Firm Opinions

On Sunday, a full page advert was taken out in the Sunday Herald containing a statement from a group of Celtic supporters. Those who funded it did so with the intention of setting the record straight on all things “Rangers”.

Whilst many Celtic supporters share the view that has been outlined in the statement, the decision to take out an advert has not. Reaction has been mixed amongst the wider support and as you would imagine the blue half of the divide had their say on the matter as well.

Now we’ve long argued about the term “Old Firm” but no newspaper advert or statement is ever going to prevent the media from using it. The best that can be achieved here is that a group of Celtic supporters have gone on record to air their views, it is not officially club backed.

The timing of this advert is of course in the path of Sunday’s meeting between Celtic and the Rangers team that now occupy Ibrox. Some would suggest that it has only added fuel to the fire, and I would agree, but the real motivation here is that the “Old Firm” term has been wheeled out once more to the disgust of many a Celtic fan.

Many Celtic supporters would like to distance themselves from the usage of the term particularly as it was originally used to describe the historical Celtic v Rangers clashes, not this new one. Having said that, the phrase has never really gone down well with Celtic fans at all, but even more so now that the club that does reside at Ibrox is not recognised by many (not just Celtic supporters) as the club that once did.

The one thing I can say wholeheartedly about the advert, whether I agree with the motion of it or not, is that it was not created to generate conflict. It was merely something which most Celtic fans felt had to be said because no one else was saying it, particularly in the corridors of Hampden and the laptops of the media.

The Rangers debate will go on forever, you can be sure of that. The advert may not sit well with everyone, but it is clear how people feel.

The question is, will it have any effect Scottish football in the weeks and months ahead? That all depends on how strong you feel about it.

If you are a Rangers fan then its likely your view here is that it is still the same club playing at Ibrox these days. I’m sure in the minds of those supporters, its the best they’re going to get so I can’t blame them for trying.

I’ve covered the position of the Celtic community and it is mixed. Celtic Football Club have not declared their position on this and I doubt they ever will.

How do other clubs feel about it though? Is it really that big a deal for everyone else?

Again, I would have to say it appears to be mixed amongst supporters of other Scottish clubs. Though I wouldn’t expect to see any kind of statement from these supporters or clubs.

Come Sunday, two sets of fans will be housed in Hampden Park once more. Technically it will be the first time these two teams have met, but the fans know each other all to well.

Veteran’s of the historical fixtures say that Scotland needs this fixture. In fact most ex-players and managers still use the phrase “Old Firm” so for me, this statement will do little to change anything.

Sky Sports, STV, BBC, BT Sport and all the newspapers will still be using the term years from now. Everyone gets their say in this matter but you cannot change opinions.

There is a big game on Sunday. Lets focus on winning that.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

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Ross County v Celtic: preview and lineup

Celtic and Aberdeen sit top of the Scottish Premiership on the same points this morning. Come lunchtime, Ronny Deila has the opportunity to take advantage of one of those games at hand to make open up a gap.

Midweek saw Celtic go ahead by a single point after a comprehensive win over a lacklustre Motherwell side. Derek McInnes’ side could only manage a draw away to St Johnstone last night and lost the chance to keep the pressure on Celtic.

This season is far from over though and there will be more twists and turns to come I am sure. Today though, Celtic must keep up their progress and get an away.

They visit Ross County for today’s 12.45pm kick off and despite the Dingwall outfits league position, nothing should be taken for granted. The last the two teams met, it was a rather drab 0-0 affair and a disappointing end to 2014, having suffered a 2-1 defeat to Dundee United six days earlier.

After a short break to Gran Canaria, Celtic have returned with a spring in their step. With three clean sheets and three wins to start 2015, Deila will be keen to see that maintained.

Yesterday saw the departure of Beram Kayal to Championship side, Brighton & Hove Albion. Albion are struggling this season and will be aiming to avoid the drop.

When Kayal came on the scene at Celtic, he made a huge impact. Injury saw him displaced when he was a key player though he did make a comeback.

His career began to dwindle as he struggled with some injuries. Eventually Victor Wanyama would keep him out of the side before he himself departed for the south coast of England.

