Rangers 0—1 Celtic.

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Those with long memories can remember a certain Ranger’s goalie being virtually unbeatable, Celtic doing everything but score and Brian Laudrup galloping up the park and winning it for Rangers. Matt Gilks played a great impression of Andy Goram, but there was no great Dane to run away with it for the underdogs. Leigh Griffiths, in 87 minutes, set up the other best striker in Scottish football, Moussa Dembele whose sublime touch won the game for Celtic. The referee played his part (costing me £66 as my bet for first goalscorer was declared void) as Erik Sviatchenko’s header into the bottom of the net is disallowed, prompting bygone talks of Masonic conspiracy, but let’s be charitable and say the referee was  as knackered as Tom Rogic gets after half-an-hour of football, and the man in black spent more of the game following play and running into the Ranger’s box than any of the thin blue line. There was no 5—1 score line here, but on chances missed it certainly should have been. Gilks presenting Rogic with a miskicked pass in the six-yard box was the pick of the bunch. Sinclair’s free kick against the bar another standout. Matt Gilks was Ranger’s man of the match, in fact, he was man of the match overall, slightly ahead on points of Celtic’s captain, Scott Brown. If it were a boxing match it would have been stopped long before the end.

But Gilks must have taken a head knock, in his after-match interview he talked of Rangers being the better team. The coaching staff better get that looked at. Mark Warbuton, the Ranger’s manager must have headed every ball as well, because he seemed slightly concussed, gibbering that the gap between his team and Celtic has shortened. I’d check his eyesight too. The best rejoinder I heard was that was because Celtic had now lapped them.

Aberdeen in the league cup final. It will be a closer game than this one, because we know they’ll do, what they always do, go Walter Smith, sit in, and try and score on the breakaway. They’ve done it before. But they’d need their keeper to play like Gilks. A referee to disallow a couple of goals. Breakway and go up the park and score. In fact they need Brian Laudrup. And while they’re there might as well bring his brother Michael along. Look forward to the first trophy of the season.

~A manager needs to carry some luck.

Ronny Delia will be the loneliest man in Scotland this morning. In case you didn’t notice Rangers are back. They beat Celtic in a Scottish Cup semi-final, in a penalty shoot-out, after drawing 2-2, after extra time. Triumphalism from the Huns, and rightly so. Over the piece they had more possession of the ball and were the better team. That tells you everything you need to know about Celtic. Out fought and out manoeuvred by a team made up of patchwork professionals. Managers need to carry a bit of luck. That’s the unwritten rule. Poor Ronny’s teams follow his lead, when things can go wrong they will go wrong. The all-important first goal in the Old Firm game is crucial. Celtic and Scotland captain Scott Brown knocks the ball from the edge of the box into the path of Kenny Miller. That’s Kenny Miller of Rangers and not of Celtic, in case you were asking. Even Kenny Miller couldn’t miss from six yards and didn’t. That wasn’t unexpected. Celtic’s defence frailties are known all over Europe. Teams we’ve never heard of snigger when they draw Celtic out of the hat. Delia was brave here. He took off Boyata, who’d been booked and found wanting, as he usually is, and put on  Erik Sviatchenko. Sviatchenko got us back into the game with a headed goal from a corner, but only after  Patrick Roberts missing an open goal. In anyone’s language that’s called a Van Vossen.

Managers need to carry a bit of luck, but players have to occasionally help out. We know Celtic’s defence is rotten, but whisper it, so are Rangers’. Pat had 3-1 to win on his coupon. Andy Rat had 4-1 and 5-1 on his. And I did a bit of spread betting. Celtic to win 5-1 and Rangers to be winning at half-time and Celtic at full time. We tried to stick another couple of quid on Celtic to win the game over the ninety minutes at what we thought were generous odds of 4/1, but Andy Rat couldn’t get through on his phone to the bookies because of Rangers’ fans laughing.

Rangers scored the second, a top corner strike, that’s worthy to win any game. Tom Rogic comes on for an out of touch Stefan Johansen, so out of touch he hardly touched the ball, but that’s an ongoing thing. He hasn’t played well for months. Why he keeps getting selected, you’d need to ask the manager. Biton has also been out of touch as has Brown. That’s the whole engine room of the team. Shite. It’s not hard to see if you can’t defend and can’t create, you’ll lose games. Tom Rogic scores. He’s got that knack. He rolls player and is a goal threat, as is the best central midfielder in Scotland Kris Commons. That’s the manager’s prerogative, to pick his team. Ronnie can talk about pressing and energy, but that’s camouflage for ineptitude. Plan B is the same as Plan A.

Kieran Tierney gets pass marks. The only Celtic player worthy of his wages. But you don’t ask a boy to do a man’s job and take a penalty. Leave that to the ballooners and bottlers.

