Scottish Premiership: Celtic edge Hearts in thriller, Rangers held by Livingston

“Scottish football witnessed major VAR controversy in the system’s second game in use as Celtic edged a seven-goal thriller at Tynecastle. Hearts substitute Lawrence Shankland hit a hat-trick but was upstaged by the cinch Premiership leaders, who secured a 4-3 victory thanks to Greg Taylor’s 76th-minute winner. James Forrest, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Daizen Maeda also netted as the lead changed hands several times. A pulsating match was also overshadowed by some hotly debated decisions involving the newly introduced video technology. …”
Guardian

Advertisement

From Podcast to Promised Land? Could Open Goal Replicate Its Studio Success on the Pitch and Progress through Scotland’s Footballing Pyramid?

“Scottish football has never been in short supply of intrigue or unpredictability. Counter to claims south of the border, the game in Scotland is alive and well and arguably far more blockbuster than its English cousin. Many outsiders harness their views on Scottish football exclusively through the exploits of its two famous Glasgow clubs, who have indeed historically cast a dominant shadow over the country. True, the almost soap-style drama of Celtic and Rangers’ ferocious rivalry certainly contributes heavily to Scotland’s footballing dynamic and, by extension, embeds itself into the very fabric of native society. However, those invested in the narrative of the Scottish game would swiftly point to a myriad of other tasty plotlines. …”
Football Paradise

Celtic thrash Rangers in Old Firm game to extend lead at the top

“The most galling thing for Rangers is a five-point and 17-goal advantage held over them by Celtic in the Scottish Premiership does not look at all inappropriate. Ange Postecoglou’s team mauled their city rivals in the season’s first Old Firm game. No wonder, then, that the Australian offered a post-match battle cry in respect of Tuesday’s Champions League visit of Real Madrid to Glasgow. ‘Let’s go down swinging’ said Postecoglou. Celtic, so high on confidence, will not alter approach against illustrious opposition.  …”
Guardian

What the Champions League Is Lacking


“PARIS — There will be stories, of course. There are always stories. The Champions League delivers them so frequently and so reliably that it is impossible to dismiss the nagging suspicion that all of this might just be scripted, the product of some complex simulation being run from a secret lair in Nyon. Robert Lewandowski, clad in the blue and red of Barcelona, will return to Bayern Munich, only a few weeks after forcing his exit. Manchester City’s visit to Borussia Dortmund will see Erling Haaland standing once more before its Yellow Wall, that great force of nature no longer at his back but marshaled in his face. …”
NY Times
The Athletic: Champions League draw analysed – The biggest games, the shocks in store, the toughest groups

Rating the best and worst of Europe’s 2022-23 kits: From stunners to zany stripes

“We’ve rated the Premier League home kits. We’ve rated the Premier League away kits. So now it’s time to go Euro. It’s a big ask to review the design choices of an entire continent, but The Athletic has broad shoulders and is very happy to take on the job. Someone has to — you may think that this is not something that is absolutely vital for the smooth continuation of public discourse, but unfortunately, we’ve checked, and actually, it is. …”
The Athletic (Video)

The ‘Pasty Pirlo’: Ange Postecoglou’s first Aussie signing at Celtic

“Despite the reported strong interest from a couple of English Championship clubs, Aaron Mooy has become Celtic’s latest summer signing, linking up with his former Australia coach Ange Postecoglou at Parkhead. Mooy, who has been living in Glasgow for the last six months, recently terminated his contract with Shanghai Port following a mutual agreement between the player and the club. The former Brighton star spent the last two years in China where he played only 31 games out of 60 available, due to a myriad of reasons like family issues, multiple COVID isolations, and lack of match fitness. …”
Football Paradise

Scottish Premiership 2021-22 Stats


“The 2021-22 Scottish Premiership season has come to an end. Rangers were the defending champions after stopping rivals Celtic winning a record tenth title in a row the previous year. However Celtic claimed the league trophy back after a 1–1 draw with Dundee United in May. It was still a successful season for Rangers however, with The Gers reaching the Europa League final and winning the Scottish Cup. At the wrong end of the table, St Johnstone maintained their top-flight status by winning the Premiership play-off final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Dundee were automatically relegated to the Scottish Championship. …”
The Analyst

Four Days To Define A Season: Van Bronckhorst’s Rangers Face Monumental 72 Hours


Giovanni van Bronckhorst
“Rangers are about to embark on two monumental games in four days that will define their season. The Ibrox club will attempt to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Sporting Braga in the last eight of the Europa League before challenging Celtic for a place in the Scottish Cup final just 72 hours later. The hangover from the Old Firm defeat lingered for days – and the Scottish champions were lacklustre against a sprightly Braga side last week. The Glasgow giants were unnerved defensively, outworked in midfield and insipid in attack. …”
The Sportsman

