Celtic, Rangers and Hearts are all in Europa League action on Thursday night, meaning that they will play their respective SPL games on Sunday. Three games on Saturday, the Highland derby between Aberdeen and Inverness, Dunfermline travel to Tannadice hoping to build on last weeks victory over St Johnstone, and St Mirren bring their new footballing philosophy to Easter Road hoping to compound Hibernian’s misery after last week’s thrashing by Kilmarnock.
Aberdeen v Inverness Caledonian Thistle
It’s one thing to remain positive in the face of continuous setbacks, it’s another thing entirely to be in denial. Craig Brown has repeatedly tried to convince Aberdeen fans that his players have been playing competent football, even though results are to the contrary.
His latest attempt to airbrush the truth is nothing short of bizarre, and will surely have Dons fans calling for Brown’s head. Following the 3-0 defeat to Hearts that leaves Aberdeen joint bottom of the league with one point out of a possible twelve, Brown said,
‘In spite of the scoreline, I think it’s a distortion. Because I don’t think Hearts missed a chance and we must have missed five.’
It’s hard to conceive that should Aberdeen capitulate to fellow one pointers Inverness that Brown can continue to put a positive slant on what is a serious situation.
The rot, however, is deep at Pittodrie, and while Brown’s dismissal is now being talked about, such a response would only be papering over the cracks that have been showing for well over a decade.
Inverness were the victims of an unacceptable refereeing performance from Euan Norris last weekend against Rangers.
Norris handed the Gers two questionable penalties within five minutes of each other, and harshly dismissed Ross Tokely for a fair challenge on Nikica Jelavic.
Terry Butcher was rightly incensed, but knows that results have to improve for Caley.
New singing Owain Tudur underwent a cartilage operation on Tuesday and faces up to eight weeks on the sidelines. T
he Welshman joins Lee Cox, Billy McKay, Josh Meekings, Kenny Gillet and David Proctor on the casualty list.
Dundee United v Dunfermline
Another SPL manager attempting to put a positive spin on a dire result is Peter Houston.
The Dundee United manager would have us believe that United came close to a share of the points against Celtic last weekend,
‘If you look at the goals we gave away: two (have come) from corners. The first goal, our goalkeeper should do better and they eventually get a corner because he’s not concentrating enough.
So, that was a cheap goal to give away. We got back into it with a decent goal and then we go 2-1 down from another corner which is normally a strength of ours.
For a spell in the second half I thought it was going to go to 2-2 because of the number of crosses we were putting into the box. But they counter-attacked us again to make it 3-1. So, it’s disappointing and really poor defensively for us.
We looked a threat at times in an attacking sense, but I’m disappointed to lose to a scoreline that flattered them. If we had gone 2-2 then I think their fans would’ve got edgy.
Though you would never know it by listening to Peter Houston, the score was Celtic 5 – 1 Dundee United.
Dunfermline manager Jim McIntyre praised his players attitude after last weeks 1-0 win over St Johnstone, the Pars first win of the season,
‘I’m ever so proud of the players. They were excellent and showed great determination.
When we were down to 10 men, St Johnstone piled loads of pressure on us and we dealt with it admirably.
The players have got great character and spirit in the dressing room and that will take us a long way.’
Dunfermline are unbeaten in three league matches, having opened with draws against St Mirren and Inverness, but McIntyre it seems has a more realistic outlook than some of his contemporaries,
‘We won’t get carried away. We’ve started the season well but it’s only three games in and there is a lot of hard work ahead of us.’
Hibernian v St Mirren
Hibs boss Colin Calderwood was critical of his side’s defensive display after Sunday’s 4-1 rout by Kilmarnock,
‘We’ve had a severe dose of medicine and we have to learn from the mistakes we make. It looked as if we could have conceded any number of goals today.
That can happen to the best of teams and we’re not the best of teams at the minute. We were reckless with the ball when we should have had much more control of the game.’
Looking ahead to Saturday’s clash with St Mirren, Calderwood added,
‘We will analyse ourselves as individuals and as a group. We have to go into work.’
Meanwhile, St Mirren boss Danny Lennon is positive that his side’s sparkling performances this term can be transformed into wins.
Another great Buddies display against league leaders Motherwell last weekend ended in defeat after Tom Hately netted an injury time free-kick.
‘We certainly believe if we play in that manner week in and week out, we’ll pick up more points. We’ve had some misfortune this week – and that happens at every club.’
St Mirren have won a lot of praise for their new attacking football philosophy, Irish midfielder Jim Goodwin is delighted with the new, positive style,
‘I’ve been involved in teams where you go back to front and pick up second balls. The way we’re playing is brilliant; it is really enjoyable to be part of it. I came in January and it was a difficult time to change the way they were playing it but he (Lennon) expressed towards the end of the season that he wanted us to become a footballing side.
It’s a terrific way to play the game. The manager introduced players in the summer that were capable of carrying out his ideas. We worked very hard during pre-season.
We do lots of possession games and small-sided games in training to keep the boys nice and sharp. We are not surprised at the level we are playing at because some of the young players we have in the squad are terrific, they are so comfortable on the ball.
The fans at St Mirren really appreciate the way we are trying to play and for young kids coming to watch football here in the SPL it’s important to show them how the game should be played.’
Prediction: Away Win.