weeks ago, when Celtic stumbled to defeat at Kilmarnock. Qualification for European football after Christmas was merited because of a 3-0 Champions League group stage victory over Anderlecht in Belgium, in which Celtic’s tactical and physical superiority set them on course for third place in their section, behind Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. The presence of the French and German superpowers was responsible for Celtic conceding 18 goals, more than any other side at that stage of the tournament. Zenit, by contrast, scored 17 to enter the Europa League knockout stage as the competition’s most prolific contenders. Callum McGregor scores Celtic's winner in the 1-0 home leg defeat of Zenit Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith Moreover, Roberto Mancini’s side never failed to score during their group matches, but Celtic’s well-known frailty in central defence – plus a dispiriting injury roster – could not be exploited in the first leg at Parkhead by a Zenit side ring rusty after a winter break that saw them in action for the first time since early December. Rodgers also deserves credit for shuffling his pack to effect, having seemingly consigned Callum McGregor to the fringes of the squad, only to allot him a starting place in the first instalment of this tie, to be rewarded when the midfielder scored the goal which separates the sides. Tom Rogic who, like McGregor, can play either off the striker or in the midfield holding role, resumed business against St Johnstone last weekend but one would imagine that Rodgers, who is canny when it comes to withholding or advancing players, is likely to give McGregor the opportunity to supplement his contribution to the tie and keep Rogic back as required for either a defensive final half hour or to inject potency up front in the closing stages. Although he had inserted careful caveats when he spoke about Celtic’s prospects before the first leg in Glasgow, Rodgers did not leave himself open to an indictment of false modesty ahead of the return. “We played a perfect game really in how the players defended and attacked,” he said. Roberto Mancini says his Zenit side won't change their approach Credit: Christopher Lee - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images "Of course, we would have liked to have had one or two more goals but the concentration and our quality in our game was at a very high level. We know that over the course of the two legs we need to replicate that but the players are ready. “They showed last week they can play. If they play with that aggression, quality and intensity, then it gives us a great opportunity. Our belief has always been there. At the beginning of the first leg, I was being a realist as everyone would probably expect Zenit to go through, but what we showed in the first leg is that we're going to make it very difficult for them and going to make it really competitive. “They will be expected to go through over the two legs, so my mindset hasn't changed, but what we showed in the first leg is that if we play with our quality and to the top of our level then we can match any team.” Mancini was equally bullish. All the players are ready and we don't change a lot,” he said. “We always play well at home in the Europa League “When you play the group stage, it's different to when you play two games. I'm confident we'll play a good game, concentrate without pressure.” The temperature in St Petersburg is predicted to fall to -13C by kickoff in the Krestovsky Stadium, but the roof will be closed. In any case, if Celtic score even one goal, the chances are that their travelling fans will come home basking in the prospect of a spring flowering.
Celtic head to happy hunting ground hoping to replicate Parkhead perfection
Russia occupies a curious status in Celtic’s chronicles, a trend that will be extended if Brendan Rodgers steers the Hoops past Zenit St Petersburg to a place in Friday’s draw for the last 16 of the Europa League. Despite the country’s reputation for inhospitable receptions to foreign interlopers, Celtic have found their recent visits to be productive. Tony Mowbray, whose record in Glasgow was nondescript, nevertheless became the first manager to follow a home defeat in Europe with a victory away over the same opposition when his players lost 1-0 to Dynamo at Celtic Park in the 2009 Champions League qualifiers but advanced with a 2-0 win in the Russian capital. In October 2012, Neil Lennon supervised Celtic’s first away success in the Champions League group stage when they beat Spartak 3-2. Now Rodgers has the opportunity to accomplish a feat that seemed distinctly unlikely only a couple of weeks ago, when Celtic stumbled to defeat at Kilmarnock. Qualification for European football after Christmas was merited because of a 3-0 Champions League group stage victory over Anderlecht in Belgium, in which Celtic’s tactical and physical superiority set them on course for third place in their section, behind Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. The presence of the French and German superpowers was responsible for Celtic conceding 18 goals, more than any other side at that stage of the tournament. Zenit, by contrast, scored 17 to enter the Europa League knockout stage as the competition’s most prolific contenders. Callum McGregor scores Celtic's winner in the 1-0 home leg defeat of Zenit Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith Moreover, Roberto Mancini’s side never failed to score during their group matches, but Celtic’s well-known frailty in central defence – plus a dispiriting injury roster – could not be exploited in the first leg at Parkhead by a Zenit side ring rusty after a winter break that saw them in action for the first time since early December. Rodgers also deserves credit for shuffling his pack to effect, having seemingly consigned Callum McGregor to the fringes of the squad, only to allot him a starting place in the first instalment of this tie, to be rewarded when the midfielder scored the goal which separates the sides. Tom Rogic who, like McGregor, can play either off the striker or in the midfield holding role, resumed business against St Johnstone last weekend but one would imagine that Rodgers, who is canny when it comes to withholding or advancing players, is likely to give McGregor the opportunity to supplement his contribution to the tie and keep Rogic back as required for either a defensive final half hour or to inject potency up front in the closing stages. Although he had inserted careful caveats when he spoke about Celtic’s prospects before the first leg in Glasgow, Rodgers did not leave himself open to an indictment of false modesty ahead of the return. “We played a perfect game really in how the players defended and attacked,” he said. Roberto Mancini says his Zenit side won't change their approach Credit: Christopher Lee - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images "Of course, we would have liked to have had one or two more goals but the concentration and our quality in our game was at a very high level. We know that over the course of the two legs we need to replicate that but the players are ready. “They showed last week they can play. If they play with that aggression, quality and intensity, then it gives us a great opportunity. Our belief has always been there. At the beginning of the first leg, I was being a realist as everyone would probably expect Zenit to go through, but what we showed in the first leg is that we're going to make it very difficult for them and going to make it really competitive. “They will be expected to go through over the two legs, so my mindset hasn't changed, but what we showed in the first leg is that if we play with our quality and to the top of our level then we can match any team.” Mancini was equally bullish. All the players are ready and we don't change a lot,” he said. “We always play well at home in the Europa League “When you play the group stage, it's different to when you play two games. I'm confident we'll play a good game, concentrate without pressure.” The temperature in St Petersburg is predicted to fall to -13C by kickoff in the Krestovsky Stadium, but the roof will be closed. In any case, if Celtic score even one goal, the chances are that their travelling fans will come home basking in the prospect of a spring flowering.
Russia occupies a curious status in Celtic’s chronicles, a trend that will be extended if Brendan Rodgers steers the Hoops past Zenit St Petersburg to a place in Friday’s draw for the last 16 of the Europa League. Despite the country’s reputation for inhospitable receptions to foreign interlopers, Celtic have found their recent visits to be productive. Tony Mowbray, whose record in Glasgow was nondescript, nevertheless became the first manager to follow a home defeat in Europe with a victory away over the same opposition when his players lost 1-0 to Dynamo at Celtic Park in the 2009 Champions League qualifiers but advanced with a 2-0 win in the Russian capital. In October 2012, Neil Lennon supervised Celtic’s first away success in the Champions League group stage when they beat Spartak 3-2. Now Rodgers has the opportunity to accomplish a feat that seemed distinctly unlikely only a couple of weeks ago, when Celtic stumbled to defeat at Kilmarnock. Qualification for European football after Christmas was merited because of a 3-0 Champions League group stage victory over Anderlecht in Belgium, in which Celtic’s tactical and physical superiority set them on course for third place in their section, behind Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. The presence of the French and German superpowers was responsible for Celtic conceding 18 goals, more than any other side at that stage of the tournament. Zenit, by contrast, scored 17 to enter the Europa League knockout stage as the competition’s most prolific contenders. Callum McGregor scores Celtic's winner in the 1-0 home leg defeat of Zenit Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith Moreover, Roberto Mancini’s side never failed to score during their group matches, but Celtic’s well-known frailty in central defence – plus a dispiriting injury roster – could not be exploited in the first leg at Parkhead by a Zenit side ring rusty after a winter break that saw them in action for the first time since early December. Rodgers also deserves credit for shuffling his pack to effect, having seemingly consigned Callum McGregor to the fringes of the squad, only to allot him a starting place in the first instalment of this tie, to be rewarded when the midfielder scored the goal which separates the sides. Tom Rogic who, like McGregor, can play either off the striker or in the midfield holding role, resumed business against St Johnstone last weekend but one would imagine that Rodgers, who is canny when it comes to withholding or advancing players, is likely to give McGregor the opportunity to supplement his contribution to the tie and keep Rogic back as required for either a defensive final half hour or to inject potency up front in the closing stages. Although he had inserted careful caveats when he spoke about Celtic’s prospects before the first leg in Glasgow, Rodgers did not leave himself open to an indictment of false modesty ahead of the return. “We played a perfect game really in how the players defended and attacked,” he said. Roberto Mancini says his Zenit side won't change their approach Credit: Christopher Lee - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images "Of course, we would have liked to have had one or two more goals but the concentration and our quality in our game was at a very high level. We know that over the course of the two legs we need to replicate that but the players are ready. “They showed last week they can play. If they play with that aggression, quality and intensity, then it gives us a great opportunity. Our belief has always been there. At the beginning of the first leg, I was being a realist as everyone would probably expect Zenit to go through, but what we showed in the first leg is that we're going to make it very difficult for them and going to make it really competitive. “They will be expected to go through over the two legs, so my mindset hasn't changed, but what we showed in the first leg is that if we play with our quality and to the top of our level then we can match any team.” Mancini was equally bullish. All the players are ready and we don't change a lot,” he said. “We always play well at home in the Europa League “When you play the group stage, it's different to when you play two games. I'm confident we'll play a good game, concentrate without pressure.” The temperature in St Petersburg is predicted to fall to -13C by kickoff in the Krestovsky Stadium, but the roof will be closed. In any case, if Celtic score even one goal, the chances are that their travelling fans will come home basking in the prospect of a spring flowering.
Celtic head to happy hunting ground hoping to replicate Parkhead perfection
Russia occupies a curious status in Celtic’s chronicles, a trend that will be extended if Brendan Rodgers steers the Hoops past Zenit St Petersburg to a place in Friday’s draw for the last 16 of the Europa League. Despite the country’s reputation for inhospitable receptions to foreign interlopers, Celtic have found their recent visits to be productive. Tony Mowbray, whose record in Glasgow was nondescript, nevertheless became the first manager to follow a home defeat in Europe with a victory away over the same opposition when his players lost 1-0 to Dynamo at Celtic Park in the 2009 Champions League qualifiers but advanced with a 2-0 win in the Russian capital. In October 2012, Neil Lennon supervised Celtic’s first away success in the Champions League group stage when they beat Spartak 3-2. Now Rodgers has the opportunity to accomplish a feat that seemed distinctly unlikely only a couple of weeks ago, when Celtic stumbled to defeat at Kilmarnock. Qualification for European football after Christmas was merited because of a 3-0 Champions League group stage victory over Anderlecht in Belgium, in which Celtic’s tactical and physical superiority set them on course for third place in their section, behind Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. The presence of the French and German superpowers was responsible for Celtic conceding 18 goals, more than any other side at that stage of the tournament. Zenit, by contrast, scored 17 to enter the Europa League knockout stage as the competition’s most prolific contenders. Callum McGregor scores Celtic's winner in the 1-0 home leg defeat of Zenit Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith Moreover, Roberto Mancini’s side never failed to score during their group matches, but Celtic’s well-known frailty in central defence – plus a dispiriting injury roster – could not be exploited in the first leg at Parkhead by a Zenit side ring rusty after a winter break that saw them in action for the first time since early December. Rodgers also deserves credit for shuffling his pack to effect, having seemingly consigned Callum McGregor to the fringes of the squad, only to allot him a starting place in the first instalment of this tie, to be rewarded when the midfielder scored the goal which separates the sides. Tom Rogic who, like McGregor, can play either off the striker or in the midfield holding role, resumed business against St Johnstone last weekend but one would imagine that Rodgers, who is canny when it comes to withholding or advancing players, is likely to give McGregor the opportunity to supplement his contribution to the tie and keep Rogic back as required for either a defensive final half hour or to inject potency up front in the closing stages. Although he had inserted careful caveats when he spoke about Celtic’s prospects before the first leg in Glasgow, Rodgers did not leave himself open to an indictment of false modesty ahead of the return. “We played a perfect game really in how the players defended and attacked,” he said. Roberto Mancini says his Zenit side won't change their approach Credit: Christopher Lee - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images "Of course, we would have liked to have had one or two more goals but the concentration and our quality in our game was at a very high level. We know that over the course of the two legs we need to replicate that but the players are ready. “They showed last week they can play. If they play with that aggression, quality and intensity, then it gives us a great opportunity. Our belief has always been there. At the beginning of the first leg, I was being a realist as everyone would probably expect Zenit to go through, but what we showed in the first leg is that we're going to make it very difficult for them and going to make it really competitive. “They will be expected to go through over the two legs, so my mindset hasn't changed, but what we showed in the first leg is that if we play with our quality and to the top of our level then we can match any team.” Mancini was equally bullish. All the players are ready and we don't change a lot,” he said. “We always play well at home in the Europa League “When you play the group stage, it's different to when you play two games. I'm confident we'll play a good game, concentrate without pressure.” The temperature in St Petersburg is predicted to fall to -13C by kickoff in the Krestovsky Stadium, but the roof will be closed. In any case, if Celtic score even one goal, the chances are that their travelling fans will come home basking in the prospect of a spring flowering.
