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Hot Off The SPL: McLeish In And Some New Judas’ For The Old Firm

Craig continues our coverage of the Scottish Premiership, good on you Craig!

Scotland set to appoint McLeish

According to the BBC, Alex McLeish is going to be announced as the new
Scotland manager by the end of this week. It’s good to see that a successor
is going to be in place so quickly and McLeish is probably the best of the
candidates available at the moment so hopefully we can continue our winning
form – and possibly play a slightly more attacking style at the same time.

Meanwhile, Tommy Burns has quit his post as Scotland number 2 in a bit of a
huff because the SFA didn’t phone him to let him know what was going on in
terms of the appointment of a new manager. Burns was also disappointed that
despite not really being a very successful manager – hence the fact he’s
Celtic’s youth coach – he wasn’t offered the job himself. That however
doesn’t exonerate the SFA who have done for PR what Ashley Cole did for book
sales.

Crossing the Old Firm Divide

In the past, players would rather have been dragged feet first through a
patch of nettles than cross the Old Firm divide and play for both Rangers
and Celtic. Mo Johnston was the prime example – being afforded a welcome
akin to what Jade Goody would receive in India, after returning from Nantes
to play for Rangers having previously played with Celtic.

However these days, this phenomenon seems to be disappearing. It started
with Celtic’s capture of Kenny Miller in the summer, Miller having
previously scored 8 goals in 30 appearances for Rangers between 2000 and
2001. Miller incidentally is the only Scottish player to have scored for 2
clubs in the Champions League – having scored for both Old Firm teams. In
January Celtic announced another coup, signing Steven Pressley who came
through Rangers’ youth ranks and made 34 appearances between 1990 and 1994.
And goalkeeper Mark Brown – who made only 4 appearances for Rangers between
1997 and 2001 – made up the trio when he joined last week.

Rangers have now made strides to equalise this trend. Just last week, David
Weir joined the club, having once played for Celtic youths (presumably just
after the last Ice Age). And media reports are now linking them with a
Bosman move for injury-prone Celtic forward Shaun Maloney in the summer –
which would be the biggest move yet in the unlikely case that it did go
ahead.

The fans’ reaction to these deals has not been the outrage that might be
expected – even the Miller deal didn’t cause too much furore amongst either
set of fans – however if a higher profile player such as Maloney were to
make the switch it would be interesting to see whether this was still the
case.

Other News

It’s the transfer window, so while Celtic flash a bit of cash signing Mark
Brown and Jean-Joel Perrier-Doumbe and Rangers invest in their youth policy
by signing 2 defenders with a combined age of 70, the other clubs are left
scrapping in the free transfer market because, basically, they’re skint.
Hearts do have a bit of financial clout thanks to Vladimir Romanov and have
signed 16 year-old Romanian wonderkid Dumitru Copil as well as 3 Lithuanians
and a Pole on loan from feeder club FBK Kaunas. Also they snapped up young
Stenhousemuir striker David Templeton for £50,000.

Also, Hearts were able to turn down a derisory offer of £2.5 million from
Fulham for Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon. A spokesman for the club said
that Fulham wouldn’t have expected to be able to sign the England goalkeeper
Paul Robinson for that price so why would they be able to get the more
highly sought after Scotland keeper on the cheap. It’s good to see one club
taking account of the ridiculous inflation of prices in the Premiership and
not letting one of the best young goalkeepers in Europe go for a pittance.