BEFORE the excitement of the weekend’s football comes around once more, Craig Fowler, Craig Cairns and Joel Sked of The Terrace Scottish Football Podcast look back over the past six days and select the winners and losers.
Lewis Stevenson (Hibs)
Hibs first half performance against Rangers wasn’t just a perfectly executed counter attacking gameplan, it was also great to watch. A lot of the praise must be reserved for the performance of Lewis Stevenson. At left wing-back he finally slotted into a position that suits his abilities. Carrying the ball forward superbly, he motored past Arnold Peralta time and again, forcing the Rangers man into areas he was clearly uncomfortable in. It could be said that he was taking advantage of a poor opponent. However, he continued such a solid display in the second half despite playing on the other wing and going up against Wallace and Templeton, which means we can turn a blind eye to the ineffectiveness of Peralta. JS
John Guidetti (Celtic)
Even in his debut against Aberdeen, although he didn’t score, he showed some great touches in his few opportunities. Now he’s getting a full head of steam and starting to demonstrate the excellent movement that made him such a reliable goalscorer in the Netherlands. Celtic struggled a bit against St Mirren without Kris Commons, but Guidetti really bailed them out with some instinctive play in the final third.
It hasn’t been reported that much in Scotland, or at least not as much as you’d think, but he suffered a terrible illness that nearly ended his career and he basically spent 18 months out of the game. The more his match sharpness improves the better he’ll be. He’s a lock to finish the Scottish Premiership’s top goalscorer this season. CC
Soufian El Hassnaoui (Hearts)
With Osman Sow playing so well and there existing a similarity in each of the forward’s respective games, there was a chance that El Hassnaoui would be marginalised before his Hearts career had really started. In the match against Livingston the two were tried together with exceptional results for the team. They may not look as comfortable together as Sow and Keatings or Sow and Carrick, for example, but the Moroccan took his goal very well and turned in a solid performance from which to build on. CF
Stevie May and Ryan Gauld (for their Scotland call-ups)
They’ve probably not earned the call-up, but Strachan has picked them by way of encouragement and to give them a little experience of being around the squad. Strachan obviously believes they are going to be stars in the future, so the quicker they are integrated the better. It shows that Strachan isn’t allowed to pick young players, though it remains to be seen whether he’ll select them for friendly matches when there’s a greater chance they’ll play, or if he’ll turn to fringe players like Jordan Rhodes. The prolific English Championship goalscorer might feel a little miffed at losing out on a place to May since the former St Johnstone man has just arrived in the league that Rhodes has excelled in for years. CC
Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United)
Without Ryan Gauld and both Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven out of form, Nadir Ciftci has been given more responsibility, and he’s not letting Dundee United down, turning in another excellent performance in their victory of St Johnstone. Everything went through him, he bullied Steven Anderson at times. He is arguably one of only two or three players who would have tried and pulled off that dummy to set up the first goal. There are really few superlatives left to describe the big man. JS
Alexei Eremenko (Kilmarnock)
His powers should strengthen the fitter he gets, so it’s exciting to think there are more displays like his virtuoso performance against Partick Thistle to come. Allan Johnston finally looks like he knows how to use him as well. When he first arrived Johnston, for whatever reason, thought he was signing someone who would drop off the front line and only create in the final third. That’s not Eremenko’s game. He can be much more than that. His pass to Chris Johnston in the first half was magnificent, even if Partick Thistle did make it a little easier for him with their lack of pressing. It’ll be interesting to see how Dundee United handle him on Friday night. CF
Ali Crawford (Hamilton)
Hamilton’s terrific win over local rivals Motherwell was led by a superb performance from Crawford. It seems that he wasn’t thought of that highly last season but he has really taken to the Premiership. He’s capable of driving from midfield, taking on opponents, setting up chances or tucking them away himself - the exact type of player every fan should love to watch. It’s about time they were shown live, and hopefully more Hamilton fans get back to New Douglas Park to watch this pretty special side. They aren’t second by accident. They play with great energy, tenacity, ball care and understanding of each other’s role. Huge credit goes to Alex Neil for assembling such a unit. JS
Apologies to any Celtic fans looking to bask in the glory of last night’s win. This was actually written before the match and why the game is never referenced. We’ll try to get our timing right in future. For the record, Craig Gordon would have been in “the winners” section.
Bilel Mohsni (Rangers)
When are players going to learn not to give extra motivation to the opposition? Hibs confidence was wafer thin before they went to Ibrox, but Mohsni’s comments gave them something else to think about. Not only did he make these comments then see his side lose, he was one of the poorer performers, allegedly made gestures towards his own fans and has now been offered a two-match suspension for violent conduct. Could it have gone any worse for him? In fairness, it’s getting into scapegoat territory, because there were several shocking performers in blue that night. CC
Ally McCoist (Rangers)
Tactically, he just looked completely out of his depth. His response to the Hibs back three constantly swallowing up the long balls into Boyd was to bring on Jon Daly - who looks like Kevin Kyle MKII right now - and puts more balls into the box. And yet David Templeton only gets 20 minutes? That’s absolute nonsense.
He wouldn’t have appreciated the irony, but it’s telling that he tried out a 3-5-2 against Hibs in the first game of the season and it failed completely, lasting 45 minutes. Then Alan Stubbs shows up, a former Celtic player no less, and shows him how it’s done. JS
Stephen McManus (Motherwell)
Hauled off at half-time in a terribly one-sided game against a team that was about 90 seconds away from playing in a different division this season. Think that shows just how far his career stock has fallen since his Celtic days. He was really expected to tighten Motherwell’s defence last year, but they had the poorest defensive record in the top six. Motherwell don’t protect their back four very well at all, but he seems to be the one more than most who gets burned from the exposure.
Motherwell in general were horrendous and Keith Lasley could have been a winner of the week by not playing. The fans have been critical of him to start this season and there’s a feeling bumbling under the surface that his age is becoming something of a problem, but without him there is just no fight in that midfield.
In fairness to them they have had no consistency in selection so far due to the amount of injuries. Especially the amount they started the season with. They’ll be easier to judge fully once everyone comes back fit and remains available for selection. CF
BBC Championship match choice
A couple of weeks back Sportscene had Falkirk v Queen of the South ahead of Hibs v Cowdenbeath. One was a fairly insipid 1-1 and the other was a five-goal thriller decided by a last minute winner. This week they got burned again by selecting Raith Rovers v Falkirk, which was a dull 0-0. It’s commendable that they’re making an attempt to show games not involving the ‘Big Three’ but if only they could scrape together enough from their budget to show all five Championship games per week then they could save themselves the criticism for their decisions as they seem to be recurring victims of sod’s law. CF