Welcome back Hibs

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Yesterday Hibs won the SPFL Championship with a 3-0 win over Queen of the South. It puts an end to a 3 year leave of absence from the top league in Scotland. They have had their trials and tribulations in that time. Even after both Hearts and Rangers were promoted in successive seasons Hibs still had to see off  Dundee Utd. But credit where credit is due they have perserved and after last seasons sensational cup win they have built on this success. The appointment of Neil Lennon was an ambitious appointment and has proved to be a shrewd one.

The SPFL Premiership will be a better league with Hibs back in it. They are a major club in Scottish football not just there fan base and history but the football they are playing at the moment will enhance the league. In Jason Cummings the have a real talent and it will be a real test to see if they can hang on to him and can if he perform in the top league consistantly. As he was just breaking into the first team when they were relegated. The signs are he will be a real star.  John McGinn the Scotland  midefileder is another that needs to grace our top league. He is a quality player and deserves to be playing at the highest level. Many of the other players have top level experience so it will not be a problem to make the step up.

Of course having Neil Lennon back will add to the spice of the league. Love him or hate him you have to admire his achievements at managerial level. Jim Duffy will be happy to see the back of him but there will be managers and referees in the SPFL preiemership who maybe won’t relish the return of Lennon. Don’ think Cathro will for a start. One thing is for sure it will be lively.

And the one we are all waiting for if the Ladbrokes SPFL Championship player of the month for March  Efe Ambrose will still be at Hibs. This is a man who is a joke amongst most fans and yet he has been a stand out since signing for the Hibees on loan from Celtic.  Neil Lennon has managed to turn his career around and it would be good to see if he could continue that in the top league. He certainly looks like he is enjoying himself.  Efe Backflip

It has been a couple of years longer than some would have liked but now the Hibs are back in the big time and Scottish football is all better for it. Welcome back.

Rodgers – A man of influence.

 

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Brendan Rodgers last week signed a new contract with Celtic committing himself to the Parkhead club. The influence that Brendan Rodgers has had on Celtic cannot be understated. This is a man who has taken what was an underperforming team last year and moulded them into a team that is dominating the domestic game and aiming for a historic treble.

As a Celtic man Brendan Rodgers was always going to be a popular appointment in the eyes of the Parkhead faithful. But Rodgers certainly came to Scotland with a point to prove after his departure from Liverpool. There will be many down south who would have looked in disdain as Rodgers moved north. It was a major appointment for Celtic but there was allways the danger that this was a fleeting visit. Not any more, Brendan Rodgers is here to stay. And we in Scotland should all be pleased.

Rodgers is a coach of undoubted ability and the gulf in class between Celtic and rest should not diminish what a revolution that has occurred at Parkhead. And it is a revolution that it is not finished. The players are clearly enjoying their football. he has managed to lift the performance of the players especially Stuart Armstrong and James Forrest, now international calibre players. The signings of Sinclair and Dembele was equally astute , by signing players that had a point to prove. And  boy, have they. On the Champions League stage against Man City they proved a point to those that belittle the SPFL  and big up the EPL. But it is clear that there is still unfinished business in the Europe . Rodgers will want to emulate both Strachan and Lennon and take Celtic into the last 16 of the Champions League. And nobody will now doubt his committment to do that now. He has already indicated that he wants a big name signing this summer to excite the fans. We can all wait in anticipation as Rodgers will be able to attract players of real calibre, as he is a man who can make careers as the current players are finding out.

What has not been highlighted though is the positive effect Brendan Rodgers has had on the Scottish game as whole . As a coach he is highly intelligent and is willing to provide advice to the SFA and anyone else to improve our national  game. Which can only be a good thing. Much this year has been about the race for 2nd. But actually the other managers in the league are being inspired by the Rodgers revolution, and raising their game. There are some good managers in Scotland  the most notable at the moment are McInnes and Wright, but even Alan Archibald is maturing into a very capable manager. When a man of  such reputationa as Rodgers comes in  to  manage in our league it does  raise the standard and our profile. Of course we would love it if there was a more competitive league but without a huge injection of cash the other teams will struggle to compete. But for now we should enjoy the influence Brendan Rodgers is having on our domestic game as it is not just Celtic he is improving.

What a week for Scottish Football.

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They say a week is a long time in politics. Well the same can be said of Scottish Football. Last week I travelled to Hampden in trepidation that our qualifying campaign for the World Cup was about to be ended by Slovenia . Gordon Strachan was battling to save his job.But in typical fashion we pulled out the hat a performance when we had been written off. Leigh Griffiths hitting the woodwork twice and a disallowed goal seemed to signal that lady luck was not going to be on our side once again. But step forward the unlikely hero, Chris Martin. A man most Scotland fans would rather have his namesake’s wife Gwyneth Paltrow playing instead.  The substitution was widely booed by the Hampden faithful but wee Gordon had the last laugh. as did Chris Martin when he latched on to delightful Stuart Armstrong pass and calmly dispatched past the Slovenian goalkeeper in the 87th minute. This sent the Tartan Army into delirium as is the case with the Scotland national team  there is no middle ground we live in a state of despair or euphoria. When the chips were down the Scottish football team produced a tremendous performance to relight the path to Russia. Match Report

Many in the run up had questioned the team selections of Gordon Strachan and his doggedness to play his favourites rather than those on form. Well he pulled an absolute master stroke. At a time when confidence was lacking he picked  6  Celtic players who were not lacking in confidence and know each other well. This enabled a strong core in the team which could be built around. The real diamond was the inclusion of Stuart Armstrong a player who is at the top his game and pulling the strings for Celtic. Well he was able to come in and play with no inhibition at a higher level than  the SPFL. It really stuck it to those that try to dismiss the standard of  our domestic game. It really shows that if players are playing and with  confidence that is far more important than wasted talent on a clubs bench when it comes to the national team.

Just as we were  getting back down to earth after the international break comes the Hibs v Morton match. A match which was a top the league clash although Hibs were  10 points ahead it could have relit the championship title race. It turned out to be quite an eventful 1-1 each draw. Two sending offs and the managers involved in an angry fracas in injury time. Neil Lennon and Jim Duffy both experienced managers were seen to be held back by their own players from coming to blows.Highlight video

Neil Lennon in his normal combative manner defended his actions at post match press conference. Siting the Morton player Oyenuga for play acting something that tv evidence supports. Jim Duffy was equally as bullish in his defense. All this has done is ratchet up the tension for the next match in a couple of weeks at Cappielow.

Finally Friday football  excitement came back with a bang. The media were already crowning Celtic  as champions and predicting that Aberdeen may throw the league away early. But in a game on paper which should have been tough for Aberdeen, instead they won 7-0. It was another  unlikely hero which made the headlines. Andrew Considine. a player who is Aberdeen through and through.In the past Aberdeen fans have given him some stick and he has been prone to some defensive mistakes. But in last two years he has become a dependable player, wherever he is asked to play he does it with no fuss. Nobody though would have predicted Andrew Considine playing at left back would score a hat trick. It was Roy of the Rovers stuff especially a day before his birthday. Many Aberdeen fans are saying this was the best performance in years. It certainly was a good way to start the weekend and end an eventful week Scottish football

This was just three of the stories this week. A few weeks ago a certain journalist was asking what the point is of Scottish Football is. Well after a week like this one it is evident why Scottish football is so addictive to many, as the theatre and drama has to be seen to be believed.