Russia occupies a curious status in Celtic’s chronicles, a trend that will be extended if Brendan Rodgers steers the Hoops past Zenit St Petersburg to a place in Friday’s draw for the last 16 of the Europa League. Despite the country’s reputation for inhospitable receptions to foreign interlopers, Celtic have found their recent visits to be productive. Tony Mowbray, whose record in Glasgow was nondescript, nevertheless became the first manager to follow a home defeat in Europe with a victory away over the same opposition when his players lost 1-0 to Dynamo at Celtic Park in the 2009 Champions League qualifiers but advanced with a 2-0 win in the Russian capital. In October 2012, Neil Lennon supervised Celtic’s first away success in the Champions League group stage when they beat Spartak 3-2. Now Rodgers has the opportunity to accomplish a feat that seemed distinctly unlikely only a couple of weeks ago, when Celtic stumbled to defeat at Kilmarnock. Qualification for European football after Christmas was merited because of a 3-0 Champions League group stage victory over Anderlecht in Belgium, in which Celtic’s tactical and physical superiority set them on course for third place in their section, behind Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. The presence of the French and German superpowers was responsible for Celtic conceding 18 goals, more than any other side at that stage of the tournament. Zenit, by contrast, scored 17 to enter the Europa League knockout stage as the competition’s most prolific contenders. Callum McGregor scores Celtic's winner in the 1-0 home leg defeat of Zenit Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith Moreover, Roberto Mancini’s side never failed to score during their group matches, but Celtic’s well-known frailty in central defence – plus a dispiriting injury roster – could not be exploited in the first leg at Parkhead by a Zenit side ring rusty after a winter break that saw them in action for the first time since early December. Rodgers also deserves credit for shuffling his pack to effect, having seemingly consigned Callum McGregor to the fringes of the squad, only to allot him a starting place in the first instalment of this tie, to be rewarded when the midfielder scored the goal which separates the sides. Tom Rogic who, like McGregor, can play either off the striker or in the midfield holding role, resumed business against St Johnstone last weekend but one would imagine that Rodgers, who is canny when it comes to withholding or advancing players, is likely to give McGregor the opportunity to supplement his contribution to the tie and keep Rogic back as required for either a defensive final half hour or to inject potency up front in the closing stages. Although he had inserted careful caveats when he spoke about Celtic’s prospects before the first leg in Glasgow, Rodgers did not leave himself open to an indictment of false modesty ahead of the return. “We played a perfect game really in how the players defended and attacked,” he said. Roberto Mancini says his Zenit side won't change their approach Credit: Christopher Lee - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images "Of course, we would have liked to have had one or two more goals but the concentration and our quality in our game was at a very high level. We know that over the course of the two legs we need to replicate that but the players are ready. “They showed last week they can play. If they play with that aggression, quality and intensity, then it gives us a great opportunity. Our belief has always been there. At the beginning of the first leg, I was being a realist as everyone would probably expect Zenit to go through, but what we showed in the first leg is that we're going to make it very difficult for them and going to make it really competitive. “They will be expected to go through over the two legs, so my mindset hasn't changed, but what we showed in the first leg is that if we play with our quality and to the top of our level then we can match any team.” Mancini was equally bullish. All the players are ready and we don't change a lot,” he said. “We always play well at home in the Europa League “When you play the group stage, it's different to when you play two games. I'm confident we'll play a good game, concentrate without pressure.” The temperature in St Petersburg is predicted to fall to -13C by kickoff in the Krestovsky Stadium, but the roof will be closed. In any case, if Celtic score even one goal, the chances are that their travelling fans will come home basking in the prospect of a spring flowering.
Celtic head to happy hunting ground hoping to replicate Parkhead perfection
Russia occupies a curious status in Celtic’s chronicles, a trend that will be extended if Brendan Rodgers steers the Hoops past Zenit St Petersburg to a place in Friday’s draw for the last 16 of the Europa League. Despite the country’s reputation for inhospitable receptions to foreign interlopers, Celtic have found their recent visits to be productive. Tony Mowbray, whose record in Glasgow was nondescript, nevertheless became the first manager to follow a home defeat in Europe with a victory away over the same opposition when his players lost 1-0 to Dynamo at Celtic Park in the 2009 Champions League qualifiers but advanced with a 2-0 win in the Russian capital. In October 2012, Neil Lennon supervised Celtic’s first away success in the Champions League group stage when they beat Spartak 3-2. Now Rodgers has the opportunity to accomplish a feat that seemed distinctly unlikely only a couple of weeks ago, when Celtic stumbled to defeat at Kilmarnock. Qualification for European football after Christmas was merited because of a 3-0 Champions League group stage victory over Anderlecht in Belgium, in which Celtic’s tactical and physical superiority set them on course for third place in their section, behind Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. The presence of the French and German superpowers was responsible for Celtic conceding 18 goals, more than any other side at that stage of the tournament. Zenit, by contrast, scored 17 to enter the Europa League knockout stage as the competition’s most prolific contenders. Callum McGregor scores Celtic's winner in the 1-0 home leg defeat of Zenit Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith Moreover, Roberto Mancini’s side never failed to score during their group matches, but Celtic’s well-known frailty in central defence – plus a dispiriting injury roster – could not be exploited in the first leg at Parkhead by a Zenit side ring rusty after a winter break that saw them in action for the first time since early December. Rodgers also deserves credit for shuffling his pack to effect, having seemingly consigned Callum McGregor to the fringes of the squad, only to allot him a starting place in the first instalment of this tie, to be rewarded when the midfielder scored the goal which separates the sides. Tom Rogic who, like McGregor, can play either off the striker or in the midfield holding role, resumed business against St Johnstone last weekend but one would imagine that Rodgers, who is canny when it comes to withholding or advancing players, is likely to give McGregor the opportunity to supplement his contribution to the tie and keep Rogic back as required for either a defensive final half hour or to inject potency up front in the closing stages. Although he had inserted careful caveats when he spoke about Celtic’s prospects before the first leg in Glasgow, Rodgers did not leave himself open to an indictment of false modesty ahead of the return. “We played a perfect game really in how the players defended and attacked,” he said. Roberto Mancini says his Zenit side won't change their approach Credit: Christopher Lee - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images "Of course, we would have liked to have had one or two more goals but the concentration and our quality in our game was at a very high level. We know that over the course of the two legs we need to replicate that but the players are ready. “They showed last week they can play. If they play with that aggression, quality and intensity, then it gives us a great opportunity. Our belief has always been there. At the beginning of the first leg, I was being a realist as everyone would probably expect Zenit to go through, but what we showed in the first leg is that we're going to make it very difficult for them and going to make it really competitive. “They will be expected to go through over the two legs, so my mindset hasn't changed, but what we showed in the first leg is that if we play with our quality and to the top of our level then we can match any team.” Mancini was equally bullish. All the players are ready and we don't change a lot,” he said. “We always play well at home in the Europa League “When you play the group stage, it's different to when you play two games. I'm confident we'll play a good game, concentrate without pressure.” The temperature in St Petersburg is predicted to fall to -13C by kickoff in the Krestovsky Stadium, but the roof will be closed. In any case, if Celtic score even one goal, the chances are that their travelling fans will come home basking in the prospect of a spring flowering.
In contrast to last season’s inexorable progress to a clean sweep of the domestic honours, Celtic have had to break step during this campaign and did so again in a game which saw St Johnstone – not for the first time in recent seasons under Tommy Wright – leave the east end of Glasgow with reward to show for their efforts. The outcome of a goalless contest was, nevertheless, a reminder that championships can be acquired in diverse fashions. Celtic shed two points yet found themselves better off than they had been before the weekend because, yet again, the nearest contenders were unable to muster the victories that would have put at least a nominal degree of pressure on them. When Celtic lost at Kilmarnock at the start of the month Rangers lost at home to Hibernian. On Saturday, Aberdeen had the opportunity to move to within five points of the leaders, a prospect which evaporated when they were deservedly beaten 2-0 by Hibs at Easter Road. The upshot is that Celtic, despite failing to score at home in a league fixture for only the second time under Brendan Rodgers, are now nine points clear of Rangers, who overtook Aberdeen on goal difference with their 5-3 win at Hamilton. If Celtic are not invincible in Scotland, as they were last season, their horizons have expanded to include the possibility of Europa League football in the last 16 of the competition next month. History has demonstrated that expeditions to Russia are notoriously hazardous but Rodgers exercised the opportunity to harbour his resources ahead of Thursday’s return leg meeting with Zenit in St Petersburg, where Celtic will attempt to capitalise on the 1-0 lead posted at home in the first instalment. Celtic made no fewer than seven changes from the Europa League match, with only Dorus de Vries, Kris Ajer, Callum McGregor and Eboue Kouassi retained for the visit of a St Johnstone side coming off the back of three successive defeats. McGregor and Kouassi, though, were switched from advanced midfield positions to fill the holding roles usually taken by Olivier Ntcham and Scott Brown. Tom Rogic was back in action Credit: PA The use of squad players was notable at full-back, where Cristiam Gamboa and Calvin Miller were summoned from the fringes of the squad. One particularly heartening inclusion was that of Tom Rogic, back on his familiar beat behind the front three for the first time since the 1-0 home defeat by Anderlecht in the Champions League, after which he sustained a disruptive knee injury. The Australian looked entirely comfortable during an opening spell of almost complete Celtic dominance when, for 10 minutes, Saints could scarcely get a touch on the ball. For all their command of possession, though, the Hoops managed only a single attempt on target, when Ajer met a free kick from the right with a header that was parried by Alan Mannus and nodded clear by Steve Anderson. To the audible frustration of the home support, the visitors began to break out of the quarantine zone around their own penalty area and fashioned a series of alarms at the other end of the field. This switch was signalled by a cross from David Wotherspoon headed narrowly over by Blair Alston, followed immediately by a free kick touched by Wotherspoon to Richard Foster, whose drive from the edge of the box swept just high of the crossbar. St Johnstone came close on two more occasions, with another Wotherspoon delivery that squirmed narrowly past the post and then an Alston delivery pitched fractionally too high. The second half simply extended the pattern of the first and, as the proceedings wore on, Rodgers attempted to break the deadlock from the bench in the form of Kieran Tierney, James Forrest and Moussa Dembele. St Johnstone’s response was to replace George Williams with Matty Willock and the on-loan Manchester United midfielder might have put his team in front when he burrowed behind the Hoops defence had he chosen to shoot rather than cut back to Steven MacLean. As it was, while Celtic conserved their energy for Zenit, Saints departed with an unanticipated bonus in their battle to clear the relegation zone.
