FANS OF the 12 SPL clubs offer their views on how their clubs are faring.
The injury crisis that has had Pittodrie looking like the set of Casualty continued into the game against Inverness and only slightly lifted for the Cup tie on Saturday. With the number of central midfielders in our squad it’s a sign of how stretched we are that our centre pairing was a youth team player and a striker. Still, the performances and results from both games last week were disappointing. We desperately need players to return from injury sooner rather than later as there is only so far the current “make do and mend” policy can take us.
On the plus side, we remain in the Cup and, while no trip to Motherwell could be said to be easy, away performances so far this season mean the team and travelling fans should have some positivity for the replay.
But for a fortunate own goal, Celtic could have been looking at a very embarrassing exit from the Scottish Cup last Saturday. As they have all season, the Celtic team decided not to turn up for the latest “easy” home game. It was a display in complete contrast to the game at Tynecastle, where the players knew they’d be in for a tough match and looked up for it. Now, because of a lacklustre performance, we are adding another fixture to our schedule.
Apart from the odd game, since beating Barcelona we have been appalling domestically and our worst performance in Europe also came after the Barca win. We are now going into a crunch game with Spartak without our best midfielder. This is a potential banana skin and unless the team have the right attitude and right tactics, it could render the Barca win as pretty meaningless.
AN IMPRESSIVE first-half performance at Livingston was enough to see Dundee into the next round of the Scottish Cup. We got stuck into them from the off, grabbed our two goals, then saw it out comfortably.
They had a good penalty claim at 2-0 down but we had three goal-bound efforts cleared off the line. So now it’s Turriff or Morton at Dens and maybe we can go on a run this year.
Now for the biggest game of our season, the derby, Sunday’s lunchtime TV offering. I’d settle for a point, as United always seem to do well at Dens, but derby draws are a rarity. And it won’t be a boring 0-0, that’s for sure. But I feel that, with our settled defence, we can keep United quieter than the last time, and might just squeak it. This month looks like being our hardest slog of the season, so a win would set us up nicely.
The Club 12th Man
The defeat to Motherwell last midweek was a sore one and going behind so often, particularly early on in games, is killing the atmosphere at Tannadice. But we bounced back and Saturday’s thrashing of Stranraer in the Scottish Cup has set up an historic first tie between Dundee United and The Rangers.
It’s a mouthwatering tie, especially after all has gone one in the last 12 months, and the fact it is The Rangers’ first visit to a ground of one of the SPL teams who spoke out against the club last year has certainly added an edge to it. With talk already of a boycott by fans of The Rangers, United may well be within their right to keep all the gate receipts to themselves, particularly as United are still owed a debt by “oldco” Rangers from last year’s tournament.
IT HAS been a terrible week on the pitch with Sunday’s cup exit hard on the heels of of a 4-0 defeat to Celtic. However, there has been positive news off it regarding the various tax bills. But that cannot disguise two impotent performances, where we continued to struggle in front of goal. McGlynn has come out and given his reasons for leaving Sutton and Smith on the bench but, to my mind, it amounted to a “back me or sack me” statement. I personally do not rate the manager, he seems to have little idea which formation he wants to play, what his best team is and he seems incapable of altering the flow of a game when we concede. Hearts need the fans to continue to rally round
the club but Romanov must understand
that the financial implications of relegation are far more serious than what it would
cost to terminate the manager’s contract. The sooner it is done the better.
Pat Fenlon ticked another box in the recovery of Hibernian FC with a scrappy but very welcome victory over Hearts on Sunday. Someone else will need to ask wee Robbo if it’s a modern-day record to win and lose the Scottish Cup within 07 months. I and thousands of others were too busy rocking Easter Road to care. Those last ten minutes showed everyone what a cracking atmosphere can be generated when the team get it right and, fingers crossed, the result will bring back more of the lapsed fans. The game was a bit of a non-event but, with Hibs missing three automatic starters, the team showed the battling spirit which has been evident this season. We will need to perform a lot better against an ICT team who are better than Hearts but, for now, it’s only fair to praise
the players, management and fans for
making Sunday special.
The last two away games have shown us how how resilient this team can be. To come from behind at Pittodrie and go level on points at the top of the SPL – dizzy heights we’ve never seen the like of before in this league – was very special.
Then came the blood and thunder of a Highland derby Cup-tie against Ross County and another demonstration of how this side never gives up. The tie had it all, great goals, fluke goals, controversial goals and a nail-biting finale.
In both matches we had the chances to see out the game but allowed the opposition back into it. We made life more difficult for ourselves than it perhaps should have been.
However, that just adds to the entertainment value that has been in abundance lately. But it certainly doesn’t
do the nerves any good.
The Scottish Cup draw should be exciting but, when facing a replay, it can go one of two ways. Had we been drawn at home to a Joe Blogg’s Pub XI, the replay with Aberdeen would have taken on extra significance as the winner would have one foot in the quarter-finals. Instead, the carrot of a tie away to on-form Hibs suggests that, should Motherwell get through one tough tie, we would simply be put out in the next one.
Jamie Murphy’s latest stunning strike in the first tie at Pittodrie was his sixth of the season and, remarkably, the sixth to have come away from Fir Park. Some Motherwell fans ask why he is not given a Scotland chance (with good reason, following Andrew Shinnie’s recent cap) but staggering inconsistency such as failing to score at
Fir Park this season is the simple answer.
The Scottish Cup fourth round is normally one of the most exciting weekends of the season and, though the Highland derby may have got off to a slow start, the second-half certainly burst into life and the end was exciting for both sets of fans. The cup also threw up a couple of shocks, with Turriff taking Morton to a replay, and Arbroath’s draw against Celtic at Parkhead.
Given the “Magic of the Cup”, it was surprising to see that a lot of the attendances were quite small given the importance of the games. The Highland derby saw a few small gaps in the home end, while Caley sold well short of the 1,800 tickets allocated to them.
I’m not sure the reason behind this – are ticket prices too high? Is the fourth round being just before Christmas a problem?
Anyway, those who didn’t turn up at games were the ones who missed out!
AN UNEXPECTED Saturday off thanks to a frozen pitch at Central Park which meant our Scottish Cup fourth-round tie with Cowdenbeath was postponed.
But that means we now face two games in three days as we try to maintain our top-six position in the league when we visit St Mirren on Saturday before having another crack at making progress in the Cup in Fife on Monday night.
Hopefully, though, a weekend without a game will have given some who missed out
last week to get fit again – primarily Patrick Cregg, Peter Pawlett and Callum Davidson.
However, the games are going to come thick and fast between now and the new year. Two wins back to back over the next few days would certainly set us up nicely for the festive season.
There was little danger of another cup embarrassment at the hands of a lower-league side on Saturday. We dominated against Brechin and should probably have won by six or seven. Instead two goals were enough.
Perhaps we were focusing on quality rather than quantity. Kenny McLean’s free-kick was a fine strike and Jon Robertson’s volley was out of this world. His ginger hair isn’t the only thing he has in common with Paul Scholes.
It was good to negotiate a potentially-tricky tie but now we must refocus on an important league game this weekend. There have been signs of a recovery in recent weeks but that will be put to the test against St Johnstone.
We won’t get as much time and space on the ball as we did against Brechin but, if we create even half as many chances – and take some of them – we should be on for all three points.