Despite the result, Brendan was right to rest five players


Yes, the Filip Benkovic’s goal should have stood and we really should learn to convert penalties, but Celtic did not cause Motherwell sufficient alarm to make the points safe before a late equaliser.  This was our fifth consecutive game away from Celtic Park in an intense period for the players.  It was also the first game after Sundays’ cup final party, the chance of points being dropped was high.

We have not looked so pedestrian since……… the last time Scott Brown and Olivier Ntcham started.  I’m not sure what conclusions to draw from this, if any.  Ryan Christie delivered again.  His impact on the team since late October has been incredible, without him, you would be feeling slightly less easy about our position.

Brendan Rodgers rested James Forrest, Mikael Lustig, Scott Sinclair, Odsonne Edouard and Tom Rogic from the starting line-up.  Despite the result, I still think this was the right decision.  Salzburg have this midweek off and face bottom of the Austrian table Admira on Saturday.

They will arrive in Glasgow next week fully rested with only one game to go before a two month winter break.  With a 14-point lead in the league, they will be resting no one against Celtic.  The Austrians are likely to be the strongest team we face this season and if we are to have any chance against them, we need to be as physically prepared as they are.

The ‘Always play your strongest team’ mantra just weakens your strongest team for when you really need it.  This month’s priorities were the League Cup Final, Salzburg, the visit to Ibrox and the visit to Pittodrie, in that order.  We should be utilising the squad on other occasions.

Kilmarnock top of the league in December is noteworthy.  They will not finish the season within 10 points of the top and, in all likelihood, their stay will last no more than three days, but this is a remarkable overachievement by a team who found their managerial maestro.  They also lost their best player to Celtic in the summer.  Credit where due.

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  1. The question is:



    Was Gamboa guilty of letting the ball bounce?






    Guilty of expecting Clancy to award him a foul when he was clattered in the back by the ‘Well player?



    On replay it was a clearer foul than anything Benkovic might have committed when his “goal” ruled out for a foul.



    Have refs got worse or are their mistakes more noticeable when they affect points won and lost?

  2. I miss Davidopopopolous……(braw spelling )



    smiley let your puns banish the shoite thing




  3. Go tell the Spartim on

    Scapegoat Quick News in full flow



    if you look at any league in the world you will see results that make you wonder, Real betis vs Barcelona, Bayern Munichs early season form, PSG getting beaten off of Strasbourg (small team on the brink thats only started the recovery) and so on and so forth…………………..



    Teams will play poorly, i think you could accurately say that in the majority of our away games we havent played a full strength team, too many changes with ring rusty replacements coming in doesnt help, it happened during MON’s era, WGS, NL and RD’s so WHY do bedwetters get so surprised. When its not Dedrick and Filip at the back, Broonie always sits in front (lets be honest would you trust any of the other defenders at CB), game shouldve been out of sight at half time, poor finishing and the usual pathetic refereeing the result that it wasnt. We have a spate of home games coming soon lets just see where we are after the second round of games, ill wager it will be first by a couple of points at least.



    i fully expect us to push on in the new year, we’ve got europe to qualify for firstly, which i think is our main focus at this juncture.

  4. Christie, Forrest, and McGregor are must starts.



    For Killie I’d go with following :






    Lustig Jozo Bencko Tierney




    ———–McGregor Ntcham——————-




    Forrest Christie Morgan




    ————— Edouard ——————–

  5. Lewis Morgan, won Player of Year with St Mirren, operating from wide left.



    I would therefore ask the question why Rodgers has only ever tried him out on the right ?


    Given wide left is a huge problem area for us at the moment. I would like to see Morgan given a run out there.



    The other problem we have at moment is centre forward. Two guys reluctant to grab their chance.


    For me, Eddy is less bad than Griffiths for now. But both are far from convincing.

  6. Sandman @4:37


    I posted Last night that we are far too pedestrian when broony in the team I think broony role now is to come off the bench shore things up if needed HH

  7. St Stivs….



    only if McJ says it’s ok….;-))



    Ruggyman…drop Morgan and put OE out there…wae the Griff through the middle….easy this management lark….;-))




  8. Paul67



    Problem with resting half a team of players, was exposed in the defeat at Rugby Park.



