Saturday sees a very quick return to McDiarmid Park, after Wednesday’s 3-2 League Cup success. The lads showed great character to bounce back so quickly from the utterly deflating events in the second half on Sunday. Celtic flew out of the blocks, with Stokes concentrating on playing the game rather than trying to cripple anyone as he had on Sunday!! Again, though, individual errors were to blame for the goals, and this is something Lenny is clearly keen to address. Still, best to stick to the positives, and some of the stuff played in the first half was the best since Lennon took over.
Hopefully Saturday will see more of the same going forward, with Hooper and Stokesy together upfront. And with more clinical finishing. It goes without saying that we need the three points, and we should be ok if Wednesday was any guide It really looks like dropped points from ourselves or that other lot are going to be at a premium, so a win is essential.
So, not a great day on Sunday. We’d have to be honest straight away and say we got exactly what we deserved- absolutely nothing. The first half was fairly even- though we really struggled to get to grips with Naismith, I thought. The lead, which came after a succession of corners, was rather fortunate. Any hopes of three more points were gone within 15 minutes of the restart…
I was a little disappointed to hear Lennon moaning about the referee to be honest. I mean, it was a blatant dive by Broadfoot, and the referee wasn’t even looking at it properly, but he also gave us a share of odd decisions. Stokes could have gone in the first minute (probably should have gone) and Hooper could easily have been pulled up for a handball when he scored.
It shouldn’t come as a total shock that we looked a little less organised and stable than they did- we’re pretty much a completely new side, with a young and inexperienced coaching staff, whilst they have been together for a few years now. We should improve, provided Lennon and the players are given time. And, the loss of Shaun in the first half- probably the one truly creative player on the park- was a huge blow. Having said that, it was rather worrying that you never got the impression we’d get back into it once they went ahead. And yet again, and I really hate to labour this point, what on earth is Samaras there for? A man who is to slow and cumbersome for the SPL really has nowhere else to go…
All in all, a very disappointing day, though the fact that we have a game in midweek, at Perth in the CIS Cup, may be the kind of lift we need.
Have a good week folks.
So then, here it is. The first time both sides have been going in to an Old Firm game on eight wins out of eight. Amazingly, given the doom and gloom around the Celts at the start of the season (and the other lot, to an extent) both sides go into this on a high. Rangers are, though we’d rather not admit it, looking rather good in the Champions League, and the SPL, whilst Lennon’s team are simply unstoppable in the SPL.
The reaction of the players and the staff at the end of the game at Tannadice last Sunday tells you how big a win it was. There seems, to these eyes at least, a real togetherness among the Bhoys. Even Samaras!! While I’m still not convinced he’s a great footballer, Hooper excites me as a goalscorer pure and simple. The winner on Sunday was an impressively scruffy, studs in finish, which he celebrated like all poachers would. Love the squad number as well!!
Second guessing Lenny’s team this season has been a bit of a waste of time, in my experience. The back four should be fairly easy to call, but after that it’s a bit tricky. Walter Smith may well go for his usual ultra attacking, Brazil ‘70 4-5-1, which makes me wonder whether Neil won’t go for two up front, just to make sure we’re not over-run by their midfield. Especially with their Xavi and Iniesta-esque ability to keep possession and keep it moving forward…
I’m sure they would be delighted with a point, away from home and in the middle of their Champions League travails. We, on the other hand, might see this as a real chance to move clear at the top. Having said that, I do think a defeat, even at this stage, might be fatal, so would- through gritted teeth- take a point.
Celtic confirmed today that Scott Brown will be out for between eight and ten weeks, due to his metatarsal injury. The captain doesn’t need surgery on the injury, but is still unlikely to be back in action before the end of the year. It’s a huge blow, especially with two big games coming up- away to United on Sunday, then at home to our loveable neighbours the following week. Scott was getting back to something like his best form, and will be a miss.
Celtic went back to the top, on goal difference, after making it seven wins in seven in the SPL. After going behind early on (more of which later), and suffering a few scares, the Hoops got back into it before half time thanks to Shaun’s predatory (yes, really!) header. We went ahead thanks to the little man’s 50th goal in Green and White, a superb free-kick from the edge of the area. Hooper wrapped things up with a fine finish.
It’s great to see Maloney continuing his good start to the season, in the week of his Scotland recall, and nice to see us back on top. However, I think Lennon was right to point out some of the sloppy defending the could well have led to being more than one down. The Big Fella in goal pulled off a couple of great saves and has been speaking of his desire to stay on past January. I’d be quite positive about this, to be honest, as Harper should be back for Newcastle, and Krul has shown that he’s a capable deputy. I imagine the Geordies will be happy for Fraser to stay on at Parkhead and continue to get experience.
