Scottish Football Briefing - December 1
More Russell Anderson-related hysteria on the back pages this week. Despite protestations that the Dons skipper was going nowhere, it now appears that a 600,000 bid from Celtic may be enough to tempt Jimmy Calderwood to let him depart. A centre-back is top of the January shopping list for Gordon Strachan and many observers believe Anderson would be just the man to fill the gap left by injured Scotland defender Gary Caldwell. However, director of football Willie Miller insists Celtic would be "wasting their time" in trying to sign the stopper, who is under contract until 2008. Miller revealed he actually intends to offer Anderson an extended offer to stay with his hometown club until the end of his career.
Manager Gordon Strachan has reluctantly agreed to let midfielder Stephen Pearson leave the club for 1m in the January transfer window. Pearson, one of a number of players posted as 'missing in action' after a move to the Old Firm has only featured from the bench in a few matches this season. The popular player was almost on his way south during the summer transfer window before a change of heart from Strachan, who is unlikely to be as clingy this time around with Derby County and Sunderland both in the chase. Strachan will be in the hunt for new players himself come January, with centre-backs a priority thanks to Gary Caldwell's injury and rumours of Bobo Balde's departure. As well as monitoring the Russell Anderson situation, Strachan also has his eye on the humorously named Danny Shittu, currently playing in the Premiership with strugglers Watford. And what about that signing of Henrik Larsson from Swedish club Helsingborgs to Manchester Utd? One wonders what Strachan will be thinking about that deal, which sees the Celtic legend at Old Trafford until the 12th of March. Meanwhile, Celtic supremo Peter Lawwell has earned the respect and admiration of his fellow SPL clubs by slamming their quality in his bid to see Celtic feature in any future European league. Lawwell believes Celtic has become one of the world's five biggest clubs thanks to successes on and off the pitch, including the signing of shirts salesman, and surprisingly good player, Shunsuke Nakamura.
United look set to plunder the Irish league with manager Craig Levein watching three players at Shelbourne. The Dublin club have failed to honour players' contracts leaving them all free agents - the "free" part especially appealing to the financially challenged Arabs. Levein has his eye on strikers Glenn Crowe and Jason Byrne as well as Cameroon international Joseph Ndo. Shelbourne manager Pat Fenlon has conceded that he is powerless to stop his starts leaving as things stand but hopes that club officials can sort something out in the next few weeks. Levein has laid down the gauntlet to his own out-of-contact players to prove they are worth a new deal in the next few matches. Nearly half of the current squad have six months left on their contracts and would be free to talk to new clubs in January.
Some people have to work two or three jobs to bring in enough cash for their family - but since when have football managers needed two employers? New Pars boss Stephen Kenny will return to his old club Derry this weekend to take the helm for their Carlsberg FAI Cup final against St Pat's on Sunday. Kenny insists returning to the Emerald Isle is no "ego trip" insisting his decision was "about this group of players trying to finish this season on a high and getting the result that their efforts deserve." Pars fans will be relieved to hear he has enough spare time to put in appearance in the dugout at their game against Kilmarnock this weekend. However, Kenny has been working hard at East End Park, tackling the players' diets. He's even brought in a chef to deliver healthy meals to their training ground while he puts the players through double training sessions.
Falkirk defender Kenny Milne is hoping talks will start soon over an extension to his contract. Milne's current deal ends this summer, leaving him free to talk to other clubs in January if he wished. He has made no secret of his desire to stay at the club, despite manager John Hughes not yet indicating if he has a future there. However, the defender sympathises with Yogi's situation, realising that a manager battling relegation can't start "dishing out contracts" until the clubs' future is established.
A surprisingly quiet week on the set of HeartsEnders. No protests, no rebel press conferences and Steven Pressley actually played. If they're not careful they'll lose their tabloid title of most interesting club outside the Old Firm. Valdas Ivanauskas has risen from his sick bed to save the day at Tynecastle, finally bringing some sense of normality back to the troubled Jambos squad. I'm sure many of the players were glad to see his return - not least because he's been telling them not to train so hard. The previous manager, Malofeev the Stalin-era sports coach, had imposed a strict and complicated training regime - made even more complicated by the communication difficulties associated with a squad of 47 different nationalities. There was something of a back-handed compliment from Lithuania's player of the year Andrius Velicka this week. The Hearts striker reckons his previous club, and Romanov's other pet project, FC Kaunas would be able "to hold their own in Scotland and easily be a top-six side". Perhaps that's true. I must confess to not being an avid viewer of Lithuanian football highlights on Eurosport. However, I think most Scottish fans would see the SPL as being of a higher standard than that. Whatever Celtic's Peter Lawell might say…
The back pages are increasingly becoming an Edinburgh-dominated zone, what with the high jinks at Tynecastle and the increasingly bizarre Thomson/Brown situation across the city. Despite the best efforts of Scottish football's now most infamous agent Willie McKay, Hibs chairman Rod Petrie is sticking to his guns over the clubs' strict wages policy. It seems Petrie has grown tired of McKay conducting his business through the Daily Record and this week refused to meet both agent and players to discuss a wage increase. It's looking increasingly likely the midfield duo will be moving on in January after Petrie flat-out refused to consider a pay increase for the pair. So now it's a question of where and how much for the highly rated players. Petrie has proven a difficult man to deal with in the past and will no-doubt stick to his initial valuation of 3m per player - way out of Rangers' budget who may be forced to choose between the two. Hibs officials and fans would probably rather see the young stars head south and there is no shortage of interest in that direction, with Bolton, West Brom and Charlton lining up bids for either one or both players. Better news for Hibs fans is that boss John Collins is lining up a bid of his own - for Wolves defender Jackie McNamara. The former Celtic star and team-mate of Collins, is set to released by the Midlands club in January and could follow in his father's footsteps to Easter Road.
Caley look to be on the verge of completing a football coup of impressive proportions with the news that Man Utd boss Alex Ferguson is to approve an arrangement between the two clubs to send Old Trafford youth players north for match experience. Lifelong Man Utd fan and Caley chairman Alan Savage wrote to Sir Alex to suggest the idea after watching Arsenal stars shine on loan at Falkirk. Naturally, manager Charlie Christie is happy with the idea that could see future David Beckhams gracing the turf of the Caledonian Stadium.
Striker Steven Naismith has admitted that his form has been accepted by speculation about his future, but aims to work hard to get back to form. The Scotland U-21 international has been linked with a number of clubs and even spent two days on trial at Arsenal recently. Kilmarnock manager Jim Jeffries has said he expected the player's form to dip after his London experience, but Naismith is determined not to let the speculation affect his form on the pitch.
Motherwell look set to lose star striker Scott McDonald in the January transfer window, with a long list of clubs watching the Australian international. McDonald, who scored the SPL's 5,000th goal at the weekend, has made no secret of his desire to move on from the Lanarkshire club and a number of Scottish clubs have been keeping tabs on his progress. However, Motherwell aren't keen to sell "Skippy" to one of their SPL rivals and Wolves have emerged as front-runners with manager Mick McCarthy, long an admirer of McDonald's, set to table a 600,000 offer.
Manager Paul Le Guen will be looking forward to a busy January transfer window. As well as keeping tabs on unsettled Hibs midfielders Scott Brown and Kevin Thomson, the Ibrox gaffer is also keeping tabs on Macedonian international striker Goran Pandev. The Lazio forward would probably cost Le Guen 3m of Rangers' precious transfer fund - a deal that would probably prevent either Hibs star from pulling on the light blue shirt. One player on his way out of Ibrox, unsurprisingly, is Fernando Ricksen. The controversial right-back is ready to make his loan stay at Zenit St Petersburg a permanent 1m deal after being offered a contract by former Gers boss Dick Advocaat. The fiery character hasn't been seen at Ibrox since a drunken altercation on a team flight to South Africa. One player who did make a welcome return this week was Ian Murray. Out of action for four months with the nasty-sounding reactive arthritis, the 25-year-old returned to action in a reserve game at East End Park and insisted he can provide the answer to Le Guen's current defensive injury crisis.