Celtic 0 St Johnstone 0: Brendan Rodgers keeps Europa League in mind as much-changed side go nine points clear
In contrast to last season’s inexorable progress to a clean sweep of the domestic honours, Celtic have had to break step during this campaign and did so again in a game which saw St Johnstone – not for the first time in recent seasons under Tommy Wright – leave the east end of Glasgow with reward to show for their efforts. The outcome of a goalless contest was, nevertheless, a reminder that championships can be acquired in diverse fashions. Celtic shed two points yet found themselves better off than they had been before the weekend because, yet again, the nearest contenders were unable to muster the victories that would have put at least a nominal degree of pressure on them. When Celtic lost at Kilmarnock at the start of the month Rangers lost at home to Hibernian. On Saturday, Aberdeen had the opportunity to move to within five points of the leaders, a prospect which evaporated when they were deservedly beaten 2-0 by Hibs at Easter Road. The upshot is that Celtic, despite failing to score at home in a league fixture for only the second time under Brendan Rodgers, are now nine points clear of Rangers, who overtook Aberdeen on goal difference with their 5-3 win at Hamilton. If Celtic are not invincible in Scotland, as they were last season, their horizons have expanded to include the possibility of Europa League football in the last 16 of the competition next month. History has demonstrated that expeditions to Russia are notoriously hazardous but Rodgers exercised the opportunity to harbour his resources ahead of Thursday’s return leg meeting with Zenit in St Petersburg, where Celtic will attempt to capitalise on the 1-0 lead posted at home in the first instalment. Celtic made no fewer than seven changes from the Europa League match, with only Dorus de Vries, Kris Ajer, Callum McGregor and Eboue Kouassi retained for the visit of a St Johnstone side coming off the back of three successive defeats. McGregor and Kouassi, though, were switched from advanced midfield positions to fill the holding roles usually taken by Olivier Ntcham and Scott Brown. Tom Rogic was back in action Credit: PA The use of squad players was notable at full-back, where Cristiam Gamboa and Calvin Miller were summoned from the fringes of the squad. One particularly heartening inclusion was that of Tom Rogic, back on his familiar beat behind the front three for the first time since the 1-0 home defeat by Anderlecht in the Champions League, after which he sustained a disruptive knee injury. The Australian looked entirely comfortable during an opening spell of almost complete Celtic dominance when, for 10 minutes, Saints could scarcely get a touch on the ball. For all their command of possession, though, the Hoops managed only a single attempt on target, when Ajer met a free kick from the right with a header that was parried by Alan Mannus and nodded clear by Steve Anderson. To the audible frustration of the home support, the visitors began to break out of the quarantine zone around their own penalty area and fashioned a series of alarms at the other end of the field. This switch was signalled by a cross from David Wotherspoon headed narrowly over by Blair Alston, followed immediately by a free kick touched by Wotherspoon to Richard Foster, whose drive from the edge of the box swept just high of the crossbar. St Johnstone came close on two more occasions, with another Wotherspoon delivery that squirmed narrowly past the post and then an Alston delivery pitched fractionally too high. The second half simply extended the pattern of the first and, as the proceedings wore on, Rodgers attempted to break the deadlock from the bench in the form of Kieran Tierney, James Forrest and Moussa Dembele. St Johnstone’s response was to replace George Williams with Matty Willock and the on-loan Manchester United midfielder might have put his team in front when he burrowed behind the Hoops defence had he chosen to shoot rather than cut back to Steven MacLean. As it was, while Celtic conserved their energy for Zenit, Saints departed with an unanticipated bonus in their battle to clear the relegation zone.
In contrast to last season’s inexorable progress to a clean sweep of the domestic honours, Celtic have had to break step during this campaign and did so again in a game which saw St Johnstone – not for the first time in recent seasons under Tommy Wright – leave the east end of Glasgow with reward to show for their efforts. The outcome of a goalless contest was, nevertheless, a reminder that championships can be acquired in diverse fashions. Celtic shed two points yet found themselves better off than they had been before the weekend because, yet again, the nearest contenders were unable to muster the victories that would have put at least a nominal degree of pressure on them. When Celtic lost at Kilmarnock at the start of the month Rangers lost at home to Hibernian. On Saturday, Aberdeen had the opportunity to move to within five points of the leaders, a prospect which evaporated when they were deservedly beaten 2-0 by Hibs at Easter Road. The upshot is that Celtic, despite failing to score at home in a league fixture for only the second time under Brendan Rodgers, are now nine points clear of Rangers, who overtook Aberdeen on goal difference with their 5-3 win at Hamilton. If Celtic are not invincible in Scotland, as they were last season, their horizons have expanded to include the possibility of Europa League football in the last 16 of the competition next month. History has demonstrated that expeditions to Russia are notoriously hazardous but Rodgers exercised the opportunity to harbour his resources ahead of Thursday’s return leg meeting with Zenit in St Petersburg, where Celtic will attempt to capitalise on the 1-0 lead posted at home in the first instalment. Celtic made no fewer than seven changes from the Europa League match, with only Dorus de Vries, Kris Ajer, Callum McGregor and Eboue Kouassi retained for the visit of a St Johnstone side coming off the back of three successive defeats. McGregor and Kouassi, though, were switched from advanced midfield positions to fill the holding roles usually taken by Olivier Ntcham and Scott Brown. Tom Rogic was back in action Credit: PA The use of squad players was notable at full-back, where Cristiam Gamboa and Calvin Miller were summoned from the fringes of the squad. One particularly heartening inclusion was that of Tom Rogic, back on his familiar beat behind the front three for the first time since the 1-0 home defeat by Anderlecht in the Champions League, after which he sustained a disruptive knee injury. The Australian looked entirely comfortable during an opening spell of almost complete Celtic dominance when, for 10 minutes, Saints could scarcely get a touch on the ball. For all their command of possession, though, the Hoops managed only a single attempt on target, when Ajer met a free kick from the right with a header that was parried by Alan Mannus and nodded clear by Steve Anderson. To the audible frustration of the home support, the visitors began to break out of the quarantine zone around their own penalty area and fashioned a series of alarms at the other end of the field. This switch was signalled by a cross from David Wotherspoon headed narrowly over by Blair Alston, followed immediately by a free kick touched by Wotherspoon to Richard Foster, whose drive from the edge of the box swept just high of the crossbar. St Johnstone came close on two more occasions, with another Wotherspoon delivery that squirmed narrowly past the post and then an Alston delivery pitched fractionally too high. The second half simply extended the pattern of the first and, as the proceedings wore on, Rodgers attempted to break the deadlock from the bench in the form of Kieran Tierney, James Forrest and Moussa Dembele. St Johnstone’s response was to replace George Williams with Matty Willock and the on-loan Manchester United midfielder might have put his team in front when he burrowed behind the Hoops defence had he chosen to shoot rather than cut back to Steven MacLean. As it was, while Celtic conserved their energy for Zenit, Saints departed with an unanticipated bonus in their battle to clear the relegation zone.
Celtic 0 St Johnstone 0: Brendan Rodgers keeps Europa League in mind as much-changed side go nine points clear
In contrast to last season’s inexorable progress to a clean sweep of the domestic honours, Celtic have had to break step during this campaign and did so again in a game which saw St Johnstone – not for the first time in recent seasons under Tommy Wright – leave the east end of Glasgow with reward to show for their efforts. The outcome of a goalless contest was, nevertheless, a reminder that championships can be acquired in diverse fashions. Celtic shed two points yet found themselves better off than they had been before the weekend because, yet again, the nearest contenders were unable to muster the victories that would have put at least a nominal degree of pressure on them. When Celtic lost at Kilmarnock at the start of the month Rangers lost at home to Hibernian. On Saturday, Aberdeen had the opportunity to move to within five points of the leaders, a prospect which evaporated when they were deservedly beaten 2-0 by Hibs at Easter Road. The upshot is that Celtic, despite failing to score at home in a league fixture for only the second time under Brendan Rodgers, are now nine points clear of Rangers, who overtook Aberdeen on goal difference with their 5-3 win at Hamilton. If Celtic are not invincible in Scotland, as they were last season, their horizons have expanded to include the possibility of Europa League football in the last 16 of the competition next month. History has demonstrated that expeditions to Russia are notoriously hazardous but Rodgers exercised the opportunity to harbour his resources ahead of Thursday’s return leg meeting with Zenit in St Petersburg, where Celtic will attempt to capitalise on the 1-0 lead posted at home in the first instalment. Celtic made no fewer than seven changes from the Europa League match, with only Dorus de Vries, Kris Ajer, Callum McGregor and Eboue Kouassi retained for the visit of a St Johnstone side coming off the back of three successive defeats. McGregor and Kouassi, though, were switched from advanced midfield positions to fill the holding roles usually taken by Olivier Ntcham and Scott Brown. Tom Rogic was back in action Credit: PA The use of squad players was notable at full-back, where Cristiam Gamboa and Calvin Miller were summoned from the fringes of the squad. One particularly heartening inclusion was that of Tom Rogic, back on his familiar beat behind the front three for the first time since the 1-0 home defeat by Anderlecht in the Champions League, after which he sustained a disruptive knee injury. The Australian looked entirely comfortable during an opening spell of almost complete Celtic dominance when, for 10 minutes, Saints could scarcely get a touch on the ball. For all their command of possession, though, the Hoops managed only a single attempt on target, when Ajer met a free kick from the right with a header that was parried by Alan Mannus and nodded clear by Steve Anderson. To the audible frustration of the home support, the visitors began to break out of the quarantine zone around their own penalty area and fashioned a series of alarms at the other end of the field. This switch was signalled by a cross from David Wotherspoon headed narrowly over by Blair Alston, followed immediately by a free kick touched by Wotherspoon to Richard Foster, whose drive from the edge of the box swept just high of the crossbar. St Johnstone came close on two more occasions, with another Wotherspoon delivery that squirmed narrowly past the post and then an Alston delivery pitched fractionally too high. The second half simply extended the pattern of the first and, as the proceedings wore on, Rodgers attempted to break the deadlock from the bench in the form of Kieran Tierney, James Forrest and Moussa Dembele. St Johnstone’s response was to replace George Williams with Matty Willock and the on-loan Manchester United midfielder might have put his team in front when he burrowed behind the Hoops defence had he chosen to shoot rather than cut back to Steven MacLean. As it was, while Celtic conserved their energy for Zenit, Saints departed with an unanticipated bonus in their battle to clear the relegation zone.
