It's the hope that kills you. Any Scotland fan knows that all too well. And yet, and yet. For the first ten minutes last night, Scotland ripped into Russia. The sheer energy and will took the visitors - and the Hampden crowd - by surprise. The full-backs flew down the flanks; Callum McGregor demanded the ball at each stroke; John McGinn snapped at every Russian heel; Scott McTominay bestrode the midfield like a colossus. Steve Clarke's lineup and plan were absolutely perfect for the occasion.
At the time of writing we're ten days away from Deadline Day - in Scotland it's midnight on Monday 2 September. Plenty is going to happen between now and then. For a start, the window has been closed for English Premier League and Championship clubs for more than a fortnight and so there are players who (in the Fraser Forster style) need to get out if they are to play at all between now and new year. That should mean some decent pickings on loan or permanently for Premiership sides. The flip si
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The first competitive home game of the season is always worthy of getting out the bunting, especially when the visitors are from relatively close by. This was the lure for my Italian friend Stefano from Ancona and I as it took us to Great Grimsby, or Cleethorpes if you want to get picky, as Grimsby Town play in the neighbours backyard so to speak! The town is prefixed by Great to distinguish itself from Little Grimsby a little further down the road, but as we were to dis
PREDICTED LEAGUE POSITION: SEVENTH LAST SEASON: 3rd, 67pts NOTABLE INS: Mohamed El Makrini (Roda JC), Laurentiu Branescu (Juventus, loan) NOTABLE OUTS: Daniel Higgins (Cove Rangers), Jordan Jones (Rangers), Daniel Bachmann (Watford, end of loan), Conor McAleny (Fleetwood Town, end of loan), Liam Millar (Liverpool, end of loan), Youssouf Mulumbu (Celtic, end of loan), Mikael Ndjoli (Bournemouth, end of loan), Aaron Tshibola (Aston Villa, end of loan), Kris Boyd (retired), Scott Boyd (retired),
PREDICTED LEAGUE POSITION: TWELFTH LAST SEASON: 11th, 32pts NOTABLE INS: Tony Andreu (Coventry City), Oan Djorkaeff (Nantes), Ilkay Durmus (Wacker Innsbruck), Sam Foley (Northampton Town), Dean Lyness (Raith Rovers), Sean McLoughlin (Hull City, loan) NOTABLE OUTS: Adam Eckersley (Airdrieonians), Mateo Muzek (Sheriff Tiraspol), Laurentiu Corbu (Dinamo Bucharest, end of loan), Anders Dreyer (Brighton & Hove Albion, end of loan), Lee Hodson (Rangers, end of loan), Jordan Holmes (Bournemouth, e
PREDICTED LEAGUE POSITION: EIGHTH LAST SEASON: 7th, 52pts NOTABLE INS: Wallace Duffy (Celtic), Elliot Parish (Dundee), Max Johnstone (Sunderland), Madis Vihmann (Flora, loan) NOTABLE OUTS: Blair Alston (Hamilton Academical), Aaron Comrie (Dunfermline Athletic), Brian Easton (Hamilton Academical), Joe Shaughnessy (Southend United), Tony Watt (CSKA Sofia), Olly Hamilton (Brechin City, loan), John Robertson (Cove Rangers, loan), Cammy Bell (Partick Thistle, end of loan), Sean Goss (Queens Park Ran
PREDICTED LEAGUE POSITION: THIRD LAST SEASON: 4th, 67pts NOTABLE INS: Funso Ojo (Scunthorpe United, £125k), Luc Bollan (Dundee United), Craig Bryson (Derby County), Ryan Hedges (Barnsley), Curtis Main (Motherwell), Michael Ruth (Queen's Park), Ash Taylor (Northampton Town), James Wilson (Manchester United, loan made permanent), Jon Gallagher (Atlanta United, loan), Greg Leigh (NAC Breda, loan) NOTABLE OUTS: Gary Mackay-Steven (New York City), Mark Reynolds (Dundee United, loan made permanent),
PREDICTED LEAGUE POSITION: FIFTH LAST SEASON: 6th, 51pts NOTABLE INS: Craig Halkett (Livingston), Steven Naismith (Norwich City, loan made permanent), Jamie Walker (Wigan Athletic), Conor Washington (Sheffield United) NOTABLE OUTS: Arnaud Djoum (Al-Raed), Ryan Edwards (Burton Albion), Marcus Godinho (FSV Zwickau), Conor Sammon (Falkirk), David Vanecek (Puskas Akademia), Daniel Baur (Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic, loan), Alex Petkov (Clyde, loan), Demi Mitchell (Manchester United, end of loan), Conor
PREDICTED LEAGUE POSITION: TENTH LAST SEASON: 10th, 33pts NOTABLE INS: Blair Alston (St. Johnstone), Will Collar (Brighton & Hove Albion), Brian Easton (St. Johnstone), Markus Fjortoft (Southern United), Owain Fon Williams (Inverness Caledonian Thistle), Kyle Gourlay (Dundee), Johnny Hunt (Stevenage), Ciaran McKenna (Falkirk), David Moyo (St. Albans City), Korede Adedoyin (Everton, loan) NOTABLE OUTS: Ziggy Gordon (Central Coast Mariners), James Keatings (Inverness Caledonian Thistle), Gary
Working on the assumption that Aberdeen nibble by Chikhura Sachkhere tomorrow night, this piece will be submitted to The Reds programme on Friday for use in the Europa League Third Round second leg versus Croatian visitors, HNK Rijeka, otherwise brown paper bags all round! Having been at three European games in Luxembourg, it would be great to enjoy more than one here! I am still gutted at being denied my first Partizan Beograd viewing.
