Why Rangers Just Can’t Play The Kids!

Every time Rangers sign a player over the age of thirty, you see people saying ‘Why can’t they just play the kids?’

Rangers have a passionate and demanding support. The atmosphere at Ibrox doesn’t always lend itself to bringing in a lot of young footballers and watching them develop.

When you watched Rangers last term you could see they were weak, confused and needed a few more leaders on the pitch.

Surely in 2017, we can understand that football and fitness has evolved and that players aren’t done by the age of thirty or even thirty-five.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped his Man United team through games at various points last year. Jermain Defoe is a wanted man at the age of thirty-four and could be about to sign a £100k a week plus deal. Andres Iniesta is still pulling the strings at Barcelona. The names of players starring in their thirties is long and it’s growing each and every season.

At Ibrox I’d argue that their best players were Kenny Miller (37) and Clint Hill (38) last season. They weren’t over awed by an occasion and they led by example. Both made over thirty first-team appearances for the ‘Light Blues’ in 2016-17.

Also you have to understand that Rangers have always had a tradition of playing and getting the most from veteran talent. The club appreciate the experience these players give the team.

When Rangers were all at sea in 2009 Walter Smith arrived back at Ibrox to steady the ship. His first move was to bring in veteran defenders Davie Weir and Ugo Eghiogu. It worked and they became hard to beat. Weir stayed on for another four seasons and represented the club at the age of forty.

In the nine in a row era, Smith brought back players like Richard Gough and Mark Hateley when they needed results.

Club legend John Greig also starred for the Gers into his mid-thirties.

As long as they can still contribute to their side then age shouldn’t come into it. They can actually make it work for them as they have the experience to give them an edge.

Bruno Alves may be thirty-four but the Portuguese defender has a winning pedigree and could enhance the younger players around him. David Bates will learn from Alves and I believe that will be better than throwing him to the lions and starting him in every game.

Listen I think Gers supporters should be looking at the Auchenhowie training complex and asking if they are bringing through enough talented youngsters. I believe that Rangers should be bringing through a better class of young player and that might be about to change.

But let’s not forget that it’s a two way street. The fact is that many of the exciting prospects at Rangers have failed to deliver.

Everyone was hyped about John Fleck but the creative midfielder couldn’t live up to the hype. he came up short and didn’t fulfil his potential.

Charlie Adam has been an impressive performer in the English Premier League but he couldn’t produce consistently at Ibrox. It was almost as if the midfielder was trying too hard to impress the home fans and the pressure got the better of him.

Chris Burke, Maurice Ross, Steve Smith and Stephen Hughes all came into the team and did alright without being brilliant or even good enough to stay in the team in a long term basis.

People will say that Rangers made a mistake last summer when they went for an older player but I believe they went for the wrong type of player last year and age wasn’t the issue.

Rangers always need the experienced voices in their squads, leaders and warriors. That’s why Pedro Caixinha brought in Bruno Alves and won’t just target prospects this pre-season.

The best teams always have the the right mix of young, hungry stars and wily, old veterans.

Ryan Jack And Bruno Alves Signings Show Rangers Intent

Pedro Caixinha has wasted little time in his Ibrox rebuilding project. Rangers have announced two new signings in as many days this week.

Both Ryan Jack and Bruno Alves bring added experience to this Gers squad. They also add a strength to the side’s spine.

Former Aberdeen captain Jack has experience of the league and has combative qualities that will give the midfield extra bite. His no-nonsense attitude reminds me of Celtic’s Scott Brown and Rangers need that kind of spirit in their engine room.

I think it’s important that Rangers look beyond Britain as they look for new recruits, Mark Warburton’s lack of contacts beyond our shores proved one of his biggest failings in my opinion. But you still need a strong Scottish identity and bring in players that weaken your opposition when you can.

Pedro has been quite clear from the start that he really wanted to bring in Ryan Jack as he admired the central midfielder’s qualities.

He told the Ranger’s website that he felt the Scotsman would offer qualities that would enhance his team:

“I also believe that we identified in him something that we need in our midfield which is leadership and understanding the game in terms of being the balance player who builds from the back, who switches the play, who releases the full backs and allows all the offensive players to go up the park with more freedom.”

