2012 - A FOOTBALL
Extracts from the sporting press of January 1st 2012
looking forward to the New Year.
Barry Ferguson's return to Rangers as
Player-Manager has lifted spirits at the Glasgow club. Denying that
signing for his first senior club represented an easy winding-down
of his illustrious career, Ferguson insisted that the Rangers job
was his biggest challenge yet. "I was part of the glory
days at Rangers," said the new boss. " I can recall
the full houses and the great European nights. Today's fans might
find it hard to believe that little over a decade ago Rangers were
capable of reaching the qualifying rounds of the Champions League.
This club was once ranked in the top 100 in Europe and that's the
level I want to see Rangers competing at."
Of course Fergie has a big job on his hands, starting
with today's home clash with Stockport County. It may seem
a long way from the middle of the Phoenix League Division Two
(North) to the foothills of Europe but a manager has to start
somewhere. Ferguson's return should boost the gate for the Ne'erday
fixture to around the 12,000 mark - easily Rangers best since 14,000
saw them lose Phoenix League One status at home to Brighton
It will be interesting to see whether Ferguson maintains
his predecessor's faith in big-money foreign signings or whether
he is prepared to give some of the promising youngsters a start.
Many think that Rangers can't afford to go on paying in excess of
a million euros a week to their Albanian and Slovenian
players but David Murray insists that the club is on
a sound financial footing. "Selling Ibrox to property developers
has brought us criticism from the press, but those in the know are
aware that Rangers are in a healthier financial position than ever
before" was the Gers owner's retort to the media.
Today's Hampden match will of course be shown live
on Sky's JockTV channel right after Pro-Celebrity
Tag Wrestling. Estimated kick-off time is 6pm but supporters
intending to travel are advised to constantly check their smartcards
as the actual kick-off time may vary by up to two hours either way.
The big game in the SPL is at Meadowbank
Stadium where 5,000 are expected to be there for Edinburgh
United's game against surprise leaders Lanarkshire.
Elsewhere, there will be a pitch inspection at Meadow
Park to determine if the Ayrshire - Fife match can go
ahead. If it gets the nod the expected 2,000 crowd will provided
a welcome boost to the cash-strapped Ayrshiremen.
PROPHECY OR NIGHTMARE?
The second part of the Hampden Park double
header sees Celtic take on traditional Ne'erday opponents
Barnsley and a victory will lift Paul Lambert's team
off the bottom of the table. " I know that there are some
cynics out there who think we actually WANT to be relegated so that
we can resume our regular fixtures against Rangers"
said the Celtic manager, "but nothing could be further
from the truth."
Lambert also lashed out at those who claim that his
signings of Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer represented
panic buying by Celts. "It's true that these two players
have eaten up most of the profits from the sale of Parkhead and
they may be regarded as veterans, but both Woodgate and Bowyer have
been nothing but model professionals throughout their careers"
said Lambert who is celebrating his first year in charge of
"Suggestions that they have only agreed to
come here because of the 25 million euros signing-on fees and guaranteed
two million euros per week salary couldn't be wider of the mark",
claimed Lambo. "These lads are as Celtic-minded as they
come and are determined to play for the jersey."
The Celtic boss went on to explain that the new signings
have already bonded with their new team mates at the club's annual
Xmas party. "Both Jonathan and Lee were at O'Shaughnessy's
Oirish Stew Bar the other night and clicked with the rest of
the squad at once", beamed Lambert. " The only
thing that might take them a little time to get accustomed to is
our dietary requirements. They both said they could murder an Indian
but they'll soon get used to O'Shaughnessy's. They are the club
sponsor after all."
Club Chairman Gerry Adams has refused to comment
on the controversial signings. The match will start two hours after
the end of the Rangers game and supporters are advised to get there
early as Celtic expect their first five-figure crowd of the season
to watch the new boys in action.
Craig Brown said yesterday that he was impressed
with Scotland's 0-0 draw at home to Kazakhstan in
his first match back in charge. "It was a great result and
gives us every opportunity of finishing second bottom of our World
Cup qualifying group", said the national team boss. "We've
got to remember we're a small country and we can't be expected to
beat anybody. We're just not producing the superstars the way we
used to. There are no David Weirs or Jackie McNamaras
around these days", lamented Brown.