SPL fans have their say on the latest from Scotland’s top flight.
Encounters against St Johnstone have never been exciting affairs and Friday’s game was no exception. Saints came with a game plan that we had no answer to and our limited options on the bench didn’t help. It was a case of digging in and holding out and a draw was a fair result.
With the final five fixtures now decided, our target has to be second place but we’d be happy to reach the required six points needed for certain European qualification next season. Our form against these teams isn’t great, with the exception of our neighbours, and we have yet to take points from Motherwell in three attempts. After a remarkable season so far, it would be a shame to miss out on a “prize”, so we’ll have to be on our game in all five fixtures. We’d also be very pleased to avoid a further drubbing by Motherwell.
Hearts scored four goals in a match for the first time this season and moved themselves off second bottom in the process. It was good to see Ngoo get back on the goal trail and a fantastic goal by Jason Holt, whom we surely must hold on to in the summer and try to build a team around. Given that our away form has been so poor all season, it was important to start making Tynecastle a difficult place for teams to come again, so we now have back-to-back home wins for the first time since December. Long may it continue.
With five games left, we should be looking to win all of them and finish as high up the league as possible. There is no doubt that Gary Locke has made us a more attack-minded side and there are positives to build on for next season, but the ongoing uncertainty off-field continues to cast a bit of a shadow over progress on it.
I was worried about our games after the cup final. Fixtures against Celtic, Kilmarnock and Motherwell looked difficult and it wouldn’t have been a huge surprise if we had lost all three. Yet we have come through that run unbeaten and picked up three points.
I was delighted to hear we will be voting against the restructuring proposals at Monday’s SPL meeting. There are some good things with the plans but the two leagues of 12 becoming three leagues of eight is ridiculous. Fans of other clubs seem to back our view, while others seem to have valid points. Then we have the paranoid idiots who are screaming conspiracy because Charles Green was at one of our games. It’s not worth worrying about them, not least because our fans met with the board and came to a similarly dim view of the proposals months before Green came to call.
Five games to go, and not relegated yet! Some achievement. Seriously, John Brown has made Dundee into a stronger unit and looks a stick-on to get the manager’s job following his interim period. The 2-1 win at Kilmarnock, the only team not to beat us in the SPL this season, was impressive, aided in no small part by Gary Harkins, who played like a man possessed against his former team, scoring both goals and being denied two penalty claims.
Bomber is not afraid to change things and adopted an interesting defensive set-up at Rugby Park, turning back the clock to go with two wing-backs, two centre-halves and a sweeper, an ideal role for the experienced Matt Lockwood, as our defenders have plenty of ability but are raw. No game this week, just Celtic to cheer on against United in the cup semi-final.
The Club 12th Man
The SPL reconstruction story has hit the headlines again this week with St Mirren’s Stewart Gilmour set to vote against the proposed 12-12-18 structure. With County’s chairman Roy MacGregor also set to vote against it, thankfully it looks set for failure.
These are two chairmen that have looked at what their fans want and seen that in every survey been conducted in recent months, the fans don’t want these proposed size of leagues. There are lots of good ideas about the new proposals – such as redistribution of wealth and pyramid structure – but it’s a sad state of affairs that those in charge of the leagues are basically offering a take-it-or-leave-it situation with no alternatives allowed to be discussed.
They’ve also left it late. There has been a year to look at it, but decisions are being made in the last month of the season.
And so ends Aberdeen’s Brown Period, which lasted just about as long as Picasso’s Blue Period. One saw the production of depressing, soul-sapping and despair-inducing exhibitions, and the other was some paintings by a Spanish bloke.
That is being flippant and unfair on Craig, who joined a club in a shambles and leaves it in a much better position, creating a squad that should be challenging in the top half of the table. The biggest disappointment is the “what ifs”. If we had been more clinical in finishing, if we had been more positive in certain games and if the officials had been competent in others. Such is life. It’s important to remember, though, that the Blue period was followed by a much more positive Red period. Over to you Derek.
Party Poopers R Us! Among the growing clamour for a title celebration at Parkhead it seems that Motherwell’s ambitions to finish in second place were overlooked.
The goal that kept the champagne corks in place was one of Faddy’s specials, as his free kick flew into the postage-stamp corner. First to congratulate him was team-mate Michael Higdon. He had scored the opening goal against St Mirren with a duplicate of the header that found the net against Dundee a week earlier. You’d have thought defences would be wise to his threat by now!
At the time of writing the top-six fixtures have yet to be revealed. Unusually, the gate receipts from the “big” teams in the upper half of the table will be lower this year. We’ll have to make do with increased prize money and a European place instead. Happy days.
Well, we made it to the promised land and clinched our place in the top half of the table. Two points from two potentially tough games last week mean that we can look forward to top six football for a second successive season at McDiarmid park.
It’s just a shame that we are not just a little bit closer to third place, although the battle for that coveted European slot is still on.
If we are to get there, we will need to go on a great run of results. We will have to beat Inverness Caledonian Thistle, for sure, and probably take seven points at least from the other four games. And even then, that total might not be enough depending on how Inverness get on.
It’s sure to be interesting. This has been a great Scottish Premier League season in my book, and long may it continue.
We only had to get three points from two home games and we were in the top six, but in the end one point was all we mustered. The St Mirren midweek match was pretty evenly balanced but it took a first goal from returning hero Boyd to snatch a point for the home side. No-one was really surprised. We are renowned for doing things the hard way, but still we looked favourites with our fate at least in our own hands. But the gods twisted the knife on Saturday. Not only did rejected midfielder Harkins score a brace against us for relegation bound Dundee, but freed striker Rory Boulding bagged one in the 90th minute for Dundee United which saw us lose out on a top-six finish. But spirits were not dampened for the KFCSA’s player of the year dance that evening. Cammy Bell picked up the award, with Rory MacKenzine taking the title of young player of the year.
Saturday’s win over Hibs was a complete contrast to the miserable fare against St Mirren. Gary Hooper finally looked interested and what a difference he makes when in the mood. However, the change in shape also seemed to make Celtic a bit more fluid.
Also, I hate bringing this up, but some of the Hibs players were indulging in swearing. This is obviously down to the Neil Lennon effect, who introduced this into the game! How long before swearing spreads to the terraces and the very fabric of football is undermined! It must be stopped now and nothing but a lengthy ban will stamp out this cancer! And, some sack-cloth.
Though scoring twice, the most impressive thing about Commons on Saturday was the amount of time he posed for photos and signing autographs after the game. It meant a lot to the collection of young fans there.
So it’s the bottom six (again) for Hibs as they turned in yet another tepid performance at Parkhead, rolling over without a fight when the least every Hibs fan expected was for them to have a go in a game they had to win to have any chance of getting a top-six spot. Fenlon would appear to have a real problem in getting his message across to his players and, with rising numbers of fans on the hibs.net forums now questioning his tactical knowledge, he faces the ultimate crunch game on Saturday. Hibs should be hot favourites to dispatch Falkirk and make it to another Scottish Cup final. However our current form and lack of application makes this game anything but a certainty. Should the Hibs team of early season turn up, then 16,0000-plus fans will head home happy and once again look forward to breaking that jinx. Quite simply, Fenlon and the team have to deliver.
I’m absolutely delighted to say that I was completely wrong on writing United’s top-six chances off. Rory Boulding’s last-gasp winner sent everyone in Tannadice delirious (Aberdeen fans apart) and the reaction from the bench emphasised how much it meant to the club.
With budget cuts already rumoured for next year, it would have been a financial disaster for the club to have missed out on a place in the top half of the table.
Credit must be given to the bravery of manager Jackie McNamara to throw young Jon Souttar and Ryan Gauld into the team for the last two fixtures.
It is bold moves like these that are making sure Jackie is winning over the Tannadice faithful.