So, we go into the break with a perfect league record under Lennon. The big one is just round the corner though…
The Hoops are looking to make it seven wins on the bounce, in what has the look of a routine home victory. Neil Lennon will be looking for a little more from the side than he got last week against Hibs. Shaun Maloney should be bhoy-ed by his Scotland recall and will be looking to build on his good start to the season. Being fully fit and settled again has been a big factor, but I also wonder whether Shaun is thriving on the extra creative responsibility after Aiden’s move to Moscow.
Like Maloney, Scott Brown is in the national squad, as expected. He might want to get on the ball as much as possible against the Accies, as possession will be in short supply a week on Tuesday! Even without Xavi, Spain are a scary prospect. Brown will be looking to build on his performance against Hibs last time out.
We’ll know how Rangers got on at Tynecastle by the time we kick off, and any points dropped by them gives us the chance to go clear at the top, ahead of the Old Firm game later this month. Both Lennon and the players have been in the press this week stressing the importance of the fans, and the club are reducing junior prices for tomorrow.
Let’s hope for a big crowd and three points. Enjoy the game!
I have to say that I’m not 100% convinced that this is true, but if it is then it’s certainly a close escape, and a huge blessing in disguise!
In his time at ‘Boro and Birmingham Queudrue always came across as a bit of a wrong ‘un. He never struck you as someone who had a great attitude, and his rather short fuse in the Old Firm game would probably just be an accident waiting to happen. A slow ponderous one at that.
It’s rather depressing that this passes as news when the rest of Europe is concentrating on the Champions League this week, but hopefully that’s all the motivation Lenny and the lads need to make amends and win back the league.
Well, I suppose three points is three points, but Saturday certainly wasn’t pretty. As Lennon pointed out, there’s a lack of width at the moment, with Forrest and McCourt out injured, and we struggled to break down Hibs with any regularity. Still, as the manager pointed out, it’s not going to be 6-0 at home every time, especially with a team in such early stages of development.
Scott Brown was impressive on his return, and his early goal was a cracker. As, to be fair was Riordan’s consolation for them. It’s some effort to get it up and over big Fraser, but thankfully it didn’t prove costly. You can see the goals here:
Saturday made it fourteen wins from fourteen league games since Lenny took over, but the real test looms after the international break. First up is a tricky looking trip up to Tannadice, and then, of course, welcome that lot from over the road. They kept up their 100% record at Pittodrie yesterday, but they do have the distraction of Champions League games ahead of the derby. Personally I’m not overly fussed about us being out of the Europa League as Lennon’s top priority this year has to be the title.
Finally a word for old-Bhoy Evander Sno- good to see him back.
The Hoops welcome the green side of Edinburgh on Saturday looking to keep up their blistering home form so far this season. Wednesday’s thrashing of Caley Thistle in the League Cup saw the strikers among the goals again, and Stokesy will be looking forward to bagging more against his old side. I’ve never been a huge fan of his, he seemed a bit of a wrong ‘un attitude-wise whilst down the road at Sunderland, but he’s started well and had a good season at Easter Road last year.
Ditto Samaras- on the whole I think he’s utterly hopeless- but his record isn’t too bad, and the fact that Lenny is trying to tie him up on a new deal reflects well on him. And, probably speak volumes for where we are as a side at the minute…
I’d be amazed if Hibs caused us too many problems- they’re in a bit of turmoil at the moment, as alleged events last night might indicate!
Tougher tests should follow next month. I fancy a reasonably comfortable home win and another clean sheet for Big Fraser. It was good to hear that there’s no provision in the loan for Newcastle to recall him.
I haven’t been able to post much this week, but here are the goals from the midweek game
The draw for the quarter final seems reasonably kind- a trip to Perth shouldn’t be too tricky to negotiate.
Enjoy the game tomorrow folks…
but they have to call mum to be picked up after the match.
The Daily Record has the story:
RANGERS fans attending this month’s Champions League clash at Manchester United are to be bussed directly to and from the match via a base in Wigan.
Supporters who have tickets for the match at Old Trafford on Tuesday, September 14, are to meet at Wigan Athletic’s DW Stadium where they will be transported direct to the match.
Likewise, after the full time whistle, the supporters are to be driven straight out of the city and back to Wigan.
The travel details are the result of an agreement between the club, Greater Manchester Police, Strathclyde Police, Manchester United and the Rangers supporter groups.
Or else this nonsense might ensue:
Sweet threads, guys…