NEIL Lennon admits Celtic are unable to compete with even the English Championship for top players; David Smith fears gloating of Hibernian fans if they send Hearts down; Gavin Gunning reveals financial anxiety over potential Rangers move as McCoist hints at interest
Hearts: ‘Hibs fans will gloat if they relegate us’
Hearts’ David Smith has admitted his side will be haunted if their derby rivals Hibernian are the team to condemn them to the Championship next season. The reality of the drop dawned a long time ago for the club as their slide into administration brought a 15-point deduction heading into this season, and they were hamstrung further by signing restrictions and their subsequent reliance on an inexperienced squad.
With teams above them in action during their down time, it could all be done and dusted before the fourth derby of the season comes around, next Sunday, but if not, Hearts’ failure to beat Dundee United at Tynecastle on Friday night means they could still topple at the hands of the Easter Road side.
Smith said: “It’s a massive game and, potentially, we know Hibs could relegate us. But that’s an incentive for the boys. It’s not an ideal scenario but it’s a derby, it’s a different type of game and the boys will be ready for it. It’s the biggest game of the season for Hearts fans so they’re going to be 100 per cent behind us as they have been all season. Hopefully we get the result and it doesn’t happen then.” (Scotland on Sunday)
Lennon: Celtic unable to compete with English Championship for money
Neil Lennon has revealed his anxieties over being able to attract top talent to Celtic ahead of next season. Lennon is concerned that Celtic are being outstripped financially by most elite teams in Europe, as well as sides in the English Championship.
Speaking after Celtic edged a step closer to their third title in a row with a 3-0 win against St Mirren, he said: “We have an extensive list of players we want to look at. Affordability is obviously the crux of it. I don’t think things are going to change that much in that respect. I have been looking for players in the Championship but value for money isn’t there so we are looking elsewhere.” (Sunday Mail)
Rangers targeting Dundee United’s Gavin Gunning again
Ally McCoist has suggested that he wants to sign Dundee United defender Gavin Gunning ahead of Rangers’ Championship charge next season. Gunning is out of contract in the summer, meaning Rangers could sign him under the Bosman ruling. The Dundee United stopper opted not to join the Ibrox outfit last season over the financial uncertainty surrounding the club at the time - fears reignited by Gunning’s comments over moving to Rangers next season.
Gunning said: “I hear Ally McCoist confirm Rangers won’t go into administration again but there are clearly problems there that would worry me. I’ve a young family and can’t afford to put them at risk.”
Ahead of the Scottish Cup semi-final between Rangers and Dundee United`, McCoist said: “I like Gunning as a player. He was certainly a possible signing. Gavin is a player that’s out of contract and he is a good player, there’s no doubt.
“But with the semi coming up it would be totally wrong of me to start commeinting on United players.” (Sunday Mail)
Stefan Johansen chasing after second title medal in space of one season
Stefan Johansen has set his sights on playing his part in clinching Celtic’s third title in a row after scoring his first goal for the club yesterday.
The Norwegian midfielder was among the goals in Celtic’s comfortable 3-0 win against St Mirren at Parkhead. Celtic are potentially one game away from clinching the title if they win against hosts Partick Thistle in midweek. Having already won a title with former side Stromgodset in Norway in November, Johansen is looking forward to the prospect of winning a second one in the space of half a year.
“It would be two titles in less than six months, so it’s going to be special for me.
“Football is about winning, that’s one thing you learn when you come to Celtic because winning is in the DNA here and it’s fantastic to be here.” (Mail on Sunday)
Special report: Can Aberdeen become the nation’s sporting capital?
These are giddying, ground-breaking times for sport in Aberdeen. The football club has won its first national trophy in 19 years, the coastline is about to host its first European Tour golf event, and there is talk of a new professional rugby team laying foundations among the granite. What next for the city that can do no wrong? Read more in today’s Scotland on Sunday