With HNK Rijeka having twice been an opponent in recent se
PREDICTED LEAGUE POSITION: FIRST LAST SEASON: 1st, 87pts NOTABLE INS: Christopher Jullien (Toulouse, £6m), Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo (Rapid Vienna, £3m), Hatem Abd Elhamed (Hapoel Be'er Sheva, £1.6m), Lucas Connell (Bolton Wanderers, £250k) NOTABLE OUTS: Scott Allan (Hibernian), Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin), Marvin Compper (Duisburg), P.J. Crossan (Dumbarton), Mikael Lustig (Gent), Filip Benkovic (Leicester City, end of loan), Oliver Burke (West Bromwich Albion, end of loan), Jeremy Toljan (Borus
PREDICTED LEAGUE POSITION: SECOND LAST SEASON: 2nd, 78pts NOTABLE INS: Filip Helander (Bologna, £3.5m), George Edmundson (Oldham Athletic, £600k), Joe Aribo (Charlton Athletic, £300k), Steven Davis (Southampton, loan made permanent), Jake Hastie (Motherwell), Jordan Jones (Kilmarnock), Greg Stewart (Birmingham City), Sheyi Ojo (Liverpool, loan) NOTABLE OUTS: Daniel Candeias (Genclerbirligi, £250k), Ryan Hardie (Blackpool), Lee Hodson (Gillingham), Lee Wallace (Queens Park Rangers), Jak Alnwick
PREDICTED LEAGUE POSITION: NINTH LAST SEASON: Promoted as Championship winners NOTABLE INS: Josh Black (Queen's Park), Joe Chalmers (Inverness Caledonian Thistle), Lee Erwin (unattached), Ross Laidlaw (Hibernian), Jack Ruddy (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Blair Spittal (Partick Thistle), Nathan Baxter (Chelsea, loan), Simon Power (Norwich City, loan) NOTABLE OUTS: Jamie Lindsay (Rotherham United, £300k), Russell Dingwall (Elgin City), Scott Fox (Partick Thistle), Greg Morrison (Brora Rangers), Call
PREDICTED LEAGUE POSITION: Fourth LAST SEASON: 5th, 54pts NOTABLE INS: Christian Doidge (Forest Green Rovers, £250k), Scott Allan (Celtic), Steven Bradley (Queen's Park), Adam Jackson (Barnsley), Tom James (Yeovil Town), Joe Newell (Rotherham United), Josh Vela (Bolton Wanderers), Chris Maxwell (Preston North End, loan) NOTABLE OUTS: Lewis Allan (Raith Rovers), Marvin Bartley (Livingston), Ross Laidlaw (Ross County), Mark Milligan (Southend United), Thomas Agyepong (Manchester City, end of loan
It's fashionable to slag off the Scottish Championship because of its lack of quality, but in recent times the gap between the bottom of the Premiership and the best sides in the second tier hasn't been big. The problem is that during the season the clubs that are - or should be - at the top of the division have, either due to overconfidence or lack of confidence, developed a habit of playing down to the opposition. And that's what makes it so intriguing. This is the sixth consecutive season th
In League One, we inevitably find a handful of full-time teams who really shouldn't be down here, and a bunch of battle-hardened part-time clubs who look forward to knocking them off their f****** perch. And often they succeed, as shown last year when Arbroath won the division. It was another part-time side, Forfar, who came second. But it would be a huge shock if a full time side *cough* Falkirk *cough* didn't win it this time. And the trouble with being part-time is that squads are often pre
The addition of a relegation playoff has changed the dynamic of Scotland's fourth tier dramatically. No longer can a club coast along, safe in the knowledge that being the SPFL's bottom club is the worst that can happen. As the hapless Berwick Rangers found to their cost, there are well-funded, hungry teams looking to get out of the regional leagues. Stagnate at your peril.