Scotland: 2021-22 Premiership Scotland


“2021-22 Premiership – Location-map, with: Seasons-in-1st-Division for the current 12 clubs, Scottish titles list, and 25 largest Metro-areas and Localities in Scotland listed. The map shows the locations of the 12 Scottish football clubs which are currently in the Premiership [2021-22]. The map itself is a topographical map with built-up areas shown (shown in a pale-pink colour). Included on the map are the locations of the two recently-relegated sides (Hamilton Academical & Kilmarnock), and the two recently-promoted sides (Dundee FC & Heart of Midlothian). The 25 largest metro-areas and localities in Scotland are shown on the map, and populations are listed (see Part C, below). …”
billsportsmaps
W – 2021–22 Scottish Premiership
BBC: Scottish Football

Old Firm


“The Old Firm is the collective name for the Scottish football clubs Celtic and Rangers, which are both based in Glasgow. The two clubs are by far the most successful and popular in Scotland, and the rivalry between them has become deeply embedded in Scottish culture. It has reflected, and contributed to, political, social, and religious division and sectarianism in Scotland. As a result, the fixture has had an enduring appeal around the world. Between them the two clubs have won 106 Scottish League championships (Rangers with 55 and Celtic with 51), 73 Scottish Cups (Celtic with 40 and Rangers with 33), and 47 Scottish League Cups (Rangers with 27 and Celtic with 20). Interruptions to their ascendancy have occurred rarely, most recently with the challenge of the New Firm of Aberdeen and Dundee United in the first half of the 1980s. …”
Wikipedia
NY Times: Old Rivals, New Ideas and Why Some Clubs Are Reluctant to Try (Jan. 2021)
Soccer Politics – The Old Firm: Scotland’s Claim to Football Fame (Dec. 2011)
The Old Firm – April 2019) (Video)
The Old Firm Derby: A Tale of Politics, Religion and Scottish Sectarianism (Oct. 2019

Celtic and Rangers players observe a moment of silence before their match on December 29, 2018

The Rebuild: Celtic’s Class of 2021-22 Could Achieve Greatness


“2020-21 was miserable for Celtic. Rangers won the Scottish Premiership title at a canter, with their tally of 102 points 25 more than their city rivals – a record gap by the Gers over Celtic in a league season. It ended nine years of Celtic dominance in the league, while they failed to win a trophy for the first time since 2009-10. Celtic’s season was such a disaster, that next week marks a year since that Neil Lennon resigned as manager after leading them to back-to-back Premiership titles in 2018-19 and 2019-20. …”
The Analyst (Video)

Ajax, Barca, Bayern among Europe’s great treble winners


“The Bavarians’ success was remarkable given they changed their coach earlier in the campaign, appointing Hans-Dieter Flick as head coach. Flick had been the number two at Bayern and had filled similar roles with RB Salzburg and the German national team. Prior to that, he was coach of Hoffenheim in the regional league. While Flick inherited a team, he rekindled the fire at Bayern and won three major prizes. Bayern Munich joined eight previous winners of the ‘treble’. …”
Game of the People

Reo Hatate hits double to help rampant Celtic replace Rangers at top of table


“Nine months on from the conclusion of a season which saw Celtic finish an embarrassing 25 points behind Rangers, the sense of a pendulum swing is impossible to ignore. The finest 90 minutes of Ange Postecoglou’s reign saw Celtic maul Rangers, with the added benefit of moving past their city rivals at the summit of the Scottish Premiership. Incredibly, given the earlier gulf between the teams, Celtic now have to be the favourites to win the league. …”
Guardian

Scotland v England and the peculiarly divergent stance on football crowds


“At is not the case that followers of Scottish football gaze enviously at the Premier League. Camera phones capturing goal celebrations and public investment funds bearing gifts mean Scots revel in their own authenticity. It may be thud and blunder but it is our thud and blunder. In recent days, though, there have been wistful glances across the border. After Nicola Sturgeon, the Scotland first minister, implemented a limit of 500 people at outdoor sporting events the Scottish Professional Football League’s board took the unusually smart decision to expedite its top-flight winter break. At what traditionally is a hectic, joyous time it was deemed better to close the gates. …”
Guardian

16 football clubs sitting outside the elite


“Should European football ever morph into a super league structure, the landscape will be substantially changed, no matter how any new league might manifest itself. For the past decade, a set of global, elite players have evolved, but beneath the top layer, there are a number of clubs who have scale and presence, some with back stories that belong to a more democratic age. Some of these glorious names may be dominant forces in their own backyard but do not have the financial clout to compete with Europe’s gargantuan institutions. Others were once feared names across the continent, metropolitan clubs from major cities such as Lisbon, Amsterdam, Rome, Rotterdam and Glasgow. …”
Game of the People

