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Challenge for makeshift Celtic

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Anyone who thinks that Rangers will arrive at Celtic Park on Wednesday evening low on confidence or strategy better think again.  For all their poor recent form they are top of the league, beat Celtic comfortably earlier this season and have a squad full of players who know what it’s like to win the league.

They will revert to a familiar strategy.  Pack the midfield, deny Celtic’s creative players space, take no chances at the back and wait for a seasonal gift from Celtic.  I watched their recent defeat to St Mirren and I think it’s possible to question some players’ attitude to the game but things will be different at Celtic Park.  Already written off by many, ironically, they will arrive with the confidence only a team with nothing to lose can muster.

Celtic’s league form over the last two months has been exceptional and their Europa League performances indicate there is a lot more to come from this squad but they still have plenty to prove.  A particular concern will be the lack of a settled team in recent months.  Kelvin Wilson is likely to start his first game in months and I’d not be surprised to see Emilio Izaguirre back.

The front pairing is also a concern.  Georgios Samaras is back to his best form but he and Hooper have never convinced as a partnership.  We have to hope that Victor Wanyama can be relieved of central defensive duties to allow him to anchor midfield alongside Beram Kayal.  Neither Brown nor Ki are sufficiently imposing in the crucial central midfield area.  No matter how Celtic start on Wednesday the team will have a makeshift feel to it, any win will be hard earned.

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  1. ulysses mcghee says:

     

    26 December, 2011 at 16:52

     

     

    Have to disagree on that. I want to see the Hun getting all that they are due. Any excuses they want to trot out if we win the league, we can laugh at.

     

     

    Personally don’t think it will happen, but Rangers in liquidation will even put dancing on Thatchers grave into close second best.

  2. Paddy Gallagher on

    knoxy2000 says:

     

     

    26 December, 2011 at 17:41

     

     

    Pleased Oscar had a good day, thoughts and prayers for your family at this time.

  3. Lurgan53

     

     

    80? Much respect to the Lurgan Bhoys.

     

     

    Hope Celtic give them a performance and a result that makes the trip worthwhile.

     

     

    SwanseaBhoy

  4. My team for Wednesday would be……who cares what my team would be….I’m not picking the team am I…its completely irrelevant what I think the team would be….is it a good conversational piece…..maybe…no harm in it I suppose…deffo a lot better than somebody posting song lyrics……what on earth is that about….song lyrics…. nobody else is singing the stupid lyrics…there all inside your own head bud…nobody else’s….if I could have 3 wishes granted in 2012 it would be no more song lyrics…no more ‘my team’ selections…….and anyone directly insulting another CQNer without provocation would be obliged to post their real name and phone number…never happen of course…ah well…merry xmas by the way

  5. brucecassavetes on

    Agree with Paul67’s header.

     

     

    Write off Cretin FC at our peril – the Old Firm games can be unpredictable.

     

     

    Didn’t see our 2-0 win at Ibrox in January coming but equally didn’t expect the 4-2 capitulation earlier this season either.

     

     

    We’ll be facing a team with a siege mentality.

  6. Celtic Soul Brother- Supporting Kano 1000 on

    googybhoy ♥ Happy Christmas to Paul67 and his family. Thank you. says:

     

    26 December, 2011 at 17:54

     

     

    Will definitely buy you a pint-hope to be with my eldest who is 6 1/2 feet tall so hopefully you will recognise us!

  7. Personally, I would be very tempted to bring Izzy back.

     

     

    It allows Mulgrew and Ledley to play where they are most effective. CB and Midfield.

     

     

    Play defensive 4-5-1 and attacking 4-3-3 with:

     

     

    Cha Wanyama Mulgrew Izzy

     

     

    Brown Kayal Ledley

     

     

    Forrest Sammy

     

     

    Hooper

     

     

     

    I have been very impressed with Victor at CB, with that midfield 3 covering, he can even run out of position a little.

     

     

    Sammy and Forrest will cause plenty of problems running at them from deep. No long balls to Hooper, play a patient passing game keeping the ball as much as possible.

     

     

    Izzy will probably tire half way through the 2nd half, which is a good time to put Ledley into LB slot, and bring on Ki.

