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  1. 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-three and the other players trying to fight for their place in history. I actually did something
  2. 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 them instead, and they might get the joy of qualifying for something occasionally? Heck, I've got a ma
  3. 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, Rangers have improved. We're yet to find out whether yet another post-New Year slump will derail their
  4. I did kinda already look at the Championship sides a month ago. What's changed? Not a lot. Hearts should stroll this. Even if their entire starting XI were ruled out with Covid the next eleven players up would still be stronger than everyone else. There has been a worrying hint of the same trait that dogged Robbie Neilson's Dundee United team last season - doing just enough to win and not a lot else, rather than blowing away opponents - but if that's the most negative thing I can come up with then you can tell they must be good. Craig Gordon at the back, Stephen Kingsley, Craig Halkett
  5. To be blunt, League One should be a two horse race. That's not being harsh on the other eight clubs; there are plenty of dangerous teams and quality players elsewhere in this division. But Falkirk and Partick Thistle have so much more to throw at this league than any of the others. As Ray McKinnon discovered at the former last season, struggling to make the top two is not an option. David McCracken and Lee Miller have been the Bairns' co-management team since November 2019 and were unbeaten in the league between then and lockdown. That record surely won't last, but given they've been a
  6. It's no secret that the Covid pandemic has hit football clubs hard. With fans unable to attend games, income is down and chairmen are having to be very frugal indeed. Except at Queen's Park. Having decided that they could no longer continue as amateurs, they have decided that, if they're going to have to pay players, then they're going to pay them. So the squad is filled with folk who were playing full-time last season, some of whom - Bob McHugh and Lee Kilday, for example - were regulars in the Championship. Most remarkably they've signed Simon Murray, the former Dundee United and Hib
  7. The Scottish Premiership has been back in full flow for sometime, but we're now just a month from the Championship, League One and League Two restarting (though the League Cup begins a week and a half before that). These clubs last played a competitive game in early March, and a lot has happened since then. Here's where the ten Championship clubs are currently at. With the transfer window still open till 5th October and loan restrictions eased there will be plenty of signings at each club in the coming weeks. Each Championship club's current squad list can be found here. For more details on
  8. In years gone by, I've knocked off individual previews for each top flight club and published them in the days leading up to the new campaign. Obviously, this hasn't happened this time around. There are reasons for that. These include personal circumstances, a lack of a League Cup group stage to give pointers on how clubs are doing, the fact that the extended transfer window is likely to mean big changes between now and October, and definitely an element of 'I just can't be a***d'. However I am honour-bound to make some sort of prediction for how the Premiership is going to go, because I kn
  9. It is not fair that Hearts, Partick Thistle and Stranraer were relegated from their respective divisions without having played out the full season, nor that as a consequence they face significant financial pressures going forward. They are quite right to legally challenge this decision. It is outrageous that there is any question of Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers being denied promotion. It is also outrageous that these clubs are having to fund legal teams of their own to defend this, at considerable cost to them. The above statements are both true. And that is the problem for
  10. Yes, I know, it's all a bit half-assed this year. Here's the midfield and forwards. And I explained last week why I don't consider Mohamed Elyounoussi a candidate for this. CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS: CALLUM MCGREGOR (CELTIC), ALI MCCANN (ST. JOHNSTONE) Honourable mentions: Alex Gogic (Hamilton Academical), Liam Donnelly (Motherwell), Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen), Marvin Bartley (Livingston) McGregor is the easy pick, of course. His form seemed to dip a little when Neil Lennon returned, but this season he was consistently outstanding. I could have picked any of the other five names to play alongside