Celtic and Dundee United close on Scottish lead as Hearts deny Rangers


Celtic’s David Turnbull is congratulated after scoring on his return to Motherwell.
“A last-gasp goal from Craig Halkett gave Hearts a 1-1 draw with leaders Rangers at Ibrox. John Lundstram’s wonderful first-half strike from 30 yards had given the home side a deserved interval lead but they could not add to it as the game went on. And after Jambos boss Robbie Neilson was sent off by referee Don Robertson with three minutes remaining, a mistake by home keeper Allan McGregor from a corner allowed Halkett to nod in at the back post to keep the visitors unbeaten in the league and still a point behind the champions. …”
Guardian

2021-22 UEFA Champions League Group Stage


The map is a standard location-map showing the locations of the 32 qualified teams in the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League Group Stage. There are several other aspects to the map page… 1). Groups A through H… At the very top of the map are the eight 4-team groups of the Group Stage, arranged with with each club’s home-country flag shown alongside. 2). Allocations vs. Qualified teams, by country… At the left side of the map page, Allocations (by member-nations) are shown, via a list of the top 41 UEFA Member-Associations in their current [2021-22] Country Co-efficient ranking. I stopped at 41 (out of the 55 total UEFA member-nations) because #41 is the current ranking of Moldova, and Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova was the club from the lowest-ranked country to qualify for this season’s tournament. This is the first time a club from Moldova has qualified for the elite competition that is the Champions League. But it is not really any sort of fairy-tale story of a David making it into the realm of the Goliaths. …”
billsportsmaps

Rangers 1-0 Celtic: Filip Helander header settles pulsating derby


“Filip Helander’s thumping header settled a pulsating Old Firm derby as a depleted Rangers inflicted Celtic’s second Scottish Premiership defeat of the season at a packed Ibrox. The home side, with manager Steven Gerrard and several players absent after a Covid outbreak, made it seven derbies in a row without defeat, with victory in six of them. Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard somehow squirted wide from close range with the game goalless, before Helander’s header claimed the points for the champions. The victory moves Rangers to within a point of Hibernian and Hearts at the summit, with Celtic in sixth place after two defeats in four matches. …”
BBC
Guardian: Filip Helander heads winner for Covid-19 depleted Rangers against Celtic

Scottish Soccer’s Brexit Problem: No Way In, and No Way Out


Scotland’s two biggest teams, Celtic and Rangers, have the means to support some of their ambitions. Most of their Scottish rivals do not.
“Juhani Ojala knew he would have to wait. Travel restrictions were still in place in Scotland when, in the middle of July, the Finnish defender agreed to join Motherwell, a club of modest means and sober ambitions in the country’s top division. Upon landing, Ojala knew, he would have to spend 10 days isolating in a hotel before joining his new teammates. … All of that changed in January, when — four and a half years after the Brexit referendum — Britain formally, and finally, left the European Union. As of that moment, clubs in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland no longer had the untrammeled access to players from its 26 member states (a different set of rules apply to Ireland) they had enjoyed since the 1990s. …”
NY Times

2021–22 Scottish Premiership


“The 2021–22 Scottish Premiership (known as the cinch Premiership for sponsorship reasons) will be the ninth season of the Scottish Premiership, the highest division of Scottish football. Rangers are the defending champions. Twelve teams will contest the league: Aberdeen, Celtic, Dundee, Dundee United, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Livingston, Motherwell, Rangers, Ross County, St Johnstone and St Mirren. The season begins on 31 July 2021. …”
Wikipedia
YouTube: Scottish Premiership 2021-22 Stadiums

“Nine in a row”


Those were the days – Celtic seal their nine-in-a-row, 1974
“‘Nine in a row’ is a topic which has dominated football in Scotland at club level since the 1970s. The term refers to one club winning the national league championship nine times in a row, a mark which was first set by Celtic between the 1965–66 and 1973–74 seasons, during which they also became European champions in 1967. Their run was eventually stopped by Old Firm rivals Rangers, who later received significant financial investment and matched the achievement between 1988–89 and 1996–97 – Celtic were the team to win the next title and prevent their record being broken. …”
Wikipedia

Celtic defeat to Ross County pushes Rangers one step closer to title


“Jordan White was the Ross County hero as they inflicted a second defeat on Celtic this season and put Rangers on course for a Parkhead title party. White headed home unchallenged from a 71st-minute free-kick to lift County off the bottom of the Scottish Premiership above Hamilton and Kilmarnock and leave Celtic 18 points adrift of Rangers with eight games remaining. The champions’ 1-0 loss means Rangers could officially clinch the title at Celtic Park on 21 March if both sides win their two games beforehand. …” Guardian