     

     

    Stokes can come on for any of the front 3 who are not performing, or get too tired also.

     

     

    Wont complain if thats not the team though, as every confidence in Neil and the coaching staff. The different options are many, and we dont all know which players are fit and ready enough. I am sure Neil will pick a good team, who if they play as they should, will win comfortably, assuming no huge mib contributions.

     

     

    Too excited, cant wait…….!!

  8. the neil lennon greenbhoy67 on

    Look at Jellys miss v St Mirren the other day on BBC does not say to me 5,6,7,8 million says a free. Also read somewhere that Rapid are due 40% of any transfer can anyone confirm?

  9. The Moon Bhoys says:

     

    26 December, 2011 at 17:57

     

     

     

    I quite like reading other posters team selections.

     

     

    Its the ones who get upset, when Neil picks a different selection and we dont win, who annoy me. I mean, sure, comment that you think it was wrong, but some seem to have the arrogance that if we had gone with their selection it would have been an easy win!

     

     

    Song lyrics – I tend to just skip right by, so doesnt annoy me at all. Dont mind them being posted.

     

     

    Contact details for those who insult others though, interesting, should get a trial run in my opinion……. ;-)

  10. Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan supports Kano 1000 on

    Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan supports Kano 1000 says:

     

     

    26 December, 2011 at 17:26

     

     

    A work of complete and utter faction– by Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan.

     

     

    All references to people living or dead are either factually accurate or a complete work of my imagination

     

     

    My apologies if this tales is too long for some. If you like it then tell others– if you don’t then exercise some Christian charity and hold your tongue! ;-o)

     

     

    ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

     

     

    The hotel was no different to many of the international hotels that the man had been in over a number of years. It was modern,luxurious, had all the necessary facilities and was close enough to the airport as to be convenient. He hoped that he would not have to be there for too long and that his business could be conducted quickly. The arrangements had been made in the main, soundings made,fees agreed. The only thing that he had left to do as to convince his prey that the proposal he was making would be mutually beneficial— and he had wrestled with himself as to just how to achieve his goal. After all he had known the man he was about to meet for years, knew him really well– and yet he was not sure if that made the conversation to come easier or considerably more difficult?

     

     

    Time would tell– Nothing ventured nothing gained– and besides the younger man was a friend was he not?

     

     

    He sat in the lobby waiting. He had insisted in coming alone– this was to be a personal meeting, so he did not want the executive types present with contracts and details– that could be sorted out later. This was just a chat between two men– old friends– but with a business proposal thrown in. That was all.

     

     

    Yet it wasn’t all at all was it? The older man knew fine well that he may have to dig deep into his own past to make the deal work. He may just have to reveal a part of himself that he had kept hidden for years in order to gain the trust of the younger man. He may even lose a friend on this day, with the younger man concluding that his old friend had finally grown too old for the real world and had lost his marbles entirely!

     

     

    He was thinking about that very thing when he saw the young man come through the door. Small, diminutive and with an impish grin which immediately lit up his face on seeing the old man, Lubomir Moravcik still looked like a schoolboy in his eyes! Yet he knew he was 33 years old, and now a veteran in the eyes of the footballing world!

     

     

    ” Josef!”

     

    “Lubo!”

     

     

    The two men hugged and embraced as only old old friends do.

     

     

    After some brief pleasantries, they retired to a waiting room where they could be alone for their chat.

     

     

    Moravcik, too had come alone. He had driven the short distance from Duisburg to Dusseldorf to meet Josef Venglos, and knew in advance that the old man would be alone and the reason for his visit.

     

     

    Once in the seclusion of the room, the two men asked about one another’s families and talked of old times and acquaintances, before Moravcik brought up the business in hand.

     

     

    ” So– you are now in Glasgow– Scotland? And managing Celtic Glasgow?

     

    ” Yes Lubomir, that I am”

     

    ” And you want me to go there too– at 33?”

