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The Championship - First Quarter Report

I don't care what anyone else says, the Championship is the most interesting division in the SPFL. What's that you say? "You're only saying that because the team you support is top of the table"? That's an outrageous allegation that I can neither confirm nor deny at this time. We are now nine games, or one quarter, of the way through the season. So here's a breakdown of how the ten clubs are faring, with a grading system shamelessly stolen from the legendary Tell Him He's Pele site of years

What we (and Steve Clarke) learned from the Scotland games

Lyndon Dykes will be missed in Moldova Dykes reminds me of the character in the Monty Python 'Upper-Class Twit Of The Year' sketch who "doesn't know when he's beaten, this boy, he doesn't know when he's winning either. He doesn't have any sort of sensory apparatus". I had no doubt at all that the naturalized Ozzie would be unfazed by his penalty miss against Israel, and there was something very Dykes about scoring a goal by essentially karate-kicking the ball. But whilst he remains somewhat lim

2021/22 Scottish Premiership preview

Are we ever going to have a battle for the league title again? A two horse race isn't much more exciting than a one horse race when you don't have a stake in either, but last season some thought Rangers might be able to push Celtic a bit. Not too many expected them p*** all over Celtic's ten-in-a-row dream. Steven Gerrard's side won the title by 25 points. Can Celtic turn that back around. The evidence of their opening European games was not encouraging. As for the other ten, we're very muc

2021/22 Scottish Championship preview

For the first time since 2014, there isn't a club in this division that could be considered a Scottish football heavyweight - yes, I'd still refer to Dundee United as such, even if they are a bit flabby with bingo wings and move slower than a week in jail. There's also not a club like Dundee or Ross County who have significant financial backing from a benevolent millionaire. So in theory at least the Championship is up for grabs. However Kilmarnock - back at this level for the first time sin

2021/22 Scottish League One preview

Given that League One is still mostly the domain of part-time clubs, any full-time teams should always be considered favourites. Partick Thistle lived up to that billing last season, eventually. Falkirk on the other hand collapsed like a house of cards in a hurricane; if missing out on promotion was a catastrophe, slumping to fifth place is, er, something worse than a catastrophe? For 2021/22, the Bairns, Airdrie - who have a bit of a hybrid model in their squad - and Queen's Park, who are

2021/22 Scottish League Two preview

In recent seasons Scottish League Two has been dominated by clubs that have been rather flush with cash for this level - Queen's Park last season, and Cove Rangers the year before. At the other end of the table, the addition in 2015 of a relegation playoff has forced smaller sides who have cruised along at this level for aeons to either ship up or ship out; league mainstays East Stirlingshire and Berwick Rangers have languished in the Lowland League after dropping out of the SPFL, while Brechin

The Euro dream turns into a nightmare: Scotland 0 Czech Republic 2

We waited twenty-three years for this, and what did we get? An endless barrage of mediocre nausea-related puns regarding the name of the Czech goalscorer. What we didn't get was the epic, all-action, never-say-die, no-one-lives-forever performance from the home side that we were looking for and, frankly, expecting. Heck, no-one even got booked. Don't forget that Scotland were the home side here. Opportunities to play at a major tournament are like hen's teeth for us; to do it on our own

The fourteenth annual Narey's Toepoker Team Of The Year (part 2)

The keeper and back four can be found here. Here's the midfield and attack. This season I've gone for a 4-2-3-1. CENTRAL MIDFIELD: STEVEN DAVIS (RANGERS), ALI MCCANN (ST. JOHNSTONE) Honourable mentions: Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen), Hakeem Odoffin (Hamilton Academical), Joe Newell (Hibernian), Allan Campbell (Motherwell) When Davis returned to Ibrox in 2019 he looked woefully unfit and I don't think I was the only one who thought his legs were gone; now 36, he looks as sprightly as ever and

My 26 for Euro 2021

Okay, since it's only two days till Steve Clarke announces his Euro 2021 squad, maybe it isn't too early for me to speculate anymore? So here's who I think - not necessarily who the boss thinks - will be the twenty-six players who will wear the Scotland shirt at a major tournament for the first time since France '98. It'll be interesting to see who benefits from the decision to increase the squad size from twenty-three, given that the three fortunate so-and-so's are virtually certain not to

The fourteenth annual Narey's Toepoker Team Of The Year (part 1)

Aye, it's that time again. Fourteen years we've been doing this, and frankly I'm worried the universe will end if I shirk my duties. No surprise that there's a lot of representation from the blue cheek of the Glasgow arse this year. For posterity, here's the previous thirteen editions: 2007/08: Allan McGregor (Rangers), Alan Hutton (Rangers), Carlos Cuellar (Rangers), Lee Wilkie (Dundee United), Lee Naylor (Celtic), Barry Robson (Celtic), Stephen Hughes (Motherwell), Barry Ferguson (

