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What next for Rangers?

Started on 7 April 2020 by Imagine
Latest Reply on 13 May 2020 by Mauve
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  • VIEWS5068
After just one year in charge of Rangers Steven Gerrard has today sensationally resigned from his role as manager effective immediately. It has been rumoured that there has been discontent between two of the clubs main figureheads these past few weeks and it appears to have finally come to a head. Gerrard has been reportedly complaining about the funds available to him in his quest to stop Celtic from getting ten in a row. Dave King has backed Gerrard by providing funds for players such as Filip Helander and Ryan Kent for the upcoming season as well as some other key additions which takes the clubs spending to £11m for thirteen players. So, it could be argued that Gerrard has been given the money to spend, especially considering an almost entirely new squad was recruited last season too. Perhaps Gerrard felt that the club could still be doing with some more additions to the squad if they were to stop a seemingly unstoppable Celtic side in their quest for continued domestic dominance. This seems to be where the problem lies as King felt that they had backed the manager considerably whilst Gerrard felt that he needed more ammunition. Whilst those theories, among others such as the manager's tactical naivety and scapegoating of players, continued Rangers once again found themselves in a position of having to bring in a new manager. A task made all the more difficult due to the funds already spent by Steven Gerrard and the new manager will likely be brought in with the warning that no more funds could be spent on the recruitment of players. So what next next for Rangers and who will be the new manager?
After the departure of Steven Gerrard just days ago a shock replacement has been lined up in the shape of former Rangers player Christopher Burns. Burns is a wholly unexpected target at the age of just twenty-six year old he hasn't long retired from playing and moving in to coaching within the academy there is no way he is ready. He hung up his boots a season or two ago after a run of bad injuries at English Championship club Brentford. Having started his career with Rangers Burns went on to make fifty-two league appearances for the club as they climbed from League Two to the Championship after their demotion. Despite playing in the lower leagues in Scotland it was clear that Burns was a standout talent and he flourished in the heart of the midfield. Two and a half years after making his breakthrough with Rangers Burns was allowed to leave for the English Championship to join Brentford for £850k, much to the fans uproar. The move down south didn't quite go to plan for him as the injury problems mounted for the talented midfielder. As many as seven major injuries and a couple lesser ones meant that he could never get a proper run in the Brentford team. Recurring hamstring and strained knee injuries amounted to forty months or so on the sidelines throughout Burns short career and eventually something had to give. He decided to retire from the game after coming to the conclusion that he wouldn't ever be able to get a consistent run of games at the level he wanted to and he didn't want to drop down divisions either. He decided to pursue his coaching badges and whilst doing so he was taken in by his boyhood team to help coach the youth sides. Burns worked alongside fellow former players such as Peter Lovenkrands, Brian Gilmour, Gregory Vignal, Graeme Smith and Kevin Thomson in the clubs academy. He expanded his coaching knowledge by joining the Scotland under 19's set up alongside Scot Gemmill. Christopher Burns is held in high regard by the club due to his tactical approach as well as an apparent no nonsense style shown during his time at the academy. To be linked with the position of manager at his age and with his lack of experience though is frightening, it surely can't happen can it?

I can't say that I'm surprised by the departure of Steven Gerrard from his position as manager of Rangers as I feel that he was out of his depth at the club. Celtic showed his side up time and again last season and they will continue to do so no matter who Rangers appoint next. Celtic have built up too strong a squad with several leaders within it and have such great togetherness. They want to be legends and I expect them to achieve such status when they go on to achieve ten in a row. With Gerrard the latest departure after a bust up with the fraud that is Dave King things just keep getting worse for the club. Gerrard wanted more money to spend on the playing squad and whilst many people think that the £11m shelled out so far this summer is sufficient it is no where near enough to rival Celtic for the title. The problem that they now have is that they have lost someone who has legendary status in the game as well as top class connections so now even if there proved to be any more funds available to the next manager their pulling power has dropped massively. We're hearing that they are looking at Christopher Burns for the job due to his work with the academy in recent years. Are they kidding? The guys had a stop-start career for years and has only just started in the coaching game let's get real, he is not ready to be a manager. Rangers can't afford to continue to pluck names from left field and expect it to eventually work. It didn't with Kenny McDowall, Stuart McCall, Mark Warburton, Pedro Caixinha or Steven Gerrard so why would it now? I know some of you might say that Neil Lennon was a rookie when he was given the job but Neil had a long playing career that made up for that lack of experience as a coach. They will be hoping to achieve the same success as other young managers such as Andre Villas-Boas and more recently Julian Nagelsmann but honestly, I think they ought to take a different route or Celtic will sail to yet another title and end up completely out of sight.

Interview day

Dave King: Hi Christopher thank you for coming up to my office, make yourself comfortable.

Christopher Burns: Hi Dave, cheers.

DK: Now obviously you know that Steven Gerrard has decided to leave us and now we have a job opportunity right at the top. I've asked you in to my office today as I've heard and witnessed so many good things from you since you became part of the academy coaching staff and felt like there is perhaps an option to promote from within for our next manager again, as we done with Graeme Murty before. From what I hear, you seem to have a good grasp of the tactical side of the game could you tell me a little about that?

CB: I appreciate that very much, thanks again for giving me this chance. Aye, you could say I like to think I have a good read of the tactical side of the game especially as I was a midfielder I feel like you see every aspect of the game in that position. I think that each side should have several tactical plans which may change depending on the side you're facing, whether you are home or away or maybe just missing key players in vital positions in tactic A. I feel like this is something I want to implement in my own team when given the chance as we see so many teams just sticking with their 4-5-1 and unable to adapt or change until late on in a match when they just chuck three forwards up top to try salvage something.

DK: I completely understand what you mean Chris, no disrespect to our previous management teams but I feel like that is something which we have struggled with ourselves. No plan B and waiting to long before attempting a change and I feel like this is something we'd love to get away from. I've had some complaints from parents on behalf of some of our academy graduates about the intensity of your training as well as your no nonsense attitude and I have to ask your thoughts on that matter.

CB: Well the fact that this is the first I'm hearing about this Dave means that you probably think that it's as much of a non issue as I do. I've seen and heard of some of the old stories from older players about dressing rooms and training back in the day and although I think we've moved on from some of things that used to happen, there are definitely some aspects I'd like to adopt in my management career. I want there to be a level of fear of myself as the manager, not an aggressive fear just, perhaps, an understanding that you can't see yourself as the main man at the club because you're the best player, I feel like there is too much player power within the game now. Between the players and the agents it's a vicious cycle we've gotten in to within the game. I won't stand any nonsense and anyone thinking they can cry 'I want to leave the club' and be granted their request instantly will be very disappointed.

DK: In all truth Chris, what you've said so far has been what I've expected and the exact reason that I brought you in for an interview despite what everyone is saying in the press or within the club etc.. What I want to know is, can you handle taking this job on, at your age and with your apparent lack of experience in the game?

CB: Absolutely, I missed so much time as a player through injuries that I developed an extremely strong mentality that will stand me in good stead throughout the rest of my life and I believe that it has helped me grow and mature far more than my age suggests. I spent so much of my time on the sidelines debating when to call it a day that I constantly had my head in some form of book or on some form of course to develop as a coach so that when that time came I'd be ready to take my next step in the game as I'm certainly not done with it because my playing career is over.

DK: I continue to be impressed Chris, before we take this chat on to anything formal I have a couple of things I'd like to point out and see if they are agreeable to you if you were to take on this job. We gave Steven all we had in terms of a transfer budget so unfortunately we are in no position to sign any more players. Do you think this would be a major issue for you?

CB: Honestly, I think we have so much talent and potential in the squad and out on loan. That wouldn't be a problem at all. Having worked with the youth players and come through the academy myself I would love to give some of the lads here their chance to shine.

DK: I have to agree and that was something Steven really didn't agree with at all which led us to this interview today Chris. You have impressed me with all you've had to say and I would love to offer you the job here as I believe you have a great personality, mental strength and a refreshing outlook on the game. We can offer you a two year deal worth £429k per annum is that agreeable for yourself?

CB: I am shocked Dave, that is absolutely agreeable with me. You won't regret taking this chance on me I promise. I will make my name in management at this club and I'll be here as long as you'll have me. Thank you so much.

DK: I am happy to hear that Chris, congratulations and good luck.

CB: Thanks again. Sorry, I have a question actually. I know there isn't much of a budget for playing staff but will I be able to make sweeping changes to the backroom staff? I believe that will be vital if we are to progress.

DK: You had to cost us money somehow Chris didn't you? You can make any backroom changes necessary although I have a bit of advice. Ross Wilson, Gary McAllister, Tom Culshaw and Michael Beale have decided to remain with the club in spite of Steven's departure, I believe that means something and their experience could be vital if you can find a way to work toward the same goal.

CB: That's great boss, I think you are right, I've no problem working with those guys at all.


After taking the reigns at the club after Steven Gerrard's summer splash out on players I was given the remit of challenging for a title without being able to make any of my own additions to the squad. Thankfully, I was pleased with some of our summer activity as the likes of Ryan Kent, George Edmundson, Filip Helander, Joe Aribo and Ianis Hagi could all be great players for us. The likes of Jordan Jones and Sheyi Ojo can also be good rotation options I expect. Of the players added I decided that Jake Hastie, Greg Stewart and Brandon Barker wouldn't feature and so they left the club on loan deals. So too did Wes Foderingham and Glen Kamara who I hope will have successful seasons on loan before deciding on whether they have a long term future here or not. Matt Polster also joined some of our youth players in going on loan too. I recalled both Robby and Ross McCrorie from their loan deals as I believe that they could play a huge part for us this season. I will also be promoting Jay Hogarth, Adam Devine, Josh McPake, Kai Kennedy, Nathan Young-Coombes and Kane Ritchie-Hosler to the senior dressing room and although they will mostly feature for our youth and reserve squads we will look to give them some opportunities where possible.

It'll be interesting to see how you fare, Imagine, with Rangers and look forward to an interesting read. Does this mean your other stories are done?

Staff transfers

Before accepting Dave King's offer to become Glasgow Rangers next manager I made sure to ask if I would be allowed to make the necessary staff changes that I seen fit to and I was pleased that my new boss granted my request. Don't get me wrong there is a great core to the staff here at Rangers such as Gary McAllister, Ross Wilson, Tom Culshaw, Michael Beale, Jordon Milsom and Jamie Ramsden who will be kept on by myself. However, I did feel that there needed to be more depth to the coaching staff in all age departments, something I felt strongly about having worked with the youth academy for a while. That meant that some familiar and popular faces were given notice of our desire to terminate their contracts and we mutually parted ways with the likes of Graeme Murty, Steve Walker, Billy Kirkwood, Craig Mulholland, Peter Lovenkrands, Kevin Thomson, Graeme Smith and John Brown. That was no easy task as some of those guys were synonymous with this club and I worked closely with Craig, Peter, Kevin and the two Graeme's, we had become friendly whilst working within the clubs youth system but ultimately, I felt like we needed to make some sweeping changes behind the scenes to start developing the young blood in the famous Rangers blue once again. We want to attract the names of the best Scottish talent, the best British talent, European, South American, we want to attract the best young talent in the world to this club, develop them and watch them grow. I feel that with the additions we've made to the full behind the scenes set-up we could be on our way to achieving that.

We brought in a couple of the world's best fitness coaches in Felix Ledesma, Diogo Linhares alongside Chris Neville, Alec Chamberlain was brought in to be our new goalkeeping coach from Watford and the first team was further strengthened by the addition of Paul Jenkins and Park Kyung-Hoon. The youth sides were next on the agenda and an entirely new set up was put in to place starting with up and coming head of youth development Dylan Muirhead. This is Dylan's first foray into the professional game but he is someone who I have been friends with over the past couple of years as I got into the coaching aspect of the game. He has a great eye for talent and is a great motivator to the kids which means he'll be a fantastic addition to us. Replacing the outgoing Murty as reserves manager is Napoli and Juventus hero; Ciro Ferrara. Ferrara comes with an exciting reputation and calibre so will prove a great addition and he will be assisted by Wilson Graniolati, Jim Stewart and Mark Chamberlain. The under 18's will be led by Brazilian Pepinho who will look to bring a bit of his native country's exciting play to the youth side. He will be assisted by former 'Gers academy graduate Colin Miller who returns to Scotland after many years in adopted nation; Canada. He is joined by fellow North American Kevin Miller who becomes under 18 fitness coach with Kevin Hitchcock taking up the goalkeeping coach post. Former Chelsea coach Lee Johnson is joined by experienced former English Premiership player Gavin McCann and Manchester United icon Park Ji-Sung to complete the under 18 coaching set up. We caught up with the rest of the world's elite by extensively recruiting the best physios, sports scientists, scouts and data analysts that we could in order to help us become the best we can be. Now, let's just see if we can stop them from across the city having any more fun at our expense.

Thank you. I lost motivation to play for a while and got an urge to play today after watching the 'Gascoine' documentary on Netflix so will see how this one goes. Would never rule the others out as I do like to jump from each different save as they each offer something very different.

Fine early season form

In the midst of our backroom staff overhaul we had a hectic start to the season as we played five Friendlies, eight Europa League games, four League games and a League Cup game too, eighteen games in the first two and a bit months! What a flying start to the season it was too as we won all but one of those matches as only Viktoria Plzen could prevent us from winning the full set. Still, unbeaten in eighteen was a fantastic start for a fledgling manager like myself and a right good kick back at the media which pleased me.

We pummeled Leeds and Birmingham before grinding out fantastic results against Zenit St. Petersburg(a little revenge to that one), Chelsea and West Brom. Andy Halliday led the team fantastically against Kauno Zalgiris as we stormed to an impressive win and Josh McPake, who started on the flanks alongside Kai Kennedy, opened his scoring account for the senior side too. The following match against the Lithuanians was fairly routine as Borna Barisic and Filip Helander netted to secure a 6-1 aggregate scoreline which seen us through to the Second Knockout round of the Europa League. We were paired with Swiss side Vaduz in the next game and it was the defence once again who ensured victory was ours as Helander netted again alongside James Tavernier and Connor Goldson after an OG kick started things for us. The next leg was much more resounding as we dominated and got off to a good start as Alfredo Morelos and Jon Flanagan both netted inside fifteen minutes. Jordan Jones, Morelos and Ryan Jack made if 5-0 on the day and 9-0 on aggregate as we sailed into the next round where we'd face Greeks AEK Athens.

Before we played that next tie in the Europa League we kicked off the league campaign away to Hearts where three first half goals ensured we got off to the best possible start. Morelos grabbed a double, again, whilst Nikola Katic became the latest defender to net as the goals seemed to be flying in from everywhere. An away day trip to Athens followed and what a trip it was for the fans as they seen the side dismantle a very poor AEK side. Katic followed up from the last game to score inside the first minute of this one with Ryan Jack also adding to his tally but it was main man Morelos who stole the show with a fine 'perfect' hat-trick. Looking to halt a flying Rangers side St. Mirren were up next and a key talking point in this one was the debut handed to young goalkeeper Robby McCrorie who finally followed his twin brothers pathway to the first team, and they both featured together for the first team with the senior side too. As expected though, it was McCrorie's opposite number Vaclav Hladky who was the busier of the two 'keepers and what a performance the Czech put in. With his goal being peppered with shots all day it was to his credit that he allowed just one goal to find his net and it was Tavernier's fifth minute penalty that done just that.

The return leg of the Europa League Third Round tie with AEK Athens went much like the first and you could even suggest it was a bit of a 'Greek tragedy' as they limped to 8-1 aggregate defeat. The defenders led the way, again, in this one as wing backs Barisic and Tavernier were joined on the scoreline by Ross McCrorie. A third competitive competition got underway next for the 'Gers as Championship side Morton played host in our League Cup Second Round tie. Barisic kept up his goalscoring from to open the floodgates in this one before Joe Aribo and Sheyi Ojo rediscovered their pre-season goalscoring form to complete the rout. Viktoria Plzen were to be our final hurdle as we pursued the Europa League Group Stage. They provided a real stern test for us as despite taking the lead inside two minutes through Goldson the away side equalised after ten minutes and then Ryan Jack got himself sent of minutes later. It wasn't looking good for us for the first time this season, that was until Jermaine Defoe popped up with a late goal to finally give us a crucial lead going into the return leg away from home.

The key to our fine start to the season has to be the strength in depth that we have, boosted by the youth that are itching to make a name for themselves. That strength in depth has allowed us to heavily rotate the entire team throughout a busy start to the season. It was a heavily rotated team that came up against Ross County in the next match and despite there sometimes being a bit of a struggle when we've went to play in the Highlands it wasn't to be on this occasion as we dismantled 'The Staggies'. Jack, McCrorie, Morelos and Goldson all added to their goalscoring accounts in that routine win. A nervy encounter ensued next with Viktoria Plzen in the Europa League Fourth Round second providing a much tougher test. McCrorie's remarkable goalscoring form continued in this one as he netted the opening goal of the game to give us the cushion that we needed due to the home sides away goal in the last game. That meant that despite them scoring with fifteen minutes left to play we had done just enough. Europa League Group Stage here we come! Before finding out who our next opponents were to be in Europe we welcomed Livingston to Ibrox before the international break kicked in. An eventful game was played out by both sides who threw caution to the wind and once again it was that man McCrorie who opened the scoring, sixteen year old debutant Adam Devine got off to a flying start in his career as he notched a goal on his debut to double the scoring, Aribo further enhanced the scoreline before Livi pulled one back before half time. In the second half Ryan Jack made it 4-1 before Dolly Menga got a late consolation for the visitors.

I'll say it again, what a start to the season! I have to pinch myself to believe that I'm the manager of my favourite club never mind getting off to a start such as the one we have this season. I'm not getting too carried away mind, we haven't played Celtic yet, Hibs or Aberdeen or any huge teams in the Europa League. Speaking of which, our group stage was drawn and we were drawn with Scandanavian giants Kobenhavn and Malmo with English giants Man Utd completing a tough group for us to get out of. Not an easy draw that one but I definitely believe we can achieve qualification if we give it our all and continue to perform as we have done so far this season. I am excited at the prospect of facing a team such as Man Utd so early in my managerial career, I'm really look forward to meeting up with my idol Sir Alex Ferguson before the game to hopefully get some advice from a legend of the game. Hopefully he can make it up to Glasgow for our home game as I'd love to have an in depth chat with him and I know he's a right Bluenose as well so maybe he will. For now, I'll enjoy some sort of a rest, due to the international break, inbetween analysing our next opponents, working on training ground and dealing with various other day to day tasks that is.
Good to see you back! A great start so far and a tough group awaits in the Europa League. United will be a great couple of games for the supporters!
Imagine coming back and slaughtering teams with his Rangers side. Imagine that.