    The ‘back up’ squad fillers weren’t good enough, last season and the problem was correctly highlighted as likely to re-occur, by CQN posters .



    A simple headed clearance away from all three points .



    Strength in depth CSC

  9. Best line I have read in a while



    Ultimately, it may be the case that the biggest enemy of unification is not unionism but soft-focus southern patriots, who are in no mood to risk their comforts to pay for the dole of unemployed Rangers fans from east Belfast.






    Why the idea of a united Ireland is back in play



    Economist David McWilliams argues that demography, finances and the fallout of Brexit are reviving the idea of one Ireland




    David McWilliams NOVEMBER 30, 2018 Print this page810



    It seems incredible now, but in 1990 an episode in the third series of Star Trek: The Next Generation was deemed so incendiary that it was censored in Britain and Ireland. In that episode, “The High Ground”, the Starship Enterprise’s android officer Data, musing on terrorism, noted from the vantage point of the year 2364 that Ireland had been reunified in 2024. The episode was pulled for fear that it might encourage more political violence; 1990 was the year the IRA bombed the London Stock Exchange, assassinated Conservative politician Ian Gow and when 81 people on both sides of the conflict were murdered in Northern Ireland.



    That Northern Ireland of the early 1990s seems like a different world. It is now just over 20 years since the Good Friday peace agreement. While power-sharing has not been easy, it has stopped the killings, is resoundingly supported by electorates in both parts of Ireland and has been the cornerstone of relations between Dublin, London and Belfast for almost a generation.



    These gains no longer seem so secure. The Brexit process has reminded us what is often not appreciated about peace: that resolving this conflict over one border depended heavily on the weakening of other borders within the European Union. Understandably, the focus of recent weeks has been on the immediate, the “backstop” — the fallback device designed to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic if the UK leaves the EU without a formal trade deal.



    Tortuous as this row has been, it is schoolyard stuff compared with what lies ahead. Behind all this manoeuvring, something more fundamental has occurred: the Irish question has shifted. The majority of people in Northern Ireland didn’t and still don’t want Brexit; they want to stay in the EU. As a result, middle-of-the-road Northerners have been pushed towards contemplating a united Ireland in Europe. Brexit was championed exclusively in Northern Ireland by the Democratic Unionist party (DUP), a party implacably opposed to Irish reunification. That is looking increasingly like an own goal: latest polls indicate that 60 per cent of Northerners favour entering a political and economic alliance with the Republic if it would help the economy.




    South of the border, talk of unity was until recently the preserve of romantic Nationalists and “five-pint Provos” who find their inner Padraig Pearse (the nationalist political activist who was one of the leaders of 1916’s Easter Rising) after a few drinks. However, as a result of Brexit, politicians in the Republic are talking about unity in a way I have not heard before. It is still remote but not improbably so. It may take decades, it will not be straight­forward and the risk of a return to violence is ever-present, but make no mistake something is in train.



    For many in the Republic, the North is the final frontier. Not for me. Like most Southerners, when I was growing up I rarely crossed the border because of the violence, until I met a certain bridesmaid at a wedding in County Down in July 1994.



    Being best man is always tricky; being best man at a northern-southern union during the Troubles posed a new set of challenges. At 3pm on the dot, the groom and I stood at the altar waiting for the bride. The entire right-hand side of the church was full: punctual northerners. It is understood everywhere that brides are usually late, but congregations are supposed to turn up on time. As we looked down from the elevated altar, almost every pew on the left, the Dubliners’ side, was empty. The southerners had, almost to a man and woman, observed the great Irish ritual of the swift one before the big do. This was in the days before mobile phones. I had to barrel down the road in the minister’s shiny red Vauxhall to shoo Dubliners into the church. The bridesmaid couldn’t stop laughing at these Dubliners, their casual attitudes to time and ritual; then, reader, she married me. So began my 25-year education in the intricacies of Northern Ireland.



    A Loyalist mural in Cookstown proclaiming allegiance to the UK and to the Ulster Volunteer Force.



    Catholics are likely to be a majority in Northern Ireland by the end of the next decade, and recent months have seen growing displays of Loyalism in Protestant areas



    I’m a regular visitor to the North; our children are the Belfast Agreement incarnate. Recently I’ve been travelling around Protestant parts of Ulster from rural Markethill in South Armagh to the prosperous King’s Road, Belmont and Stormont suburbs of east Belfast, and from coastal fishing villages of the Ards Peninsula to the council estates of Cooks­town in Tyrone. I am seeing Union Jacks and even Ulster Volunteer Force flags where I never saw them before. Recent months have seen increasingly neurotic displays of loyalism in Protestant areas probably because, on present trends, Catholics are likely to be a majority in Northern Ireland by the end of the next decade. Of course, being Catholic does not mean you are nationalist but it’s a fairly good proxy. In the last Stormont assembly election in March 2017, Unionists lost the political majority in Northern Ireland for the first time.



    The latest census data we have on the North, from 2011, show that Protestants and Catholics are almost evenly split. But digging deeper, there is a profound variation in the proportion of Catholics and Protestants in various age groups. Of the elderly, those over 90 in the North, 64 per cent are Protestant and 25 per cent are Catholic. A total of 9 per cent had no declared religion. This division reflects the religious status quo when these people were born, in the 1920s, and more or less reflects the realities of the partition of Ireland. The numbers underscore the sectarian buffer that was supposed to ensure that Northern Ireland remains Protestant and Unionist. However, that didn’t envisage the flight of middle-class Protestants to universities in Scotland and England. Few come back. Today, that sectarian buffer is getting ever thinner.



    On Carrickasticken Road, north of Dundalk, the border between the Republic of Ireland (on the left) and Northern Ireland (on the right) is marked by nothing more than the end of the white line road markings © Sean Breithaupt



    In the census, when you look at the cohort of children born since 2008, the picture changes completely. Compared with the over-90s, among whom Protestants outnumber Catholics easily, the corresponding figure for the young is 34 per cent Protestant and 45 per cent Catholic. In one lifetime, the Catholic population in the youngest cohort has nearly doubled, while the Protestant cohort has almost halved. When you look ahead, you see that the Catholic population will soon be a majority and this could be as early as the end of the next decade. Protestant Northern Ireland is old, shrinking and increasingly nervous; Catholics in the six counties are young, expanding and confident.



    One of the most striking developments of the past three decades is how much richer the Republic of Ireland has become compared with the whole of the UK in general and Northern Ireland in particular. Commercially the union has been a calamity for Northern Ireland. Everyone has suffered financially, Catholic and Protestant, nationalist and unionist alike. Although rarely appreciated in the din of local politics and recrimination, as an economic experiment, Partition has been a disaster.



    A UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) flag flies near a takeaway restaurant in Cookstown, Northern Ireland © Sean Breithaupt



    If we go back to Partition in 1921, 80 per cent of the industrial output of the entire island of Ireland came from the six counties that would become Northern Ireland, largely centred on Belfast. This was where all Irish industry was based. Northern Irish entrepreneurs and inventors were at the forefront of industrial innovation. By 1911, Belfast was the biggest city in Ireland and the north-east was by far the richest part of the island.



    The collapse of the once-dynamic Northern Irish economy versus that of the Republic is stunning. Having been a fraction of the North’s at independence, the Republic’s industrial output is now far greater than that of Northern Ireland. Exports of goods and services from the Republic are €282.4bn; total exports from the North stand at a paltry €10.1bn. This obviously reflects the investment of multinationals, but it also underscores just how far ahead is the Republic’s industrial base. Producing close to 30 times more exports highlights a vast difference in the globalis­ation of business. In the Republic, one in six people are foreign-born — higher than the UK. In the North it is fewer than one in 20. According to the most comparable international indicators, income per head is now €22,000 in the once wealthy Northern Ireland and €38,000 in the once impoverished Republic of Ireland.



    Over the years, the dependent nature of Northern Ireland’s economy has become endemic, with handouts from London replacing the urge to pay for itself. More subsidies have made the Northern economy more, not less, fragile. Economic supplicants rarely stand on their own two feet. If the North had to pay for itself now, its budget deficit would be about 27 per cent of its GDP.