Old Rivals, New Ideas and Why Some Clubs Are Reluctant to Try


Is it possible Rangers and Celtic are too tangled up in their rivalry for their own good?
Nobody wants to say it is over. Steven Gerrard, the Rangers manager, will not tempt fate. He will only believe the title is won, he has said, when the math says so. Neil Lennon, his counterpart at Celtic, similarly cannot concede defeat. His team, he has said, will keep going, keep fighting, while there is still some small glimmer of hope. But both must surely know that it is over, and has been for some time. It was over long before this last, toxic month, when Celtic staged a winter training break in Dubai in the middle of a pandemic and flew back into a coronavirus-infected storm.It was over before two Celtic players duly tested positive, before pretty much the whole first-team squad had to go into isolation, before criticism rained down on the club from the Scottish government and even its own fans. …”
NY Times, In Brazil, Risk and Reward, Side by Joyous Side

Transfer window: Scottish-based players catching the eyes of other clubs


Celtic striker Moussa Dembele’s future remains unclear
“The January transfer window will soon be closed, to the relief of many managers given that a number of Scottish-based players are attracting admiring glances. It’s a case of now or, well, the summer for clubs looking to strengthen for the season run-in or those looking to profit with players’ contracts running down. In Scotland, the days of high-profile deadline-day transfers are now few and far between. Yet in this window there remains interest in a number of players at leading clubs. Here’s a run down of the individuals likely to be in the news over the coming days…” BBC

Scottish football’s crisis of confidence

“When Alex Ferguson was appointed Billy McNeill’s successor as Aberdeen manager in the summer of 1978, it had been thirteen years since a team outside of the Old Firm were crowned champions of Scotland and the Glasgow giants had already racked up sixty seven league titles between them: their reputation as the country’s preeminent force well established. Given the weight of historical context and the fact the 36-year-old Ferguson had recently suffered the ignominy of being sacked by St. Mirren, casual observers may have expected he would ease himself gently into his new position in the North East. Those who understood the psyche of the Govan-raised firebrand knew better. …” Football Pink

Hampden custodians Queen’s Park face anxious wait over national stadium review


“Sir Alex Ferguson and Scottish FA performance director Malky Mackay – just two of the former players, and well-kent faces, who helped Scotland’s oldest football club celebrate their anniversary. But, as Queen’s Park come to the end of their 150th year, they enter 2018 needing even more influential backing as they face one of the biggest challenges to their own longevity – and that of their famous home, Hampden Park. Scottish football owes its existence to that meeting at 3 Eglinton Terrace, Glasgow, on 9 July 1867, when Queen’s Park’s first president, Mungo Ritchie, used his casting vote to choose their current name instead of The Celts. …” BBC

Celtic: Hearts deliver ‘boot up the rear’ to Rodgers’ ‘invincibles’


“Had you ventured into the Tynecastle Arms on Saturday night and asked every last Hearts fan in the place for their most optimistic scenario for the meeting with Celtic the day after, the chances are that none of their boozy dreams would have been as big and as fanciful as the trippy reality. Harry Cochrane was 10 years old the last time Hearts beat Celtic. Fellow midfielder Anthony McDonald was 11. For 20 games going back five-and-a-half years, Celtic had lorded it over them to a painful degree. Eighteen victories and two draws; 62 goals scored and nine conceded. …” BBC (Video)

Motherwell 1 Celtic 1: Scott Sinclair saves Celts’ unbeaten record with dramatic late penalty

“Celtic can take their sequence of successive unbeaten domestic games to 67 – that iconic number for the club – against Motherwell at the weekend after coming within a few minutes of defeat in Lanarkshire, where Mikael Lustig’s own goal put the Steelmen ahead. For the second time in three days against Celtic, the Fir Park outfit were undone by a penalty kick – again involving Scott Sinclair – although this time converted by the winger after Andy Rose had been judged to have fouled Callum McGregor. …” Telegraph

Hibernian 2 – 2 Celtic


Callum McGregor opened the scoring and later levelled with his sixth goal of the season
“Hibernian came close to ending Celtic’s now 58-game unbeaten domestic run on Neil Lennon’s return to his old club. The former Celtic boss saw his side fall behind to Callum McGregor’s sweet first-half strike. But two thumping goals from Scotland midfielder John McGinn put the visitors ahead with 13 minutes remaining. But they could only hold the lead for three minutes, McGregor tucking home an equaliser before Scott Sinclair went close to a late winner for the hosts. Celtic remain top of the Premiership, on goal difference from Aberdeen, while Hibs drop to sixth, but level on points with fifth-placed Motherwell. …” BBC

Premier League results: Man City win at Chelsea, Fellaini and Kane score twice

“The top three all won in the Premier League on Saturday as Manchester City defeated Chelsea in the late game to reclaim the top spot that had briefly been taken away from them earlier in the day. Kevin de Bruyne smashed a stunning second-half strike past fellow Belgian Thibaut Courtois as Manchester City leapfrogged Manchester United on goal difference with a slender 1-0 victory. …” BBC

Celtic’s rivals face mission impossible; Rob Maclean picks his team of the (half) year