  11. Better late than never, I suppose. Usually my Team Of The Year goes up in April, but with everything else that's going on it had fallen by the wayside. But I was spurred into action by the SPFL's own 'voted for by fans' effort. Sake. I mean, Mohamed Elyounoussi made all of seven starts and three sub appearances in the league this season. Jeremie Frimpong played twelve games. I know the season was cut short, but I'm not having that...nor a vote that ends up with players from only the two cheeks of the Glasgow arse. So here's mine. But first, for old time's sake (and to make me cringe)
  12. As you will all be acutely aware, in a Covid-free universe the Scotland National Team would have marched inexorably through the spring playoffs and into Euro 2020. Israel at home? Pah. We managed to beat Israel at home with Alex McLeish in charge. Israel are so cack that James Forrest scored a hat-trick against them. And then Norway away, probably. Sure, Erling Haaland looks like a bit of a player, but he looks to be the perfect size and shape for Charlie Mulgrew's back pocket. Besides, Norway are under as much pressure as us over not qualifying for tournaments for practically forever. They'd
  13. The phrase 'club statement' now fills one with almost as much dread as 'root canal surgery', or 'Andy Halliday at left-back'. There have been exceptions - Stenhousemuir and Kelty Hearts leading the way - but most cases have involved people who think they're cleverer than they are and who have too much time on their hands using the word 'dignity' whilst throwing it away spectacularly in a multi-paragraphed ranting word salad. It would be nice to think that the result of today's vote on having an independent inquiry might bring a break from these lunatic pronouncements. The number of clubs i
  14. Part one of this, which counts down from 25 to 11, can be found here. As ever, the top ten is dominated by whichever club has drastically underachieved that season. No prizes for guessing which side occupies more spots than any other, though not the top one. And for the first time in four seasons, it isn't a Rangers player who 'leads' these standings. Onward... data:image/jpeg;base64,/9j/4AAQSkZJRgABAQAAAQABAAD/2wCEAAkGBxMTEhUTEhMWFhUXFhcXFxcYFxgXFxUYFxgYFxgYFxgYHSggGBolGxcVITEhJSkrLi4uFx8zODMtNygtLisBCgoKDg0OGhAQGy0lHyUtLS0tLS0tLS0tLS0tLS0tLS0tLS0tLS0tLS0tLS0tLS0tLS0tLS0tLS0tLS0tLS0tLf/
  15. This is the eighth season we've done this. Whilst football has come to a standstill I don't believe it entitles these players (or the clubs that signed them) a stay of execution. The halt to matches has probably spared some - particularly January arrivals) - from appearing on this list simply because there wasn't enough evidence of them being crap. But that didn't mean we were short of folk to choose from... As a reminder, here are the previous seven 'winners': 2012/13 - Rory Boulding (Kilmarnock) 2013/14 - Stephane Bahoken (St. Mirren) 2014/15 - Jim Fenlon (Ross County) 2015/16 - Rodn
  16. It's been, what, two weeks without football? The withdrawal is already so bad that I gave in to the Football Manager 2020 free trial; after 12 years on the wagon I'm now obsessing about how to get Weymouth out of the National League South. Either I pay full whack for the game or I face being locked in my childhood bedroom for a week being fed nothing but pea soup. Choose life, choose a job, choose a career, choose '4-2-4 wing play custom route one'. But my tremors and nightsweats are nothing compared to those of the people who actually run football clubs. Forget the crazy schemes like secludi
  17. In case you haven't noticed, Covid-19 (let's be a bit pedantic and call it that, since there are plenty of other coronaviruses of varying severity, including causes of the common cold) is coming. At the time of writing there are 27 cases in Scotland, but that number is going to increase impressively. For what it's worth it seems to me (from my day job perspective as a GP) that the powers that be are dealing with things pretty appropriately at the moment. I'm not an expert in virology or epidemiology (or anything, really) but the advice they're giving right now makes sense to me. And the fact