Worst Signings of the 2020/21 Premiership season (part 2)

The initial countdown from 25 to 11 can be found here.   This is the ninth time we've done this. The eight previous 'winners': 2012/13: Rory Boulding (Kilmarnock) 2013/14: Stephane Bahoken (St. Mirren) 2014/15: Jim Fenlon (Ross County) 2015/16: Rodney Sneijder (Dundee United) 2016/17: Joey Barton (Rangers) 2017/18: Eduardo Herrera (Rangers) 2018/19: Umar Sadiq (Rangers) 2019/20: Madis Vihmann (St. Johnstone) You'll note that we've never previously named a Celtic player at the top of

A far-too-early attempt at predicting Scotland's Euros squad (take two)

We already tried this in January, but it seems reasonable to update it after the recent international break. Not that there are many changes - the number of 'certainties' has gone up from twelve to sixteen, mind - but the emergence of Che Adams was the big talking point. It will be interesting to see what strategy Clarke uses when putting together his twenty-three man squad. Many international coaches have in the past just picked two players for every position, but a more progressive plan wo

Worst Signings of the 2020/21 Premiership season (part 1)

It's always fun being a critic, and even more so when it comes to Scottish football. In previous years the criticism of these articles has generally been along the lines of "you didn't rank our s*** player high enough". Except for the season I included St. Johnstone's David McMillan...but who was proven right then, I ask you? So this is the ninth year we've ranked the duds signed by Scottish Premiership clubs. Rory Boulding, Stephane Bahoken, Jim Fenlon, Rodney Sneijder, Joey Barton, Eduardo

Caley Thistle are collapsing towards relegation

Legend has it that Harold MacMillan, Prime Minister in the late nineteen-fifties, was once asked what is most likely to blow a government off course and replied "events, dear boy, events!" As in politics, so in life. And so in football, at least in Inverness. Make no mistake: Caley Thistle, their players and those who run the club have significant responsibility for their current plight too, but it has taken a perfect storm of factors, many of which are out of anyone's control, to leave them

Premiership out of contract players: who will stay and who will go?

We have only a couple of months of the season left, and by my count there are - at the time of writing - 141 Premiership players whose contracts are up in the summer. With Covid having impacted finances there are going to be some big budgetary decisions at some clubs to come. And there are many well-known names - often club stalwarts - who may be at risk of the axe. Here's my take on who will stay and who will go...(as ever, I look forward to being proven completely and utterly wrong)  ABERD

Celtic need to make sure this crisis becomes an opportunity

Right, the Neil Lennon era is finally over. The lame duck of the last several months has quacked its last. It would seem a bit cruel for someone to recount how it came to this, to rub salt into the wound... So now the question is: where do Celtic go from here? They are a distant second to Rangers, eighteen points adrift. They have no manager, no Director of Football and the new Chief Executive does not start until the summer. They have several key players likely to leave at the end of

Aberdeen have gone stale under McInnes

Back in the olden days, when everything was in black and white - or maybe it just felt like that in Aberdeen at the start of the 2000s - I was a regular visitor at Pittodrie. One season under Ebbe Skovdahl the Dons finished fourth in the league; later on under Jimmy Calderwood they came fourth three times and third once. Other league finishes in the early years of the twenty-first century include eighth, eleventh, ninth, ninth, ninth, eighth. And of course there was Skovdahl's first campaign, wh

Scottish football is (still) at a Covid crossroads

It is ten months since Covid forced Scottish football into lockdown. After all this time we still have no fans at matches, all divisions from League One downwards have been stopped until at least the end of January and the Scottish Cup has been halted. How depressing. And that is of course because of the even more miserable fact that Covid is still out there. Vaccination will hopefully provide a light at the end of the tunnel. But for Scottish football clubs that light cannot be reached quic

A far-too-early attempt at predicting Scotland's Euros squad

It would be absolutely typical if having qualified for Euro 2020, with two games in Glasgow, Scotland weren't allowed to play in front of fans...or worse, that the tournament gets wiped out due to the ongoing pandemic. Still, here's hoping. There's still five months to go, but that hasn't stopped me taking a look at the candidates to make the final twenty-three man squad. I've broken it down by position and taken a look at who is already (injury permitting) certain to be in that twenty-t