     

    “Yes , I do– very much so”

     

    ” Boss,– ( He still called him boss despite the years )– I am 33 years old, not at my fittest and I cannot hold down a place with Duisburg. My time in the footballing light has come and gone I’m afraid, and as much as I would like to play forever I have to face up to the fact that mother nature is telling me it is time to move on in life. Maybe coaching back in Slovakia, maybe somewhere in France, but the playing days are coming to an end if I am not at the terminus already!”

     

     

    The older man sighed, poured some water into a glass, and looked at his countryman.

     

     

    ” Lubo, I know how old you are. I know where you have played, how often you have played and who you have played with. I first saw you as a schoolboy and know fine well that here you are in Germany and that you are not the youngest in the squad that you currently play with. But, I also know that you can do a job for Celtic, even if you do not play the full 90 minutes of each game. This will be good for you Lubo– I promise you– and besides it will stand you in good stead for when you do finally hang up your boots. I have every confidence!”

     

     

    ” But Scotland,Boss? It is a very different standard to here in the Bundesliga. It is different to France and St Ettienne and whilst everyone in Europe knows the Celtic of old– with no disrespect they are no longer amongst the big teams of Europe. I tell you, if it is a physical league– requiring fitness and physicality– then I am not up to it– at least I feel I am not up to it. I know Duisburg have agreed a fee– they see me as surplus. But I can see out my time here, make contacts on mainland Europe and plan for the future. In Scotland? Well I know no one– and no one knows me. I may find myself in a wilderness and miss out on chances here– chances off the park and away from the game– I am not certain at all.”

     

     

    The two talked back and forward. Venglos outlined how he found the club and the squad. He repeated that he was confident and that whilst Rangers were the dominant team in Scotland– he knew the day would come when they would be toppled from the top of the Scottish tree, and how he believed Moravcik could play a part in that process.

     

     

    Despite all of this and despite their friendship, the younger man remained dubious and unconvinced.

     

     

    Ultimately, Venglos knew he would have to make the last throw of the dice. It was taking a risk and would test a long held friendship with his young counterpart but he decided to go for it.

     

     

    ” Lubomir? Do you remember when you first came to Prague?”

     

    ” Eh? Yes– I think it was when I was maybe 15 or16.”

     

    ” I was younger– maybe ten years old.”

     

    ” Why do you ask?”

     

    ” Lubo, I am going to tell you something that you may find hard to believe– something hard to comprehend. Please hear me out as I thought long and hard about telling you this, and at the end I will ask you one question and no matter how you answer I will respect your decision no matter what!”

     

     

    The younger man looked perplexed and out of respect for his older friend simply nodded his assent.

     

     

    The old man continued

     

     

    ” As you know I was born in Ruzomberok in Slovakia. Until 1918 the town was In Hungary– all mountains, streams and cotton mills. I was never anywhere near Prague until I went with my school not long after the end of the second world war– 1946. I was ten years old and all I wanted to do was play football– football, football, football– that was all I cared about. That visit has stayed with me ever since– though I have often been too embarrassed to speak of it because people would think me a fool.

     

     

    On that trip to Prague, the school team played in a mini tournament that was held in the Letenske Sady Park. We were not very good I’m afraid but we played a number of games all the same.

     

     

    At the end of one game, we noticed that our match had been watched by a few spectators, one of whom was an old man in a wheel chair. He was very animated this man. He had a nurse with him who kept telling him to be quiet, but despite this, he continued to shout instructions at us boys. The instructions were in broken Czech and they were barked– he seemed angry to me, he spoke in a funny acccent– yet he also seemed knowledgeable about football and at the end we were taken over by our coach to meet him as apparently he was quite famous– or indeed had been famous at one time.

     

     

    He was introduced as “Dedek” or Grandpa and he was 80 years old. We were told that he was the Grandpa of Czech Football. He had been the manager of Slavia Prague for 25 years and had won many championships, including what could be regarded as the forerunner of the European Cup. He coached in a different way to anything or anyone that had come before. He knew about tactics, and muscles and physiotherapy long before anyone else. He was a national hero! He had helped coach the most successful national teams, at the Olympics and in the lead up to the world cup. We hung on his every word.