Alex McLeish backed Hampden Park to remain Scotland’s home ground as he began the preparations for his second spell as national manager. The Scottish Football Association are in the process of considering whether to remain at Hampden – where their administrative offices are based, alongside those of the Scottish Professional Football League – or switch major internationals and Scottish Cup finals to Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby. The stadium in Mount Florida saw McLeish win many of 77 Scotland caps between 1980 and 1993 and it was there that he scored in Aberdeen’s 4-1 Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers on his 200th appearance for the Dons. “I would like to stay here,” McLeish said. “If it is a question of modernisation, sometimes we have to move forward but I’ve got to say it would be hard to leave Hampden.” The venerable ground will be the venue for the first contest of McLeish’s second tenure in charge when the Scots host Costa Rica in a Friday night friendly on March 23. The countries have met only once and recollections of the occasion are painful for McLeish, who was a member of the Scotland side beaten 1-0 by Costa Rica in the Italia ’90 World Cup finals. It is a measure of the decline in Scotland’s fortunes that 28 years ago a defeat in the finals of a major tournament was regarded as a calamity. “The front of the Daily Record was brilliant - or when I look back on it now it was brilliant!” said McLeish. “It was a big picture of the world with ‘Stop the World, we want to get aff!’ written on it. Then there were a few faces which “had to go” and I was one of them. “Fortunately, we redeemed ourselves against Sweden but it was a very apprehensive game. Now, after 22 years of not being at a big tournament we would bite your hand off to do it. “Everyone would be grateful for an early exit just because it would mean that we are there at last but, in saying that, in those days and even now, you always have to be ambitious. “When we got there, we tried to get to the next stage, even if we never quite made that. Just to get to three finals in my playing days was a fantastic feeling.” Scotland failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia after a 2-2 in Slovenia Credit: PA Given that the transition from Gordon Strachan to McLeish is also a handover from one former Aberdeen player to another who was a Pittodrie team mate, it is possible to wonder if there will be discernible difference between the two regimes. “I have spoken about attention to detail,” said McLeish. “I'm not saying Gordon didn't do that but I believe that a year on - and a tournament - a lot of the lads were involved in these games and you would expect them to learn from that. What I can do is empower players. “How do you empower them? You can show things they have done well to give them the chest puffed out but you can also show them things from the past that they could have done better. These are the little details. “I am not discarding anybody at the moment. I believe there are little tweaks that can happen. A lot of them play in England at the highest level and I've seen a huge difference with a lot of the young players who are coming through in Scotland so, having moved on a season, I feel it's time to qualify for the finals of Euro 2020.” Martin Boyle celebrates scoring the opening goal for Hibernian Credit: Getty Images Two of McLeish’s former clubs met in the game of the day at Easter Road, where Hibs – whom he managed between 1998 and 2001 – hosted Aberdeen, who were bidding for a win that would cut Celtic’s lead at the top of the table to five points ahead of today’s (Sun) home outing against St Johnstone. By way of contrast, Celtic’s advantage over Aberdeen on the same weekend last year was a massive 27 points from one game fewer played. Easter Road accommodated 17,205 spectators and, after a goalless first half, the home fans celebrated when Hibs netted within a minute of the restart. Jamie Maclaren had two efforts blocked by Freddie Woodman but the rebound from his second attempt was headed home by Martin Boyle. Hibs doubled their advantage om the hour when a Martin Boyle shot diverted into the path of Florian Kamberi, who found the mark from close range. Elsewhere, two late goals by Simon Murray thwarted Partick Thistle, for whom Conor Sammon had struck the opener just before half time. Kilmarnock’s fine run continued at Fir Park where Stephen O’Donnell’s strike saw the Ayrshire side leapfrog Motherwell into the top six of the Scottish Premiership table.
Alex McLeish backs calls for Scotland to remain at Hampden Park
Alex McLeish backed Hampden Park to remain Scotland’s home ground as he began the preparations for his second spell as national manager. The Scottish Football Association are in the process of considering whether to remain at Hampden – where their administrative offices are based, alongside those of the Scottish Professional Football League – or switch major internationals and Scottish Cup finals to Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby. The stadium in Mount Florida saw McLeish win many of 77 Scotland caps between 1980 and 1993 and it was there that he scored in Aberdeen’s 4-1 Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers on his 200th appearance for the Dons. “I would like to stay here,” McLeish said. “If it is a question of modernisation, sometimes we have to move forward but I’ve got to say it would be hard to leave Hampden.” The venerable ground will be the venue for the first contest of McLeish’s second tenure in charge when the Scots host Costa Rica in a Friday night friendly on March 23. The countries have met only once and recollections of the occasion are painful for McLeish, who was a member of the Scotland side beaten 1-0 by Costa Rica in the Italia ’90 World Cup finals. It is a measure of the decline in Scotland’s fortunes that 28 years ago a defeat in the finals of a major tournament was regarded as a calamity. “The front of the Daily Record was brilliant - or when I look back on it now it was brilliant!” said McLeish. “It was a big picture of the world with ‘Stop the World, we want to get aff!’ written on it. Then there were a few faces which “had to go” and I was one of them. “Fortunately, we redeemed ourselves against Sweden but it was a very apprehensive game. Now, after 22 years of not being at a big tournament we would bite your hand off to do it. “Everyone would be grateful for an early exit just because it would mean that we are there at last but, in saying that, in those days and even now, you always have to be ambitious. “When we got there, we tried to get to the next stage, even if we never quite made that. Just to get to three finals in my playing days was a fantastic feeling.” Scotland failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia after a 2-2 in Slovenia Credit: PA Given that the transition from Gordon Strachan to McLeish is also a handover from one former Aberdeen player to another who was a Pittodrie team mate, it is possible to wonder if there will be discernible difference between the two regimes. “I have spoken about attention to detail,” said McLeish. “I'm not saying Gordon didn't do that but I believe that a year on - and a tournament - a lot of the lads were involved in these games and you would expect them to learn from that. What I can do is empower players. “How do you empower them? You can show things they have done well to give them the chest puffed out but you can also show them things from the past that they could have done better. These are the little details. “I am not discarding anybody at the moment. I believe there are little tweaks that can happen. A lot of them play in England at the highest level and I've seen a huge difference with a lot of the young players who are coming through in Scotland so, having moved on a season, I feel it's time to qualify for the finals of Euro 2020.” Martin Boyle celebrates scoring the opening goal for Hibernian Credit: Getty Images Two of McLeish’s former clubs met in the game of the day at Easter Road, where Hibs – whom he managed between 1998 and 2001 – hosted Aberdeen, who were bidding for a win that would cut Celtic’s lead at the top of the table to five points ahead of today’s (Sun) home outing against St Johnstone. By way of contrast, Celtic’s advantage over Aberdeen on the same weekend last year was a massive 27 points from one game fewer played. Easter Road accommodated 17,205 spectators and, after a goalless first half, the home fans celebrated when Hibs netted within a minute of the restart. Jamie Maclaren had two efforts blocked by Freddie Woodman but the rebound from his second attempt was headed home by Martin Boyle. Hibs doubled their advantage om the hour when a Martin Boyle shot diverted into the path of Florian Kamberi, who found the mark from close range. Elsewhere, two late goals by Simon Murray thwarted Partick Thistle, for whom Conor Sammon had struck the opener just before half time. Kilmarnock’s fine run continued at Fir Park where Stephen O’Donnell’s strike saw the Ayrshire side leapfrog Motherwell into the top six of the Scottish Premiership table.
Alex McLeish backed Hampden Park to remain Scotland’s home ground as he began the preparations for his second spell as national manager. The Scottish Football Association are in the process of considering whether to remain at Hampden – where their administrative offices are based, alongside those of the Scottish Professional Football League – or switch major internationals and Scottish Cup finals to Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby. The stadium in Mount Florida saw McLeish win many of 77 Scotland caps between 1980 and 1993 and it was there that he scored in Aberdeen’s 4-1 Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers on his 200th appearance for the Dons. “I would like to stay here,” McLeish said. “If it is a question of modernisation, sometimes we have to move forward but I’ve got to say it would be hard to leave Hampden.” The venerable ground will be the venue for the first contest of McLeish’s second tenure in charge when the Scots host Costa Rica in a Friday night friendly on March 23. The countries have met only once and recollections of the occasion are painful for McLeish, who was a member of the Scotland side beaten 1-0 by Costa Rica in the Italia ’90 World Cup finals. It is a measure of the decline in Scotland’s fortunes that 28 years ago a defeat in the finals of a major tournament was regarded as a calamity. “The front of the Daily Record was brilliant - or when I look back on it now it was brilliant!” said McLeish. “It was a big picture of the world with ‘Stop the World, we want to get aff!’ written on it. Then there were a few faces which “had to go” and I was one of them. “Fortunately, we redeemed ourselves against Sweden but it was a very apprehensive game. Now, after 22 years of not being at a big tournament we would bite your hand off to do it. “Everyone would be grateful for an early exit just because it would mean that we are there at last but, in saying that, in those days and even now, you always have to be ambitious. “When we got there, we tried to get to the next stage, even if we never quite made that. Just to get to three finals in my playing days was a fantastic feeling.” Scotland failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia after a 2-2 in Slovenia Credit: PA Given that the transition from Gordon Strachan to McLeish is also a handover from one former Aberdeen player to another who was a Pittodrie team mate, it is possible to wonder if there will be discernible difference between the two regimes. “I have spoken about attention to detail,” said McLeish. “I'm not saying Gordon didn't do that but I believe that a year on - and a tournament - a lot of the lads were involved in these games and you would expect them to learn from that. What I can do is empower players. “How do you empower them? You can show things they have done well to give them the chest puffed out but you can also show them things from the past that they could have done better. These are the little details. “I am not discarding anybody at the moment. I believe there are little tweaks that can happen. A lot of them play in England at the highest level and I've seen a huge difference with a lot of the young players who are coming through in Scotland so, having moved on a season, I feel it's time to qualify for the finals of Euro 2020.” Martin Boyle celebrates scoring the opening goal for Hibernian Credit: Getty Images Two of McLeish’s former clubs met in the game of the day at Easter Road, where Hibs – whom he managed between 1998 and 2001 – hosted Aberdeen, who were bidding for a win that would cut Celtic’s lead at the top of the table to five points ahead of today’s (Sun) home outing against St Johnstone. By way of contrast, Celtic’s advantage over Aberdeen on the same weekend last year was a massive 27 points from one game fewer played. Easter Road accommodated 17,205 spectators and, after a goalless first half, the home fans celebrated when Hibs netted within a minute of the restart. Jamie Maclaren had two efforts blocked by Freddie Woodman but the rebound from his second attempt was headed home by Martin Boyle. Hibs doubled their advantage om the hour when a Martin Boyle shot diverted into the path of Florian Kamberi, who found the mark from close range. Elsewhere, two late goals by Simon Murray thwarted Partick Thistle, for whom Conor Sammon had struck the opener just before half time. Kilmarnock’s fine run continued at Fir Park where Stephen O’Donnell’s strike saw the Ayrshire side leapfrog Motherwell into the top six of the Scottish Premiership table.
Alex McLeish backs calls for Scotland to remain at Hampden Park
Alex McLeish backed Hampden Park to remain Scotland’s home ground as he began the preparations for his second spell as national manager. The Scottish Football Association are in the process of considering whether to remain at Hampden – where their administrative offices are based, alongside those of the Scottish Professional Football League – or switch major internationals and Scottish Cup finals to Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby. The stadium in Mount Florida saw McLeish win many of 77 Scotland caps between 1980 and 1993 and it was there that he scored in Aberdeen’s 4-1 Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers on his 200th appearance for the Dons. “I would like to stay here,” McLeish said. “If it is a question of modernisation, sometimes we have to move forward but I’ve got to say it would be hard to leave Hampden.” The venerable ground will be the venue for the first contest of McLeish’s second tenure in charge when the Scots host Costa Rica in a Friday night friendly on March 23. The countries have met only once and recollections of the occasion are painful for McLeish, who was a member of the Scotland side beaten 1-0 by Costa Rica in the Italia ’90 World Cup finals. It is a measure of the decline in Scotland’s fortunes that 28 years ago a defeat in the finals of a major tournament was regarded as a calamity. “The front of the Daily Record was brilliant - or when I look back on it now it was brilliant!” said McLeish. “It was a big picture of the world with ‘Stop the World, we want to get aff!’ written on it. Then there were a few faces which “had to go” and I was one of them. “Fortunately, we redeemed ourselves against Sweden but it was a very apprehensive game. Now, after 22 years of not being at a big tournament we would bite your hand off to do it. “Everyone would be grateful for an early exit just because it would mean that we are there at last but, in saying that, in those days and even now, you always have to be ambitious. “When we got there, we tried to get to the next stage, even if we never quite made that. Just to get to three finals in my playing days was a fantastic feeling.” Scotland failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia after a 2-2 in Slovenia Credit: PA Given that the transition from Gordon Strachan to McLeish is also a handover from one former Aberdeen player to another who was a Pittodrie team mate, it is possible to wonder if there will be discernible difference between the two regimes. “I have spoken about attention to detail,” said McLeish. “I'm not saying Gordon didn't do that but I believe that a year on - and a tournament - a lot of the lads were involved in these games and you would expect them to learn from that. What I can do is empower players. “How do you empower them? You can show things they have done well to give them the chest puffed out but you can also show them things from the past that they could have done better. These are the little details. “I am not discarding anybody at the moment. I believe there are little tweaks that can happen. A lot of them play in England at the highest level and I've seen a huge difference with a lot of the young players who are coming through in Scotland so, having moved on a season, I feel it's time to qualify for the finals of Euro 2020.” Martin Boyle celebrates scoring the opening goal for Hibernian Credit: Getty Images Two of McLeish’s former clubs met in the game of the day at Easter Road, where Hibs – whom he managed between 1998 and 2001 – hosted Aberdeen, who were bidding for a win that would cut Celtic’s lead at the top of the table to five points ahead of today’s (Sun) home outing against St Johnstone. By way of contrast, Celtic’s advantage over Aberdeen on the same weekend last year was a massive 27 points from one game fewer played. Easter Road accommodated 17,205 spectators and, after a goalless first half, the home fans celebrated when Hibs netted within a minute of the restart. Jamie Maclaren had two efforts blocked by Freddie Woodman but the rebound from his second attempt was headed home by Martin Boyle. Hibs doubled their advantage om the hour when a Martin Boyle shot diverted into the path of Florian Kamberi, who found the mark from close range. Elsewhere, two late goals by Simon Murray thwarted Partick Thistle, for whom Conor Sammon had struck the opener just before half time. Kilmarnock’s fine run continued at Fir Park where Stephen O’Donnell’s strike saw the Ayrshire side leapfrog Motherwell into the top six of the Scottish Premiership table.
