FOR RICKSEN ?
Poor Fernando Ricksen. The Rangers player was
sent off against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA
Cup for motoring offences. Motoring offences? Well, according
to BBC Teletext, Ricksen was given his marching orders
for receiving "two yellow cars." Listen up
Fernando, it's bad enough being named after a dodgy Abba
song, without having garishly-coloured personal transport.
We have no sympathy for you here. Change the cars. Or buy
And on the topic of Europe, what hope for the Old Firm? Precious
little we fear. On the face of it, both Rangers and
Celtic have a fighting chance of making the next round.
In reality it could all end in tears.
The Ibrox side are level 0-0 going into the Paris return.
The same situation as when they went to Turkey earlier in
the season and were beaten 2-1 by Fenerbache. Rangers
simply have to score in Paris. A 1-1 draw would see them qualify
on away goals. It's a tall order, unlikely but not impossible.
Celtic have 'only' a 1-0 deficit to overturn against
Valencia in Glasgow. In the past two seasons Valencia
have travelled to Haifa, Munich, Eindhoven, Bordeaux, Heerenveen,
Lyons, Athens, Graz, Old Trafford, Elland Road and Ibrox
and either drawn or won. True, they have lost away games
in the same period - against Fiorentina, Man Utd, Lazio,
Barcelona, Olympiakos and Arsenal. But these were
either group matches or ties the Spaniards won over two legs.
The last time Valencia lost a two leg tie was as far back
as November 1998 when Liverpool beat them on
away goals in the UEFA Cup.
For either or both of the Old Firm to triumph would be a
major achievement. Sadly, the omens are not good
INSULT TO SCOTS
Hard luck Celtic. A stirring 4-3 win
over Juventus wasn't enough to take them into the second
stage of the Champions League. Their failure to register
a single point away from home cost them dearly, as this website
warned before a ball was kicked.
But the seven-goal thriller at Parkhead was
seen by only a minority of TV viewers in the UK. Faced with
a choice between the Celtic game, with everything still to
play for, and Man Utd's match in Lille, ITV
bosses stuck with the English team for live coverage. So the
only viewers outside Scotland who got the Celtic match live
were those (extremely) few people who subscribe to the ITV
The fact that Man Utd rested no fewer than NINE
first team regulars demonstrates clearly what level of priority
they put on the Lille game. Yet this game of little importance
was picked ahead of the titanic tussle in Glasgow. A clear
insult to Scottish supporters and a rank bad judgment. To
make it even worse, the ITV Sport channel was made available
for free to all ITV digital subscribers for five days. Oddly
enough these five days covered Liverpool's match against
Borussia Dortmund the night before the Celtic game but
ended before the Parkhead match went on air. As Jim Royle
might say: "coincidence, my arse"
This was also a bad piece of business as surely
ITV would have picked up some subscribers had they been able
to watch the goal feast in Glasgow. By the way, given the
ubiquity of the man on their sports programmes does ITV stand
for Its Terry Venables?
Congratulations are due to Rangers for
a fine win over Moscow Dynamo in the UEFA Cup.
Now comes the tricky part. Both the Old Firm are now in the
third round of the UEFA Cup and this is the stage where Rangers
have lost out in the past two seasons. So for either of the
pair to progress further would bring a badly needed boost
to the Scottish game. Before Rangers start to crow too much
about the result in Moscow perhaps they should remember their
defeat by Fenerbache which cost them a Champions League place.
The Turkish side's record in the Champions League read: P6
W0 D0 L6. What was that Dick Advocaat was saying
about how good a team they were? And as for Arthur Numan's
comments about the Gers being capable of beating anybody "on
the day" it raises the question of which day he had in
mind? Septober 1st? March 32nd? Let's be charitable
and assume the Dutchman meant February 29th.
A LITTLE ONE?
Slovenia and the Republic of Ireland are both
going to the World Cup Finals next year. Scotland aren't.
Maybe someone (preferably Craig 'Statto' Brown) can
explain why these two countries have been so successful. Neither
of them has a full-time professional League on a par with
the Scottish First Division let alone the pampered stars of
the SPL. Neither of them can boast any kind of track record
from their teams in Europe. And in neither of them does football
have the automatic No.1 sport status it has in Scotland.
Yet they're there. We're not. And it can't be down to poor
opposition either. Ireland eliminated Holland
to get to the play-offs and were unbeaten against Portugal.
Slovenia ousted Yugoslavia, then the highly-rated
Romania. Anyone fancy Scotland's chances against any
of that lot? Thought not. Still, the next time someone says
that countries the size of Scotland shouldn't expect to get
to the World Cup Finals, the Slovenes and the Irish join the
more obviously talented Danes as the perfect riposte.