“The big problem for Rangers and Aberdeen in trying to play Scottish Premiership catch-up is that runaway leaders Celtic are no sitting target. Manager Brendan Rodgers had some chilling words for the chasing pack after Celtic ended 2016 with their third Old Firm win of the season so far. If they beat St Johnstone in their first game after the winter break, they’ll be 22 points clear at the top after 21 matches. Rodgers says his team, already far too good for any domestic challenge, will be even better on the back of the January shutdown. Celtic will aim to get the title won at what could be a ridiculously early stage, take their first steps towards completing a treble and further strengthen the squad for another crack at the Champions League next season.” BBC

Scottish football: five things we learned at the weekend

“There promises to be one almighty scrap for runners-up spot in the Scottish Premiership. You might say it’s a bit sad if we’re getting excited about the fight for second place but Celtic are in a league of their own and next best does bring with it a place in Europe and a decent chunk of prize money. I would expect Aberdeen and Rangers to battle it out for that consolation prize but wouldn’t be shocked if Hearts or St Johnstone are contenders as well.” BBC

Rangers 0 Celtic 1

gp35482428
“Celtic will play Aberdeen in the Scottish League Cup final after Moussa Dembele secured a late victory over Rangers in the Old Firm semi-final. Brendan Rodgers’ side had the better of the Hampden match with Scott Sinclair, Tom Rogic, Dembele and Stuart Armstrong drawing saves from Matt Gilks. Erik Sviatchenko had a goal disallowed for Celtic and Sinclair’s free-kick was touched on to the bar by Gilks.” BBC

Rangers 0-1 Celtic: Player ratings from Billy Dodds and Pat Bonner
“Moussa Dembele’s late goal was enough for Celtic to beat Rangers 1-0 in the Old Firm Betfred League Cup semi-final at Hampden. Brendan Rodgers’ side will face Aberdeen in the final on 27 November. Former Rangers striker Billy Dodds and ex-Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner were at Hampden and gave their verdict on the teams.” BBC

Celtic vs. Rangers – more than just a game
“The Scottish League Cup semi-final will be the latest instalment in the Old Firm rivalry, which has cemented itself as one of the fiercest games in world football. That’s because for so many people it’s more than just football, with politics, sectarianism and football making for a lethal mix. Originally, Rangers were formed in 1872, and it wasn’t until 1888 when Celtic were founded by the Irish community who had moved to Glasgow to escape conditions back in their homeland. That ensured Celtic would be the team for Irish and Catholic families, whilst Rangers had a staunch Protestant following.” Football Pink

‘Celtic have disappeared off into the distance and left Rangers behind’

rodgers
“All that was missing from the home fans was the collective, and mocking, cry of ‘Ole!’ as each pass found its target. It was late in the game at Celtic Park. Rangers were one down in numbers on the field after Philippe Senderos’ red card, one down on the touchline after Davie Weir, the Rangers assistant manager, was sent to the stand, and 4-1 down on the scoreboard after Moussa Dembele scored a hat-trick and Scott Sinclair scored in his fifth successive domestic match for his new club.” BBC

Solidarity at the Stadium

celtic_fans_wave_palestine_flags_during_match_with_israeli_club.jpg_1718483346
Celtic fans on August 17, 2016.
“The headlines that reported on August’s Celtic–Hapoel Ber’er Sheva football match didn’t cover the importance of the game — although it was a qualifier for the Champions League — nor the quality of the play, despite it being an entertaining encounter that Celtic won by five goals to two. Instead, it was the Celtic fans who grabbed everyone’s attention. They had been warned that if they raised the Palestinian flag inside the stadium, the Union of European Football Association (UEFA), which prohibits political messages at matches, would fine the club. There had even been rumors that police would arrest those carrying the flag.” Jacobin

Scottish Cup semi-final: Rangers v Celtic Player ratings

“Rangers are through to their second cup final of the season after beating Celtic 5-4 on penalties following a 2-2 draw after extra time. So how did the individual players on each side fare? Former Rangers and Scotland midfielder Stuart McCall assesses the performances of the Ibrox side, while former Celtic and Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Pat Bonner rates Ronny Deila’s players.” BBC

Former Chelsea, Everton, Tranmere and Scotland star Pat Nevin speaks to The Football Pink

pat-nevin
“Former Chelsea, Everton, Tranmere and Scotland star Pat Nevin speaks to Mark Godfrey of The Football Pink. He talks openly about his upbringing in Glasgow, playing for the infamous Ken Bates at Chelsea, his time on Merseyside with Everton and Tranmere, representing his country 28 times and his current life as a TV pundit and analyser. He also discusses in great length his love of music and his involvement in various political issues.” Football Pink (Video)

Drastic changes are needed at Celtic but will the board listen?

“Top of the league with ten games to go and still in with a chance to win the Scottish Cup, you would expect supporters of such a club to be happy with their lot, but this is Celtic we are talking about and expectations are not being met. Booing has replaced cheers at Celtic Park, as the stadium once dubbed Paradise is turning into a Hieronymous Bosch scene. Performances under manager Ronny Deila have been woeful, the players struggling to do even the basics of what is expected of a professional football player and above all else – there is a lack of entertainment.” Scotzine

New pretenders to the Scottish throne

“It’s a sign of the times up in Scotland when nobody seems all that bothered about one of the most newsworthy deals of the January transfer window. Rangers Football Club have finally found a near namesake of the Dutchman they’ve been singing about for decades. And this is no Pierre van Hoojidonk, or Giovanni van Bronckhorst. Young Billy King has joined the ranks at Ibrox, after decades of his namesake featuring in tattoos, verse, and T-shirts on the terraces. Billy King’s signing has been pushed out of the headlines by the performances of some of Scotland’s lesser lights and former giants rising up again to the froth of the Premier League.” Football Pink

Celtic 6 – Dundee 0

“Celtic delivered a timely reminder of their commanding nature with an impressive sweeping aside of Dundee. The visitors could not suppress Celtic’s cutting edge or endeavour, and were quickly two goals behind thanks to Tom Rogic and Leigh Griffiths. Emilio Izaguirre took over the scoring after the break, striking twice and also missing a penalty. That was a rare moment of relief for a subdued Dundee, who conceded further goals to Scott Brown and Nadir Ciftci. Soon after this game kicked off, Aberdeen scored to lead 3-0 at Tynecastle. The Celtic players would have been unaware of that fact – although plenty of the home fans were following events on the other side of the country – but they are alert enough to the pressure being applied by Derek McInnes’s side.” BBC

The spirit of ’96 – When Tommy Burns’ heroes revived Celtic

“If Celtic’s great teams are measured in terms of trophies won, the 1995-96 side should have quickly become a distant memory. It is difficult to imagine parents and grandparents regaling children with tales from the season when Tommy Burns’ Celtic lost just one league game but still failed to win the league or any, in fact, any other trophy. Jock Stein’s 1967 Lisbon Lions, Billy McNeil’s 1988 Centenary double winners and Martin O’Neill’s 2001 treble winners feature more often when looking back at the great Celtic sides of the past 50 years.” backpagefootball

Celtic and the Decline of Scottish Football

Scott-Brown-Celtic-2015
“But it looks like the decision to send the club to the bottom tier of the Scottish football pyramid may just be finally hitting home that it has been a hindrance for the overall domestic picture in a country that is worlds away from its big-spending British neighbours. If you look at the game in Scotland logically and sensibly, there is very little quality throughout the four divisions, especially in the top-flight, where it is essentially a race to finish second best behind the worst Celtic side in a long, long time.” Outside of the Boot

Champions League: Celtic weakness cruelly exposed in defeat

celtic
“In the minutes after Celtic’s lame exit from the Champions League, the mixed zone at the Swedbank Stadium was like a hospital ward for damaged footballers. The visiting team trooped in with their pride hurting not just because of what their driven opponents from Malmo had just done to them but by what their own manager had said about them. When Ronny Deila accused his team of being ‘scared’ and ‘frightened’ on the night, it was as firm a kick to their collective solar plexus as anything the Swedes visited upon them.” BBC

An insight into Football Scouting: Interview with Neil McGuinness

j-mcg
“Neil was a professional scout with Celtic for many years and has worked under Neil Lennon and Ronny Deila. He has now taken a role working for the Qatar national team at the Aspire Academy. His role there is to scout for the players who will potentially represent the Qatar team at the World Cup in 2022. He was responsible for bringing in the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Stefan Johansen in terms of signings at Celtic. We thank Neil for his time and valuable insight.” Outside of the Boot

Henrik Larsson: Humble and hungry for success as a manager

“He walks into the room overlooking the pitch at Helsingborg’s Olympia stadium, sticks out his hand and apologises for being late – about two minutes late. To most of us, it’s nothing but, then, Henrik Larsson has never been like most of us. To a footballer whose greatness was built, in part, on the back of impeccable timing, two minutes is two minutes too long. He hasn’t changed, not much at any rate. He’s 43 but still looks fit enough to waltz on to the pitch at Celtic Park and light the place up one more time. Football is now something he plays for fun with his mates once a week in an over-35s league. But his new life as a manager? That’s a different story. That’s the thing that envelops him now.” BBC

Broken Hearts looking to consolidate on their unexpected quick return

heart_of_midlothian
“It’s been a rollercoaster few years for Heart of Midlothian Football Club, but after financial rescue and a surprise runaway success in the Scottish Championship last season, what are the Jambos’ realistic aims for 2015/16. MATT LESLIE looks at the campaign ahead. The new Scottish Premier League season gets under way this weekend and Hearts fans will be delighted at the return of top-flight football following a year’s absence.” Football Pink

Interview – Legendary Football Manager striker Ivica Strok

Screen-Shot-2015-07-31-at-22.31.53
“It’s not often a lowly football writer such as myself gets invited to interview a footballer, let alone one who is considered one of the greatest strikers of all time. So, when I was invited by CALM, a charity aimed at preventing suicide in men, to sit down with the one and only Ivica Strok naturally I jumped at the chance. Yet despite weeks of methodical research, reviewing hour upon hour of YouTube footage of the some 855 goals, picking through the numerous explosive quotes in press archives; I still felt an intense sense of trepidation. Ivica Strok is, of course, a legend of the game; a teenager from Zagreb for whom Celtic Park became a home, where, over an illustrious career, records were brushed aside and statues erected; but he’s also renowned as one of the most outspoken personalities in the game, a man who rivals Roy Keane in his candidness.” backpagefootball

Scottish Premiership ins and outs – Summer 2015

boyata
“With Celtic, Aberdeen, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and St Johnstone all involved in European competition qualifying, several Scottish Premiership managers have a particularly short close season during which to reshape their squads. Champions Celtic are the only club with the financial muscle to splash significant amounts of cash in the transfer market and started their summer recruitment by paying £1.5m to Manchester City for central defender Dedryck Boyata. However, it is Dundee who have had the most significant turnover of playing staff so far.” BBC

Celtic – Everything’s Gone Green

Scott Brown
“So Celtic duly won their fourth consecutive Scottish League title in May in their first season under young Norwegian manager Ronny Deila, who had replaced the very successful Neil Lennon the previous summer. Despite this fine achievement, there was also disappointment, as the famous Glasgow club failed to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League, even though they had two bites at the cherry, having been reprieved after Legia Warsaw fielded an ineligible player, only to crash out against Slovenian champions Maribor. This was in stark contrast to previous great nights in Europe. As recently as November 2012, Celtic beat Barcelona 2-1 in front of a packed Celtic Park, as they made their way to the last 16 of the Champions League. Many believed that this would be the platform for greater things, but the club has not progressed since then, as they did not make the best use of the European cash windfall. Instead, they sold three key players at the end of that season (Victor Wanyama, Gary Hooper and Kelvin Wilson) and failed to adequately replace them.” The Swiss Ramble

Celtic cousins – How are Ireland and Scotland the same yet different?

b
“At the end of a long, often arduous, domestic season for most of Europe, only in UEFA would it make sense to schedule a run of Euro 2016 qualifiers for this coming weekend, 12-14 June. Yet so it comes to pass that Ireland and Scotland clash in Dublin this evening with a huge amount at stake in Qualification Group D.” backpagefootball

Scotland fight on and dream on after messy Dublin display
“You counted them from the first minute of the Euro 2016 qualifier against the Republic of Ireland – the Scotland blunders, the moments of uncertainty, the epidemic of misplaced passes that took hold of Gordon Strachan’s team for 45 minutes. You watched some of it in disbelief and some of it in anger and confusion. Where did this weakness come from? Who stole Scotland’s serenity?” BBC

The title race that could have been

“Although most Aberdeen fans would agree that the thought of the Premiership trophy being held aloft at Pittodrie this year was far-fetched, I’m sure there will still be some wondering if this year was really their chance to do something a bit special. Aberdeen have had another fantastic season this year. While last year’s rampant revival under Derek McInnes brought them the League Cup and their highest league finish in seven years, this season the team and the club have gone a step further in taking second spot in the league. They have been consistent and ruthless in dispatching teams in the Premiership, racking up an unbelievable 19 clean sheets so far as well. This is definitely title-winning form but Celtic sit eight points ahead of the Dons with only five games to go. While nothing can be ruled out, it does appear that Aberdeen will need to settle for second place.” Scotzine

We Went There: The Return of the Old Firm Derby

“There was a certain halfheartedness to the way Celtic manager Ronny Deila celebrated his club’s victory over Rangers after the full-time whistle, performing his now customary fist-pump routine in front of his own fans. Bragging rights don’t mean so much against such helpless opposition. The blue half of Hampden Park — the age-old, neutral battleground between Glasgow’s two bitter rivals — had emptied long before, leaving behind nothing more than the lingering air of factionalism and toxic bile that comes with every Old Firm derby. Police arrested 12 fans for alleged sectarian breach of the peace, with scuffles between supporters running into the night across the city.” Grantland

When all the off-field distractions are set aside, Ireland to edge a tight encounter

