Celtic’s ‘guru’, Hampden’s toilet, Ibrox moonbeams and cold shoulders — international break roundup

It seems so long since Celtic last played that Donald Trump could have had 10 meltdowns and started a war. Which is roughly what happened.

Interest in the international break continues to fade, as does it’s significance for any long-suffering Scotland fans.

For many Celtic fans, the main thing going into these matches is that players avoid injury but you can now add to that the psychological damage risked by pulling on the dark blue jersey.

This latest round of fixtures included another thumping, this time against Russia. There was little sign of teamwork and cohesion during a 4-0 second-half drubbing in Moscow, although Sunday’s fixture at sodden Hampden was more like it, with a well-rehearsed synchronised swimming routine against the mighty San Marino.

The water was so deep in places that when James Forrest went in for the ball you could picture him emerging from the deep like a joyful Mark Renton with his recovered opium suppositories.

It’s probably too late to feature in James’s new book, alas, while any suggestion that Hampden is the “worst toilet in the world” is entirely intentional.

There was a certain irony in that game was played in such terrible conditions given the debate about whether Japan v Scotland fixture could go ahead in the wake of a typhoon.

Another irony is that even after being submerged in water, the rugby game would go ahead on a playing surface that’s better than many in the Scottish Premiership. Not just the three abominable surfaces at Kilmarnock, Hamilton and Livingston, but you can chuck in Tynecastle when Craig Levein decides to grow the grass.

People grasping for green shoots of recovery with a win over the worst team in the world might consider that teams potentially playing around a fifth of their fixtures on such terrible surfaces is detrimental to the standard of the game.

One player who seems to be enjoying the international breaks is Odsonne Edouard. Last night he broke from his sequence of scoring doubles in every game for the France U21s by nabbing a hat-trick. That’s plenty, Eddie!

Meanwhile, Alfred O’Morelos continues to disappoint for Colombia, being substituted during a 3-0 defeat against Algeria in what was described as a “failed experiment”. To be fair to the seething ball of rage, he does look like one.

It was an interesting time down Ibrox way for other reasons. Dave King, a man with certain similarities to the aforementioned Donald Trump, to the point he was once described by a judge as a “glib and shameless liar”, suffered the rare distinction of being cold-shouldered by the Takeover Panel for a period of four years.

King had no regrets, saying that: “The present resurgent state of Rangers is sufficient reward for me.”

To add to his list of misdemeanours, it would appear he is now conducting seances as well!

The SFA are now looking into the matter and will decide on how to rubber-stamp his “fit and proper” status soon.

The cold-shouldering did pave the way for a whole load of moonbeams. They are now looking to enhance their ‘brand’ in India and America. Somewhere, a Rangers:I veteran is looking out his “Yanks Go Home” bedsheet and wondering if he’ll need to employ it again.

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The Rangers’ “appeal” is something that, like their old club, simply doesn’t exist. Let’s go back to the words of former director Hugh Adam, when previous chat of a US goldmine was given short shrift.

He said: “Rangers’ so-called global appeal is a myth. When I was there, we did an exercise which involved asking 50,000 fans on the database to recommend a friend or a relative abroad.

“A big response was expected – some were even talking about getting 100,000 names – because everybody in Scotland seems to know somebody abroad.

“We got back 2,800 names and three-quarters of them didn’t know they had been nominated. It’s no surprise that Celtic are officially the best-supported football club in North America, with more official clubs than anybody else. The difference is the Irish connection.

“Many Irish people may support Manchester United, Liverpool or whoever, but they all – every one of them – have an affection for Celtic. And, of course, Celtic also have a great Scottish following.

“The difference is that, while the Irish all have an allegiance to Parkhead, there are millions of Scots who not only don’t support Rangers, but actively dislike them.

“Despite the claims of international appeal, Rangers are, essentially, a West of Scotland club. They talk of supporters’ buses leaving from all parts of Scotland, but if you look closely, you’ll see there aren’t many from each area and they are not all full.”

Now we know where the “West of Scotland club” comes from when the media report on their fans’ arrests!

Both Glasgow clubs have appointed new football “gurus”, as the redtops would call them. Ross Wilson takes over as director of football at Ibrox after Mark Allen was disappeared in mysterious circumstances left for family reasons. Aside from unsettling next opponents Hearts with an “interest” in defender Aaron Hickey, his first job will be to try and drum up interest in O’Morelos and James Tavernier-Penalty.

Try as he might, Allen couldn’t get these “top talents” off the books and paid for it with his brogues.

Celtic, meanwhile, have appointed Nick Hammond as head of football operations. The club’s signings were a bit slow in coming but a flurry at the end of the window resulted in some welcome new faces, most of whom are now settling in well, while the likes of Frimpong have given us an exciting glimpse of the future.

Hopefully one of Hammond’s first tasks will be to slap a huge pay increase in front of Edouard, while finding someone of a similar quality (we have the money for that sort of thing) in January to help him.

In the meantime, it’s back to business against Ross County on Saturday. It’s not the most glamorous tie to come back to, but after the dull monotony of the international break, it’s one to look forward to. Hopefully, we’re up for it as we look to make amends for the stumble at Livingston.


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