     

     

    However, the strangest thing about Dedek was revealed in a ten minute story he told me that day. For despite being a hero in Czechoslovakia, he as born in Scotland– in a town called Dumbarton. He was a riveter in a ship yard and played football part time for the local club and he gained some success getting to the Scottish cup final in 1887. Then he said everything changed– changed in a way that he could never imagine, that you would never believe.

     

     

    In 1888, he was asked to turn out as a guest for a new team– for a club to be called Celtic in Glasgow. He was reluctant at first but eventually agreed. He told me that there had been several attempts to start a club called Celtic and that they had all failed.He honestly felt that this club would fail too, but this time there was something different. So– on the 28th of May 1888– Dedek became the very first player to kick a ball for Celtic Glasgow. He was their first centre forward, and as such he took their first kick off and so started the whole Celtic ball rolling– literally. They played against a team called Rangers Swifts and won 5-2.

     

     

    After the game there was a celebration which Dedek went to.. and at that party he was asked to join Celtic permanently, but he said no.

     

     

    He returned to play for Dumbarton,which was a good team then and about 25 miles from Glasgow– but could not get the Celtic thing out of his head. He was pursued by other clubs from England but kept bumping into a Celtic man called Glass and another called Maley who promised him that something special would happen to him at Celtic Park– a park that the supporters built themselves Lubo. The way he spoke, it was as if they said that Celtic Park had been fashioned out of magic– you know like by a wizard? Eventually he signed for Celtic in August 1889 and stayed until 1897. He was apparently like you, Lubo, an entertainer, good feet, ferocious shot and a crowd pleaser. His nickname there was the rooter– because his shots were so hard they uprooted the posts. He won leagues and medals with Celtic and never left.

     

     

    After he retired from playing, he went back to working in the shipyards but kept up to date with football. He travelled, and in 1905 Celtic toured through Europe and by coincidence came to Prague– by design or accident– Dedek came too and somehow got the job of managing Slavia Prague on 15th February 1905– He was a huge success– and he never went back to Scotland.

     

     

    But on that day in the Letenske he said that his whole life in football truly started that day he turned out for a team called Celtic. As a young boy I listened to this old man in the park and he told us that if you can play football at all then you can play at Celtic Park in Scotland. He said it was a place where, for some, their real destiny awaited and that strange and wonderful things happen there. So I always knew about Celtic park, always believed in the old man’s tale that it was a magical place. So when I got the chance to go there I didn’t hesitate– and I have seen it Lubo– seen it with my own eyes– I have seen and felt what the old man told me off– and it exists Lubo. It is there and it is real– and most of all it says to me ” Moravcik! Moravcik!”– you are the kind of player that can play there Lubo– you will shine and achieve things you have never before experienced– believe me.

     

     

    The old man’s real name was Johnny Madden– go look him up– the very first guy to kick a ball for Celtic, Lubo, and he ends up a national hero in our back yard? A guy who was destined to fit rivets in a shipyard all his days– until he went to Celtic park– and I meet him in a public park one tram stop up from the Sparta station in 1946? And he looks into my eyes all those years ago and says if you get the chance one day go to Celtic park because strange things happen there? And so here I am– all these years later. the manager of the club where that old man kicked the first football which in turn lead him to be a legend in the country that both you and I played football for.

     

     

    So here is my question Lubomir. I know you have doubts about your fitness and about Scotland. I know you have a future to think of and that you could have gone to Marseilles and Juventus and regretted not making those moves. So trust me Lubo– just this once more. Will you come with me to have a look at Celtic and their ground? Will you come and “feel” what it is like? See what the old man said was true all those years ago– and if you don’t get that feeling that you can play there, that you won’t fit in and that there is not something different about the place– well we will pay all the expenses of your visit and you can come back here– nothing lost at all!

     

     

    “What do you say Lubomir– will you walk through the Parkhead gates with me for a look at the place where Dedek kicked the first ball?”– I swear you will just never know if you don’t!

     

     

    And Lubomir said……… “yes…………………………………………..”

  11. SwanseaBhoy says:

     

    26 December, 2011 at 17:54

     

     

    Just saw Barry Robson’s goal for Middlesbrough today. An absolute cracker.

     

     

    Must admit, I thought his time was up at Celtic but wish him nothing but success for the future.