Mangers need to carry a bit of luck. Even at penalties it could go either way. But it was only going to go one way. Ronnie is right up there with John Barnes. A doomed experiment.

Rangers deserved their victory. But the thing about triumphalism is can bite you on the arse. Hibs are underwhelming favourites in the Scottish Cup Final. Much as Rangers were against Celtic. And this is the first time I’ve watched Rangers since last years Old Firm game. They’ve got better. We’ve got much worse. But Rangers can’t defend. They’ll lose masses of points next year being hit on the counter by teams that come and sit in at Ibrox. Celtic will get better, because, really, they can’t get any worse. They’ve got some average players that can be polished up to being better than at present. That’s the job of the next manager. It’s a painful one, but a new start. Let’s wait and see.

Celtic v Rangers, Scottish Cup, semi-final (tomorrow)

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Hard to believe but Walter Smith has been talking sense. The real fear for Rangers should be ten-in-a-row. That’s five in the bag. Five to go. Obviously, Walter would play Goram in goal and Laudrup up front and use the other nine players as defenders. That worked for him, time after time. But Mark Warburton favours a more expansive game. Well, at least I hope he does. Because Walter Smith’s game plan is perfect for derailing the current Celtic crop. Look at Molde, for inspiration, or any of the so called European lightweights. Look to Ross County. Look at the recent Dundee performance, sit in and Celtic and Boyata, in particular, will give you the ball. You don’t have to be anything great and Rangers aren’t. Man for man none of the Rangers players could get near the Celtic first team. I doubt if any of them would make the Celtic reserve team. Then again, I’m biased, when Goram and Laudrup ripped up Celtic I was loath to admit they’d be good enough to wear the hoops and grudgingly allocated them a place on the mythical Celtic bench where we let players rot.

Man for man Celtic are better, but Rangers can win – if they score first. If Celtic score first I expect them to win by four or five. Score prediction: Celtic 5 – Rangers 1.

Let’s be honest, neither team can defend, so even Rangers will hit a consolation goal.

Erik Sviatchenko faces a fitness test. I guess he’ll be passed fit, but I don’t really want him to play. He’s not the best in the air and he’s slower than Boyata, who will play. I hope we go with Mulgrew, who’s slower than everybody, including me, but he’s been OK in recent weeks (well, Scott McDonald did give him a bit of a roasting; one goal and one disallowed) but that apart, Mulgrew and Boyata in the central defence positions. They should be able to take care of Ranger’s forwards. What we don’t want is Boyata passing the ball from the back. That brings back the nightmarish Ambrose territory.

Craig Gordon has been great in recent weeks. Long may it continue. Cross balls is his downfall, but even here, he’s not been too bad. Bit of a worry on the big Hampden pitch that he thinks he’s a sweeper and rushes out of the goal. Fingers crossed he catches crosses and sees sense.

Kieran Tierney is the future of Celtic. Outstanding, even if he did try and usher a ball out of play last week and lost Celtic a goal. But he set up two and he can defend.

Mikael Lustig. Ho-hum. More dangerous in the opposition box where he’s more likely to score from headers. In our own box has been found wanting of late. Tall and rangy, usually not a bad user of the ball, on the big Hampden pitch that should be an asset.

Patrick Roberts will play in front of him. That means more work for Lustig, but Roberts is a player that likes to take the ball forward. He likes to go past players and he likes to shoot. He’s in the team on merit. He’s our great hope of opening up the Ranger’s defence.

On the other wing, Colin Kasim-Richards got a surprise start last week. Big and strong, he didn’t lose a ball in the air and had a good game. Missed a sitter and liable to get sent off. That’s the downside, but he showed that defensively he’s strong in the air and can play on the wing. I’d play him in front of Gary Mackay Steven. Stuart Armstrong is another option, but he’s been so far out of the frame I’ve got more chance of playing, but you never know. Deila likes to tinker and it’s usually in the wide positions. He might even play Kris Commons.

Scott Brown captain and central midfielder. Ho-hum.

Nir Bitton, ho-hum.

Stefan Johansen will play the more advanced role. That’s the theory. Tom Rogic is miles better, but he’ll be kept in reserve. Kris Commons is the best in Scotland but can’t get a sniff. To be fair, Johnasen hasn’t been as absolutely shite as he was earlier in the season. So here’s hoping he proves me and the Celtic supporters wrong.

Leigh Griffiths, on fire and scored 37 goals this season. That’s the propaganda. Last week against Motherwell he was the worst man on the park wearing the hoops. Before that he hadn’t scored in four games and contributed little of note (I’m including his Scotland cap). His penalty miss was a shocker. And he was equally culpable before that and should have hit three or four goals before half time against Motherwell. But he’s a bit like the Celtic team, if he turns up, if they turn up, comfortable win. Unless, of course, I spot Walter Smith sitting in the dugout I don’t think there should be too much to worry the Bhoys.