There is no doubt that Kayal has talent, but he appears to have wanted to leave for some time. At one stage this season it looked as though Ronny Deila might give him his chance but his departure is good for everyone and I wish him all the best.

If Ronny Deila can offload a few other players not fulfilling their roles or achieving full potential, it will free up wages and open up spaces for youth players and new signings. We may not see much more activity this transfer window for Celtic, but the summer is likely to see Ronny Deila impose more of his own vision on Celtic.

As for today, three points will do nicely. The team:

Gordon, Matthews, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre, Brown, Bitton, Commons, Guidetti, Henderson, Griffiths.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

January blues/green with envy

The third Monday of the January is supposed to be the most depressing of the year. In the green half of Glasgow though, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Whilst Zombie FC continue to feed upon one another across the city, Celtic have returned from the Canary Islands with a spring in their step. Two wonderful goals from Adam Matthews and Liam Henderson gave Celtic a 0-2 win over Hamilton on Saturday and once more put pressure on Aberdeen in the league.

The Dons are two points ahead of Celtic but with the Hoops having two games at hand, it promises to be an exciting finish to a season in Scottish footballs top flight. Dundee United lag behind Celtic by four points but remain a threat at this stage in the season.

On the subject of United, the pre-contract signing of Gary Mackay-Steven has been seen as a decent acquisition in the Celtic community. The question remains though on whether Celtic will go a little further and bring him in now.

Of all the Dundee United players that have furnished their ranks in recent years, Gary would not have been top of my list. His signing raises more questions about current players futures and where Ronny Deila plans to fit him in to the squad

Is he bolstering the ranks or will he have a defined role in the team? I welcome the player with open arms but there are a large batch of Celtic players in midfield positions which need to be addressed.

Berget has gone but Celtic still employ Wakaso, Forrest, McGregor, Boerrigter in the wide areas, not to mention loanee Tonev. Add to that the question marks over Kayal and Commons and you begin to wonder how Celtic plan to shape up for the remainder of the season.

Kayal looked like he may get a chance under Deila but it looks more likely that he will go. His early Celtic career has never been recaptured and like many at the club, it is money for nothing by keeping him on.

Commons on the other hand is a different kettle of fish. Question marks remain over whether Deila fancies him or not.

Given his omission from starting elevens, we’ve all assumed Deila was planning ahead without him. Recent starts would suggest otherwise particularly when Deila has been singing his praises and desire for him to stay.

The rumours are that Celtic are willing to offer Commons a one year deal but that he wants a two year deal. Whatever the case, I will be happy as long as he sees out the rest of this season in the Hoops.

Among the other transfer rumours is of course Virgil Van Dijk. Once more he’s been linked with a move south and whilst I have conceded that he is a player we will not be able to hang on to, I don’t see him departing before June unless it is a substantial fee.

John Guidetti is another Celtic player with a question mark over his future. Although on loan to Celtic, the club have shown a willingness to sign him on a permanent deal.

The only thing that remains a stumbling block is of course the player himself. If he is holding out for a better offer elsewhere, then I would suggest Celtic waste no more time on him.

Guidetti had a blistering start to his Celtic career this season and looked every bit a quality forward with all the characteristics on show to be a fans favourite. Recently though he has lost his form and faded into the background but that may be a result of his future at the club.

Whatever happens, he will be at the club until the end of the season on loan. That will mean being included in Celtic’s European squad for the first time as well.

Without a regular front man this season, Guidetti will be vying for a place against Inter Milan next month. What Ronny Deila will be hoping for though will be a stronger challenge from Stefan Scepovic and Leigh Griffiths.

Scepovic is settling down but still not hitting the kind of form Guidetti enjoyed last year. Griffiths on the other hand is beginning to make an impact, he just needs to be given more chances by Deila.

The game that is getting everyone’s attention is of course the cup match against Scottish footballs newest club. Press reports of an “Old F***m” revival only goes to show just how poor a media we have in the UK, especially the sporting media of Scotland.