The Buddies seem to have taken to hanging around Post Offices on pension day to find their new signings… Boss Gus McPherson is hopeful the sacked Dundee United manager Craig Brewster can be persuaded to pull on his boots again to help St Mirren in their relegation battle. Brewster will celebrate his 40th birthday later this month, but played four times for United in the SPL and is keen to play for the rest of the season before considering his options. McPherson feels the side need more firepower having failed to register a win since September - and with only two players having scored more than one goal.
Hamilton find themselves in the rare position of having something that the biggest club in the world want - 16-year-old Jamie McCarthy. Manchester United's chief scout, Martin Anderson, has already watched the youngster in action this season, but boss Billy Reid has warned Alex Ferguson that McCarthy won't be leaving on the cheap. Gretna are considering the option of a ground-share with local rivals Queen of the South. The ambitious first division leaders have been given permission to redevelop their Raydale Park ground to meet SPL criteria, but are worried about low attendances. Dundee boss Alex Rae has told midfielder John Boggan that he will be given the chance to earn a new contract at Dens Park. The former Anfield trainee was signed last month but has so far been kept out of the team by youngsters Kevin McDonald and Scott Robertson, as well as the manager himself.
Former Peterhead co-boss Paul Mathers has revealed how relieved he is to be playing for nothing. SFA officials had told stopper Mathers that he couldn't sign for new club Morton as he was still registered as a player at Balmoor, despite being given the sack. Instead, the 36-year-old has agreed to play as an amateur until being able to sign a professional contract in the January transfer window.
Dumbarton skipper Mark Dempsie has been told he must quit football at the age of only 26. The former Hibs defender has been plagued by back problems for most of his career and was told by doctors that he faces serious problems in the future if he continues to play. Dempsie was first sidelined by the injury in 1999 and was out of the game for three years before fighting his way back to a move to St Mirren and then onto Dumbarton in January this year. The record company boss, who signed a lucrative sponsorship deal with East Stirlingshire earlier this, is to take up a position on the club's board. Sheffield United-fan Spencer Fearn admits that he took an interest in the club because of their reputation as the worst in the country. However, he aims to change all that with an investment of 40,000.
Well, the "game of the season" ended in a stalemate, so it's as you were at the top of the table, with bragging rights staying in Manchester - for the moment. The blue half of the city are also involved in something of a tussle with Chelsea as they try to re-sign Shaun Wright Phillips, whose massive 21m move to the capital has hardly been a roaring success. Boss Stuart Pearce reckons the midfielder is so influential he would be worth 10 points to the side. Unfortunately for him, he might have to look elsewhere for those points as he has been told the club can't afford the transfer fee - despite it being only a third of the money they made from his sale 17 months ago. Some people just don't know a deal when they see it… From cash-strapped to more money than sense. Jose Mourinho has been told he will have to shell out 100m if he wants to sign Valencia's David Villa in January. Is he planning revolutionary tactics involving a team full of strikers? It's the only use he could possibly have for all those world class forwards kicking their heels around Stamford Bridge. Especially now Shevchenko has strongly denied he ever said he wants to leave the club. Of course, that only sets up an embarrassing departure on the first day of the transfer window…
As that transfer window approaches, all the transfer rumour mills are cranking into overdrive. West Brom defender Curtis Davies is likely to be a name we'll see a lot of over the next few weeks, but Spurs have been the first club to throw their name into the ring. Sheffield United are looking to make their Yorkshire rivals' misery even deeper by luring defender Mark Kilgallon away from Leeds United for 2m and Liverpool and Barcelona are set for a battle over the signature of Blackburn's Lucas O'Neill.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
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Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
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