So that’s the first big trophy of the year decided.
Last week I opined that the League Cup should be scrapped, and I’m repaid for that statement with a League Cup triumph that will be remembered by Rangers fans for years to come. Perhaps referee Craig Thomson had read last week’s article and decided to make the final “differently competitive” by sending off two Rangers players when we’d endured an hour of ordinary play.
If that is the case, I can’t say I condone referee Thomson’s behaviour, but I also can’t say I really believed we were ever going to lose – in fact I texted a friend the message, “Hope we finish these cunts in regular time because it’s getting late here” just minutes before Kenny Miller glanced in Naisy’s cross for the winner. I had suggested bringing Beasley on for Boyd to give pace and width with Novo/Miller/Beasley; Walter made a different choice, with his pick providing the victory cross – which is why he’s a Rangers legend and I’m not.
YouTube video one: Our feed cut off before we saw the trophy presentation but it’s here on youtube – and if you go 55 seconds in, just as the camera pans back from Davie Weir lifting the trophy, you can see a wee lassie tapping on her Nintendo DS paying not a blind bit of attention. Honestly.
YouTube video two: I also saw Sportscene’s wrap-up on youtube – all one minute and seven seconds of it. But that minute-plus contains virtually every piece of action in the game, and I am left wishing they could do that edit every week as it would give me 89 minutes of my life back. Across a season of 50 games that would give me almost 75 hours, which would let me catch up on the last two seasons of ‘24’ and still have time left over.
Nonsense aside, the fact that Rangers were down to nine men and in serious danger of losing what should have been a walk in the park (champions-elect against relegation potentials) reinforces my point from last week – the SFL should make this competition competitive.
If the game had been a 4-0 victory, in ten years time I’d have forgotten it – but now it will always be “that cup final against St Mirren when we won against the odds.”
So how about handicapping teams based on their league position, or the size of their salary base, or their average crowd? I’m not advocating giving teams 2- or 3-goal starts – don’t change the rules of the game – but do change the rules of the tournament. Force (say) Rangers and Celtic to play with six under-21s, against Killie with four, Partick Thistle with two, Stenhousemuir with a free hand. Something to level the playing field a bit and make it a real challenge for the big teams to win.
Let’s face it: the SFL’s cup tournament is Mickey Mouse, and the concept for this competition doesn’t really exist outside Scotland and England – and even there it was only introduced after World War II. The option is there to do something to make it unique and valuable.
Speaking of the SFL – and I rarely do, so pay attention – how often does a top-of-the-table team get rid of their manager mid season? Not very often. But Division One leaders Dundee did that this week, giving Jocky Scott the heave-ho off the back of a 3-0 pumping by bottom club Airdrie United. Dundee haven’t won a game in a month, and with their investment last summer – they outspent everyone bar Celtic – that’s deemed not good enough.
New manager Gordon Chisholm’s reign started with a continuation of recent form and a 1-1 draw against his old club Queen of the South. Chisholm’s first week in charge could be crucial for the ’Dee – as well as the debut against his old club, they face two promotion challengers in their next two games – Ross County on Saturday and Dunfermline next midweek.
Chisholm might be hoping striker Leigh Griffiths gives himself something to write about on his official blog, but I’m more interested in what “The REAL Leigh Griffiths Blog” will have to say about the whole situation. Given the hilarious Beastie-Boys-loving caricature of Jocky “Wha’s in cherge here?” Scott in the first few episodes, he’ll be disappointed in the change of leadership.
Most SPL players will be hoping the change does the trick and Dundee find some form to remain in top spot – or at least beat off the challenge of the two Highland teams. Because as much as no-one likes making the journey to Dundee, Inverness and Dingwall are a thousand times less appealing – and a lot colder. But Caley are only a point off the lead with a better goal difference, while Ross County are coming off the high of their cup win against Hibs and have several games in hand.
With Partick Thistle out of it, Dunfermline are the fourth promotion contender and while they can’t be written off (especially if they beat Dundee next week) they’ve played a game more, are more than a game behind the leader, and have a worse goal difference. So I don’t see any trips to Dunfermline in my future, which is a shame because even though it’s in Fife, I’d still rather travel there than to Dundee, Dingwall, or the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.