  18. On the one hand, it must be noted that these figures are essentially a year old, as they are for the 2018/19 season. There can also be pretty legitimate reasons for clubs either losing money or not making as much as expected, such as investment in infrastructure. On the other hand, we now have access to the 2018/19 season accounts for eighteen of Scotland's twenty-two full-time SPFL clubs (assuming no-one is counting Airdrie as full-time yet). We also have an idea of what's to come in two other sets. Of those twenty clubs, just eight turned a profit last season. Most of those eight come with
  19. In case you haven't heard, the Caley Thistle One has been freed. To recap: a couple of weeks back, ICT forward James Keatings was shown a second yellow card in the Challenge Cup semi-final against Rangers Colts after referee Greg Aitken felt he had dived. It was a terrible decision; even without the benefit of multiple forensic camera angles, it was clear as day that he had been bumped and knocked over. The resultant suspension would rule him out of the Challenge Cup Final which, for the sake of the narrative, has been temporarily elevated in the minds of Scottish football fans from 'a pointl
  20. So there's only, what, three months of the season left? We're getting to that time where managers are beginning to think of who will be in next season's squad, where some players are either getting their agents to try and get them a move or panicking that they might be unemployed by the end of May. Going by the information available, 117 players with first team experience are out of contract in the summer. Let's break them, and their likely fates, down... ABERDEEN Luc Bollan, Tomas Cerny, Danny Rogers, Frank Ross The future of Cerny and Rogers depends largely on what the Dons are looking f
  21. To be fair, Aberdeen fans probably aren't alone in suffering from a kind of collective footballing dementia. On the one hand, their long-term memory is generally outstanding, especially when it comes to the 1980s and the word "Gothenburg" is mentioned. More Aberdonians claim to have been there than hippies at Woodstock. And you can hardly blame them for suppressing any recollection of the early part of the 21st century, the era of managers such as Ebbe Skovdahl, Steve Paterson, Jimmy Calderwood and Mark McGhee, of forwards like Leon Mike, Laurent D'Jaffo, Leigh Hinds, Bryan Prunty, David Zdr
  22. Okay, so in terms of finances the headline is just an eensy weensy bit OTT. Inverness Caley Thistle should have enough cash to get through the season. And given that a club of the size of Queen of the South can still manage to stay full-time there's not really any likelihood of ICT having to go part-time in the near future. Still, they have suffered losses of £2m in the last three years - £400,000 in the 2016/17 relegation campaign and £800,000 in each of the last two seasons. That's really quite a lot of money. Worse, last season's figures did not improve despite a run to the Scottish Cup s
  23. The reaction to St. Johnstone's decision to give three McDiarmid Park stands to Rangers and Celtic fans was somewhat mixed. There was, for example, this piece from the Daily Record's Michael Gannon claiming that they were trying to 'make a quick buck' by exploiting the biggest supports in the country - because giving said supports more tickets is, apparently, 'exploitation'. Especially when said tickets are £28 a pop. Sure, we'd all like to pay less for football tickets, but criticizing the price is rich given it costs only a quid less for away supporters at Celtic Park to watch from the inf
  24. Outgoing Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne gave an interview a few weeks ago where he criticized the refusal of Rangers and Celtic to allow change in Scottish football. It was almost as ridiculous as the toupee he sported at the start of his 21 year reign at Pittodrie. Many, including former St. Mirren chairman Stewart Gilmour, were more than willing to lay into Milne for his hypocrisy and his apparent attempts to rewrite history. It's no secret that other Premiership clubs were willing to use Rangers' absence from the top flight to rewrite voting rules that meant an 11-1 majority was required
  25. Aside from a game between Morton and Queen of the South that needs rescheduled, the Scottish Championship has reached its halfway point. Eighteen games down, eighteen to go. It would be a stretch to say there is a title race. Thirteen points clear with eighteen games left? Surely Dundee United can't blow this. United haven't been perfect (their three defeats include a loss to Alloa and a 4-0 trouncing in Dumfries) but they have been close enough. At the time of writing they've won nine straight. Obviously having Lawrence Shankland helps - he has nineteen league goals already and has bro
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