     

     

    Barry Robson – Hunskelper.

     

    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

     

    Totally agree M8!

     

     

    If you don’t mind i’d like to say that, if it weren’t for the ‘kick-ass’ performances of both, Barry Robson and, Paul Hartley in the last seven games of the league season 2007-8 then, for me….3 iar wouldn’t have happened!!!

     

    Hail! Hail!

  12. Celtic Soul Brother- Supporting Kano 1000 on

    googybhoy ♥ Happy Christmas to Paul67 and his family. Thank you. says:

     

    26 December, 2011 at 18:11

     

     

    Live near Walkden in North Manchester-will e-mail you after I’ve read the B,R,T and H post-should be just before the game on Wednesday!

  13. Vino time.

     

     

    I have just opened a bottle, and I can safely say without a shadow of a doubt, is the finest I have had in my vino drinking years.

     

     

    A Ribera del Duero, 2003 Gran Reserva called Hachon, absolute quality, and only 8.99, can’t believe it at that price.

  14. Elbows Mc Culloch !!!!!!!!!!!!!

     

     

    Who gives two tuppeny Sucks ???????????????????????

     

     

    A total has been that would have been a never been if he didn´t sign for the huns.

     

     

    I hope he plays …. a knackered oot player who should be thankful he is not a horse.

     

     

    Bring on Davie Weir too … solely from just from an extract the urine perspective.

     

     

    The most important aspect of this game on Wednesday night comes from us.

     

     

    We need to be patient and 100% supportive no collective sighs , no moaning, no pretending that you know more than Lenny.

     

     

    A 1.0 win is all we need to get the pennies prepared for the eyes.

     

     

    I trust 100% Neil Lennon selection.

     

     

    To be honest a big big win and with Hogmanay coming up and Christmas just finished I am not entirely sure my liver is up for a hun hammering. I am sure I will battle through the pain if it does happen. I will try my best.

     

     

    Bring on Old Man Weir, Elbows, Sally and lick spittle Collum … Lenny´s bhoys will still despatch them it is not them they are intimidated by it´s officialdom and our home support.

     

     

    Hail Hail

     

     

    STANDING UP FOR NEIL LENNON

  15. !!Bada Bing!! Kano 1000 on

    ostinbonnybridge Kano 1000 says 26 December, 2011 at 15:21 PF A couple of weeks ago, Sally was saying that there was ‘contact’ re Aluko’s dive. Now he is complaining that the St. Mirren player went down easily

     

    Spot on mate,you wont read about that comparison anywhere else.

  16. !!Bada Bing!! Kano 1000 on

    Neil said after Saturday that James Forrest had an ankle knock and said he was tired.Tells me that MF will be Samaras Kayal Wanyama Brown,i think Ki will be benched.Wilson Mulgrew at CB, Cha at RB and Ledley at LB where he can move in to midfield comfortably with Mulgrew covering.My main concern is Hoopers inability to play up front on his own,Stokes can play it much better IMO.Win the personal battles then play the football,score early they will collapse.hh

  17. I think that we have to bring in, Thomas Rogne on wednesday to partner Charlie Mulgrew.

     

    I thought that Kayal’s game was less effective because, Victor was in defence vs Killie.

     

    If i were Neil i’d be instilling in the team that, given the choice of ref as well as the fact that the huns are 3 iar winners then, we are going in as underdogs and, have it all to prove!

     

    Street-wisdom will be a key factor in this game and, we must not fall short in that dept!

     

    “Beware of the hun ‘dark-arts’ etc…” CSC.

  18. As with some others Wednesday’s biggest enemy – apart from the man with eyes in the back of his head – will be complacency.

     

     

    This team and manager need to make sure that we make things happen rather than assume things will happen

     

     

    Lets just get stuck right in and hammer them in to the ground

     

     

    team

     

     

    FF

     

     

    Cha TR KW CM

     

     

    SB BK VW JL GS

     

     

    GH

     

     

     

    Loads of running power and mental strength

     

     

    subs to come on

     

     

    JF

     

    KI

     

    AS

     

     

     

    HH

  19. googybhoy

     

     

    Lifted from Follow Follow:

     

     

    “Pubs in Manchester city centre for Wednesday.