At last, Scotland are glorious without the failure

To be honest, I was ready to just pack it in. When Luka Jovic's header flew into the net, it felt like one heartbreak, one Glorious Failure too many. I just could not do it anymore. As Jovic celebrated, my mind was already racing ahead. The heads would be gone. We'd get creamed in extra time. If somehow we didn't, we'd screw up the penalties. I just couldn't be having with the agony of supporting Scotland any more. My wife is Northern Irish - perhaps I could just bring up my boys to support th

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

At last, Scotland are glorious without the failure

To be honest, I was ready to just pack it in. When Luka Jovic's header flew into the net, it felt like one heartbreak, one Glorious Failure too many. I just could not do it anymore. As Jovic celebrated, my mind was already racing ahead. The heads would be gone. We'd get creamed in extra time. If somehow we didn't, we'd screw up the penalties. I just couldn't be having with the agony of supporting Scotland any more. My wife is Northern Irish - perhaps I could just bring up my boys to support th

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

Ten In A Row is in jeopardy - must Celtic switch manager to save it?

The last time Celtic lost three consecutive home matches, Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, Kylie Minogue was at number one with 'Tears On My Pillow' (no, I've never heard of it either) and Rangers were on their way to Two In A Row. Admittedly in the subsequent thirty years there won't have been many times when Celtic played back-to-back-to-back games at Celtic Park against teams of the quality of Rangers, Milan and, um, Sparta Prague, but still. How has it come to this? Yes, Ran

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

Ten In A Row is in jeopardy - must Celtic switch manager to save it?

The last time Celtic lost three consecutive home matches, Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, Kylie Minogue was at number one with 'Tears On My Pillow' (no, I've never heard of it either) and Rangers were on their way to Two In A Row. Admittedly in the subsequent thirty years there won't have been many times when Celtic played back-to-back-to-back games at Celtic Park against teams of the quality of Rangers, Milan and, um, Sparta Prague, but still. How has it come to this? Yes, Ran

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain



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    • Inverness CT 0-1 Arbroath - Report
      Punchless and Pointless: Inverness toiled to make any headway in a dour first half, the poor fare on display being matched only by the miserable weather. We improved in the final ten minutes before the interval but clear chances were at a premium. After the break and some initial half chances for the hosts, McKenna scored with a cross/shot free kick that caught out the keeper, possibly wind assisted. Inverness still struggled to create clear openings, an all too familiar habit of late. They could have doubled their lead soon after but Ridgers was in the right place to put Little's header over the bar. Thereafter we ruined what little chances we had by a lack of quality around the box and stout defending by Arbroath. Well done to them, they did what they had to do, we need to take a long hard look at how we are going about our business.
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    • Inverness CT -V- Arbroath - Preview
      A busy night of Championship Football has Arbroath heading North to the Caledonian Stadium for a 7:45 kick-off on Tuesday night. The Smokies sit seven points behind the league leaders in fifth place despite being the second highest scorers in the Championship, but four draws and two defeats have held them back slightly. The first game this season at Gayfield ended in a scarcely deserved away win thanks to a neat dinked finish from Shane Sutherland as he bore down on Gaston in the Arbroath goal. 
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    • Raith Rovers 1-1 Inverness CT
      Plenty of endeavour in the first half at Starks Park but little quality in the final third resulted in a game void of goalmouth action over the first forty-five minutes for both sides. Biggest talking point was the sending off just before the break of Ross Mathews for what looked like a rash studs up challenge. Contentious maybe, but straight red dished out. After the break more space saw more chances created but it was Raith that broke forward and scored through Aidan Connolly. Inverness struggled to get back on level terms but eventually did ten minutes from the end when Sean Welsh drilled home from the edge of the box and that ended the scoring. Raith's quest for a win over Inverness goes into a 22nd year. Killie were the only winners in the Championship and closed the gap to three points but Inverness remain top.
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    • Raith Rovers -V- Inverness CT - Preview
      It's a biggy this weekend as we travel to Kirkaldy to take on second place Raith Rovers at Starks Park on Saturday. Standard 3:00pm kick-off in this one which could be a massive indicator as to the outcome of this campaign. John McGlynn has slowly assembled a squad very capable of challenging for the Championship title and I expect Raith to be in the mix come the end of the season.

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    • Inverness CT 2-0 Morton - Report
      Inverness extended their lead at the top of the Championship as the Pars got a late leveller against Killie. The hosts opened the scoring after twenty minutes through Billy Mckay with the credit for the assist going to Mark Ridgers from his quick goal kick. Inverness stepped up a gear after the interval and Michael Gardyne scored the second early in the second half as he crashed a loose ball in the box high into the net. That was enough to see off Morton who battled hard throughout but fell short. It could have been a different story had the visitors made more of their own opportunities. Five points clear after the first quarter: Who knew?
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