SPL Fanzone: As the spectators see it
Fans of the 12 SPL teams air their views on the weekend’s action
When I was younger I wasn’t allowed a dog. Instead, a farmer let me help care for an orphaned calf. I called him “Rover”, would tell everyone he was my pet dog and I would spend hours trying to teach him how to bark or fetch a ball.
I thought he had all the right parts to be a dog: wet nose, wagging tail, four legs but those parts belonged to a cow and “Rover” wasn’t any more a dog than I was.
Anyway Craig, you can call it 4-3-3, you can tell people it’s 4-3-3, you may think it has all the right parts to be 4-3-3 but it isn’t 4-3-3. It’s 4-5-1 and it ain’t working and it needs to change before any more points this season are lost, otherwise you’re just going to be standing in a field, barking at the Moo(n).
Steve Wilson - www.afc-chat.co.uk
I MUST admit, when I saw the team on Saturday, I’d have happily settled for a point. Eight minutes in and I would have snapped your hand off for a point! But, fair play to the team that Lennon selected, they did well to recover and, for the most part, dominate the game. I was pleased to see Miku getting on the scoresheet, as I think he’s a technically gifted player that maybe doesn’t get the chance to shine in the hurly-burly of the SPL.
Lennon looks to have acquired another couple of good signings in Gershon and Rogic. Gershon looks to be a competent defender and Rogic looks as if he can bring something a bit different to the midfield. Also great to see Efe “the fear” Ambrose get some success on the international stage.
Finally, no matter the result against Juve, it’s still a great achievement getting to this stage.
We CAN have few complaints following an abject 2-0 home defeat by Ross County, albeit to late goals, with one of them not completely crossing the line. Dundee’s results are only of academic interest now, with relegation a cast-iron certainty, if not yet mathematically.
It will probably be officially confirmed by the end of March. By which time, we might well be out of the Scottish Cup too, but that slim hope that we might just upset the other team in the city is the only thing the fans have to cling on to right now. After that, all we can do is look ahead to next season, with the inevitable clearout.
The good news is that striker Carl Finnigan is back in training after a season on the sidelines. He’s got a great chance of finishing our top scorer, then. We’re away to Aberdeen on Friday night – 0-0 sounds about right.
The Club 12th Man
So FAR so good for Jackie McNamara. Another good performance and three goals to boot. It’s been a case of subtle tactical changes by McNamara who has started the same line-up in his first two matches as Houston did in his last. What McNamara also has is a GMS returning to full fitness, a Johnny Russell returning to form and a Willo Flood returning to the consistency he had before leaving a few years ago. He struggled with injuries after going and it has taken him time to get back to showing his quality. A tidy goal and a man-of-the-match performance had the crowd singing his name but, with his contract up in the summer and interest from fellow SPL sides, let’s hope it’s United who see the best of this rejuvenated player next season rather than one of our rivals.
IT WOULD be difficult to script a more unfortunate first half than Hearts experienced at Tannadice on Saturday. The loss of a second-minute goal, followed by our captain going off injured and then a very harsh red card. I was very surprised to see that Hearts do not intend to appeal that decision, which struck me as Willie Collum taking retrospective action for Stevo’s tackle in the derby.
Before the sending off, I felt we were well in the game and it was just a matter of time before we equalised. Ngoo on a different day would have had a hat-trick. Overall, I felt we battled well after that but McGlynn should have changed it before they scored the second goal as we were all over the place at the start of the second half. The news that Ukio Bankas has gone into administration will be met with some anxiety down Gorgie way, no doubt any effect of this on the club will become clear soon.
Boring, predictable, pathetic, clueless and, most damning of all “worse than Calderwood” were just some of the comments on the hibs.net forum after a staggeringly inept display saw St Johnstone saunter off with the points on Monday night. Not even another penalty save from Ben Williams could spark Hibs into life and they simply didn’t have it in them to compete with a team who worked hard for each other and easily got the victory they deserved. The apparent progress at the start of the season has been overtaken by a version of hoofball. Fenlon needs to show the vision, direction and guts to get this squad into something resembling a decent football team. Next we go to St Mirren, who have hit a bit of form, which is hardly ideal. Fenlon hinted at throwing in some youngsters to freshen things up and why not? If the current lot can’t cut it, get someone in who can.