“This was a fixture that, from the outset, seemed destined to be overshadowed by events off the field rather than the actual football being played. There was always bound to be a hostile reception for Glasgow-born Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy on their first visit to the city in the green of Ireland – though Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, to his credit, did his best to defuse the situation by calling for a ‘pantomime’ atmosphere. McCarthy’s withdrawal owing to a persistent hamstring injury – the same injury that kept him out of the previous games with Gibraltar and Germany – has defused the situation somewhat, though McGeady is likely to receive a mixed reception at the stadium he elated for years with Celtic. Wednesday night’s bizarre scenes whereupon a known associate of Jack Charlton managed to do himself a mischief, which required hospital treatment, while making some sort of elaborate protest against Roy Keane has added an uncalled-for element of the bizarre.” backpagefootball

Gordon Strachan v Martin O’Neill: More than Celtic connections
“Football followers with a romantic notion could be forgiven for finding themselves overwhelmed by Scotland’s meeting with the Republic of Ireland on Friday. Martin O’Neill, if anyone needs reminding, returns to Celtic Park, a stadium where he was, and still is, worshipped for the success he brought to the club. He will come up against his successor as Celtic manager, Gordon Strachan, who, though not held in quite the same regard by the supporters as O’Neill, nevertheless achieved a great deal in his time in charge.” BBC

Remember the name: Celtic’s cult-hero & Sweden’s golden boy, Henrik Larsson

“For fifteen years Swedish lower-league side Högaborgs was the home of one Henrik Larsson. The prolific striker joined the club when he was just six years old and worked his way up to the senior side where he made his debut at age 17. He scored 23 goals during his three years in the first team before a trial at Benfica (then coached by Swedish manager Sven-Göran Eriksson) led to his departure in 1992.” Outside of the Boot

The sporadic Scottish football round-up: First installment

“Hello and welcome to the first of a semi-regular review of the Scottish football season so far by your friend in pie Meat Filled Pastries (@MFPTasty). So what’s been happening up north, well apart from the whole referendum business in many respects it’s business as usual, well almost. Let’s review. European competition is something that starts in July and finishes in August north of the border, St. Johnstone repeated last years feat of beating a team that some people of heard of only to be knocked out by a team only yours truly and anyone looking for Slovakian bargains in Football Manger will have heard of while Motherwell went one better and didn’t even bother winning a game against a team nobody had ever heard of. Aberdeen fared better comfortably beating Daugava Riga, who one assumes were part of Latvia’s attempts to integrate rugby into their national sporting curriculum, before perhaps getting the best Scottish result in Europe so far this season by beating Groningen over two legs.” The Football Pink

Soccer Fans Supply Strong Voice in Scottish Independence Debate

scotsoccer1-master675
“In this city defined by the rivalry between its two biggest soccer clubs — Celtic and Rangers — there were no team colors on display Sunday night as fans filtered into a gloomy pub to watch Scotland play Germany in its first qualifying game for the 2016 European Championship. There is, however, more than soccer to talk about at the moment. Scotland is wound tight, waiting to uncoil next week, when the country will vote on whether it should be independent from Britain. The debate has generated the kind of tension and engagement usually reserved for soccer rivalries in Scotland, and in fact the country’s stadiums have become key battlegrounds for the yes and no campaigns.” NY Times

Scotland – when politics and football clash
“The Scotland independence referendum centers mainly on political and social issues, but as is often the case, the implications run far below the surface. One such area is the beautiful game itself. While many follow football in an attempt to forget about the problems of the world, the current climate in Scotland makes it impossible to ignore the reality of the impending referendum – from aggressive chants to verbal attacks on Scottish players, Scotland’s football takes first stage on the referendum.” backpagefootball

Celtic manager Ronny Deila urges authorities to look at Scandinavian model when scheduling league calendar

“As Ronny Deila prepares his Celtic side for Tuesday’s crucial return leg of the Champions League play-off against Maribor – at stake is a place in the group stage for the third successive season – the Parkhead manager called for Scottish football to give itself a better chance of European success by moving the domestic season into line with the Scandinavian leagues. Deila has made plain his concern about Celtic’s pre-season commitments – he claimed that they contributed to player fatigue in the 6-1 qualifying defeat against Legia Warsaw, which was overturned because the Poles fielded an ineligible player – and he expanded the theme when musing upon the implications of success against Maribor.” Telegraph

Scottish football: Who will win what in season 2014-15?

“The new Scottish football season is just hours away and there have been some major changes since this time last year. No Neil Lennon in the Celtic dugout after leading the Parkhead men to three successive titles. A top-flight without Hearts and Hibernian after both suffered relegation last term. The promotion of Dundee at the end of last season does, however, mean they will face city rivals Dundee United in highly-anticipated derby matches in the Premiership. And the top flight’s loss is the Championship’s gain in terms of the Edinburgh derby, with the two capital clubs joining Rangers in what should be a hotly-contested battle for promotion. So, how will the new campaign pan out? Here, BBC Scotland reporters and pundits offer their opinions on who will take the four league titles and the two major cups.” BBC