Caixinha is right to focus on players that have leadership traits and who can give the side more balance.

Too many times last season the Gers midfield seemed confused and light, Jack should help in offering a smart brain who can see things as they develop on the pitch. He is also one of those players who will always give his all for the team.

In Bruno Alves, Rangers have signed a veteran defender who has s very strong CV.

They’ve also brought in a commanding central defender and one who isn’t scared of confrontation.

In the games against Celtic last term, too many Gers players lacked a fighting spirit needed to compete in Old Firm clashes. Sometimes you need someone who will throw himself into the battle, make hard challenges and win his fair share of headers. In Alves they’ll get that type of warrior at the back.

Yes the Portuguese Euro 2016 winner has a reckless side and can produce very naughty tackles on occasion but Rangers need that kind of player in this squad (as long as he doesn’t go over the top too often). Domestically on average he’s only picked up one red card per season in the last three years.

The international defender has played in top leagues and with big clubs in FC Porto, Zenit, Fenerbahce and Cagliari. So I don’t think the size of Rangers will intimidate the strong centre-back.

Alves might be thirty-five but that’s still younger than Clint Hill, who was probably the best defender at Ibrox last season. It should also be noted that Alves managed thirty-six Serie A starts last term.

Bruno Alves also boasts a winning pedigree. The six foot two defender has won league titles in Portugal, Russia and Turkey and was obviously part of the Portuguese squad that secured the European Championships last summer!

Pedro Caixinha was quick to highlight Bruno’s winning spirit as being a major plus for his team:

“What is important is that he is a winner with a winning mentality and that is something we all want, to put the club on a winning track again”

Caixinha has clearly came in and looked at Rangers and noticed that his squad’s spine looked weak and lacked character. That’s why he’s come in and brought in two player’s that are leaders, that have a passion for the game and will get into the faces of the opposition.

It’s been heavily reported that Mexican international Carlos Pena will be the Glasgow giant’s third summer signing of the week.

I don’t know as much about the twenty-seven year old midfielder. He doesn’t seem to possess those leadership qualities that Jack and Alves do but he does seem to be energetic and a player who will fit into Pedro’s style. Pena has been described as being a bit of a character back in his homeland and characters are well loved at Ibrox as long as they give their all for the badge.

So I have to say I’ve been impressed by Caixinha’s first captures as it shows that he understands the problems that he’s inherited from the previous management regime.

On paper these sort of signings should help Rangers clinch second place next year and close the gap on Celtic. But as we know football isn’t played on paper, Pedro needs to get the most from his players and find the right tactics to consistently beat teams in the Scottish Premiership.

As they say ‘the proof is in the pudding!’

Arsenal Should Launch Moves For Riyad Mahrez And Alvaro Morata

Whether you believe Arsene Wenger should’ve left this summer or not, it’s time for Arsenal fans to get behind him and for the board to back him.

Wenger today announced that he was staying with the Gunners, the boss signed a new two year deal to extend his time at the Emirates.

But the Frenchman has to also do his bit in the transfer market in a bid to help rejuvenate the club’s fortunes and turn those Arsenal dissenters back into happy, supportive fans.

Now the FA Cup final win over London rivals and Premier League winners Chelsea was a nice start but plenty more has to be done in moving the club forward and back towards challenging for major honours.

Obviously the future of star players Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez has to be sorted out. It looks increasingly like that the pair may leave this off-season but Wenger and the Gunners board need to sort the situation out as soon as possible.

But whether those two stay or go, the Arsenal boss will still have to splash the cash this summer.

I think he will need to bring in at least two attack minded players, maybe only one if Sanchez stays.

Players such as Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez and Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata instantly spring to mind.

In the case of Mahrez, he has proven in the past that he possesses the pace, trickery and final ball to get the job done in the Premier League. In the 2015-16 season he won the player of the year award as he helped the Foxes win their fairytale top flight title.

In that season he managed to score seventeen goals and create eleven assists as Leicester City secured their first ever Premier League crown.

Now like others in the Leicester side his form severely dipped this term, with only six goals and three assists.

But in actual fact his form in the Champions League was pretty decent with four strikes and two assists in nine games, as he helped the Foxes reach the quarter-final stage. He also had man of the match performances against FC Porto, Sevilla and FC Copenhagen. 

I believe that the Algerian international will be desperate to prove himself again at a higher level and would relish playing for a club like Arsenal. Let’s not forget that Eden Hazard also had a dip in form after winning the player of the year awards, yet he was back to his best during Chelsea’s title winning campaign this year.

Mahrez is still reaching his prime as he’s still only twenty-six. His pace, his skill and direct approach cause defences all sorts of problems and when he’s on form he’s almost unplayable.

I suppose the reported £40m price tag might put sides off but surely Arsenal could look at lowering that fee to the £35m mark.

Unlike the current Gunner squad, he knows what it takes to win the English Premier League.

Then you have Alvaro Morata.

The Spaniard has a keen eye for goal and can be a difference maker. He’s managed to bag himself twenty goals and that’s tremendous when you consider he’s only started seventeen times for Zinedine ZIdane’s side this season.

You can definitely see why the Spanish internationalist striker might be inclined to leave the Bernabeu this summer. The forward must be desperate for more game time, especially with the World Cup coming up next year!

His loan spell at Juventus again showed us that he was a capable hitman at a top club. His record of eight in nineteen appearances for Spain is also quite telling in regards to his striking prowess.

Any move for Morata could depend on Sanchez future in London and if other sides make a move for the Madrid frontman.

I believe Morata could work well along side Sanchez and another in a fluid front three but would Wenger splash out £50m on him and also deal in Sanchez on a new long term deal? It would be ballsy from the French manager.

Interest in Alvaro from Chelsea seems to have cooled but it has emerged recently that AC Milan could be about to line up a move for the former Juve striker.

Arsene has been linked with these two forwards in the past and one of the reasons for failing to break into the top four this term was the fact they didn’t score as many as Chelsea, Spurs, Man City or Liverpool.

So I believe the Gunners have to go into the transfer market early next month and make a few impact signings that can help change their fortunes!

The Greatest Rangers Team Of The Nine In A Row Era

It was twenty years ago this year that Rangers managed to secure their ninth league title in a row and in doing so they equalled the record held by Jock Stein’s great Celtic team of the sixties.

So I thought I’d give you the best team of that era. Obviously it’s biased as it’s my selection but please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section.

ANDY GORAM

In my opinion during the early to mid nineties Andy Goram was one of the world’s best goalkeepers.

He had an absolute gift in producing wonderful saves and usually in the biggest of games. As Celtic started to mount a serious challenge during the Fergus mcCann years, at times it seemed as though Goram was the only man standing in their way.

His save against Pierre Van Hoojidonk is the one that stands out the most. The big Dutchman found himself alone in the six yard area when the ball arrived at his feet he directed it via a volley towards the Goalie’s goal. Goram just stayed big and produced a world class one handed save to deny what seemed an obvious goal!

He produced top-class saves time and time again against Celtic. It was as if he kept them up his sleeve just to annoy his club’s greatest rivals. So much so that then Celtic gaffer Tommy Burns would stated:

“Put it on my tombstone: Andy Goram broke my heart.”

Andy was small for a keeper and he also had a stalky frame (sometimes overweight) but he had a terrific leap and was always aware of any danger. That meant he would often fling himself across the goal-line or up to the top corners to claw aways balls usually destined for the back of the net.

One of the Goalie’s best traits wasn’t just producing the save but his ability to get the ball away from danger. By that I mean he would use strong fists to push the ball either away from the middle of his penalty area or behind for a corner.

A superb goalkeeper!

GARY STEVENS

Gary was a hard tackling right-back who cost Rangers £1.25m in 1988. He’d stay in Glasgow for six years and win as many league titles as well as appearing in 187 league games for the club.

Stevens was more of an old school full-back and he was always committed to the art of defending. The England international did posses decent pace but he was more known for his consistently good defensive work.

He would often give Rangers assured performances.

Not the most spectacular of players from this era but he stuck to the task in hand!

DAVID ROBERTSON

If Stevens was of his time as a defensive full-back, then Davie Robertson was ahead of the game with his bombing runs down the left. His engine and eagerness to get forward are more reminiscent of Brazilian defenders than his Scottish counterparts.

He joined from rivals Aberdeen, where he had played over 100 times for in the league. At Ibrox he was soon installed as the club’s left-back and he’d wrack up 183 league appearances and score fifteen times.

He struck up a memorable partnership with Brian Laudrup, when the Danish international arrived in 1994. They seemed to have a telepathic relationship with Robertson often seen overlapping the winger and then covering for him if in the odd occasion Laudrup lost the ball.

Robertson’s pace to get forward and commitment to get back were admirable qualities back then but he’d have also been able to fit into today’s style of football without many problems at all.

A fantastic attack minded left-back for Rangers!

RICHARD GOUGH 

The central defender was the club captain who would go on and lift the ninth league championship back in 1997.

A solid defender who also had the brains to know where to position himself inside the penalty area.

Played with the badge covering his heart and had the passion needed to drive the club on towards their nine league titles in a row.

Was a dominant figure in the air and would often head away any dangerous crosses that flew into the Gers box. The tall defender also had an assured touch and a clam head to distribute the ball out of defence.

Gough was the only player to win a medal in all nine league triumphs during the club’s golden era.

The perfect leader to galvanise those around him and make sure they knew that above all they had to win!

JOHN BROWN 

This was a tough choice as you could make arguments for Terry Butcher and Alan McLaren.

I always thought Butcher was more of an England legend than a Gers one and injury played a part in McLaren not reaching his full potential at Ibrox.

So I’ve picked John ‘Bomber’ Brown.

I think Bomber was often underrated as a footballer. He could play anywhere in the backline and would give his all in a Rangers jersey.

Often seen as a squad player, Brown would come into his own during the 92-93 season. He played in the majority of the league games and in every single cup game that season. He would help the club secure the treble that year and they were also unbeaten in the first ever season of the Champions League.

A passionate, touch tackler who would give his all and win plenty of medals with Rangers. How he was never selected for Scotland is beyond me.

A true warrior for that Rangers side!

STUART MCCALL

I always loved Stuart McCall. Compared to most of his teammates he was quite unassuming (apart from his Ginger hair-do).

The midfielder was a smart performer who knew his role (especially latterly) was to break-up play and then give it to the magicians or the forwards.

He had a tremendous engine on him and would often make box-to-box runs to help out those ahead or behind him. Although good in the tackle, he wasn’t often suspended and didn’t see red in a Gers top, showing you just how smart he really was.

Had a tireless work ethic, would do anything for his teammates and even popped up with some goals too.

Stuart was the player in midfield who would have no problem doing the basics and the dirty jobs. That meant he was often overlooked when the awards were dished out but he was invaluable to the team.

McCall had so much endeavour and was a born winner!

DAVIE COOPER

Another hard position to fill.

Coop only played a small part in the nine in a row era but very few wingers came in after him and had half of his ability. Mark Walters and Pieter Huistra spring to mind but they didn’t do it consistently enough in my opinion.

So purely on ability I’ll select Davie Cooper. He had a magical left foot and he could turn defenders inside out. He also had such an explosive shot on him, Rangers fans didn’t see power like that again until Jorg Albertz arrived in 96.

By the 88-89 season Davie was no longer an automatic starter but he was still a footballing genius.

He had a terrific shimmy and could easily step inside and take on defenders with his close control and then bear down on goal. Was just one short of getting fifty league goals for the Govan side.

A truly gifted individual, who loved playing football and always seemed to turn up for the big games!

PAUL GASCOIGNE

Everyone knew Paul Gascoigne when he arrived on a sunny afternoon back in July 1995. He was England’s most gifted player of his generation.

The midfielder didn’t need to seek any trouble off the park as it followed him around like a bad smell but on the pitch he was a magician. Like Cooper before him, Gazza had sublime close control. He would do things on the park that others could only dream of.

In his first full season at Ibrox, Gazza shone and helped the side to a league and Scottish Cup double. He scored nineteen goals in all competitions that year, scoring his first against Old Firm rivals Celtic.

His performance against Aberdeen at Ibrox in 96′ that helped clinch eight in a row was the best solo performance I’ve seen from a Gers player. He practically won the fixture single handedly with a stunning hat-trick.

Could easily become the class clown on the field, famously he was booked after jokingly showing the ref a yellow card which Gazza hand found on the pitch after it had fallen out of the officials pocket.

Gascoigne could probably walk into any Gers team with his natural ability and his talent with the ball at his feet.

When focused he was an amazing maestro. Will argue with anyone that 1995-96 was the best season of his entire career.

A cult hero at Ibrox, who could unlock any domestic defensive on his day!

ALLY MCCOIST

My own Gers hero.

Coisty was one of the best goalscorers to ever grace Scotland’s top flight. He just seemed to always be in the right place at the right time.

If Goram was the man that kept Celtic out, then Super Ally was the man to twist the knife and go on and grab a winner. Always loved scoring against the Parkhead side and in total he scored seventeen league goals against Glasgow’s green half.

Two goals standout for me when I think of McCoist.

The first was his diving header that clinched Rangers qualification to the first ever group stages of the Champions League back in 92 in a Battle of Britain clash against English champions Leeds Utd.

The second was a spectacular over-kick winner against Hibs in the Scottish League Cup final. He was working his way back into the team after suffering a horrific leg break while appearing for Scotland, so was a sub for the cup final. He came on with the score level at 1-1. The ball would find him in the box but with his back to goal, with his first touch of the game Coisty controlled the ball with his chest and then he struck an acrobatic effort with his right foot and it went beyond Jim Leighton.

His celebrations often showed you the joy in which McCoist had for the game and for Rangers Football Club.

Deserves to be remembered as Rangers greatest ever goalscorer.

A scoring sensation who had a golden-boot award for each foot!

MARK HATELEY

The tall Englishman was the perfect foil for Ally McCoist. So many times Hateley would win the knock down and Ally would then usher the ball into the back of the net.

Hateley was a great header of the ball and always made it hard for the opposition defenders with his aggressive and powerful style.

Another star for the big occasion he enjoyed a decent scoring record against both Aberdeen and Celtic. He was also one of the best performers in the sides 92-93 Champions League run scoring against Leeds and Olympique Marseille.

Didn’t receive the same acclaim Super Ally managed but a player who gave the team everything and who could mix it up against big bruising centre-halves.

A tremendous target man, who along with McCoist enjoyed the best ever striking partnership at Ibrox.

BRIAN LAUDRUP

Laudrup was simply sensational. It took Scottish defences a full season to just get used to his immense talents.

He often seemed to do the same trick; basically run fast down the wing, check back and then carry on. He’d maybe check back two or three times in the one move and no matter how many times he did this trick he always seemed to make the opposition look silly as they fell at his feet.

Like Coop, Brian had away of just gliding along the turf and act as though defenders were just cones and not really there to tackle him.

When at his best no one else in the country could touch him (almost literally). He seemed to join Rangers and just settle in right away. It seems odd as he looked the ideal professional footballer that he’d be so relaxed with a Gers team known for their partying ways, but Laudrup ended up being just one of the lads.

Although he could score terrific solo goals, his lovely chipped goal on the byline against the Dons instantly comes to mind, he was actually a very unselfish player and seemed to be happier making goals rather than scoring them himself.

Only Celtic’s Henirk Larsson comes close in being on his level when it comes to foreigners in Scottish football folklore.

An elegant, classy and versatile attack, Laudrup was the Rangers wing wizard!

Video: Checkout The New Manchester City Home Kit For Next Season

Here is Man City’s new NIKE home kit for next season.

Everton Should Make Man City Kelechi Iheanacho A Top Target!

In Romelu Lukaku, Everton have one of the most prolific strikers in the Premier League but alas the Belgian has signalled that his career at Goodison Park could be over with some of Europe’s elite clubs interested in the hitman.

Chelsea seem to be the favourites in the race to sign Lukaku but what about Everton? Who should they sign to replace the twenty-four year old?

Well I think the Toffees should look no further than Manchester City frontman Kelechi Iheanacho.

The twenty year old, like Lukaku, has a keen eye for goal. He has twenty-one goals in fifty-eight City appearances and that’s been mainly from the bench!

Another similarity the Nigerian international shares with Romelu Lukaku is the fact that he has had to wait for his chance at a big club. Lukaku decided he could wait no longer and left Chelsea permanently in 2014 and this summer could see Kelechi reach the same career crossroads and make the same decision.

A lot will depend on Pep Guardiola and if he brings in any new strikers this summer. Talismanic forward Sergio Aguero looks set to stay and then there’s Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian is the same age as Iheanacho, yet the January signing already looks to be a favourite of Pep and ahead of the Nigerian in the City team pecking order.

So you can see why Kelechi Iheanacho might think his time could be up at the Eithad.

For Everton, they would be getting yet another hungry forward desperate for more game time, goals and a bit more responsibility.

He wouldn’t be a straight replacement for Lukaku.

Iheanacho isn’t as strong as Romelu but is a predator in the box. He possess a great deal of pace and can also get goals from outside the penalty area. It’s great to watch him finding space inside the box and assess when to strike.

I believe he’d thrive as a club’s main number nine, take his chance to star as a starter and grab lot’s of goals.

The money could make sense for Everton and Ronald Koeman too. They will look to get around £60m, if not more, for Lukaku (a player who wishes to leave the club). They could then get a potential superstar in Kelechi for as little as £2om, if reports are to be believed.

But the Toffees will have to act quickly, West Ham are supposedly already lining up their own bid for the young striker. Koeman can’t wait and see what happens with Lukaku before entering the market for a new hitman, he has to get someone like Iheanacho before another club gets to him first.

The worst that could happen if they sign him and then hang on to Lukaku is have two fine strikers to choose from or play together as an exciting duo.

If Everton have true ambitions about finishing in the top four of the Premier League then they have to make signing players with the potential of Kelechi Iheanacho a priority and get their business done as soon as possible in this transfer window!

Did Man United Enjoy The Second Best Season In England This Year?

At the start of the season it was thought that managerial heavyweights Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho would steer either Manchester City or Manchester United to Premier League glory this month.

But alas it was another new boy in Antonio Conte who would take the title with Chelsea. Conte and his players take on Arsenal this weekend and if they beat their London rivals then Chelsea will add the FA Cup to their Premier League trophy.

So I think everyone will be in agreement that Chelsea have enjoyed the best season in England in 2016/17.

But after Conte’s men, who have enjoyed this season the most?

I don’t think it’s clear cut.

Obviously Tottenham Hotspur will say that it’s them. They finished runners-up after all, their best final league position in the Premier League era. They also finished a massive eleven points ahead of North London rivals Arsenal! Plus they made it to Wembley before losing to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final stage.

Mauricio Pochettino has a fantastic, young squad and they seem to get better and better each and every season they are together.

But Spurs failed to add silverware to their trophy cabinet and struggled to make positive inroads in any of the European competitions.

The season also ended with much speculation regarding Tottenham being able to keep their talented squad together. Rumours are suggesting that Daniel Levy’s wage structure at the club is becoming an issue with players such as Kyle Walker, Danny Rose Eric Dier and Dele Alli all being linked with moves away.

On the other hand you have Man United.

Mourinho’s side never really competed for the league title this year and they drew far too many times. The Red Devils finished in sixth spot and were a hefty twenty-four points behind champions Chelsea. United also had a major problem in-front of goal and often struggled to kill teams off.

But they did end the season with two major trophies (the League Cup & Europa League) and with qualification for next season’s Champions League. They ended this campaign with that winning feeling and by winning the only European trophy that had so far eluded them.

Unlike Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, United’s win in the Europa League final means they don’t have to negotiate any tough qualifying round as they head straight into the Champions League group stages.

United now don’t need to worry about convincing stars to join the long-term project like they did last summer with Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they are now back amongst Europe’s elite in the biggest club competition. That means transfer targets such as Antoine Griezmann are more likely to arrive.

The French forward stated earlier this week:

“Winning titles is what I will look for this summer when deciding on my future.”

United and Jose have history in the title winning department and this year’s two trophies back up that pedigree.

The ultimate goal, if you’re not going to win the league title, is to get Champions League qualification. That’s just the nature of the beast these days.

I suppose it just depends on whether you think consistency in the Premier League is better than winning trophies or vice-versa.

Personally I’d prefer to win two cups and get Champions League qualification than by simply finishing as a runner-up in England’s top flight.

I think Tottenham’s fantastic season and their superb squad make it harder to judge because the Spurs support will have adored watching their team this year.

But I, without doubt, would have preferred winning two competitions and getting straight into the group stages of the Champions League than finish in third or fourth place.

I bet Jose Mourinho and Man United fans will make that point clear to rivals Man City and Liverpool over the course of the summer.

But Manchester United can’t sit back this summer, they need to back their manager in the transfer market and they need to challenge for the Premier League crown next term, the United fans won’t be happy with the same journey next May!

Celebrating Celtic’s Lisbon Lions – Sean Fallon Interview

On this day fifty years ago Celtic Football Club made history as they became the first British club to win the European Cup!

The famous Lisbon Lions were managed by the icon Jock Stein and he had Celtic legend Sean Fallon as his trusty assistant.

This is my interview with the very generous Mr Fallon (from 2011) and we would talk about Jock, Celtic, the 7-1 Hampden in the sun win over Rangers as well as great players such as Kenny Dalglish. We also discuss Sean’s inspired role during the build up to the great game in Lisbon.

Be sure to checkout BT Sport/False Nine’s documentary on the great man tonight at 10pm.

Ryan Christie Has Done Enough At Aberdeen To Warrant Celtic Chance

Celtic’s Ryan Christie didn’t moan about not getting more first team opportunities, nor did the attacking midfielder throw his toys out of the pram when Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers sent him up to Aberdeen for a loan spell.

No the Scottish under-21 cap went to Pittodrie and tried to do his upmost in helping the Dons beat Rangers to second place in the Scottish Premiership. On that objective it was mission accomplished for the former Inverness Caley Thistle man.

The twenty-two year old has impressed during his loan stint. He has bagged himself seven goals in fifteen appearances since his January switch. Five of those goals came in the last five games of the season and it included a strike at Hampden against Hibs and the winner at Ibrox  to defeat Rangers in the league.

His performances were so good, that even in such a short period of time, he was announced Aberdeen’s young player of the year.

Not only did the loanee help Aberdeen finish runners up in Scotland’s top flight but his efforts also saw them secure a place in the upcoming Scottish Cup final.

Alas Christie himself will have to sit the final out as the Dons face his parent club Celtic.

Now what should happen next with Ryan?

The player himself has stated he’d be open to making a return to Aberdeen next season:

“I am not going to rule it out, that’s for sure because I have enjoyed my time at Aberdeen so much.”

Christie has also freely admitted that he’s become a better player since his loan move to the Granite City.

But surely now is the time for the youngster to make a claim for more first team football at Celtic Park.

When he arrives back at the Glasgow giant’s Lennoxtown training base for pre-season this summer he’ll find Kris Commons and Patrick Roberts missing from the dressing room. No doubt Celtic will do their upmost to get Roberts back but that seems far from definite.

Speculation is also mounting that Gary Mackay-Steven could be ready to depart Glasgow’s east end and become the next Celt heading for Aberdeen.

Brendan obviously kept an eye on Ryan when he was away, stating after a Dons win over Motherwell:

“It was a great finish from him last night.”

“He’s a very good young player and the move is working out really well so far.”

Christie’s versatility, creative nous and eye for goals are all traits we know Brendan likes in his players. The fact Christie willingly went up north to improve himself will also have been keenly noted by the Celtic management team.

He can play on the wings or in behind a striker, Ryan also possesses good movement, a neat pass and a nice quick and direct approach. I’ve also been impressed by the fact he’s beefed up since his move from Inverness, it shows he’s taking his career seriously and working hard during training sessions.