     

    As the title says, does anyone know of any decent bars/ pubs in Manchester city centre to watch Wednesday’s game? Cheers”.

     

     

    I’ve recommended O’Shea’s! Told him to ask for googybear!

     

     

    ;0)

     

     

    SwanseaBhoy

  20. How Ally can beat Celtic but will he listen ?

     

     

    By jim Traynor on Dec 26, 11 08:39 AM in old firm

     

     

    THERE was a time when he was known as Golden Bollocks and it was often said of Ally

     

    McCoist that if he fell in a vat of slurry he would still come out smelling like he did before.

     

     

    But that was then, when he was a player, and this is now. And he’s a manager under pressure.

     

     

    If Ally didn’t cash in all his good fortune chips while banging in goals for Rangers and Scotland he’ll need to remember where he left the remainder of them before Wednesday. If ever he needed to catch a break it’s right now.

     

     

    It would be wrong, of course, to suggest he reached the top of the game only because he played for Rangers in an era where admittedly they recieved more than their share of luck yet it did seem as though most of the lucky breaks went his way.

     

     

    But people who work hard to make best use of their meagre talents can make it look as if luck is really all there is to it.

     

     

    Even so, after having lost three points and two players on Saturday, Ally and Rangers will need to get lucky or help again from Willie Collum if they are to survive their trip across Glasgow in a couple of days.

     

     

    In only six weeks the Ibrox side have gone from looking like runaway winners of the SPL to a shuffling, uninspired lot while Celtic have grown in confidence in that same short period. As soon as I tipped them to regain a fourth title they have started to slide. So dear Rangers fans it is indeed me that is to blame.

     

     

    So much now rides on Wednesday’s Parkhead clash. The future of Rangers as a football club, and perhaps also Lennon`s January budget, could depend on the outcome.

     

     

    The league is almost at the halfway stage but Christmas Eve’s results have left Rangers only one point in front of Celtic, who are playing with a tad more belief and panache than their rivals.

     

     

    Wednesday night could be the defining time. If Celtic win they’ll be two points clear of Rangers and top of the pile.

     

     

    All the momentum would be with Lennon’s side but if Ally can somehow galvanise his players and work the officials to obtain a victory he would be entitled to think he has the nerve and game intelligence to drive his side on to a fourth successive title regardless of the precarious financial situation at Rangers

     

     

    However, it’s not looking good. Rangers didn’t just lose to St Mirren on Saturday, they also let the Old Firm game plan blow away in the Paisley storm.

     

     

    Lee McCulloch and Dorin Goian were sent off, one in each half, leaving Ally short of options.

     

     

    The Christmas weekend would have been difficult and as he played the role of doting father, McCoist’s head would have resembled Russell Crowe’s blackboard when he played the part of John Nash in A Beautiful mind but I am havering now … havering more than usual … blame the Christmas mince pies

     

     

    Systems, numbers, patterns, shapes would all have been colliding, with fear always lurking in the shadows was always my favourite Stranglers tune I just cannot remember the song title for the life of me. Can anyone help ?

     

     

    While everyone else was sitting at the Christmas tables Ally would have been looking at the salt and pepper holders and the trinkets from the crackers, seeing them as defenders and attackers and the tragedy of Sue Barkers shrinking breasts.

     

     

    Lennon would have been more relaxed because he knows his team are performing close to their best but doubt might also have been scratching away inside his head like a demented gypsy.

     

     

    Old Firm matches have a tendency to turn form upside down.

     

     

    But the Irishman deserves loads of credit for the way he stayed focused when it seemed as though Rangers might disappear over the horizon.

     

     

    He knew he was being questioned and doubted but he didn’t break. It helped that Rangers have had to do without Steven Naismith, who injured himself because of a possible career ending and foolish and unnecessary challenge on Aberdeen’s Rob Milsom at the end of October which was never reviewed, but Celtic have also done without.

     

     

    They too have had injury problems but have crept up on Rangers and are threatening to surge ahead.

