FANS from each of the twelve SPL clubs look back on the past week for their respective teams and give us their opinions
Hibs fans could be said to be split between those who embrace the international break and devote the whole period to supporting the national side and those who count down the days until club football returns. Remember the good old days when international matches were midweek affairs and club football carried on regardless? Given that the Scotland side were more successful in that era, maybe we should return to those days.
Still, it’s back to league business on Saturday against Ross County. Our first league fixture in Dingwall should produce an intriguing match. There’s added spice given that our former assistant manager is in the hot seat up there. The game may well be a stuffy affair at times but with Leigh Griffiths and Eoin Doyle capable of troubling any defence, three points is not an unrealistic target.
Not much happening for Killie these days on international weeks as we do not have many players involved at senior level. That, of course, is not the case further down the age groups as we have been well represented by some great prospects of our own, which augers well for the future. Hopefully, we will not be forced into selling them off before we’ve seen them fulfil some of their potential and net us a few more quid into the bargain. Kenny Shiels is a real believer in developing our own talent and keeps a keen eye on how all our players are progressing through the ranks and that can only be a good thing for a club of our stature.
The Supporters Association had Borja Perez as their special guest at an open meeting last Monday and the Spaniard talked freely with the fans who attended. Watch out for news of the next meeting.
THE international break hasn’t been all that much fun for Buddies. For a start, we’ve been watching Scotland and former St Mirren loanee Charlie Adam’s poor attempt at trying to keep tabs on Gareth Bale in Cardiff. And, domestically, the next match we’ve had to ‘look forward to’ is against Celtic.
We go into Saturday lunchtime’s game against the champions and league leaders on the back of really disappointing 2-1 defeat to St Johnstone. Nigel Hasselbaink had spent the week leading up to the game telling people he’d joined the bigger Saints and, sure enough, the Dutchman came back to haunt us. Starting with Parkin, Thompson and Guy seemed rather adventurous and it’s unlikely Danny Lennon will do the same when Celtic come calling.
Let’s just hope the other Lennon and his players have their minds on Barcelona...
Let’s get the Scotland chat over quickly. Levein should get his jotters immediately. I don’t see any sense in allowing him to carry on when he has no hope of taking us to Rio. A new boss can build for the Euro 2016 effort. That’s the theory, at least.
Hopefully St Johnstone can do the business this weekend and lift our blues. We’ve won five on the bounce, which is an unbelievable record. However, Kilmarnock will be a tough proposition, and to make that six in a row will be an enormous task.
If fit, Pawlett and Cregg would be straight back into the starting XI for me. Both were missed in our last match. That may be tough on Chris Millar, who would drop out, but with the options available, Steve Lomas will have to make these calls virtually every week. It’s a good position to be in.
I HATE weekends when there is no club football. I always find myself at a loose end on the Saturday afternoon, trying to avoid eye contact with my wife in case she suggests shopping!
Of course, last Saturday was free because of Scotland’s involvement in the World Cup qualifiers on the Friday night, and probably the least said about that performance the better.
But why have international games moved to Friday nights? This was an away game for Scotland, and those from the Tartan army attending would go regardless of the day or time of the match, but fans of the home country from outwith the host city struggle to make it to the game – or at least require to take time off work to attend.
Surely it’s not too much to ask professional footballers to play internationals on a Saturday and a Tuesday.
Motherwell fans will have to wait until Sunday to see their team as (once again) the kick-off time has been moved to suit the TV schedules. Still, the thought of a trip to Tynecastle no longer carries the threat that was present in years gone by.
Nowadays the biggest deterrent for followers of the Mighty ‘Well is the outrageous cost of a ticket for the Roseburn Stand – £24 for a Hearts v Motherwell league fixture that will be available on live TV does nothing to encourage travelling supporters to make the journey. Not that the prices at Fir Park are much better – we’ll charge Hearts fans £22 for the next meeting between the teams (also on $ky at lunchtime on 24 November).
It’s almost certain that there will be a much reduced band wearing claret and amber in Gorgie this Sunday.