I honestly think Christie has enough in his arsenal to offer something different for Rodgers next term. He has shown at Aberdeen that he can help dictate things in the Scottish Premiership and help change/shape big games.

Also let’s not forget that Celtic will once again look to challenge in the Champions League and fight for a place in the elite tournament’s round of sixteen.

So while I’m unsure Ryan Christie deserves to walk straight into the starting line-up and I think Brendan Rodgers will bring in a new creative attacker this off-season, I do believe he merits a berth in the squad and a chance to prove himself again at Celtic Park.

Could It Be Wayne Rooney In and Ross Barkely Out At Everton?

After the final game of the Premier League season, we automatically turn our attention to next season and think about possible pre-season transfers.

The end of a campaign usually sees a fresh start for many a player as they wave goodbye to fans that they’ve entertained for a season or longer.

You got the feeling when Wayne Rooney walked off the Old Trafford pitch to a standing ovation in the dying minutes of Manchester United’s win over Crystal Palace, that the Red Devils captain was saying cheerio to the United faithful at their home ground one last time.

The England captain will obviously want to take part and leave with a Europa league winners medal on Wednesday night but his appearance yesterday will probably be his last bit of action as a United player in the Premier League.

The player has had a disappointing term this year under Jose Mourinho. He no longer looks like a striker capable of banging in the goals each and every week. No matter the position Jose would find for Wayne in his team, Rooney failed to make that role his own. Until Mourinho just decided to drop the star and use him sparingly for the rest of the season.

Becoming Man Utd’s all-time leading goalscorer was obviously Rooney’s highlight in a largely unsatisfying season.

But alas all good things must come to an end and now Wayne has to decide on what to do next.

That’s also a question for Everton’s Ross Barkley this summer.

If Toffees boss Ronald Koeman is to be believed then Barkley has to have an answer immentantely on whether or not he’ll be staying at Goodison beyond this season.

The play-maker only has one year left on his current deal and he’s stalled on signing a new one. This has lead to speculation linking the England midfielder with a move to either Tottenham Hotspur or Manchester City.

Koeman still seems unconvinced by Barkley’s potential and might by happy to cash in on the talent.

If that is indeed the Dutchman’s end game then could his vacant space in the squad be filled by former Blue Wayne Rooney?

Every Evertonian will remember fondly when Rooney, a sixteen year old sensation, made his professional debut for the club back in 2002. Later on in that same season, he’d also make his international debut and go on to become England’s all-time leading goalscorer.

The Everton support don’t look back at his departure from Goodison in August 2004 with any fondness. They believed Rooney was one of them and didn’t like the fact that he helped orchestrate his £30m move to Old Trafford.

But time might be a great healer for the hitman, if he does indeed rejoin the Toffees this summer.

Everton would get a player who knows the club and the support. He’s also vastly experienced and could help the development of top young stars at the Merseyside club like Andre Lookman and Tom Davies.

If money was Rooney’s main motive then he’d have joined the Chinese Super League back in the winter.   An MLS move may still interest Wayne and his family. But you get the feeling the lure of returning home to Liverpool would be strong and he could believe that he’s got unfinished business with Everton and in England’s top flight.

As the attacker has aged he seems more natural in the number ten role rather than as an all out striker.

But a move for Rooney could all depend on Barkley’s contract decision.

You’d imagine that both would want that position in, around and just behind the main frontman.

I believe signing Barkley to a long-term deal and then re-signing Rooney would potentially be a bad move for both stars.

One would have to sit out and watch the other take his place. That would stall Barkley’s career or end Rooney’s in the Premier League.

But if Barkley were to leave then I’d expect Koeman and the Everton board to go all out in their pursuit of Rooney. It would show an intent in bringing in players that can help the side and help promote the club globally.

If Ross Barkely decides to stay at Goodison and sign a new contract then surely it would be in everyone’s best interests that Koeman decides against bringing in Wayne Rooney and instead building his team around the twenty-three year old creative midfielder.

All should be more clear this time next week!