IT’S THE GLORIOUS RETURN OF OUR TRUE OR FALSE FEATURE.
WE CONTEMPLATE RECENT AND UPCOMING EVENTS IN THE WORLD OF FOOTBALL AND GATHER THE OPINION OF THE CYNICS.
Celtic will win the Glasgow Derby comfortably and go on to complete another domestic treble.
SERMANNI: TRUE: This has not been as impressive a season as last. There a number of factors involved in this; most obviously injuries and our involvement in European football. Despite this, we’re still top and our closest rivals have not scored a goal against us this season.
Their 0-0 at New Year was built on sitting in and pressing. Their fans will not allow them to be so passive on Sunday – their confidence has been evident – and we can take advantage of this. Similarly, the cup semi will be the same, and some of our injured players should be back by then. Despite their improvement, and a dip in our level, the advantages lie with us overall.
MARTIN: FALSE: I don’t think this will be a comfortable match for Celtic. My main concern is the failure to create and convert chances. In recent games against Rangers, Celtic have dominated possession but failed to turn this into a pummelling. I can see more of the same on Sunday.
We can’t discount Rangers current form (regardless of the opposition) nor can we discount just how much it means to them to get a victory. I think Celtic still hold the upper hand for Sunday, especially if Forrest, Brown and Ntcham are allowed to dictate play, but it’s not going to be a skoosh.
KEITH: FALSE: As much as I would love to be there to witness another 5-1 humiliation over our closest challengers I just think it will be a tough, tight match. I was fortunate enough not to be fully into football during the previous incarnation’s 9 in a Row but I do remember Celtic battering them only to come away with nothing. I’ve a feeling Sunday may be the same for Rangers.
They’re the form side (albeit with a fortunate run of games against clubs they are expected to beat), they are scoring goals and, as Gordon Strachan would say, they’re feeling good about themselves. I hope that all changes when Celtic break away and score a last-minute winner, sending us in the Broomloan Road Stand into delirium.
2. Regardless of the result on Sunday, a title challenge from Rangers is good for Scottish Football.
SERMANNI: TRUE/FALSE: A title challenge from any side on the face of it would be seen to be healthy for the Scottish game, but if this is a result of regression from Celtic then the overall health of the game would be in decline. If teams move towards Celtic’s level, then this would be positive.
MARTIN: FALSE: A title challenge from anyone is good for Scottish football. Makes no difference which club provides it.
KEITH: FALSE: However, a title race would be good for Scottish football. A strong league, where teams regularly take points off one another, can only benefit our teams’ performances in Europe.
Brendan Rodgers sets his side out to play the same way in both the Scottish Premiership and European football. Where this has benefitted the side has been in performances against Bayern Munich and Zenit St Petersburg at home. Players like James Forrest were given the chance to shine as there was space to play.
A title challenge from Rangers is only good for Rangers fans and the media.
3. Graeme Murty is a better manager than Derek McInnes.
SERMANNI: FALSE: Murty has done OK in his second temp spell in charge of Rangers but McInnes has taken an Aberdeen team in the doldrums and stabilised them. Murty hasn’t done anything yet. There is no real comparison to make at the moment.
MARTIN: FALSE: What’s Murty achieved or won? Nowt. If he finishes 2nd and wins a cup then maybe we’ll talk.
KEITH: FALSE: There is no doubt that Murty has done a very good job of steadying the ship at Ibrox and has the team playing some impressive attacking football. However, much like Celtic and the rest of the league, the funds and players available to Rangers mean they are where they are expected to be.
The real test for Murty will be how well his side does in the post-split fixtures when they play the better sides in the league. I have a feeling that McInnes and Tony Docherty will prove the more astute in the race for second place.
4. Steve Clarke has done an incredible job at Kilmarnock and if he leads them to the Scottish Cup final he should be favourite for Manager of the Year.
SERMANNI: MAYBE TRUE: Incredible may be slightly over the top, but there’s no denying he’s transformed the fortunes of the club. Making a final and the top 6 on the basis of his starting position should get him the nod IF Brendan Rodgers doesn’t land another treble. Winning then would be pretty hollow.
MARTIN: TRUE: Not even up for debate. I can’t remember a manager having such an immediate impact on a club outside of Glasgow. Pains me to say this but the best match I’ve watched in last few months was the 2-2 draw between Killie v Hibs. We saw just how good a manager Clarke is by the second half performance Kilmarnock put in. They are a fun team to watch.
KEITH: TRUE: And if he manages to sell out Rugby Park between now and the end of the season he should be in the running for next year’s #TheBest award from FIFA.
Would Brendan Rodgers completing Scottish Football for a second time with progression in Europe be enough to warrant a win? Would Neil Lennon’s newly promoted Hibs, with their League Cup semi-final and pushing for the third-place European spot be worthy of a win?
Maybe a strong Kilmarnock might just be good for Scottish Football.
5. Real Madrid will win the Champions League and are the definitive European Cup club.
SERMANNI: FALSE: I think most people got carried away with the PSG hype, and are maybe over emphasising the magnitude of their victory. PSG blew the game by failing to capitalise on their dominance in Madrid and paid the ultimate price. They’ve yet to learn how to be clinical when it matters. There are a number of clubs who have the beating of Real Madrid left in the competition. I don’t see them winning it.
MARTIN: DON’T CARE: Who cares. Genuinely, this might be the first season I patch the CL final. It’s so remote to me as a spectacle. What day is it even on?
KEITH: TRUE: Although I hope that Guardiola or Heynkes manage to beat them, I can’t help but feel that Zizou is looking to bow out of the Bernabeu with el decimotercero given that La Liga is beyond them.
Begrudgingly I would say Real are the team that are synonymous with the European Cup, even though growing up it has been Barça that have been the dominant side. Real Madrid’s 6 trophies in 10 years from the mid-50s is quite the achievement but it must be remembered that the tournament hadn’t really caught the imagination of all football fans and clubs (I believe Barcelona chose not to participate in the early competitions).
Their 12 European titles with 3 wins in the last 4 competitions reaffirms them as the definitive European Club side.
6. Scott McTominay should not have been pursued by the SFA and should have chosen to play for England.
SERMANNI: FALSE: Of course they should. If the player identifies with his Scottish heritage, and is eligible, then Scotland should of course make him their player. Nationality is more complicated than place of birth, and Scotland have benefited.
MARTIN: FALSE: Scotland have a tiny pool of players and should do everything they can to increase the options for the squad.
However, I’ll be a bit pissed off if a guy whose only made 9 professional appearances for his club walks straight into the starting line up. Guys like Callum McGregor would have a right to feel a little aggrieved given it took nearly 100 appearances for Celtic before he was given a sniff. It smacks of snobbery at the SFA, if a couple of cameos at Old Trafford is all it takes to get a cap for Scotland. I hope McTominay is a big success for Scotland, but I’d like to see him earn his spot at international level.
KEITH: FALSE: The SFA have a duty to provide the Scotland Manager with the best players available to us. Even if they make a ridiculous choice as the manager of the national side. The Irish FA have shown us the blueprint of how to elevate the national team with a few quality players, such as Zinedine Kilbane or Jason McAteer.