FANS from each of the twelve SPL clubs look back on the past week for their respective teams and give us their opinions.
THE HIGH point of most trips to Kilmarnock recently has been a “Killie pie” at the interval. Not so this weekend, when, after an unremarkable first half, the football was as satisfying as the half-time savouries. Aberdeen produced confident, attacking football and the team had a certain balance that’s been missing in previous seasons. Given his performance, it wasn’t a surprise to see two more SPL players join the “I’ve hacked down Ryan Fraser” club, both picking up the complimentary membership card from the ref. Recently, Mark Wotte said coaches need to protect technically gifted youngsters but referees have as big a responsibility and have to protect these players regardless of how many cards they have to show or how often opposing managers moan.
MY CURRENT fan status is set to stunned! After the high of yet another win on the road in Europe last week, I expected a tight game on Sunday. Hearts made the most of the mental tiredness Celtic were feeling and created almost as many “on target” chances as Celtic. In previous seasons I think we would have folded under the pressure in the second half.
Nice to see Kris Commons get a belated Scotland call. How he was ignored in the first place defies logic. Craig Levein should pick players in form rather than the ones he gets along with.
Apart from the St Johnstone game, the season so far has gone a lot better than I expected. Lenny appears to be maturing as a manager and shows the tactical awareness to react to changes in games. The players he has signed have also developed together and we now see a team rather than 11 individuals.
It WAS a straightforward win for Hibs in the end, but they struggled to create anything for the first half-hour, as we kept them at bay.
Then Gary Irvine slipped up again, turning his back on Paul Cairney, who skipped past two other players to set up Eoin Doyle for a header, and we collapsed. Or Hibs got into their stride, depending on your point of view.
Then we looked a stodgy, uninspired team, full of midfield grafters, with Colin Nish out on a limb and none too convincing up front. But we had some good chances in the first half.
We did start to pass the ball about in the final third... when we were 3-0 down. Maybe that’s the way forward, rather than adopting a boring formation that might scrape a draw but is useless once we go a goal behind.
Maybe we can start afresh a week on Friday, when Inverness come calling.
The Club 12th Man
IT WOULD have been fantastic to go on into the international break with a win, especially on the back of a poor run of results, but due to Fir Park being shorn of its electricity, it was not to be. Whilst Motherwell are not to blame for the power shutdown, the fiasco that has followed with regards to supporters receiving a refund goes to reiterate how little fans are valued by football clubs.
So Houston is away now on his jolly with the Scotland squad. United have always struggled after he has been away and the fans are well aware of this. There is already some undue pressure on Houston and should we lose to Aberdeen upon his return, he will find many fans calling on him to resign from his Scotland duties and remain 100 per cent focused on the job at Tannadice.
IT WAS the same old story for Hearts on Sunday as they yet again created some good chances but failed to take them. We were let down by a goalkeeping error and again we go into the international break on the back of a defeat. It is difficult to see where Hearts go from here given the real lack of options up front, with the manager seeming to suggest it’s all down to bad luck.
If that is the case then he will surely be hoping his luck turns quickly, as in our next three league games we face two of the teams currently below us in the league. It doesn’t bear thinking about what will happen if we lose those games, as our run of fixtures in November currently looks very challenging.
McGlynn has to find the answer and if he can’t then he has to break down Romanov’s door and insist on a striker. If he can’t then maybe his assistant manager can, or should at least try.
IT WAS a case of third time lucky for the Hibees as we finally hit the SPL summit. OK, so it only lasted less than 24 hours courtesy of Hearts slipping up again, but for those fleeting hours, we could sit in the glow of a team and a club heading, at last, in the right direction. It was initially tough going against a Dundee team who dug in, but once the ever impressive Paul Cairney weaved his way down the left and planted the ball on Eoin Doyle’s head, the game was over. A much more enterprising and attacking Hibs added two more in the second half to ensure the home crowd went home happy. Pat Fenlon has re-built team morale, belief and unity and this is also spreading throughout the stands. The advent of Sect43 is helping to lift the noise levels at ER – something the players have noted too – so long may this continue. Sunshine on Leith indeed.