     

     

    And Rangers will be unable to do anything about it, especially if Nikica Jelavic pray to sweet St. Patrick can be sold in January. There is no urgency or thrust and there is also a lack of flair while Celtic have been crackling with life and energy.

     

     

    Although he would never admit it Lennon has to be extremely confident of winning on Wednesday because he has a midfield that has toughened up yet remains creative.

     

     

    He has a frontline always capable of taking enough of the chances created. Even Georgios Samaras has looked productive and dangerous – he scored both Celtic’s goals in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Kilmarnock – and if that isn’t a sign of Celtic’s well being I don’t know what is.

     

     

    Joe Ledley, who was back on Saturday, could fill in at left-back with Charlie Mulgrew and Victor Wanyama teaming up in the heart of the defence, although Kelvin Wilson also had a spell at centre-back against Killie.

     

     

    The point is Lennon has a larger squad than Ally and many more options. In fact the Rangers manager will struggle to fill his jerseys with men on whom he can rely.

     

     

    Even Steve Davis, who had a terrific season last time, has failed to strike form and is playing like a total diddy but even so Ally must approach this match in a positive frame of mind. Actually, he has no choice.

     

     

    If he orders his players to defend in numbers waiting for an opportunity to break forward he could be playing right into his opponent’s hands.

     

     

    There was a smoothness and confidence about Rangers’ play earlier in the season but that been replaced with a dangerous hesitancy so it would be folly to sit back and let Celtic pile forward.

     

     

    Instead, Rangers should go for broke. Ally should have Kyle Lafferty up top with Jelavic and Davis should be allowed to move into the centre of the midfield where he is at his best.

     

     

    Ally must also hope star player Sone Aluko can provide pace and width on the right which might help subdue Samaras, who is likely to be breaking on Celtic’s left.

     

     

    If the big Greek has to be mindful of Aluko that would ease the pressure on Steven Whittaker, who isn’t the world’s best defender but maybe hopefully he can sneak a goal. Ally might even consider using Sasa Papac wide left of midfield if Forrest is deployed on Celtic’s right but whatever he does the Ibrox supremo needs to give Celtic something to think about.

     

     

    He needs to worry Lennon’s defence, which is the weakest part of the side and will have to be makeshift yet again.

     

     

    If Rangers lose without having tried to exploit Celtic’s defensive frailties their fans would be entitled to shout from the rooftops because they suspect that as soon as the transfer window opens Jelavic and perhaps even Davis and Allan McGregor might be sold.

     

     

    That’s why this match is weighted with significance. If Rangers lose, it will be the beginning of the end. With Jelavic gone their title tilt will be damaged beyond repair and Ally’s first season as boss will end in misery.

     

     

    If Celtic lose and the gap widens to four points they will not be able to stage another comeback. In that case Lennon’s second full season in charge would end in defeat and he’d be the manager facing the sack immediately.

     

     

    Although Ally could argue he was left with inadequate resources to get the job done neither he but especially Lennon could be sure of surviving failure this term.

     

     

    It is a terrifying prospect for both but mainly Lennon, especially at this time of the year when we’re all supposed to be buoyed by the spirit of goodwill and all that.

     

     

    Good luck to them I know I have only outlined how Rangers can win this derby in this column and not Celtic due to space considerations but Lennon should be warned. Ally has made a habit of springing back to his feet when he’s been knocked flat. This time though he might need a trampoline.

  21. !!Bada Bing!! Kano 1000 on

    How Ally can beat Celtic but will he listen ? By jim Traynor on Dec 26, 11 08:39 AM

     

    A fan’s plea if ever i heard one,not long ago the lapdogs “wanted a title race” now we have hit a game,a wee bit close for comfort for some.

  22. Awe_Naw_No_Annoni_Oan_Anaw_Noo says:

     

    26 December, 2011 at 18:58

     

     

    I am truly speechless, what a pile of guff!

     

     

    Even if you ignore the actual words written it is an extemely incoherent piece of writing overall. Big Red F when I was at school!

     

     

    Vaultbhoy

  23. Vaultbhoy says:

     

    26 December, 2011 at 19:18

     

     

    Awe naw will no be happy with you slagging his writing :o)

     

    He is very good at wot he rites.

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