IT SEEMS that every time we start putting a decent run of results together we enter an international break. With the team on a high after their latest SPL victory, the last thing they wanted was a weekend off. On the plus side, it does give those recovering from injury a little more time to make it on to the team sheet.
This week, we find ourselves involved in another Friday night fixture but this time the fixture wasn’t changed for TV. This situation has come as a direct result of the close-season fiasco resulting in the two Dundee sides being scheduled to play at home on the same day. Quite why they chose a Friday night instead of a staggered Saturday kick-off or even a Sunday is beyond comprehension. To us its proof again that the SPL doesn’t take into account the fans when they make these decisions.
Hearts return to league duty on Sunday with a difficult-looking fixture against Motherwell. Given our poor home form this season it is difficult to be optimistic going into the game particularly given that Motherwell are unbeaten away from home in the league. However, if we were to get the three points the league table has the ability to look a lot healthier for us come Sunday night.
Hopefully, McGlynn has taken the opportunity of the international break to work on scoring goals in training and perhaps having Rudi back training with the club will give everyone a bit of a lift. It will be important to score first, as it is in most SPL games, but if we can sneak a goal and keep it tight at the back then this game has the potential to turn our campaign around. As I have said a number of times this season already, you just never know.
The New Firm derby. Is there anyone who still calls the Dundee United and Aberdeen rivalry this? In fact, is there even still a rivalry? I guess the fact that Aberdeen will bring 5,000 fans with them will suggest it is. But please don’t be fooled when you hear reports that Aberdeen filled more than half the stadium. United have 5,000 season ticket holders alone, the same number as the away section holds. But then this is the sign of a rivalry. Both sets of supporters trying to outdo the other. The supporters’ messageboards of either club will show the ‘banter’ is already in full flow, which you wouldn’t see if even another local club such as St Johnstone were coming to town. So, while some fans like to talk this fixture down, it’s still one of those that both sets of supporters thrive upon.
Dundee host their first ever Friday night game this week, against Inverness Caley Thistle, and maybe that will help to lift the team and fans under the Dens floodlights.
There was nothing positive to take from our debacle at Easter Road, so Barry Smith has to freshen it up somehow. He’ll have to put out a more attacking formation, maybe trying Nish and Milne up front, with Riley on the right.
It should be an entertaining night, and the club are doing all they can to promote it, spicing things up with a hospitality curry offer. Games against Inverness at Dens tend to be close, with plenty of incident and goals, and of course there was the Alba Cup final, when we won 3-2 after being 2-0 down at half-time.
After losing all four at home so far, we are due a point or three, based on the law of averages, if nothing more.
The Club 12th Man
Another international week; another disappointment! And, as usual, Celtic lose players to injuries. If Scott Brown can’t handle two games a week at this stage in his career, I wonder if he should continue as a professional footballer. Alternatively, put him on the sidelines long enough to heal, as you wonder for his health after retirement from football.
Celtic are off to Paisley after the break.
St Mirren will provide tough opposition at home and with a trip to Barcelona following closely after, I expect it will be a high-tempo game with Celtic hoping to kill it early so the players can then concentrate on Barca. However, as this is Celtic, we’ll no doubt be trailing or drawing going into the last minute as players try to save themselves for Wednesday.
As for Barca, even without Busquets and Puyol, I fully anticipate a right good hiding.
Our reserve keeper Jason Brown ensured some Aberdeen-related interest was generated in Cardiff. Jason was forthcoming in interviews, indicating that he believed he wouldn’t play for Aberdeen again and would leave the club in January. With Craig Brown silent on the matter, it’s left fans guessing about what the issue is between the Browns.
Meanwhile, the youngsters were enjoying greater joy in selection for the Under-21s and below. This success was slightly tempered by the news of the injury suffered by Ryan Jack, which will see him out till January. Similarly, Ryan Fraser ended up aggravating an injury on international duty that may also see him unavailable this weekend. It’s frustrating that, just as the team was coming together, injuries might cause positional reshuffles.