After another entertaining round of matches Craig Cairns selects five talking points from the Scottish football weekend, including Rangers’ media spats and the Edinburgh clubs’ problems in attack.
Maybe it’s time Rangers looked at themselves
It been a turbulent few weeks for football and its media. First Sam Allardyce proclaimed that “entrapment had won” after being exposed by the Daily Telegraph sting. Then Gordon Strachan, fresh from his impatient outburst at Rodney, lost his patience again, this time with a journalist closer to home. Even if the journalist in question was naively influenced by Jeremy Corbyn’s use of the public’s emails at PMQs, Strachan’s cantankerous response was a little overboard.
Strachan went on to insult the intelligence of those in attendance it his pre- and post-match press conferences - and by proxy the Tartan Army - by telling us all that Chris Martin was “outstanding” in the home draw against Lithuania. He was dropped for the subsequent match in Slovakia.
Back on the domestic front, Rangers’ ongoing situation with the BBC has now been augmented with fall-outs with two other major broadcasters this week. First, Jim Traynor confronted a Sky journalist for his line of questioning before ending the press conference early, then Mark Warburton refused to give any interviews to BT Sport during the live coverage of his side’s match with Inverness on Friday night.
It’s getting to the point where Rangers supporters, already paying for a TV licence and with subscriptions to BT and Sky, are going to have to pay an extra charge for Rangers TV, just to see their manager speak.
Rangers falling out with the media is nothing new. The issue here is, surely, that if you’re constantly falling out and blaming everyone else, perhaps it’s time for some introspection.
Leigh Griffiths is maybe the unluckiest player in Scotland at the moment
Forty goals last season, eight already this season - despite limited appearances of late - and Leigh Griffiths still can’t buy a start for club or country. Moussa Dembele has grasped with both hands the opportunity given to him following the Scotland international’s injury, culminating in a Player of the Month award and making him undroppable.
Griffiths can’t seem to get into the team alongside Dembele either with James Forrest in his best form since breaking through at Celtic and Scott Sinclair adding his seventh league goal in eight appearances, his eighth goal overall.
To make matters worse, Griffiths has had to train with his Scotland team-mates in preparation for a double header before watching them struggle against poor-to-mediocre opposition, then being thrown on in desperate situations when his side is chasing a goal.
His omission from the Celtic can be justified, though it is increasingly difficult to find reasons why he is not starting for Scotland. Even if he shows flashes of quality when he appears from the bench for his national side, even if he’s fit and scoring prolifically for Celtic, even if the entire nation is calling for it, even if the only other option is an English Championship striker who hasn’t scored in 20 matches, Griffiths can only manage fleeting appearances for this Scotland team.
Hibernian go top despite their obvious problems in attack
Neil Lennon’s side moved to the top of the Ladbrokes Championship with a 0-0 draw away to Raith - another performance in which they have been hindered by a red card. Marvin Bartley’s ordering off was their third in four league matches, it was Bartley’s second in three league matches.
Morton’s incredible win at Queen of the South - league leaders before the matches kicked-off - gave Hibernian the advantage to reclaim top spot, but they will be disappointed they didn’t open up a lead.
The red cards are just one of many problems at Easter Road just now, especially in attacking areas, and pressure is mounting in what is the club’s third season outside the Premiership. Jason Cummings is again scoring goals but is struggling to forge a strike partnership with anyone; Grant Holt is being used as a target man but the side appears to lack wingers putting crosses into the box; and John McGinn is not a patch on the player that saw him become a Scotland international last season.
Another victory for Hearts but the strike partnership still isn’t scoring
One league goal each between Robbie Neilson’s preferred strike partnership of Conor Sammon and Tony Watt. Celtic have scored nine more than their closest challengers and while Hearts’ total of 16 league goals may not look too bad compared with their direct competition, it should be remember that half of those came in two matches versus Inverness and Motherwell. Despite sitting third, Hearts have failed to score in three of their nine league matches.
It looked like it was heading that way again when Dundee visited Tynecastle, with Sammon and Watt again starting, again failing to score. Instead it was up to Bjorn Johnsen to make an appearance and put Hearts 2-0 ahead.
Johnsen’s goal was just the third to be scored by a Hearts striker in the league this season. Instead the goals are coming from midfield and Callum Paterson, who opened the scoring versus Dundee - his third of the season. The midfielders have nine goals between them, Paterson took his total for the season to three.
Hamilton surrender another lead
Despite once again taking the lead, Hamilton’s defensive frailties got the better of them as they continued their habit of dropping points from winning positions. Massimo Donati converted Ali Crawford’s corner, meaning Crawford has now scored or assisted five of his side’s ten league goals. The goal means Hamilton have now taken the lead in nine of their last 10 matches and have won just one of those - the 1-0 home victory over Ross County at the end of August.
Eamonn Brophy did rescue a point after Ryan Edwards had equalised and Liam Lindsay had given Partick Thistle the lead but, in total, Martin Canning’s side has now surrendered 15 points and a League Cup quarter-final spot from winning positions. Had they held on to those leads, they’d currently be sitting level with Celtic at the top of the league.