At the other end, last season was ultimately one for the 'haves' - those who could afford impressive part-time wages to
This is a relatively short piece I have put together for the Aberdeen match programme when they welcome Georgian side Chikhura Sachkhere on Thursday 1st August having already played the first leg in Georgia.
For those who ventured out to Georgia for the first leg, I am hopeful that they will have returned full of tales as to just how wonderful Tbilisi is, as well as how friendly the Georgian people are too! Georgia is one of the best kept secrets of Europe, a truly diverse gem of a country, fro
A skip through South West Luxembourg, the hotbed of Grand Duchy football, whilst enjoying a trio of European ties.
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The day before the First Round of the European Draws were made in Switzerland for the 2019/20 season I decided that given the Edinburgh sides had let me down, I’d head overseas to catch a game. Perusal of the teams going into the hat brought Luxembourg to mind, as oddly the relatively small town of Esch-Sur- Alzette was providing two sides to the E
Alloa Athletic: what will life after Goodwin be like? Jim Goodwin's successor will join the Wasps at an awkward time, in that the club have signed up a load of players that Goodwin wanted; in fact the squad now is about the same size as it was last season before it was augmented with savvy loan signings. The new Alloa boss will need to decide whether he can pull off the same trick with temporary transfers or convince the chairman to find the money for a few more new faces, as well as ponder what
Aberdeen: how hard will this window hit them? Graeme Shinnie has gone. Gary Mackay-Steven has gone. Max Lowe's loan spell has finished. And Celtic are sniffing around Scott McKenna again. It felt like the Dons took a small step backwards last season, and the same could happen this time around unless Derek McInnes has some decent signings up his sleeve - Craig Bryson counts as one, though on last year's showing James Wilson wouldn't. Celtic: do they have a plan? There may well have been a bit o
Ten Man Inverness beat Partick Thistle: Mark Ridgers was MotM with a confident display including one absolutely superb save from Brian Graham in the first half, and when the backs were against the wall he commanded his area taking the pressure off his overworked defenders. Welsh red card looked to be harsh, not heard the last of that yet. Tremendous workrate by everyone who blocked Partick time after time in a desperate second half.
Yay, It's a home game: It's five games since we last played at home in the Championship and that one never went well, a 0-3 loss to Hamilton Accies. In fact our League form has been abysmal over the last 19 games as we have only managed a mere sixteen points from a possible fifty seven. That's a poor return in any language. 28%. These statistics have not gone unnoticed by the long suffering Caley Jags fans who have seen their club plunge deeper into trouble on and off the field. I'm sure Billy Dodds will be grateful for the second chance in the Scottish Cup, but is that simply papering over the cracks? Friday nights visitors at 7:45pm have already pumped us 4-1 and 5-1 this season although we did win the home game 1-0. However, that was not good enough for the Partick board and Ian McCall was relieved of his duties in February as Partick fell off the pace slightly and Kris Doolan has replaced him to good effect. Looks like the jobs for boys pact at Inverness is alive and kicking though and despite protestations from many quarters, Billy Dodds is still hanging on by a thread as we look set for another season in the Championship with a Premiership play-off place looking highly unlikely if not virtually impossible.
Euan Henderson Appreciation Encounter: After the heroics of the Scottish Cup win over Kilmarnock and the anticipation of the semi-final draw for Hampden Park it's back down to earth with a bang and a trip to Ochilview Park to take on league leaders Queens Park in the Championship. Queens will be hurting after beating Inverness on the park in the Scottish Cup, but off the park it was Inverness that progressed and subsequently went on to dispose of Livingston and Kilmarnock to reach the semi-finals of the Cup. If only, if only.... Anyway, it's back to league business and this is another tough game on Saturday with kick-off due at 3:00pm. The Spiders might find us better equipped this time round as injured players return and our bench fills up. Could be a bit of a grudge match to add some extra spice to the occasion. Thanks Euan.
What a performance from the Caley Jags. Heroes to a man and well deserving of their trip to Hampden again. For me, Scott Allardice was tremendous with Jay Henderson having a field day in the first half and unlucky not to score at the start of the second. Sean Welsh does likes a strike against Killie from around twenty-seven yards. On another day we might have scored four or five, but for now, two will do. Big shout out for the young team, great noise all night. Come again please.