Alex McLeish backed Hampden Park to remain Scotland’s home ground as he began the preparations for his second spell as national manager. The Scottish Football Association are in the process of considering whether to remain at Hampden – where their administrative offices are based, alongside those of the Scottish Professional Football League – or switch major internationals and Scottish Cup finals to Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby. The stadium in Mount Florida saw McLeish win many of 77 Scotland caps between 1980 and 1993 and it was there that he scored in Aberdeen’s 4-1 Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers on his 200th appearance for the Dons. “I would like to stay here,” McLeish said. “If it is a question of modernisation, sometimes we have to move forward but I’ve got to say it would be hard to leave Hampden.” The venerable ground will be the venue for the first contest of McLeish’s second tenure in charge when the Scots host Costa Rica in a Friday night friendly on March 23. The countries have met only once and recollections of the occasion are painful for McLeish, who was a member of the Scotland side beaten 1-0 by Costa Rica in the Italia ’90 World Cup finals. It is a measure of the decline in Scotland’s fortunes that 28 years ago a defeat in the finals of a major tournament was regarded as a calamity. “The front of the Daily Record was brilliant - or when I look back on it now it was brilliant!” said McLeish. “It was a big picture of the world with ‘Stop the World, we want to get aff!’ written on it. Then there were a few faces which “had to go” and I was one of them. “Fortunately, we redeemed ourselves against Sweden but it was a very apprehensive game. Now, after 22 years of not being at a big tournament we would bite your hand off to do it. “Everyone would be grateful for an early exit just because it would mean that we are there at last but, in saying that, in those days and even now, you always have to be ambitious. “When we got there, we tried to get to the next stage, even if we never quite made that. Just to get to three finals in my playing days was a fantastic feeling.” Scotland failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia after a 2-2 in Slovenia Credit: PA Given that the transition from Gordon Strachan to McLeish is also a handover from one former Aberdeen player to another who was a Pittodrie team mate, it is possible to wonder if there will be discernible difference between the two regimes. “I have spoken about attention to detail,” said McLeish. “I'm not saying Gordon didn't do that but I believe that a year on - and a tournament - a lot of the lads were involved in these games and you would expect them to learn from that. What I can do is empower players. “How do you empower them? You can show things they have done well to give them the chest puffed out but you can also show them things from the past that they could have done better. These are the little details. “I am not discarding anybody at the moment. I believe there are little tweaks that can happen. A lot of them play in England at the highest level and I've seen a huge difference with a lot of the young players who are coming through in Scotland so, having moved on a season, I feel it's time to qualify for the finals of Euro 2020.” Martin Boyle celebrates scoring the opening goal for Hibernian Credit: Getty Images Two of McLeish’s former clubs met in the game of the day at Easter Road, where Hibs – whom he managed between 1998 and 2001 – hosted Aberdeen, who were bidding for a win that would cut Celtic’s lead at the top of the table to five points ahead of today’s (Sun) home outing against St Johnstone. By way of contrast, Celtic’s advantage over Aberdeen on the same weekend last year was a massive 27 points from one game fewer played. Easter Road accommodated 17,205 spectators and, after a goalless first half, the home fans celebrated when Hibs netted within a minute of the restart. Jamie Maclaren had two efforts blocked by Freddie Woodman but the rebound from his second attempt was headed home by Martin Boyle. Hibs doubled their advantage om the hour when a Martin Boyle shot diverted into the path of Florian Kamberi, who found the mark from close range. Elsewhere, two late goals by Simon Murray thwarted Partick Thistle, for whom Conor Sammon had struck the opener just before half time. Kilmarnock’s fine run continued at Fir Park where Stephen O’Donnell’s strike saw the Ayrshire side leapfrog Motherwell into the top six of the Scottish Premiership table.
Alex McLeish backs calls for Scotland to remain at Hampden Park
Alex McLeish backed Hampden Park to remain Scotland’s home ground as he began the preparations for his second spell as national manager. The Scottish Football Association are in the process of considering whether to remain at Hampden – where their administrative offices are based, alongside those of the Scottish Professional Football League – or switch major internationals and Scottish Cup finals to Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby. The stadium in Mount Florida saw McLeish win many of 77 Scotland caps between 1980 and 1993 and it was there that he scored in Aberdeen’s 4-1 Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers on his 200th appearance for the Dons. “I would like to stay here,” McLeish said. “If it is a question of modernisation, sometimes we have to move forward but I’ve got to say it would be hard to leave Hampden.” The venerable ground will be the venue for the first contest of McLeish’s second tenure in charge when the Scots host Costa Rica in a Friday night friendly on March 23. The countries have met only once and recollections of the occasion are painful for McLeish, who was a member of the Scotland side beaten 1-0 by Costa Rica in the Italia ’90 World Cup finals. It is a measure of the decline in Scotland’s fortunes that 28 years ago a defeat in the finals of a major tournament was regarded as a calamity. “The front of the Daily Record was brilliant - or when I look back on it now it was brilliant!” said McLeish. “It was a big picture of the world with ‘Stop the World, we want to get aff!’ written on it. Then there were a few faces which “had to go” and I was one of them. “Fortunately, we redeemed ourselves against Sweden but it was a very apprehensive game. Now, after 22 years of not being at a big tournament we would bite your hand off to do it. “Everyone would be grateful for an early exit just because it would mean that we are there at last but, in saying that, in those days and even now, you always have to be ambitious. “When we got there, we tried to get to the next stage, even if we never quite made that. Just to get to three finals in my playing days was a fantastic feeling.” Scotland failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia after a 2-2 in Slovenia Credit: PA Given that the transition from Gordon Strachan to McLeish is also a handover from one former Aberdeen player to another who was a Pittodrie team mate, it is possible to wonder if there will be discernible difference between the two regimes. “I have spoken about attention to detail,” said McLeish. “I'm not saying Gordon didn't do that but I believe that a year on - and a tournament - a lot of the lads were involved in these games and you would expect them to learn from that. What I can do is empower players. “How do you empower them? You can show things they have done well to give them the chest puffed out but you can also show them things from the past that they could have done better. These are the little details. “I am not discarding anybody at the moment. I believe there are little tweaks that can happen. A lot of them play in England at the highest level and I've seen a huge difference with a lot of the young players who are coming through in Scotland so, having moved on a season, I feel it's time to qualify for the finals of Euro 2020.” Martin Boyle celebrates scoring the opening goal for Hibernian Credit: Getty Images Two of McLeish’s former clubs met in the game of the day at Easter Road, where Hibs – whom he managed between 1998 and 2001 – hosted Aberdeen, who were bidding for a win that would cut Celtic’s lead at the top of the table to five points ahead of today’s (Sun) home outing against St Johnstone. By way of contrast, Celtic’s advantage over Aberdeen on the same weekend last year was a massive 27 points from one game fewer played. Easter Road accommodated 17,205 spectators and, after a goalless first half, the home fans celebrated when Hibs netted within a minute of the restart. Jamie Maclaren had two efforts blocked by Freddie Woodman but the rebound from his second attempt was headed home by Martin Boyle. Hibs doubled their advantage om the hour when a Martin Boyle shot diverted into the path of Florian Kamberi, who found the mark from close range. Elsewhere, two late goals by Simon Murray thwarted Partick Thistle, for whom Conor Sammon had struck the opener just before half time. Kilmarnock’s fine run continued at Fir Park where Stephen O’Donnell’s strike saw the Ayrshire side leapfrog Motherwell into the top six of the Scottish Premiership table.
Nir Bitton is likely to be out of action for the rest of the season, Brendan Rodgers revealed as he assessed Celtic’s injury-blighted squad prior to Thursday's Europa League meeting with Zenit St Petersburg at Parkhead in the first leg of their round of 32 tie. The Israeli midfielder joins a casualty list that would constitute the better part of a decent domestic team, as the Celtic manager acknowledged wryly when he said: “They could have won a treble last year!” Others out of contention are Craig Gordon, Anthony Ralston, Dedryck Boyata, Stuart Armstrong, Patrick Roberts, Johnny Hayes and Leigh Griffiths. Tom Rogic has been named in the Celtic squad but will not start and could yet be held back for the visit of St Johnstone on Sunday. Marvin Compper is ineligible. “Overall, this year has been - in terms of injuries - tough,” Rodgers said. “Nir Bitton will probably be out for the season which is a blow for us. He has an issue with his knee and probably needs an operation and that is probably him for the rest of the season. It is a shame for Nir because he has been an important member of our squad. “We are hoping some of the others will be back sooner rather than later.” Roberts, on loan from Manchester City, has gone back to his parent club to have a troublesome hamstring injury monitored. Griffiths aside, the forward areas of the team are relatively unscathed, in terms of those who could command a regular starting place, but the Hoops defence is a serious concern, especially against a Zenit side who finished the group stage as top scorers in the competition with 17 goals. Patrick Roberts has returned to Man City for treatment Credit: Reuters Beaten by Kilmarnock in a Scottish Premiership fixture at Rugby Park, Celtic recovered to win 3-2 against Partick Thistle in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round tie but the Jags got their goals through frailty in the Hoops' back line and came very close to forcing a replay in injury time when Ryan Edwards was thwarted by an outstanding challenge by Kieran Tierney. “You are trying to map out with the players, as often as you can, that you have to be concentrated in every single game you play, but sometimes we give away soft goals purely on concentration level, nothing else,” Rodgers said. “We have shown we can defend really well and normally in the big games we do, but when you come to this level it is different. “Domestically, you can maybe assess the position and come away. At this level you have got to keep checking your space because the minute you come away from it and you don’t check they are gone. “We saw a goal against Bayern Munich like that. Our centre half checks the winger, thinks he is in good position, doesn’t check again for a few seconds and when he looks back he’s gone. Coman is in and scores. “Zenit are a very good team. If you look at how they play, they are what you would consider to be a top European team with speed, power, technique and ability. They obviously have all of that. They will expect to do very, very well in the competition having won five of their six group games to get through to this stage.” Despite superior firepower and a costlier squad than Celtic, if Zenit are at any disadvantage it is that they are coming off a prolonged spell without competitive football since a Russian Premier League fixture away to Akhmat which finished goalless on December 11. Brendan Rodgers is preparing his side for a tough Europa League tie Credit: Reuters When Celtic have been obliged to play early European qualifiers in July, it has been routine to cite the absence of competitive fixtures as a drawback when playing against opponents who are in mid-season. Rodgers, however, declined to accept that the same stricture should apply to Zenit. “The break could maybe freshen them and revitalise them and then they go again,” he said. “It just depends. We have the same experience in pre-season when you are not in top condition, but you can still be at a good level.” Of his opposite number, Roberto Mancini, Rodgers said: "Normally Italian coaches are very much set in a defensive block and their shape is hard to break down. Roberto is a bit more aggressive. Zenit play 4-3-3 and press the game higher at times.” In the absence of so many experienced performers, it would be a significant bonus for Celtic if Moussa Dembele could rediscover his exciting early-season form. James Forrest, on recent form, has the capacity to trouble Mancini’s side but, even in Europe’s secondary tournament, the task facing Celtic remains one that induces a degree of pessimism, even allowing for the legendary backing of the home crowd. Probably line-ups Celtic (4-2-3-1): De Vries; Gamboa, Simunovic, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Sinclair; Dembele. Zenit St Petersburg (4-3-3): Lodigin; Criscito, Mevlja, Ivanovic, Smolnikov; Kranevitter, Noboa, Yerokhin; Poloz, Kokorin, Rigoni.
Celtic's injury list for Zenit St Petersburg tie grows with Nir Bitton ruled out for season
Nir Bitton is likely to be out of action for the rest of the season, Brendan Rodgers revealed as he assessed Celtic’s injury-blighted squad prior to Thursday's Europa League meeting with Zenit St Petersburg at Parkhead in the first leg of their round of 32 tie. The Israeli midfielder joins a casualty list that would constitute the better part of a decent domestic team, as the Celtic manager acknowledged wryly when he said: “They could have won a treble last year!” Others out of contention are Craig Gordon, Anthony Ralston, Dedryck Boyata, Stuart Armstrong, Patrick Roberts, Johnny Hayes and Leigh Griffiths. Tom Rogic has been named in the Celtic squad but will not start and could yet be held back for the visit of St Johnstone on Sunday. Marvin Compper is ineligible. “Overall, this year has been - in terms of injuries - tough,” Rodgers said. “Nir Bitton will probably be out for the season which is a blow for us. He has an issue with his knee and probably needs an operation and that is probably him for the rest of the season. It is a shame for Nir because he has been an important member of our squad. “We are hoping some of the others will be back sooner rather than later.” Roberts, on loan from Manchester City, has gone back to his parent club to have a troublesome hamstring injury monitored. Griffiths aside, the forward areas of the team are relatively unscathed, in terms of those who could command a regular starting place, but the Hoops defence is a serious concern, especially against a Zenit side who finished the group stage as top scorers in the competition with 17 goals. Patrick Roberts has returned to Man City for treatment Credit: Reuters Beaten by Kilmarnock in a Scottish Premiership fixture at Rugby Park, Celtic recovered to win 3-2 against Partick Thistle in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round tie but the Jags got their goals through frailty in the Hoops' back line and came very close to forcing a replay in injury time when Ryan Edwards was thwarted by an outstanding challenge by Kieran Tierney. “You are trying to map out with the players, as often as you can, that you have to be concentrated in every single game you play, but sometimes we give away soft goals purely on concentration level, nothing else,” Rodgers said. “We have shown we can defend really well and normally in the big games we do, but when you come to this level it is different. “Domestically, you can maybe assess the position and come away. At this level you have got to keep checking your space because the minute you come away from it and you don’t check they are gone. “We saw a goal against Bayern Munich like that. Our centre half checks the winger, thinks he is in good position, doesn’t check again for a few seconds and when he looks back he’s gone. Coman is in and scores. “Zenit are a very good team. If you look at how they play, they are what you would consider to be a top European team with speed, power, technique and ability. They obviously have all of that. They will expect to do very, very well in the competition having won five of their six group games to get through to this stage.” Despite superior firepower and a costlier squad than Celtic, if Zenit are at any disadvantage it is that they are coming off a prolonged spell without competitive football since a Russian Premier League fixture away to Akhmat which finished goalless on December 11. Brendan Rodgers is preparing his side for a tough Europa League tie Credit: Reuters When Celtic have been obliged to play early European qualifiers in July, it has been routine to cite the absence of competitive fixtures as a drawback when playing against opponents who are in mid-season. Rodgers, however, declined to accept that the same stricture should apply to Zenit. “The break could maybe freshen them and revitalise them and then they go again,” he said. “It just depends. We have the same experience in pre-season when you are not in top condition, but you can still be at a good level.” Of his opposite number, Roberto Mancini, Rodgers said: "Normally Italian coaches are very much set in a defensive block and their shape is hard to break down. Roberto is a bit more aggressive. Zenit play 4-3-3 and press the game higher at times.” In the absence of so many experienced performers, it would be a significant bonus for Celtic if Moussa Dembele could rediscover his exciting early-season form. James Forrest, on recent form, has the capacity to trouble Mancini’s side but, even in Europe’s secondary tournament, the task facing Celtic remains one that induces a degree of pessimism, even allowing for the legendary backing of the home crowd. Probably line-ups Celtic (4-2-3-1): De Vries; Gamboa, Simunovic, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Sinclair; Dembele. Zenit St Petersburg (4-3-3): Lodigin; Criscito, Mevlja, Ivanovic, Smolnikov; Kranevitter, Noboa, Yerokhin; Poloz, Kokorin, Rigoni.
Nir Bitton is likely to be out of action for the rest of the season, Brendan Rodgers revealed as he assessed Celtic’s injury-blighted squad prior to Thursday's Europa League meeting with Zenit St Petersburg at Parkhead in the first leg of their round of 32 tie. The Israeli midfielder joins a casualty list that would constitute the better part of a decent domestic team, as the Celtic manager acknowledged wryly when he said: “They could have won a treble last year!” Others out of contention are Craig Gordon, Anthony Ralston, Dedryck Boyata, Stuart Armstrong, Patrick Roberts, Johnny Hayes and Leigh Griffiths. Tom Rogic has been named in the Celtic squad but will not start and could yet be held back for the visit of St Johnstone on Sunday. Marvin Compper is ineligible. “Overall, this year has been - in terms of injuries - tough,” Rodgers said. “Nir Bitton will probably be out for the season which is a blow for us. He has an issue with his knee and probably needs an operation and that is probably him for the rest of the season. It is a shame for Nir because he has been an important member of our squad. “We are hoping some of the others will be back sooner rather than later.” Roberts, on loan from Manchester City, has gone back to his parent club to have a troublesome hamstring injury monitored. Griffiths aside, the forward areas of the team are relatively unscathed, in terms of those who could command a regular starting place, but the Hoops defence is a serious concern, especially against a Zenit side who finished the group stage as top scorers in the competition with 17 goals. Patrick Roberts has returned to Man City for treatment Credit: Reuters Beaten by Kilmarnock in a Scottish Premiership fixture at Rugby Park, Celtic recovered to win 3-2 against Partick Thistle in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round tie but the Jags got their goals through frailty in the Hoops' back line and came very close to forcing a replay in injury time when Ryan Edwards was thwarted by an outstanding challenge by Kieran Tierney. “You are trying to map out with the players, as often as you can, that you have to be concentrated in every single game you play, but sometimes we give away soft goals purely on concentration level, nothing else,” Rodgers said. “We have shown we can defend really well and normally in the big games we do, but when you come to this level it is different. “Domestically, you can maybe assess the position and come away. At this level you have got to keep checking your space because the minute you come away from it and you don’t check they are gone. “We saw a goal against Bayern Munich like that. Our centre half checks the winger, thinks he is in good position, doesn’t check again for a few seconds and when he looks back he’s gone. Coman is in and scores. “Zenit are a very good team. If you look at how they play, they are what you would consider to be a top European team with speed, power, technique and ability. They obviously have all of that. They will expect to do very, very well in the competition having won five of their six group games to get through to this stage.” Despite superior firepower and a costlier squad than Celtic, if Zenit are at any disadvantage it is that they are coming off a prolonged spell without competitive football since a Russian Premier League fixture away to Akhmat which finished goalless on December 11. Brendan Rodgers is preparing his side for a tough Europa League tie Credit: Reuters When Celtic have been obliged to play early European qualifiers in July, it has been routine to cite the absence of competitive fixtures as a drawback when playing against opponents who are in mid-season. Rodgers, however, declined to accept that the same stricture should apply to Zenit. “The break could maybe freshen them and revitalise them and then they go again,” he said. “It just depends. We have the same experience in pre-season when you are not in top condition, but you can still be at a good level.” Of his opposite number, Roberto Mancini, Rodgers said: "Normally Italian coaches are very much set in a defensive block and their shape is hard to break down. Roberto is a bit more aggressive. Zenit play 4-3-3 and press the game higher at times.” In the absence of so many experienced performers, it would be a significant bonus for Celtic if Moussa Dembele could rediscover his exciting early-season form. James Forrest, on recent form, has the capacity to trouble Mancini’s side but, even in Europe’s secondary tournament, the task facing Celtic remains one that induces a degree of pessimism, even allowing for the legendary backing of the home crowd. Probably line-ups Celtic (4-2-3-1): De Vries; Gamboa, Simunovic, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Sinclair; Dembele. Zenit St Petersburg (4-3-3): Lodigin; Criscito, Mevlja, Ivanovic, Smolnikov; Kranevitter, Noboa, Yerokhin; Poloz, Kokorin, Rigoni.
Celtic's injury list for Zenit St Petersburg tie grows with Nir Bitton ruled out for season
Nir Bitton is likely to be out of action for the rest of the season, Brendan Rodgers revealed as he assessed Celtic’s injury-blighted squad prior to Thursday's Europa League meeting with Zenit St Petersburg at Parkhead in the first leg of their round of 32 tie. The Israeli midfielder joins a casualty list that would constitute the better part of a decent domestic team, as the Celtic manager acknowledged wryly when he said: “They could have won a treble last year!” Others out of contention are Craig Gordon, Anthony Ralston, Dedryck Boyata, Stuart Armstrong, Patrick Roberts, Johnny Hayes and Leigh Griffiths. Tom Rogic has been named in the Celtic squad but will not start and could yet be held back for the visit of St Johnstone on Sunday. Marvin Compper is ineligible. “Overall, this year has been - in terms of injuries - tough,” Rodgers said. “Nir Bitton will probably be out for the season which is a blow for us. He has an issue with his knee and probably needs an operation and that is probably him for the rest of the season. It is a shame for Nir because he has been an important member of our squad. “We are hoping some of the others will be back sooner rather than later.” Roberts, on loan from Manchester City, has gone back to his parent club to have a troublesome hamstring injury monitored. Griffiths aside, the forward areas of the team are relatively unscathed, in terms of those who could command a regular starting place, but the Hoops defence is a serious concern, especially against a Zenit side who finished the group stage as top scorers in the competition with 17 goals. Patrick Roberts has returned to Man City for treatment Credit: Reuters Beaten by Kilmarnock in a Scottish Premiership fixture at Rugby Park, Celtic recovered to win 3-2 against Partick Thistle in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round tie but the Jags got their goals through frailty in the Hoops' back line and came very close to forcing a replay in injury time when Ryan Edwards was thwarted by an outstanding challenge by Kieran Tierney. “You are trying to map out with the players, as often as you can, that you have to be concentrated in every single game you play, but sometimes we give away soft goals purely on concentration level, nothing else,” Rodgers said. “We have shown we can defend really well and normally in the big games we do, but when you come to this level it is different. “Domestically, you can maybe assess the position and come away. At this level you have got to keep checking your space because the minute you come away from it and you don’t check they are gone. “We saw a goal against Bayern Munich like that. Our centre half checks the winger, thinks he is in good position, doesn’t check again for a few seconds and when he looks back he’s gone. Coman is in and scores. “Zenit are a very good team. If you look at how they play, they are what you would consider to be a top European team with speed, power, technique and ability. They obviously have all of that. They will expect to do very, very well in the competition having won five of their six group games to get through to this stage.” Despite superior firepower and a costlier squad than Celtic, if Zenit are at any disadvantage it is that they are coming off a prolonged spell without competitive football since a Russian Premier League fixture away to Akhmat which finished goalless on December 11. Brendan Rodgers is preparing his side for a tough Europa League tie Credit: Reuters When Celtic have been obliged to play early European qualifiers in July, it has been routine to cite the absence of competitive fixtures as a drawback when playing against opponents who are in mid-season. Rodgers, however, declined to accept that the same stricture should apply to Zenit. “The break could maybe freshen them and revitalise them and then they go again,” he said. “It just depends. We have the same experience in pre-season when you are not in top condition, but you can still be at a good level.” Of his opposite number, Roberto Mancini, Rodgers said: "Normally Italian coaches are very much set in a defensive block and their shape is hard to break down. Roberto is a bit more aggressive. Zenit play 4-3-3 and press the game higher at times.” In the absence of so many experienced performers, it would be a significant bonus for Celtic if Moussa Dembele could rediscover his exciting early-season form. James Forrest, on recent form, has the capacity to trouble Mancini’s side but, even in Europe’s secondary tournament, the task facing Celtic remains one that induces a degree of pessimism, even allowing for the legendary backing of the home crowd. Probably line-ups Celtic (4-2-3-1): De Vries; Gamboa, Simunovic, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Sinclair; Dembele. Zenit St Petersburg (4-3-3): Lodigin; Criscito, Mevlja, Ivanovic, Smolnikov; Kranevitter, Noboa, Yerokhin; Poloz, Kokorin, Rigoni.
