Friday, August 21, 2009

Inglorious barstewards

Well then. Things just keep getting and better. This week’s starter for ten: which team has contrived to be more miserable against foreign opponents? Falkirk? Aberdeen? Motherwell? Scotland? Or Hearts, who took our apparent incompetence to yet another gloom laden trough last night?

Truly this is the summer of Scottish football’s Inglorious Basterds.

But we’re back to the regular diet tomorrow. The deep fried Mars bar supper that is the SPL.

Here’s the predictions. Last week I got a whole two out of six right which I think means that in the world of top class punditry I’m more Christian Nade than Usain Bolt.

Falkirk v Hibs (12.45):
ESPN’s second televised game. Expect much talk of two passing teams. The return of Hughes, Cregg, McBride et all will be mentioned. And Eddie May used to play for Hibs. So not so much a football game as a reunion of incestuous lovers. Falkirk got some credit for the way they lost to Rangers last week. Hibs huffed and puffed past St Mirren’s ten men. Falkirk will have a point to prove to Yogi and the Hibs support will be boosted by the signing of Anthony Stokes. Could be close but I’ll go for an away win.

Celtic v St Johnstone:
Although luck was bemoaned as Celtic Park on Tuesday Arsenal showed enough to show that there is a gulf between the top of the EPL and the top of the SPL. Expect a chastened Celtic to prove that there’s a gulf between the top of the SPL and the top of the First Division. Expect that. And then look at what St Johnstone’s old gaffer managed against Manchester United on Wednesday. Dreams, as Gabrielle pointed out, can come true. Probably won’t though. Home win.

Hamilton v Aberdeen:
Well, then. Both lost three goals last week. On the face of it Hamilton had the poorer result losing to Kilmarnock. But Aberdeen were as disappointing as you would expect from a team that had just suffered a continental humiliation not seen since those two twins mimed for the UK on Eurovision. Billy Reid has lost players and brought players in. Mark McGhee has lost players, lost games, moaned long and hard about finances and finally persuaded a couple of players to move north. I would say a draw but Inside Left reminds me that Accies beat the Dons this time last year. On that basis and because Aberdeen seem to be punch drunk – if not fully concussed – I’ll take a home win.

Motherwell v Kilmarnock:
Jim Gannon would do well to take a long hard look at dear old Jim Jeffries demeanour during this one and see exactly the toll the SPL has taken on that once happy-go-lucky charmer. Both Jim’s are seeking to fix it so they can nurse their teams through a period of financial turbulence. Kilmarnock, yet again, hit the ground running last week and Motherwell showed grit to get a point against St Johnstone. I think that gives Jim J the edge but I’ll go for Jim G to get another point.

St Mirren v Dundee United:
Danny Cadamarteri. How they scoffed. But Craig Levein’s man did the business on Monday. Another win will be an indicator of the consistency the manager wants but St Mirren will be feeling a tad robbed after almost holding out with ten men last week. I still make United the favourites though so I’ll go for an away win.

Hearts v Rangers (Sunday):
Dinamo Zagreb are a good side with quality players. Let’s all agree on that. And then put it to one side to ask just what the hell Hearts were playing at. There’s coming up against a good side and there’s a performance like that. Having played like a pub team trying to take on Brazil following an all night lock in with a free bar the Gorgie side will need to raise themselves against the Champions. Without the aid of hydraulic lifting gear they probably won’t be able to rise enough. Away win.

So there we have it. By my reckoning if I’ve called them right then Rangers, Celtic, Dundee United and Hibs will top the table on Monday morning with St Mirren, Hearts and Falkirk forming an orderly queue in the basement. As ever time alone will tell.

Scottish Football Blogs Total So Far: 2/6

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