Craig continues our weekly coverage of the Scottish Premiership…
Referee Dougie McDonald has been in the news this week after a disastrous performance during Sundayâ€™s match between Kilmarnock and Rangers. McDonald awarded Rangers 2 controversial penalties – both converted by Kris Boyd, who bagged a hat-trick against his former club – giving the Glasgow club a 3-1 victory. McDonald also disallowed what looked like a perfectly good Barry Ferguson goal for the Gers, and failed to stop play when Kilmarnockâ€™s James Fowler was lying injured on the goal-line.
As fate would have it, McDonald is the referee for the CIS Cup final next month between Kilmarnock and Hibs â€“ and Killie boss Jim Jefferies said there would be no point in his team turning up for that game if McDonald has a similar bumbling performance. However, to be fair to the referee, he did phone the Killie manager to apologise after watching the incidents on TV and agreeing he had got them wrong. However that will come as little consolation to Jefferies who has yet to record a victory against the Old Firm with Kilmarnock after 5 years in charge.
Meanwhile, Alex McLeish is working wonders with the national team already, improving Scotlandâ€™s world ranking by 6 places without even playing a game. The national team now has a ranking of 20 â€“ which equals Scotlandâ€™s higher ever placing since the inception of the system. Although we all know the rankings are flawed, it gives an indication of the improvement that has been made â€“ we were 80th only 3 or 4 years ago.
And finally, the Craig Gordon saga has continued, with the Scotland keeper again being left out of the squad for last weekendâ€™s 1-0 win over Inverness CT â€“ the 4th consecutive game he has been dropped. Replacement Steve Banks has performed admirably, only conceding once in those 4 games, but the decision to leave Gordon out is politically motivated â€“ not for â€œfootballing reasonsâ€ as head coach Valdas Ivanauskas is still claiming. I think it is safe to say that Gordon will not still be at Hearts next season with owner Vladimir Romanov having already forced out the other 2 members of the so-called â€œRiccarton Threeâ€ (the players who made a statement about dressing room unrest at the club), but Gordon is unlikely to join his comrades Pressley and Hartley at Celtic.