Nir Bitton is likely to be out of action for the rest of the season, Brendan Rodgers revealed as he assessed Celtic’s injury-blighted squad prior to Thursday's Europa League meeting with Zenit St Petersburg at Parkhead in the first leg of their round of 32 tie. The Israeli midfielder joins a casualty list that would constitute the better part of a decent domestic team, as the Celtic manager acknowledged wryly when he said: “They could have won a treble last year!” Others out of contention are Craig Gordon, Anthony Ralston, Dedryck Boyata, Stuart Armstrong, Patrick Roberts, Johnny Hayes and Leigh Griffiths. Tom Rogic has been named in the Celtic squad but will not start and could yet be held back for the visit of St Johnstone on Sunday. Marvin Compper is ineligible. “Overall, this year has been - in terms of injuries - tough,” Rodgers said. “Nir Bitton will probably be out for the season which is a blow for us. He has an issue with his knee and probably needs an operation and that is probably him for the rest of the season. It is a shame for Nir because he has been an important member of our squad. “We are hoping some of the others will be back sooner rather than later.” Roberts, on loan from Manchester City, has gone back to his parent club to have a troublesome hamstring injury monitored. Griffiths aside, the forward areas of the team are relatively unscathed, in terms of those who could command a regular starting place, but the Hoops defence is a serious concern, especially against a Zenit side who finished the group stage as top scorers in the competition with 17 goals. Patrick Roberts has returned to Man City for treatment Credit: Reuters Beaten by Kilmarnock in a Scottish Premiership fixture at Rugby Park, Celtic recovered to win 3-2 against Partick Thistle in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round tie but the Jags got their goals through frailty in the Hoops' back line and came very close to forcing a replay in injury time when Ryan Edwards was thwarted by an outstanding challenge by Kieran Tierney. “You are trying to map out with the players, as often as you can, that you have to be concentrated in every single game you play, but sometimes we give away soft goals purely on concentration level, nothing else,” Rodgers said. “We have shown we can defend really well and normally in the big games we do, but when you come to this level it is different. “Domestically, you can maybe assess the position and come away. At this level you have got to keep checking your space because the minute you come away from it and you don’t check they are gone. “We saw a goal against Bayern Munich like that. Our centre half checks the winger, thinks he is in good position, doesn’t check again for a few seconds and when he looks back he’s gone. Coman is in and scores. “Zenit are a very good team. If you look at how they play, they are what you would consider to be a top European team with speed, power, technique and ability. They obviously have all of that. They will expect to do very, very well in the competition having won five of their six group games to get through to this stage.” Despite superior firepower and a costlier squad than Celtic, if Zenit are at any disadvantage it is that they are coming off a prolonged spell without competitive football since a Russian Premier League fixture away to Akhmat which finished goalless on December 11. Brendan Rodgers is preparing his side for a tough Europa League tie Credit: Reuters When Celtic have been obliged to play early European qualifiers in July, it has been routine to cite the absence of competitive fixtures as a drawback when playing against opponents who are in mid-season. Rodgers, however, declined to accept that the same stricture should apply to Zenit. “The break could maybe freshen them and revitalise them and then they go again,” he said. “It just depends. We have the same experience in pre-season when you are not in top condition, but you can still be at a good level.” Of his opposite number, Roberto Mancini, Rodgers said: "Normally Italian coaches are very much set in a defensive block and their shape is hard to break down. Roberto is a bit more aggressive. Zenit play 4-3-3 and press the game higher at times.” In the absence of so many experienced performers, it would be a significant bonus for Celtic if Moussa Dembele could rediscover his exciting early-season form. James Forrest, on recent form, has the capacity to trouble Mancini’s side but, even in Europe’s secondary tournament, the task facing Celtic remains one that induces a degree of pessimism, even allowing for the legendary backing of the home crowd. Probably line-ups Celtic (4-2-3-1): De Vries; Gamboa, Simunovic, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Sinclair; Dembele. Zenit St Petersburg (4-3-3): Lodigin; Criscito, Mevlja, Ivanovic, Smolnikov; Kranevitter, Noboa, Yerokhin; Poloz, Kokorin, Rigoni.
Celtic's injury list for Zenit St Petersburg tie grows with Nir Bitton ruled out for season
Nir Bitton is likely to be out of action for the rest of the season, Brendan Rodgers revealed as he assessed Celtic’s injury-blighted squad prior to Thursday's Europa League meeting with Zenit St Petersburg at Parkhead in the first leg of their round of 32 tie. The Israeli midfielder joins a casualty list that would constitute the better part of a decent domestic team, as the Celtic manager acknowledged wryly when he said: “They could have won a treble last year!” Others out of contention are Craig Gordon, Anthony Ralston, Dedryck Boyata, Stuart Armstrong, Patrick Roberts, Johnny Hayes and Leigh Griffiths. Tom Rogic has been named in the Celtic squad but will not start and could yet be held back for the visit of St Johnstone on Sunday. Marvin Compper is ineligible. “Overall, this year has been - in terms of injuries - tough,” Rodgers said. “Nir Bitton will probably be out for the season which is a blow for us. He has an issue with his knee and probably needs an operation and that is probably him for the rest of the season. It is a shame for Nir because he has been an important member of our squad. “We are hoping some of the others will be back sooner rather than later.” Roberts, on loan from Manchester City, has gone back to his parent club to have a troublesome hamstring injury monitored. Griffiths aside, the forward areas of the team are relatively unscathed, in terms of those who could command a regular starting place, but the Hoops defence is a serious concern, especially against a Zenit side who finished the group stage as top scorers in the competition with 17 goals. Patrick Roberts has returned to Man City for treatment Credit: Reuters Beaten by Kilmarnock in a Scottish Premiership fixture at Rugby Park, Celtic recovered to win 3-2 against Partick Thistle in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round tie but the Jags got their goals through frailty in the Hoops' back line and came very close to forcing a replay in injury time when Ryan Edwards was thwarted by an outstanding challenge by Kieran Tierney. “You are trying to map out with the players, as often as you can, that you have to be concentrated in every single game you play, but sometimes we give away soft goals purely on concentration level, nothing else,” Rodgers said. “We have shown we can defend really well and normally in the big games we do, but when you come to this level it is different. “Domestically, you can maybe assess the position and come away. At this level you have got to keep checking your space because the minute you come away from it and you don’t check they are gone. “We saw a goal against Bayern Munich like that. Our centre half checks the winger, thinks he is in good position, doesn’t check again for a few seconds and when he looks back he’s gone. Coman is in and scores. “Zenit are a very good team. If you look at how they play, they are what you would consider to be a top European team with speed, power, technique and ability. They obviously have all of that. They will expect to do very, very well in the competition having won five of their six group games to get through to this stage.” Despite superior firepower and a costlier squad than Celtic, if Zenit are at any disadvantage it is that they are coming off a prolonged spell without competitive football since a Russian Premier League fixture away to Akhmat which finished goalless on December 11. Brendan Rodgers is preparing his side for a tough Europa League tie Credit: Reuters When Celtic have been obliged to play early European qualifiers in July, it has been routine to cite the absence of competitive fixtures as a drawback when playing against opponents who are in mid-season. Rodgers, however, declined to accept that the same stricture should apply to Zenit. “The break could maybe freshen them and revitalise them and then they go again,” he said. “It just depends. We have the same experience in pre-season when you are not in top condition, but you can still be at a good level.” Of his opposite number, Roberto Mancini, Rodgers said: "Normally Italian coaches are very much set in a defensive block and their shape is hard to break down. Roberto is a bit more aggressive. Zenit play 4-3-3 and press the game higher at times.” In the absence of so many experienced performers, it would be a significant bonus for Celtic if Moussa Dembele could rediscover his exciting early-season form. James Forrest, on recent form, has the capacity to trouble Mancini’s side but, even in Europe’s secondary tournament, the task facing Celtic remains one that induces a degree of pessimism, even allowing for the legendary backing of the home crowd. Probably line-ups Celtic (4-2-3-1): De Vries; Gamboa, Simunovic, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Sinclair; Dembele. Zenit St Petersburg (4-3-3): Lodigin; Criscito, Mevlja, Ivanovic, Smolnikov; Kranevitter, Noboa, Yerokhin; Poloz, Kokorin, Rigoni.
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
Brendan Rodgers reminds Celtic to beware the strength of Zenit St Petersberg
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
Brendan Rodgers reminds Celtic to beware the strength of Zenit St Petersberg
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
Brendan Rodgers reminds Celtic to beware the strength of Zenit St Petersberg
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
Craig Levein was accused by Brendan Rodgers of having an obsession about Scott Brown, after the Hearts manager returned once again to the subject of Celtic’s captain and his combative style of play. Levein had previously voiced concern about a challenge by Brown on Harry Cochrane, which put the 16-year-old Hearts midfielder out of the game with a collarbone injury before half-time in Celtic’s 3-1 victory at Parkhead on January 30. Rodgers retorted that the decision to field the teenager in such a high-intensity game was questionable, although Cochrane had scored in Hearts’ 4-0 win over the champions at Tynecastle in December. Celtic lost their second domestic match under Rodgers on Saturday at Kilmarnock, with Brown booked in the 73rd minute, prompting him to say afterwards, in reference to Levein: “He has done his job, hasn’t he? I was booked with my first foul and that is exactly what Craig was looking to do.” Levein, however, postulated the theory that Brown had deliberately drawn a yellow card to manipulate the disciplinary process ahead of the Old Firm derby at Ibrox on March 11. “If Scott didn’t get booked against Kilmarnock and got booked against St Johnstone [on 18 February] then he’d miss the Rangers game,” Levein said. The former Scotland boss added: “I’m not trying to irritate anybody. I’m just pointing stuff out. Scott Brown mentioned last week that he got booked because of me bringing to attention his proclivity to foul people. I disagree with that. “I’m just pointing out things that are obvious. I think you’ll find that his intentions were always to get himself booked in that game so he didn’t miss the Rangers match. “That sort of things happens all the time. Anybody who is sensible would look at the situation if there is a particular game they want to play in and know they need to get booked to miss a game prior to that. I did it myself when I was playing, so it happens. I don’t know Scott’s intentions, but I’m just pointing out the fact. That’s all.” Levein’s comments evoked scorn from Rodgers, who said: “He is obviously fairly obsessed by our captain. It is a credit to Scott that you’ve got another manager, who is not even playing against him, talking about him. “If that is what has been said – and I haven’t seen it yet, so I have to see it – then he might have something to answer on that.” Whether or not that was a hint to the Scottish Football Association to consider a disrepute charge against Levein is a moot point, but the long-distance exchanges might not yet have run their course. In the meantime, Celtic will attempt to expunge the memory of last weekend’s anaemic display at Rugby Park by defending one of the three trophies in their possession when they meet Partick Thistle at home in the William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round on Saturday. Rodgers expressed gratitude for the rare absence of a midweek fixture. “It’s been brilliant. It was good, obviously, after the game to give the players two days off and then we were back in working,” he said. “We’ve had a great week’s training and been able to do some work which is very important. We’re now looking forward to the schedule ahead.” There was mixed news, meanwhile, about the lengthy casualty list at Parkhead. “It’s just unfortunate,” Rodgers said. “Kris Ajer should be fine, but he hurt his Achilles last week which was the same injury Nir Bitton had earlier on in the season on that surface [Rugby Park], where you can land awkwardly and it just disrupts you. “The squad is starting to piece itself back together even though we still have some injuries. We have players starting to return and hopefully that will make us really strong for the last part of the season. “We try to not cry about it or moan about it, but certainly it is a factor and it doesn’t help when there is constant change in certain areas of the field.”
