PUB WISDOM

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Archive for Walter Smith

Rangers Unimpressed by Spendthrift Man City

Man City's money's no good at Ibrox.

Man City's money's no good at Ibrox.

Yeah, yeah, I know… it’s meaningless, just a friendly. You know what? I’ll take the Rangers 3-2 Manchester City result, meaningless or not. Read about the match here.

Pub Wisdom reckons that while Premiership sides that come North for friendlies will find a modicum of comfort in that alleged meaninglessness, the game was taken seriously on the pitch as no self-respecting English side wants to lose to a lowly Scots side, even if it is the reigning champs.

Goals by Nacho Novo and Kenny Miller set up late theatrics provided by wizened old Dave Weir. Must say, the juices are flowing for the campaign to start in earnest.

Talk of Rangers Demise A Wee Bit Premature

It wasn’t long ago that Caley Thistle had lost eight straight matches and was destined to relagation. More recently, the Highlanders have lost only one in their last seven. Their latest coup, a one-nil victory over Rangers at Ibrox on Wednesday is a potentially mortal blow to Rangers’ title hopes that also sees Inverness off the bottom of the table, pushing Falkirk into the relegation spot. Whatever new gaffer and former Ranger Terry Butcher is doing — it’s working, mate.

Crying now, laughing later.

Crying now, laughing later.

And none are happier than the Hoops, once again alone at the top of the table after Rangers’ stumble put  them three points clear. After getting their asses handed to them more often than not

over the past several weeks, the Bhoys were no doubt stressed to see Rangers pull even on points and ahead on goal differential recently.

Pub Wisdom urges patience in these exciting times, lest anyone gets too hasty in writing off the Light Blues. A quick check of the remaining fixtures before the split reveals stern tests for Celtic against Dundee United, Hamilton, Hearts and Aberdeen along with only one walk-over against Falkirk. Rangers’ road over that stretch is decidedly friendlier with the hardest test against Hearts, with Hibs, ‘Well, and bottom-feeders Falkirk rounding out the fixtures. Much football to be played, ya?

Pub Wisdom wagers there are a few plot twists yet to unfurl this season. Only time will tell if the sloppy play against Butcher’s born-again Highlanders will prove to be the point at which this season’s valiant campaign crashed on the rocks.

Hospitable Hoops Leave the Door Open for Rangers

Sweatin' It.

Strachan: Sweatin' It.

There was a  time at the end of November, with the Rangers’ early victory at Parkhead a distant memory, when it appeared that Celtic FC may never lose or draw another league game. Celtic went on a scorching streak, winning 12 straight SPL ties.

Many people — many pundits — began to sketch out the framework of the Rangers’ obit right about then, and sharpened their pencils once more after Celtic’s one-goal win at Ibrox over the holidays extended its lead at the top of the table to seven points.

But a new trend was being established, even as Celtic was galloping out to that seven-point lead. Over the course of December and January, Celtic went just 3-2-3 in league play and has allowed Rangers to creep back within two points of first place. It seems that Celtic is just as vulnerable of late as it was unbeatable earlier. No matter what face they put on — and three straight league titles gives them considerable confidence — you can bet the bhoys are sweating bhullets.  They couldn’t even muster a goal against Caley-Thistle’s listing side. It’s not like Terry Butcher’s mere presence changes the fact that this side is in relegation position at the bottom of the table.

Meanwhile, RFC’s team chemistry is well in balance even if its books are not as Rangers reached the end of the transfer window without giving up any of the key players from the core nucleus.

So the race for the SPL title is as close as you’d like as we begin to round the final corner and line up the home stretch, thanks to the gracious gift Celtic has given Rangers — new life. The Old Firm match on February 15 — the next SPL tie for both clubs — will be huge. But it will not ultimately determine the champion. Pub Wisdom sees plenty of dicey fixtures yet unplayed for both clubs, as the SPL’s second-tier is fiercer, hungrier, and more confident than it has been in recent memory with the gap between the Old Firm and the likes of Aberdeen, DUFC, Hearts, Hibs, and others is not as great as it once was.  Much drama is yet to unfold before a king is crowned.

Bye-Bye Boydy?

byebyeboydyFuggin’ell. I don’t know if I will ever get used to seeing my favorite Rangers head south. I really should, though. Since it seems to happen every time one of them starts shining. Pub Wisdom recalls Hutton and Cuellar  as recent heartbreakers.