    The UK’s annual subvention is just over €10bn annually. When seen from the perspective of the North, with its total GDP of under €50bn, it looks like a significant figure — but when seen from the perspective of Dublin, it is not insurmountable. The usual way financial markets assess whether national expenditure and debts are sustainable is the debt/GDP ratio. Northern Ireland would cost less than 4 per cent of the Irish Republic’s GDP annually. Of course, even this manageable figure would end up lower because the combined Irish GDP of the Republic combined with the North would be well over €300 billion, reducing the subvention as a percentage of income yet more. In pure budgetary terms, there is little doubt that the Republic’s economy could absorb the North and this is before the commercial dynamism of unification kicks in.



    Take Kilkenny and Armagh, two similar-sized provincial Irish towns, both with city status, both marketed as great places to visit. Armagh, like Kilkenny, has a vibrant cultural life. But — and here’s the big but — whereas TripAdvisor has reviews of 176 restaurants in Kilkenny, it has just 43 in Armagh.



    Loyalist/Unionist British flags outside a home on Belfast’s Shankill Road © Sean Breithaupt



    Kilkenny, in the South, has more than four times more restaurants than Armagh in the North, reflecting a divergent social scene, a more evolved tourist industry, much more sophisticated local economy and profoundly different levels of income and willingness to spend and consume. Casual TripAdvisor prosperity is the type of vibrant prosperity the South has and the North lacks.



    Back in the North, not far south of Armagh, is the village of Markethill, which each summer hosts the world’s biggest Lambeg drumming contest. This village is home to three fish-and-chip shops on one roundabout and an enormous arch celebrating Protestant victories at the battles of Derry, Aughrim, Enniskillen and the mother of them all, the Boyne. The huge banner at the edge of the village urges me to “Fear God, Honour the King and Love the Brotherhood”. Such sectarian slogans will not save the union with Britain.



    The muralists keeping peace in Belfast’s no man’s land


    Do you live in ‘Northern Ireland’ or ‘the north of Ireland’



    Demographics imply that Unionists will soon need Nationalists to vote Unionist to preserve the Union. This will only happen if Northern Ireland is prosperous and open, rendering the Union more attractive for middle-class Catholics than joining the resurgent, tolerant Republic. Arguably the best way Northern Ireland might achieve this is by embracing the “special status” trading option offered by the EU, whereby Northern Ireland would be a special trading region within both the EU and the UK. Investment would flood into Northern Ireland, the type of investment that has made the Republic wealthy. This is Unionism’s only long-term option.



    Prosperity, not Protestantism, will save the Union. Right now the biggest threat to this is the DUP and their Brexiter allies. The staunchly Unionist DUP is against special status and ultimately their stance threatens the Union. A Whitehall-dependent Northern Ireland is a poorer and more parochial Northern Ireland and as a result the Union is far less attractive to lukewarm Nationalist voters.



    The future of Northern Ireland is a bit like a custody battle where neither side — Ireland nor Britain — is particularly sure they want the child, but both know that the child can’t survive, financially or emotionally, on its own. Maybe it’ll have to be joint custody, because despite the divergent economic performances of the two Irelands, Ireland is not just about economics. Culturally, there is a deep strain within the Unionist tribe that won’t accept the Republic on any level. Once we were too Catholic for them, now — having voted for both gay marriage and abortion — we are too liberal.



    In the village of Bellaghy in County Derry, the Seamus Heaney HomePlace, an arts centre commemorating the late Irish poet, was opened in 2016 on the site of what was a police station for the Royal Ulster Constabulary © Sean Breithaupt



    Meanwhile, many in the Republic too want to preserve the status quo. While the South’s economic resurgence may make the prospect of a united Ireland financially more do-able, that very wealth means that the Irish middle class has much more to lose, given the political risks involved. A significant proportion of people in the Republic might not want unification because of the financial cost or the medium-term threat of civil war if loyalism decides to fight. Ultimately, it may be the case that the biggest enemy of unification is not unionism but soft-focus southern patriots, who are in no mood to risk their comforts to pay for the dole of unemployed Rangers fans from east Belfast.



