Victory for consistency
ONLY A BHOYS’ GAME: THIS NEW DEAL SHOWS WHY HOOPS WILL DOMINATE OLD FIRM RIVALRY
Arbroath manager Dick Campbell is hoping the lessons he and his players have learned in the Championship so far this season will help them against visitors Caley Thistle today.
The Red Lichties boss said: “We bounced back to winning ways last Saturday against Alloa.
“The Dunfermline game was a lesson for me as I made changes to a team that had won two games in a row before that.
“I should have left things as they were. That is the approach I am taking for this one.”
Campbell also reckons that losing 2-1 late on to Caley Thistle in their first meeting this season helped educate his players.
He said: “That was a sore afternoon as we had gone there and got ourselves into the lead.
“They equalised just before the break but we looked good for a point until they scored four minutes from time.
“We do not have a lot of players who have played at this level before but we have players who are willing to learn. They have become better at closing games out as we showed against Morton and then Alloa.
“Inverness are a good side who are coming here disappointed at losing to the leaders Dundee United last weekend and not going to within a point of top spot.”
Some weeks back I suggested it seemed improbable that Craig Levein and Paul Heckingbottom would still have their jobs by the October international break.
They did, but not for much longer. Just a few months into the season both Hearts and Hibs are in search of new leadership. The decisions their boards will take in the near future could have a massive bearing on the long-term prospects.
Get it wrong again and the possibility of a damaging relegation will loom large.
They went down together in 2014-15, Hearts’ fate sealed largely by the points penalty imposed because of their financial recklessness.
Under Robbie Neilson, and with a team full of exciting young talent, the Jambos bounced straight back up, but it took their city rivals three years to finally recover and neither can afford to contemplate that sort of fate this season.
Hearts blinked first, sacking Levein just days before their Betfred League Cup semi-final. The timing of the decision was the only surprise. Levein had been on borrowed time for months.
Apart from the first quarter of the 2018-19 campaign, his reign had been a disappointing one. He was unlucky with injuries but, given his vast managerial experience, he should have been able to adapt and find an answer.
He failed to do so and his team this season has, for the most part, been painful to watch.
That said, there is a decent squad there for the next incumbent, albeit one that will need some pruning.
Much more surgery will be required at the east end of the city.
Some might consider Paul Heckingbottom’s axing as a little premature, given he had just nine months in the post and had drawn the last five Premiership matches.
But the performances were also generally poor and his summer signings just haven’t cut it.
Melker Hallberg, Josh Vela, Adam Jackson, Tom James and Josh Newell
Celtic conducted some significant business during the week – and it sends out the strong message that they intend staying exactly where they’ve been for the past eight years – at the top of the Scottish football ladder.
Attacking midfielder Callum McGregor tied himself to the champions until 2024, hard on the heels of winger James Forrest. have made little or no impact, while Christian Doidge might have scored freely at Forest Green Rovers but looks incapable of doing so at Premiership level.
Chris Maxwell looks a decent enough keeper and Scott Allan is obviously a skilled player despite his apparent inability to keep his balance in the opposition penalty area.
There is a core of talent at Easter Road. The fit-again Martin Boyle, Ryan Porteous, Stevie Mallan and, when
McGregor has been outstanding for the past three years, by some distance the best player in the country.
His level of consistency is staggering.
With him pulling the strings alongside Scott Brown in midfield, Celtic will remain ahead of their Ibrox rivals, despite Rangers’ improvement this season. he’s in the right frame of mind, Florian Kamberi, all have something to offer. But it is a squad which will need significantly overhauled if Hibs are to move clear of trouble. The fans will also be desperate to see their sides playing attractive football.
Hibs, in particular, have been enjoyable to watch but that might need to wait as the new man adopts the kind of pragmatic approach teams threatened with relegation need to adopt.
The mayhem and discontent in the capital should act as a reminder of how fortunate the Dons have been to enjoy the stability we have had under Derek McInnes.
Of course, there have been ups and downs during his six-and-a-half years. This season in particular has been a tough one with plenty of grumbling among fans.
But convincing wins over Motherwell, Hamilton and Kilmarnock should have quelled that.
It was no surprise to hear of Stoke City’s interest in Derek and he will eventually leave. But I for one hope his exit is some way off.
Capital punishment: For Heckingbottom and Levein