Dave Farmer - www.hibs.net
It WAS disappointing not to take any points off Celtic on Saturday. For large chunks of the game we dominated possession but just couldn’t turn it into goals. Celtic, on the other hand, were clinical with their chances and, apart from picking the ball out of his net, Esson didn’t really have a great deal to do. Richie Foran was missed, aerially, defensively and as a team leader. Nobody was pulling the strings. The ref’s performance was flabbergasting and it was like different rules for each team. Their defenders were all over McKay and Shinnie without punishment, yet Celtic players were awarded fouls whenever one of our guys so much as breathed on them. Back-to-back defeats are a bit of a concern but we haven’t looked bad in the games we have played. We just need to get back to our clinical ways. Hopefully, starting tonight.
Dave Wilson - www.caleythistleonline.com
Another of the SPL’s top teams came to the Theatre of Pies and, like Inverness, left with nothing. King Kenny dropped young Rory McKeown, sliding Tesselaar out to left back and called Pascali back in to shore up the centre of defence. Despite a bright start, and a goal deflected in by Hammell from a decent Barbour effort, Motherwell put us under real pressure. The surprise of the day turned out to be striker Willie Gros and his trio of goal-line clearances. His headed goal late in the second half ensured that he was awarded the man of the match by the sponsors and well deserved it was. The frustration seemed to get to Motherwell and substitute Kerr was sent packing for a rash challenge on Dayton. Then Lasley scythed down our winger again and he, too, was given a straight red. We had chances against the nine men to increase the lead but never took advantage.
Barry Richmond - www.killiefc.com
Motherwell shareholders will gather at Fir Park this evening for the club agm. High on the agenda will be the reversal in financial fortunes that saw a profit of £540,000 in 2010/11 turn into a loss of £600,000 in 2011/12. It’s all the more disappointing as the club finished third and made the Champions League qualifiers. Shortened cup runs and no income from player sales are the obvious causes but so too is the drop in the number of away fans at Fir Park. The outrageous prices SPL clubs impose on visiting fans has to be addressed. Motherwell will charge fans of Inverness £22 next weekend and we’ll be lucky to see 4,500 attend in total. Reconstruction plans make much of the redistribution of cash but there has been no mention of dwindling away supports. Let’s discuss the idea of Away Season Tickets.
John Wilson - www.firparkcorner.com
Last Thursday, the chairman held a fans forum where the SPL’s new proposed 24/18 league model was put to the fans, and there was an overwhelming 95 per cent rejection. The confusing nature of the splits and the uncertainty over who you’d be playing each season makes it unattractive to the fans. The SPL have added incentives such as a change from the current 11-1 voting system, which appears to be the carrot that a lot of clubs want as opposed to listening to their fans. Last summer a revolt by fans forced clubs to make a decision on Rangers and, given that the clubs appear to be again ignoring the wishes of the fans, maybe it’ll take another fan-based revolt.The SPL’s own fan survey showed that the majority want a larger 14 or 16-team top league but it seems the only options are the new 24/18 model or to stay with the current system.
Alan Ross - www.thejailender.com
And finally it clicked. Monday night’s win was 3-1 going on four or five and, with three goals from open play – the second and third in particular things of beauty – there was much to be pleased about. We’ve scored six in our last two SPL games, and now boast one of the meanest defences in the league. That’s great news and is the type of form we need to carry forward for the remainder of the season.
How key, then, are our next games. We face Ross County, St Mirren and Dundee as well as Celtic before the end of February. Six points from a possible 12 would, most likely, cement our top six place if everyone else carries on cutting each other’s throats. Nine would put us pretty close to second place.
It’s tight, it’s tense but we’re starting to score goals and that is absolutely the key for us between now and the split.
Jamie Beatson - www.weareperth.co.uk
Saturday was a potential banana skin. We had been on form and playing well with a couple of in-form strikers, while our opponents were struggling and pressure was mounting on their manager. Regardless of the decade, our squad, manager or division, we are usually far too willing to help out in these circumstances. For once, we didn’t slip up and a point against an out-of-form Aberdeen might not be a good result but we rarely win at Pittodrie so a draw was decent, especially on a poor surface.
Despite our shocking run in October and November, we still only find ourselves only four points off the top six – and only eight off second! However, we have only eight games left to make up the gap and need to win at least four to have any chance of being on the right side of the split. Saturday’s home game against Hibs is one we have to win.
Stuart Gillespie - www.saintmirren-mad.co.uk
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