    When Brexit was voted on, Ireland was barely mentioned in Britain. And yet here we are again, long after the continentals have stopped caring, a hundred years after the island of Ireland was carved up by London, trying mutually to figure out the best way forward.



    In Northern Ireland, politics is tribal but demographics is destiny. The prospect of a new Ireland is emerging. While the unification prediction made by Data in Star Trek might have been out by a decade or so, surely, in the critical years ahead, Mr Spock’s motto “live long and prosper” is a better option for all of us than “no surrender”.



    David McWilliams is an economist; @davidmcw. His latest book is ‘Renaissance Nation: How the Pope’s Children Rewrote the Rules for Ireland’, published by Gill Books



    Follow @FTLifeArts on Twitter to find out about our latest stories first. Subscribe to FT Life on YouTube for the latest FT Weekend videos



    Letters in response to this article:


    A united Ireland? There are too many problems / From Philip G Cerny, York, UK



    Other economists could have contributed to a more balanced view of Northern Ireland / From Dr Graham Gudgin, Special Adviser to the First Minister, Northern Ireland, 1998-2002



    Irish governments’ overwhelming duty is to work together / From Michael Lillis, Dublin, Ireland

  10. Canamalar @ 9:20 am





    I remember you in a discussion can’t remember who with about a fraud in the US of such proportions that you could not accept it as there was not enough money to cover it.



    It was an interesting article you linked but I cannot say that I recall the original discussion you have me involved in. I remember being sceptical of the Moon Landings Hoax Theory because there would be too many voices, eyes and ears to control and be in on the act but I cannot recall being sceptical of fraud because the amounts are too large.



    I am certainly prepared to believe that vast amounts of taxpayer money has disappeared into the pockets of the Military advisers and the companies they are in bed with.



    I am at a bit of a loss as to what I need to be persuaded of here, though, of course, each allegation and charge needs to be measured on its own merits. Just because someone stole billions in one incidence does not mean that billion swere stolen in all incidences. I would need to be reminded of the details of the original dispute.

  11. just think a united Ireland in our lifetime, but lets wait and see, as regards last night, sorry the buck stops with the manager , 7 changes against motherwell at fir park, an accident waiting to happen, please Brendan don’t change a winning team.hh.

  12. The No.13 Shorts on

    Ireland will be united by default, when the UK government can no longer afford to prop it up financially, and comes out and says so. It’s always been a failed statelet. It can never survive as an independent entity. Aviation and maritime engineering are the rotting fruits on the shallow rooted tree of it’s economy.

  13. Reading here and other blogs surprised to see so many sticking it into Brendan for making seven changes.


    Gordon, Broonie, Ncham were a stick on a few weeks ago to start, so the seven is down to four, Dedryk injured so down to three, I read that Jamsie was substituted at the weekend cos he had a niggle and understandable not to risk him, down to two, the Wizard of Oz has been carrying an injury so down to one, Lustig legs have gone, the majority of the blogs don’t want him in the team so he is rested and now they want him back, he may well have been carrying an injury as well, you just canny win can ye.


    At the end of the day no or one change, we dropped a couple of points, it happens, yet the entitled are stamping their feet and scweeming and scweeming like huns, sad imo.

  14. GreeninbingleyinOslo on




    Some of our players played 50-odd games in season 2016-2017, then had a close season of two-and-a-half weeks before being hauled off the beach to train up for the ECL qualifiers – “the most important games in our season”.



    Season 2017-2018, IIRC, Keiran Tierney and a few others played more than 60 games then, after a close season of barely more than 2 weeks, were back in training for the ECL qualifiers.


    I think we had three in the top 5 of players who had played most games in the whole of Europe.



    Season 2018-2019, close season was a little over 2 weeks; our “season” began while the World Cup was still going on, and here we go again.



    Players aren’t machines.

  15. THE EXILED TIM on 6TH DECEMBER 2018 6:34 PM


    Reading here and other blogs surprised to see so many sticking it into Brendan for making seven changes.





