Morning,all. Having dealt yesterday with the main problem we are likely to face today-see Men in Black 2-it’s time to move on to how we take them out of the picture. Today’s match at what will be an incredibly hostile Ibrox is the perfect opportunity to completely ruin The New Year for your average hun,and it’s one we really have to take.
Our main problems will be the officiating,as I said yesterday. That means a peculiar application of the laws of the game,and of course they won’t be evenly applied to both sides. Watch out for our players being warned/cautioned early on while their opponents kick the living shit out of everything that moves. For our players being “caught offside” in promising positions,while theirs are given that wee yard of leeway. For the ref to pull back play as we are about to break. Soft free kicks in dangerous areas,pushing and shoving our defenders and goalkeeper,and of course the penalties.
You already know which end he plans to award them. I’ll betcha the bookies do too.
While I’m not too certain of Craig Gordon’s form at the moment,and his playing out from the back is nothing short of shocking,he is our first choice. I wouldn’t replace my first choice goalkeeper in a game like this. But he has to improve his distribution,he has to command his box like never before,and he has to get back to making saves.
Anthony Ralston has surprised me in the short run he has been given,a vast improvement over early last season,or even against the way he played for Scotland U-19 in early summer. But Mikel Lustig is a hunskelper,and today is a game for hunskelpers. He can use his vast experience against weaker opposition than he faced on Wednesday in his comeback match.
I don’t think that Kieran Tierney will be risked today. He has had injury problems recently,and even though he’ll be desperate to play,it’s a risky proposition. So too is Izzy,who,for all my delight at his return,showed a lack of awareness and pace against Aberdeen. We can’t afford that today,we can’t put out a weak link to be exploited. For me,it’s time to hand the jersey to Johnny Hayes. He has been patient,and has rarely let us down when given a chance. He’ll relish playing this lot,and he won’t lack for effort.
At centre-back,I’m tempted to give Simo the shout,if only so he can either elbow Morelos properly this time,or alternatively put him into orbit with one of his Kenny Miller tackles. But Benkovic has been outstanding for us this season,and Boyata is another hunskelper. I’ll be very surprised if they don’t manage to stroll through a very difficult afternoon. I suspect they’ll need the fortnight off to let the bruises go down,mind-but they will not be bullied. They too must command the area,and have to be aware of the intentions of their opponents and the referee,and for God’s sake,don’t even attempt an offside trap!
First name in the midfield has to be Broonie. Hunskelper again,he revels in these matches. He will also be kicked remorselessly,but he just looks at his assailant and let’s them know who’s boss here. Is that the best you’ve got,it’s not very much,is it? A man for the trenches,and a man to keep the heid on a difficult day.
If we are to play three up front,then Broonie’s assistants in midfield need to be one playing deep while the other goes forward. Tom Rogic is out of the picture for a while,though his form had shaded recently,so the attacking role is a straightforward choice of Ryan Christie. He must have munched his way through some amount of Shredded Wheat in the last year,and he will be bullied by no-one. He’ll know he’s been in a game,though he might not recognise it as football,and I’m hoping he will have many happy memories afterwards.
The deeper midfielder is either Callum McGregor or Olivier Ntcham. Both are capable on the ball,can pass,run,shoot. Callum has perhaps a greater passing range,while Olivier is definitely stronger in the tackle. The temptation is to leave Callum on the bench,as he can cover so many different roles if required,but he gets the nod over Olivier. I might change my mind by the time kick off arrives,because each of them will do what is needed today. And I think Olivier despises that lot as much as I do!
Literally first name on the team sheet is Odsonne Edouard. Again,I wish Leigh Griffiths every success as he fights his demons,but in his absence,Eddy is fit and raring to go. Two assists and a goal-all three of them exquisite!-is an outstanding return from a substitute. It won’t be acceptable over 90 minutes,Eddy-I’m looking for two goals and three assists today!
James Forrest is having the best season of his life. It won’t be a surprise to me if he absolutely roasts their defence today. He’ll take a great delight in it,I’m sure. And as a bonus,he can pick up all the batteries thrown at him,save a fortune as he plays with his Christmas presents over the forthcoming break(!)
Finally,has Scott Sinclair got his mojo back? If ever a player thrived on confidence,it is Sinky. I think he’s honest enough to admit that some of his early season performances were well below what is required,but he’s certainly coming back to form. If he can go into the break on the back of another outstanding display today,I think he might give a few Spaniards a scare in a few weeks. And if he ever feels his head going down,just think back to events at Glasgow Airport. Go on,Scott. Ruin their day and trash their New Year!
Overall,we are nailed on to win this,a team as good as ours against a team as rank as theirs. Look at the odds that the bookies are offering,that says it all. But if we don’t bring our A-game,if we offer them a glimpse of hope,if we give the officials the slightest chance to cheat their way to never having to buy a pint doon the ludj,we will only have ourselves to blame. The huns are in trouble,and it’s time we threw them an anchor.
Just as serious as events on the pitch are those happening off it. Our players are going to be subject to constant abuse today by their opponents,and also by 98% of the crowd. It will not be pretty,and no-one should have to run a constant gauntlet of missiles being thrown at them as they do their job. Our Gallant 800 fans will be subject to the same during the match,but also around the ground. I honestly think that today will be talked about afterwards for all the wrong reasons,and I just hope that no-one is seriously injured.
Above by majoc