Brendan Rodgers accuses Craig Levein of being 'fairly obsessed' about Scott Brown
Craig Levein was accused by Brendan Rodgers of having an obsession about Scott Brown, after the Hearts manager returned once again to the subject of Celtic’s captain and his combative style of play. Levein had previously voiced concern about a challenge by Brown on Harry Cochrane, which put the 16-year-old Hearts midfielder out of the game with a collarbone injury before half-time in Celtic’s 3-1 victory at Parkhead on January 30. Rodgers retorted that the decision to field the teenager in such a high-intensity game was questionable, although Cochrane had scored in Hearts’ 4-0 win over the champions at Tynecastle in December. Celtic lost their second domestic match under Rodgers on Saturday at Kilmarnock, with Brown booked in the 73rd minute, prompting him to say afterwards, in reference to Levein: “He has done his job, hasn’t he? I was booked with my first foul and that is exactly what Craig was looking to do.” Levein, however, postulated the theory that Brown had deliberately drawn a yellow card to manipulate the disciplinary process ahead of the Old Firm derby at Ibrox on March 11. “If Scott didn’t get booked against Kilmarnock and got booked against St Johnstone [on 18 February] then he’d miss the Rangers game,” Levein said. The former Scotland boss added: “I’m not trying to irritate anybody. I’m just pointing stuff out. Scott Brown mentioned last week that he got booked because of me bringing to attention his proclivity to foul people. I disagree with that. “I’m just pointing out things that are obvious. I think you’ll find that his intentions were always to get himself booked in that game so he didn’t miss the Rangers match. “That sort of things happens all the time. Anybody who is sensible would look at the situation if there is a particular game they want to play in and know they need to get booked to miss a game prior to that. I did it myself when I was playing, so it happens. I don’t know Scott’s intentions, but I’m just pointing out the fact. That’s all.” Levein’s comments evoked scorn from Rodgers, who said: “He is obviously fairly obsessed by our captain. It is a credit to Scott that you’ve got another manager, who is not even playing against him, talking about him. “If that is what has been said – and I haven’t seen it yet, so I have to see it – then he might have something to answer on that.” Whether or not that was a hint to the Scottish Football Association to consider a disrepute charge against Levein is a moot point, but the long-distance exchanges might not yet have run their course. In the meantime, Celtic will attempt to expunge the memory of last weekend’s anaemic display at Rugby Park by defending one of the three trophies in their possession when they meet Partick Thistle at home in the William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round on Saturday. Rodgers expressed gratitude for the rare absence of a midweek fixture. “It’s been brilliant. It was good, obviously, after the game to give the players two days off and then we were back in working,” he said. “We’ve had a great week’s training and been able to do some work which is very important. We’re now looking forward to the schedule ahead.” There was mixed news, meanwhile, about the lengthy casualty list at Parkhead. “It’s just unfortunate,” Rodgers said. “Kris Ajer should be fine, but he hurt his Achilles last week which was the same injury Nir Bitton had earlier on in the season on that surface [Rugby Park], where you can land awkwardly and it just disrupts you. “The squad is starting to piece itself back together even though we still have some injuries. We have players starting to return and hopefully that will make us really strong for the last part of the season. “We try to not cry about it or moan about it, but certainly it is a factor and it doesn’t help when there is constant change in certain areas of the field.”
Steve Clarke has already played down speculation linking him with the vacant position of Scotland manager but his lustre will be enhanced by Kilmarnock’s unexpected success against Celtic on Saturday, winning 1-0 at Rugby Park, where Youssouf Mulumbu scored the only goal. The Ayrshire side remain closer to the relegation zone than the higher reaches of the Scottish Premiership but their weekend win saw them into the top half of the division. That prospect looked remote during Lee McCulloch’s spell in charge earlier in the season, when Killie lost 5-0 to Celtic at Parkhead in the Betfred Scottish League Cup and 2-0 at home in the league, but under Clarke they have now drawn with Celtic and Rangers in Glasgow and beaten both Old Firm teams at Rugby Park. Clarke had been away from Scottish football for 30 years prior to the return to his native Ayrshire and in his 11 years as a Chelsea defender he won FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup medals as well as making six appearances for Scotland. Coaching and management experience followed at Chelsea, West Ham, Liverpool, West Brom, Reading and Aston Villa, so it would be no surprise if the Scottish Football Association should take more than a passing interest in the 54-year-old. Not that the possibility is welcome amongst the Kilmarnock players. “If it happens, he does have credentials,” said Jamie MacDonald. The goalkeeper added: “It’s been a long time since Scotland’s been to an international tournament and that’s something we hope will be addressed in the coming years, but for purely selfish reasons I hope he’s here in the long run.’’ Pressed to identify how Clarke has transformed Kilmarnock’s fortunes, MacDonald said: “Everybody asks this and I don’t think anybody can give you a proper answer. He just makes everything so simple in terms of knowing what you’re doing. “Football’s not a difficult game as such. It’s us players who seem to make it more difficult. We worked on our shape all week, what we were going to do to combat Celtic, what we would do when we got the ball back – little simple things – but he doesn’t overdo it. Football players only need to take in little bits at a time, to be honest.” The occasion was one of singularities. Kilmarnock had not beaten Celtic since October 2012 and Mulumba – who was the subject of a transfer bid from Bordeaux last week – had not scored since March 15, 2014, when he was on target for West Brom in a 2-1 win at Swansea. “It was a great ball from Jordan Jones and Youssuf found a bit of space,” said MacDonald. “It was a composed finish as well, especially taking it first time on the astro, because it can sometimes check up a little bit. You can tell the quality he has – although the boys are having a bit of a joke, saying he only turns up for the TV games.” Celtic, it must be said, could have cited exculpatory reasons for what was only their second domestic defeat during Brendan Rodgers’ 20 months in charge. The early loss to injury of two of their three starting central defenders – Dedryck Boyata and Kristoffer Ajer – plus the inhibiting tendencies of Rugby Park’s much-used artificial 3G pitch were undoubtedly disruptive, but it is a measure of the mindset instilled by Rodgers that Celtic declined to use those factors to excuse a performance which was their poorest against domestic opposition under his supervision. Celtic had 69% of possession but it took them until the 87th minute to force the first of two corner kicks. Their single shot on target did not arrive until the 90th minute when Olivier Ntcham’s free-kick was blocked by MacDonald. Had Jones, Malumba and Kirk Broadfoot taken all of the clear chances that came their way Celtic would have sustained a setback on the scale of the 4-0 defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle in December which ended their run of successive unbeaten domestic fixtures after 69 outings. On that occasion, though, the champions had four attempts on target and were ahead on the corner-kick count by full time. “We did create more in the Hearts game,” said James Forrest, the Celtic winger. “We know as a team that it wasn’t good enough on Saturday and we just have to rectify that next week against Partick Thistle in the Scottish Cup. “Then the game after that is the Europa League against Zenit St Petersburg so we know we have to try to turn it around. We do play a lot of games but the manager does change it to help the boys get a rest. We have a strong squad and we will be able to cope with that.”
Steve Clarke again linked with Scotland job after Kilmarnock beat Celtic
Steve Clarke has already played down speculation linking him with the vacant position of Scotland manager but his lustre will be enhanced by Kilmarnock’s unexpected success against Celtic on Saturday, winning 1-0 at Rugby Park, where Youssouf Mulumbu scored the only goal. The Ayrshire side remain closer to the relegation zone than the higher reaches of the Scottish Premiership but their weekend win saw them into the top half of the division. That prospect looked remote during Lee McCulloch’s spell in charge earlier in the season, when Killie lost 5-0 to Celtic at Parkhead in the Betfred Scottish League Cup and 2-0 at home in the league, but under Clarke they have now drawn with Celtic and Rangers in Glasgow and beaten both Old Firm teams at Rugby Park. Clarke had been away from Scottish football for 30 years prior to the return to his native Ayrshire and in his 11 years as a Chelsea defender he won FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup medals as well as making six appearances for Scotland. Coaching and management experience followed at Chelsea, West Ham, Liverpool, West Brom, Reading and Aston Villa, so it would be no surprise if the Scottish Football Association should take more than a passing interest in the 54-year-old. Not that the possibility is welcome amongst the Kilmarnock players. “If it happens, he does have credentials,” said Jamie MacDonald. The goalkeeper added: “It’s been a long time since Scotland’s been to an international tournament and that’s something we hope will be addressed in the coming years, but for purely selfish reasons I hope he’s here in the long run.’’ Pressed to identify how Clarke has transformed Kilmarnock’s fortunes, MacDonald said: “Everybody asks this and I don’t think anybody can give you a proper answer. He just makes everything so simple in terms of knowing what you’re doing. “Football’s not a difficult game as such. It’s us players who seem to make it more difficult. We worked on our shape all week, what we were going to do to combat Celtic, what we would do when we got the ball back – little simple things – but he doesn’t overdo it. Football players only need to take in little bits at a time, to be honest.” The occasion was one of singularities. Kilmarnock had not beaten Celtic since October 2012 and Mulumba – who was the subject of a transfer bid from Bordeaux last week – had not scored since March 15, 2014, when he was on target for West Brom in a 2-1 win at Swansea. “It was a great ball from Jordan Jones and Youssuf found a bit of space,” said MacDonald. “It was a composed finish as well, especially taking it first time on the astro, because it can sometimes check up a little bit. You can tell the quality he has – although the boys are having a bit of a joke, saying he only turns up for the TV games.” Celtic, it must be said, could have cited exculpatory reasons for what was only their second domestic defeat during Brendan Rodgers’ 20 months in charge. The early loss to injury of two of their three starting central defenders – Dedryck Boyata and Kristoffer Ajer – plus the inhibiting tendencies of Rugby Park’s much-used artificial 3G pitch were undoubtedly disruptive, but it is a measure of the mindset instilled by Rodgers that Celtic declined to use those factors to excuse a performance which was their poorest against domestic opposition under his supervision. Celtic had 69% of possession but it took them until the 87th minute to force the first of two corner kicks. Their single shot on target did not arrive until the 90th minute when Olivier Ntcham’s free-kick was blocked by MacDonald. Had Jones, Malumba and Kirk Broadfoot taken all of the clear chances that came their way Celtic would have sustained a setback on the scale of the 4-0 defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle in December which ended their run of successive unbeaten domestic fixtures after 69 outings. On that occasion, though, the champions had four attempts on target and were ahead on the corner-kick count by full time. “We did create more in the Hearts game,” said James Forrest, the Celtic winger. “We know as a team that it wasn’t good enough on Saturday and we just have to rectify that next week against Partick Thistle in the Scottish Cup. “Then the game after that is the Europa League against Zenit St Petersburg so we know we have to try to turn it around. We do play a lot of games but the manager does change it to help the boys get a rest. We have a strong squad and we will be able to cope with that.”
Steve Clarke again linked with Scotland job after Kilmarnock beat Celtic
Steve Clarke again linked with Scotland job after Kilmarnock beat Celtic
Steve Clarke again linked with Scotland job after Kilmarnock beat Celtic
<p>Youssouf Mulumbu scores as Kilmarnock stun Celtic</p>
Youssouf Mulumbu scores as Kilmarnock stun Celtic

Youssouf Mulumbu scores as Kilmarnock stun Celtic

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