    Gordon, Broonie, Ncham were a stick on a few weeks ago to start, so the seven is down to four, Dedryk injured so down to three, I read that Jamsie was substituted at the weekend cos he had a niggle and understandable not to risk him, down to two, the Wizard of Oz has been carrying an injury so down to one, Lustig legs have gone, the majority of the blogs don’t want him in the team so he is rested and now they want him back, he may well have been carrying an injury as well, you just canny win can ye.





    At the end of the day no or one change, we dropped a couple of points, it happens, yet the entitled are stamping their feet and scweeming and scweeming like huns, sad imo.





    smiley at last a bit of the common sense thing



    regards to the smile




  16. THE EXILED TIM, you know I usually agree with your comments, but regarding this apologies cant agree, 7 changes against them cloggers at fir park, as I said before accident waiting to happen.still luv ya bruv.??hh.

  17. Saint Stivs – thanks for that article. I don’t think I’ve ever posted a single opinion on here regarding Ireland and I’ll admit that I often ‘scroll by’ (one of the many non-football topics that has me doing so). But I’m so glad that I did read that one – very interesting and a completely different slant on any argument I’ve heard before. Thanks again.


    Anyway, just 2 more sleeps till the Top Of The League decider ;-)

  18. SFA employ Scottish referees. Has everyone forgot what’s went on since 2012 with the Scottish FA ?



    Allegedly involved in corruption with old RFC regarding being granted a European licence and that’s just a snippet of what they’ve been up to.



    Here’s a tweet from a dons fan last night. @statsandskirts



    Rangers TV commentator boasting about having dinner with Steven McLean’s dad before the match, while the ref’s brother went through the ranks at Ibrox. Interesting.

  19. THE EXILED TIM, no problem if we all agreed it would not be a blog, does that make sense no didn’t think it did .hey wheres BMCUW when you need him hh.

  20. JIMTHETIM53 AND WEEFRATHETIM ,are you around, haven’t seen you posting lately are you both ok.hh.??.

  21. mike in toronto on

    If my memory is right, we have won all 6 of our home games so far…for a possible 18 out of 18 points



    away from home, we have won 3 and drawn 3 out of 8 games … for 12 out of 24 points…



    extrapolated over the 38 games, this would take us to 85 points …so 3 more than last season….



    so, do I think we will still win the league? yes.



    but, playing the way we did at the start of the season, and the last few games, would I be confident of getting hte needed result in the last EL game? not really.



    just shows the gulf in class between the game in Scotland and in Europe.

  22. according to some pundits and websites tonight, Kilmarnock have won 75 points in their last 38 games.


    Celtic have wont 78 points in their last 38 games.



    Kilmarnock are our real challengers for this league and a clear and present danger.

  23. mike in toronto on

    St. stivs



    I think Clarke is a great manager …. seems to get the most out of players. I know that doing it at a smaller club doesn’t always translate to a bigger club, so there are no guarantees…



    but, if and when BR decides to move on, I would not be upset if SC were considered for the Celtic job.

  24. thomthethim for Oscar OK on



    thomthethim for Oscar @ 1:13 pm







    What a well written and funny article your boy has written. One of his best.







    I assume he gets his talent from his mother :-)






    For once your assumption is correct!



    I’m still recovering from his underage drinking in Gaoth Dobhair admission.



    I wonder is there a link between the 43 years since a Donegal win and the extent of the celebrations.



    Thanks for the kind comments, his mother is blushing.

  25. SAINT STIVS on 6TH DECEMBER 2018 1:36 PM


    SAINT STIVS on 6TH DECEMBER 2018 1:35 PM


    The workers pulled the boat up, Their families and some possessions saved, they come to the biggest town, and look for help from the parish priest.




    Brilliant, PMSL ??

  26. MiT


    I reckon that in the summer we will see, honestly can’t see Brendan staying beyond this season, I pray I am 100% wrong, but I doubt I will be.


    As for Stevie Clarke, he said when RD got the job that he wasn’t interested cos his family still have to live here and he wouldn’t put them through him taking the job, I doubt much has changed to change his mind.

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