The phrase has never been one adopted by Celtic fans (not all of us anyway) when playing the liquidated club yet the media continue to use it for the purpose of the phoenix club. The only thing that remains of their dead entity are the “fans” and the stadium – the “history” is just that.

The match itself is one I would have preferred to avoid. Whilst a challenge may have been missing for the last few years, the toxicity that comes with this group of supporters fans has been a welcome break for everyone.

What is going on over across the city is an embarrassment to Scottish society. They used to sing about being “up to their knees in fenian blood”, but now they are up to there necks in their own plasma and faeces.

I wish that this was a fixture Celtic didn’t have to play but play it they will. However it is only one of four competitions Ronny Deila’s players side remain in.

The last two seasons have given Celtic fans little to get excited about post Christmas. The second half of this season could be the best we’ve seen for some time.

With the visit of Motherwell on midweek, Celtic could find themselves back on top of the Scottish Premiership once more. After all, its where we belong.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

Sky Sports Boos

It seems Andy Walker is upping the stakes in the “ex-player hatred for Celtic” game. Chris Sutton has been leading recent attacks but its his striking predecessor who is making a bid to be the most hated ex-Celt now.

Despite dominating Kilmarnock for the entire match and winning 0-2 at Rugby Park, Celtic came in for a panel of negativity from Sky Sports. Presenter David Tanner announced that Andy Walker wasn’t a fan of Ronny Deila’s post match celebrations.

As far as presenting goes its pretty unprofessional of Tanner to stir things. But perhaps he was trying to raise the profile of Sky Sports pundit Andy Walker in direct opposition to BT Sport’s Chris Sutton.

I’m all for airing opinions and god knows we all have our own. Are Ronny Deila’s celebrations with fans worth moaning about though?

Deila has lacked media support and when results have been crucial, such as tonights, he’s shared his jubilation with the travelling support. If Walker isn’t a fan of this then it just goes to show how out of touch he really is with Celtic.

He is part of an ongoing line of turncoat tims. I don’t expect ex-players to lie about Celticโ€™s progress but I’m not sure the negativity had been totally warranted.

When you consider the many shades of excrement hitting the proverbial, across the city of Glasgow, the commentary on that matter has been mild. Here you have a phoenix club imploding in broad daylight, but you rarely here a peep of negativity from the sports media in Scotland about it.

I have more time for Ronny Deila than any of these bitter Ex-Celtic players. I only listen to them because they perch upon the very channels I use to watch the Hoops.

Well done to Ronny and the Bhoys for getting back on track.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

Killie me softly

With Aberdeen sitting proudly atop the Scottish Premiership, everyone at Celtic    will be aware what needs to be done tonight in Ayrshire. The task for Ronny Deila’s players is to find their shooting boots.

Having eventually reached the league summit in November, the end 2014 was a bit of a damp squib for Celtic. A narrow defeat at the hands of Dundee United, a goaless draw at home to Ross County and postponed match away to Partick Thistle have left a void for the Celtic support.

Whichever way you are feeling Celtic  need to get back on track. After  enduring a hard slog in 2014’s part of this season, 2015 is offering a new challenge.

Celtic have lost their number one spot in the Scottish Premiership and once again they have games at hand. Aberdeen will be buoyed by their appearance at the top of the league so they’ll be driven to maintain it for as long as possible.

Whilst some fans remain unconvinced by Ronny Deila others will be interested to see the Norwegian improve things further. We all want the best for Celtic but some have had enough of Ronny.

Despite the gap between the two clubs in the league, tonights match against Kilmarnock will be a test for Celtic. The high that came after beating Aberdeen at Pittodrie is a distant memory and there is much more left to be done by Ronny Deila.

That is the best thing about this season. The challenge that has been missing is actually here.

Some will say its just because Deila isn’t good enough. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t but its too early to tell just how far he can go.

We’ve still got four competitions to look forward to as fans. If you’re happy with Celtic bossing the league and winning it early doors then you are a sad individual.

The last two seasons have been dull im the league and frankly a very boring. This season we have a challenge.

Saddle up for 2015. Its going to be interesting.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie