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About this blog

Looking for some insight and debate about Scottish football? Don't get your hopes up. If you want to hear from a cynical, whinging Caley Thistle fan, on the other hand, you're in luck...

Entries in this blog

2022-23 Premiership preview

To be honest, these days the Premiership preview is a slog to write. That's partly because my own team aren't in it, partly because I don't have the time to do pieces on individual clubs anymore and partly because for my entire football life it has been either a one horse or two horse race. And a race like that isn't interesting unless you're backing one of the two horses, So I'm happy to accept that this is a bit thin and fully expect to be quickly proved wrong on most of it before the clocks g

2022-23 Championship preview

Here we go then. The Scottish Championship is my bread and butter, by which I mean that I make the same blunders as in all the other previews but with much more confidence. Allegations that I predicted Arbroath to finish bottom last season and Dunfermline to make the playoffs (no,not those playoffs) are absolutely outrageous and completely true. In recent times this division has tended to be dominated by a single club who clearly have more cash to throw at the squad. Out of the last eight cham

2022-23 League One preview

As someone with a wicked sense of humour and a deep love of schadenfreude, League One will doubtless bring me lots of joy every season as long as my own team aren't stuck in it. It's a beautiful combination of full-time clubs who feel the seaside leagues are beneath them - and whose players too often play as if they feel the same - and part-time sides who range from battle-hardened, dangerous units to a complete omnishambles (sometimes both in the same season) with everything in between. It se

2022-23 League Two preview

Those of you who have read my previews before (all three of you) will know that I put a large onus on budget as a factor in how well clubs will do. And with good reason. After all, last season League Two had Kelty Hearts; the season before that there was Queen's Park, who won the title by 16 points in a campaign only 22 games long; in 2019-20 Cove Rangers were 13 points clear when the final quarter was written off.  And for 2022-23 we have, well, nobody who really stands out. Which should mean a

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

The keeper and back four can be found here. We're going 4-2-3-1 this year, as for some reason none of the strikers in this league could hit Adam Rooney levels of goalscoring, let along Michael Higdon levels. On the other hand, the midfield could get a bit over-run and there may be more wingers than there are wings. Still, it's my site and my rules, so there. CENTRAL MIDFIELD: CALLUM MCGREGOR (CELTIC), JOE ARIBO (RANGERS) Honourable mentions: Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen), David Turnbull (Ce

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

So when I first did one of these, Gordon Brown was Prime Minister, I had a hairline that was still within communicating distance of my forehead and Allan McGregor was playing for Rangers. What? Oh.  Anyway, this is the fifteenth annual Team Of The Year. Here's the previous fourteen. I regret nothing. Except Daniel Majstorovic, but that goes without saying. 2007/08: Allan McGregor (Rangers), Alan Hutton (Rangers), Carlos Cuellar (Rangers), Lee Wilkie (Dundee United), Lee Naylor (Celtic),

Worst Signings of the 2021/22 Premiership season (part 2)

The players ranked 25 to 11 can be found here. Before we move on, there has to be an honourable mention for Caleb Chukwuemeka, whose exploits for Livingston had escaped me before I published the first part of this double-bill. Chukwuemeka, on loan from Aston Villa, suffered the ignominy of being subbed just seven minutes after coming off the bench against Aberdeen with David Martindale criticising his work-rate. That was less than a month after arriving; the forward has made a couple of appe

Worst Signings of the 2021/22 Premiership season (part 1)

Ten years I've been doing this. Man, there have been some duffers. Here, for the record, are the nine 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) 2020/21: Shane Duffy (Celtic) Here we go for year 10, with the countdown from 25

The Championship - Second Quarter Report

I did it for the first 9 games, so the law dictates that I have to do it again: here's a look at the second quarter of the Championship season. ARBROATH    A+ First, a caveat: whilst Arbroath are indeed part-time, this is not a bunch of guys playing for expenses money and a post-game booze up. Dick Campbell's squad contains plenty of players who could - should - be at full-time clubs but who probably make more money from the combination of football and a day job than plenty of ful

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

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

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hislopsoffsideagain

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

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

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

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

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

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hislopsoffsideagain

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

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

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

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

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

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

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

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

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

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

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

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hislopsoffsideagain

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

hislopsoffsideagain

hislopsoffsideagain

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

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hislopsoffsideagain

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

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hislopsoffsideagain

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