The mouthwatering prospect of the first SPL Highland Derby had been much anticipated ever since our neighbours claimed the SFL title in May. The game had the makings of a classic encounter, especially with the added bonus of several of our former stars now wearing our rivals’ jerseys and, in some cases, having a point to prove. The pre-match build-up over several weeks and the banter between the fans was second to none.
The game itself was an excellent advert for football in the Highlands and showcased to Scotland what both teams are made of. We were fast out of traps and could have had the game sewn up by half time but we still continue to make life difficult for ourselves by not putting our chances away. To get two wins on the bounce and put daylight between us and the trap door just adds to the week’s bragging rights.
Just call me a jinx then. We did indeed hit the top of the league on Saturday, at half time, but we were down to sixth place by the end of the game. In the end, our own performance didn’t compare to the previous week’s, with the majority of our players looking like they had started the international break a week early. It is so frustrating seeing us get caught in possession and robbed of the ball when we have been the ones doing the robbing of late. The lack of consistency is also disappointing but it is not like we have world-class players, so that is going to happen at times. We have to accept it and move on. One positive though is the lack of overreaction on the forums to the defeat and that can only be testament to the faith the supporters now have in Kenny’s ability to get the best out of the players we have. Only three points from the top … roll on Perth.
Motherwell had another game postponed at Fir Park last weekend. It may not have been the club’s fault this time but that doesn’t hide the fact that Fir Park is a wreck that sucks money into a black hole.
The board and fans alike frequently discuss alternative stadium solutions after an embarrassing postponement but the time when emotions are running high is not ideal for these discussions. There should be calm, logical thinking to create a plan either to move stadium or replace the two money-draining stands in the long-term.
No-one can blame a power outage on the club but last year we had a postponement due to fire in a floodlight pylon, and troubles with our pitch are well documented. A solution is something we owe to Scottish football, but even more so to ourselves.
We’ve clicked and we’re up to fourth. The contrast to earlier in the season couldn’t be more marked. Even with our squad
stretched, due to injury and suspension, we pulled off a win and go into the international break eight places up the league from just a few weeks ago.
St Mirren controlled possession in the second half, last Saturday, but struggled to create much in the way of clear-cut chances – with Dave Mackay arguably having the best opportunity of the second period, volleying just over from close range.
Hopefully, come our next game we’ll have a bigger pool to choose from – Rowan Vine, at least, will again be available – though Kilmarnock will undoubtedly be a tough test. I’m just desperately hoping Cillian Sheridan doesn’t come back to haunt us.
GOING into the international break with a defeat is probably the worst thing that could have happened to us. It means we need to wait for a fortnight to try to get it out of our system and we’ll return to action with tough matches against Celtic and Dundee United.
Games against the likes of St Johnstone are ones we really should be winning if we want to make the top six. We are two similar clubs who are both battling to make the top half of the table so to lose to them, even away from home, is a huge blow to our aspirations.
We seem to be playing in fits and starts at the moment and are unable to produce the goods for the whole 90 minutes. If we had played for the full game against St Johnstone as we are capable of, then we’d have beaten them. Instead, we left with nothing.
Plenty to ponder over the next few weeks.
The Highland derby was a breath of fresh air to the SPL – a new game to the fixture list that has a bit more meaning to fans other than just another league match. I think that was reflected by the attendance – the away end was sold out, with not a lot of seats left in the home end. In fact, I’m sure I read somewhere that the attendance was larger than the Caley v Celtic game earlier this season, and bigger than both the Caley v Rangers games from last season.
The game was a decent advert for Scottish Football, and although the result didn’t go the way I hoped, County didn’t give up even at two goals down. Also, the third goal for Caley came as County pushed forward for the equaliser – It may sound strange to say it, but I’d much prefer to see a team lose a third goal because they were looking for the equaliser, rather than sitting back and looking for damage limitation.