Winners and Losers: Scott Brown | Mark Warburton | Everyone else in Scottish football

Scott Brown and Celtic emerged victorious over Joey Barton and Rangers in the Old Firm derby. Picture: SNS
Scott Brown and Celtic emerged victorious over Joey Barton and Rangers in the Old Firm derby. Picture: SNS
Share this article
0
Have your say

Craig Fowler looks back at the winners and losers from the Scottish football weekend.

WINNERS

Moussa Dembele (Celtic)

How quickly things can turn in football. The knives weren't out for Dembele prior to Saturday's game, but murmurings were rippling through the Celtic Park support as to whether the prized summer signing was all he was cracked up to be. Such suspicions grew when he visibly pouted after Scott Sinclair wrestled the ball from him prior to the match sealing penalty in the 4-1 win over Aberdeen. Then Rangers didn't bother to pick him up from a corner, and suddenly Celtic had the second coming of David Trezeguet.

Not only did he show incredible poise in tucking away two superb finishes in addition to his header, he was also masterful in his destruction of Philippe Senderos, who allowed his 20-year-old opponent to completely psyche him out.

Shortly after the third goal, Dembele gave Senderos a little shove in the back. The referee picked up on the nudge, blowing for a free-kick, but it wasn't enough to appease the agitated defender. He went barrelling into the back of Dembele a short time later, sending both crashing to the deck. It earned him his first booking and was a massive neon warning sign to his manager that he was losing his grip on the game. Senderos stayed on, committed a baffling handball and was sent packing. He eagerly ran from the field without much protest, presumably delighted to finally be free from his tormentor.

Scott Brown (Celtic)

You had to love everyone, including the man himself, saying Joey Barton's digs didn't get to him over the summer. Brown may be excellent at putting on a completely blank expression, but the man isn't a robot. Anyone, absolutely anyone, would be annoyed with the manner in which Joey Barton carried on since his signing for Rangers. He seemed to go directly for the Celtic captain, a man he didn't know or had played against. Wouldn't you be a bit miffed? You'd be like: "who the **** is this guy?"

On the whole, Brown retained a dignified silence. His only slip came when he joked about Barton being a Celtic fan, which was an error Barton immediately capitalised on with a photo of Brown in a Rangers strip on social media. In the troll game, Brown was never going to defeat his new adversary.

Unfortunately for the Mouth From the South, the real battle would always be conducted on the pitch and Brown came out victorious without even having to play all that well. Barton again looked ponderous in his defensive duties, was completely bodied by Tom Rogic whenever he got close to the big Australian, and failed to affect the game going forward.

The look on Brown's face when he calmly savaged Barton after the match showed what it meant to him. He tried to hide his joy behind the deadpan expression, but it was eeking out behind his eyes and at the corner of his mouth. He'd not only beaten Rangers, he'd also beaten Barton.

Sam Nicholson (Hearts)

Saturday was the perfect example of why Hearts fans get frustrated with Sam Nicholson. The term “when he's on his game...” is often applied to Nicholson. His inconsistency isn't quite as drastic as that of an old school winger – either great or god – because he can still do the simple things well and works hard for the cause. It's just when he plays like he did against Hamilton, when he looks like one of the brightest prospects the country has seen in years, that you crave it all the time.

Left out of the starting XI against Accies following the return of Jamie Walker, Nicholson rose from the bench to turn the game in Hearts' favour. He crossed for the first, won the penalty for the second and netted a cracking half volley for the third. It's a shame now he probably won't be seen for another fortnight after he was the latest perpetrator found guilty on Trial By Sportscene.

Cammy Bell (Dundee United)

There are some moments in football that are so incredible they become deceptively hard to write about, because mere words really don't do them justice. Take Cammy Bell's exploits at the weekend. He saved three penalties in one half. He. Saved. Three. Penalties. In. One. Half. You see what I mean? It doesn't matter how much you break it down, reading it off a page is not enough. Then there's the superlatives you reach for to try and do it justice. Unbelievable? Spectacular? Unique? Mental? They've all been used before to describe efforts which, at the time, seemed pretty impressive, but now pale in comparison. He saved three penalties in one half!

Josh Windass (Rangers)

I did not witness this scene. I have not heard of its existence. But I can assure you it definitely happened.

Four Rangers fans are sat round a table in the aftermath of Saturday's defeat. There are four half-full pint glasses, each in close proximity to their owner. Around them are eight other empty pints, scattered about the table. For the last hour, the foursome have been dissecting everything that went wrong with the game, trying to work out how so much hope and optimism turned into anger and dejection. Every facet has been poured over, every curse word has been uttered, and, frankly, they are tired. It's hard to be negative for so long and it takes it out of you. This is supposed to be a day out with the boys. There should be fun and laughter. What on earth can lift this gloom?

A silence falls over the group. It's the longest anyone has gone without speaking since they got to The Queens Lion's Union Bar Tavern. Then, suddenly, wee Davie lifts his head.

"Josh Windass looked pretty decent."

A light comes on behind Big Boab's eyes.

"Aye, he did!"

Suddenly the world isn't quite so hopeless any more. Although, it's still pretty bad.