It’s at the other side of the pitch this time, with that “enigmatic” striker Kris Boyd apparently in the market for a new flat in Birmingham after he got pissed off enough this season to work hard enough to convince Sir Walter he deserved a regular gig up front — which has resulted in a gaggle of goals.

Enigma? Not really. He’s a pure scorer — nothing mysterious about it. He just flat-out finds the back of the net.  And now, unless we Rangers supporters are incredibly lucky, he’ll be finding the back of the net for the Blues instead of the Light Blues.

Darcheville? Gone. Cousin? Gone. Now it’s bye-bye, Boydy. Our only hope is that Kenny catches fire and gets some help from the rest. Despite what the table says, Celtic is vulnerable this season. Rangers need Boydy’s departure like they need a hole in the head.

Fuggin’ell.

Fugly Football Sees Rangers Through to UEFA Cup Finals

 

 

Ciao Fiorentina, Hello Manchester…

It wasn’t pretty, but Sir Walter Smith’s (I’ve just knighted him myself, so shaddup) strategy worked flawlessly as Rangers held the Viola scoreless in Florence, then sacked up during a nervy round of penalty kicks, including the deal-sealer by Nacho Novo (above). Here’s the report.

Rangers are through to their first European final in 36 years, and will face a Zenit side that served up a 4-0 drubbing of Bayern Munich in the other bracket.

Fiorentina may have been the classier side — I’m anticipating Aloysius’s forthcoming comments on the Telegraph message boards already — and they can soothe themselves with that knowledge as they watch the final on television. Snigger snigger.

Now, if Rangers can only survive their final six domestic fixtures to claim the SPL crown, in doubt in large part due to their unexpected European success, how sweet it would be.

 

A Welcome Draw at Ibrox for Ragged Rangers

With his side decimated by injury and suspensions, Walter Smith’s Rangers bent but didn’t break Thursday, battling to a 0-0 draw on the home leg of the UEFA Cup Semis against a comparatively healthy Fiorentina side, occupiers of the fourth position in the Serie A table. Here’s the report.

Rangers now face with the proposition of advancing to a European final on away goals — never easy, but it seems to be the currency with which Rangers have traded during their 2008 European campaign. Just ask Sporting Lisbon.

Now it’s home to Glasgow for two days’ rest before an Old Firm clash for the ages on Sunday — with the SPL crown potentially hanging in the balance.

 

Battered and Banned Rangers Press On In Search of the Quad

Rangers Supporters Revel

So much has happened since my last post that I won’t even attempt to cover it. However, some highlights…

Not one but two away goals at Sporting Lisbon saw Rangers through to the UEFA Cup Semifinals as the Ibrox side continues its miraculous turnaround season, in which its still in the hunt for four trophies.  Stout defense and opportunistic counters coolly executed were the difference.

That was followed three days later by a HUGE Old Firm fixture at Parkhead. Whew… what a game. Celtic earned the win — aided by Rangers playing on two days rest. The victory was seemingly snatched away when the ever-canny Carlos Cuellar punched away a sure goal by Nakamura late in the second half. It would have been Naka’s second of the game, the first being one of the most incredible strikes I’ve seen this season. But Cuellar unabashedly punched it away and stoically took the red to preserve the draw. But surely the draw would only stand for a moment as the SPL’s leading goal-scorer this season, Scott McDonald, set up for the ensuing penalty kick.  

But Allan McGregor, who was positively limping around on an ankle he injured minutes prior, clutched up, smothering McDonald’s badly telegraphed spot-kick to grow his hero status this season even bigger.  It looked as if Cuellar’s gamble had paid off, bringing gleeful smirks to the Blue Noses. The SPL title, it seemed, would be sealed on this day…

It was not to be, however. A Venegoor of Hesselink header deep into injury time found the mark, giving Celtic a 2-1 win and all three points, extending the Parkhead side’s tenuous 2008 title hopes for another week.

It was Celtic’s first Old Firm win in five tries, but will likely do little to quell the pressure on Gordon Strachan, which is crazy considering Celtic won the SPL  and advanced to the round of 16 in Champions League twice during his tenure. Celtic are two points ahead at the moment, but Rangers have three games in hand. The final Old Firm game of the season on Sunday — again at Parkhead — will be even bigger than the last. 

But before that happens, the first leg of the UEFA Cup Semi-final at home against Fiorentina is also a huge match. And Rangers go in with a long list of key injuries and suspensions. They will have to dig deep to hold off the injury-free Viola on Thursday, only to face a well-rested Celtic three days later. Hold on to your fuggin’ kilts, folks…