Paul Paton (St Johnstone)

The former Partick Thistle midfielder was booed on his return to Maryhill. It's not an uncommon occurrence. It's happened every time he's went back since he signed for United, a pre-contract deal that was announced by his new club on the same day Thistle wrapped up the Scottish First Division title (timing). Despite this, Paton still said he was “gutted” with the reception. Perhaps he felt that because he joined a new club (St Johnstone) and would therefore no longer be tainted with the manager that lured him away from Firhill (Jackie McNamara) that he would now be welcomed (no chance). Then again, it's hard to know how Paton felt, seeing as he then said he “doesn't care what anyone says”. Well, he got over that pretty quickly.

Apart from an ability to heal emotional wounds in record time, Paton also had the last laugh because St Johnstone went to Thistle and left with all three points, which put their hosts at the bottom of the table. Before anyone panics, though, it should be noted Thistle have lost to Aberdeen (away) along with St Johnstone and Hearts. It's not the easiest beginning to a season you're ever going to see. And the only game they had in which they were favourites, against Inverness on opening day, they won.

LOSERS

Mark Warburton (Rangers)

Warburton's dealings in the transfer market this summer have been uncharacteristic, and it's not been to his or his team's benefit. He made his name as someone with enthusiasm for developing youngsters, and while many of the Rangers' signings from last term - such as James Tavernier, Martyn Waghorn, Wes Foderingham and Andy Halliday - weren't exactly teenagers, they were all hungry talents looking to further their careers.

Then came the arrival of Joey Barton.

Ok, well they need a little more experience and he's still playing well.

Then Clint Hill.

Again, experienced pro, and someone good to have around the dressing room.

Then Niko Kranjcar.

Well, suppose if he does train harder...

Then Philippe Senderos.

Mmmmmmm.

What's equally troubling is Warburton's insistence on the 4-3-3 system. By not changing how his team plays, he's completely changing how his team plays. The tempo has dropped dramatically from last season, both off and on the ball, which was evident on Saturday as Celtic smothered them right from the off. The hosts were always going to try and press Rangers high up the park, to stop them from playing their game and pin them deep. So why was Niko Kranjcar playing? He actually gave it his all, closing down frequently, snapping at the heels of Celtic midfielders, but that's not his game. He just ended up fouling everyone and was hooked at half time before he was sent off.

It's looking increasingly like Warburton will either have to change his philosophy, or put his trust back in some of the younger, more energetic stars he relied on last season.

Philippe Senderos (Rangers)

Oh my. There are a number of ways in which a debut can go spectacularly wrong, and Philippe seemed to tick all of those boxes. He was made to look foolish by Moussa Dembele at the second goal, made himself look foolish at the third, and then picked up a pair of yellow cards, the second of which came after he misjudged a routine high ball, leading to his sending off and completing the Rangers capitulation. Cheer up Philippe, it can only get better from here.

Jay McEveley (Ross County)

The former Scottish international signed for Ross County this summer as a ready-made replacement for Andrew Davies. The club captain had already packed his bags and was ready to go back down south after his wife couldn't settle in Dingwall. However, Mrs Davies had a change of heart, meaning Davies was sticking around after all. With Paul Quinn on the books, and unlikely to be earning peanuts himself, this left Jim McIntyre at a bit of quandary. What to do with three well-paid centre backs who'll be expecting to start? Easy, play them all together. Unfortunately, even Clint Hill could give this trio a decent 100m race, which left County's three-man back-line badly exposed when Dundee rocked up in Dingwall on the first weekend of the season and won handily, 3-1.

Since then, McEveley has been stationed as a left back. Instead of playing like most centre backs do out of position – with the tentativeness of a four-year-old who's on the verge of soiling himself – he's been going hell for leather. This has included shooting from the halfway line and, on Saturday, trying to remove the legs of Motherwell midfielder Craig Clay. He somehow only received a yellow card for this action but McEveley, undaunted, kept at it and was finally sent packing from the field of play when he fell into the back of Scott McDonald, halting a promising Motherwell attack. He promptly legged it from the field with an enthusiasm that would have made Philippe Senderos proud.

All of those in Scottish football who really don't care

There is a healthy number of people who follow Scottish football that, quite frankly, could not give a flying one about whether or not Celtic or Rangers wins the Old Firm game. Therefore, the fortnight surrounding the fixture can be unbearable. Not only do you get the massive amount of hype before the game, you also get the inevitable fall-out afterwards. In the days of social media and readily shareable news content there is no such thing as an Old Firm derby without incident. Worse than the build-up, which at least concentrates on football, though largely from a personality perspective, the aftermath reinforces exactly why they hate the fixture and everything it represents. Disappointingly, and completely predictably, this latest game was no exception. Offensive banners, hanging effigies, sectarian singing, smashed up toilets, one statement and one rebuttal. And it's only Tuesday.

READ MORE - Rumour Mill: Old Firm eye Reo-Coker | McCoist slams Rangers fans | Welsh full-back at Hibs

Click here for the latest results, fixtures and stats>>>

Keep up to date with all our sport news on The Scotsman’s Sport page on Facebook