Reports coming out of Ibrox suggest that the flying start to the season hasn't stopped Rangers setting transfer targets as they have been linked with sixteen year-old Birmingham starlet Jude Bellingham. Bellingham shone for The Blues in a pre-season friendly against The 'Gers where he was dangerous throughout and managed to notch a goal, despite his teams lacklustre performance. It is thought that he caught the eye of manager Christopher Burns immediately although having agreed terms on a professional deal with Birmingham any moves are on hold until his seventeenth birthday. It seems an ambitious move by the Glasgow side as Bellingham has been tipped to have a huge future in the game and so a move to Rangers seems unlikely as the big English sides look to line up £20m+ bids which would be a monumental fee for Rangers in this current climate. That said, the ambition and determination is there from Burns as he has several scouts flocking to see him every week, with some of his players even coming out and suggesting he join the club. We'll just have to wait and see with this one as no transfer can be agreed until he's signed his pre-arranged professional contract with Birmingham.

Thank you mate! I wasn't sure about Man Utd as I normally find them easy enough to play but you'll soon see how that went..

Indeed. Justice must be served to that team lording it over us at the top at the moment.
Bellingham would be an Insane acquisition. Hope you can turn his head!

The bubble had to burst eventually

The fine early season form continued into September as the Ryan's, Kent and Jack scored a goal each to see off the challenge of Kilmarnock in the league before Swedish side Malmo visited Ibrox. Connor Goldson and Joe Aribo provided the goods in the Europa League as Malmo didn't offer up too much of a challenge and went home empty handed. Motherwell were the exact same in the next match up and a fifty thousand capacity crowd were treated to a comfortable and assured performance by their team. Veteran Steven Davis grabbed his first goal of the season whilst Alfredo Morelos got on the scoresheet once again. It was a double header against Motherwell as we faced them in the League Cup in the following match which wasn't a great spectacle that's for sure. However, we got what was needed on the day courtesy of Kent's thirteenth minute strike. The bubble burst late on in September as we finally succumbed to our first defeat as we struggled at Easter Road despite taking the lead through Kent, again. Hibs equalised in the first half before 'traitor' Scott Allan scored a late penalty for the home side to end our twenty-two game unbeaten streak.

We were able to bounce back immediately in our next match as our trip to Denmark proved fruitful as we left with all three points from our match-up with Kobenhavn. Again, it wasn't spectacular as we needed an own goal by the home side to get the win but get it we did. A late, late strike from Jermaine Defoe against Hamilton in the following match spared our blushes as we looked to be stumbling to a dismal draw courtesy of Hamilton's ten men at the back approach. It was a bit of a relief that we had the international break afterwards as we were starting to let our standards slip. With that in mind I arranged three friendlies for the lads left behind to play that'd keep us focused and sharp. We got what we needed from those friendlies and hoped to kick on from there as we played Celtic next in the league.

As trouble flared before the match there was a right hostile atmosphere at Ibrox as a capacity crowd bayed for blood in the first Old Firm of the season. The tackles crunched in in the first half but young referee Chris Fordyce, making the step up the leagues, allowed the game to flow naturally as both sides looked to out battle one another. The breakthrough wasn't made in the first half as the teams went in deadlocked at the break. After some words were exchanged at half time we came out flying in the second half as Jordan Jones broke the deadlock after three minutes. Greg Taylor fouled his opposite number James Tavernier around the hour mark and the man himself stepped up to dispatch the penalty by sending Fraser Forster the wrong way. Ryan Kent completed the rout with ten minutes left to play as he scored a superb volley via Scotty Arfield's cross. A tremendous win that one and a fantastic feeling to win my first Old Firm in charge of my club.

That delight didn't last long however as we were dismantled by a vibrant Man United team in the Europa League next. Young Mason Greenwood put The Red Devils two nil up after eleven minutes. Alfredo Morelos pulled one back ten minutes later as we looked to keep the game competitive but Axel Tuanzebe, Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire all had other ideas as they each found the scoresheet afterwards. Ryan Jack scored another goal for us ahead of the half time whistle but it wasn't looking good going into the second half 6-2 down. Those fears were allayed in the second half though as we went on to match the home side and could perhaps feel aggrieved not to have scored more ourselves before Morelos let us down by getting sent off with ten minutes to go. We were perhaps lucky to avoid conceding more after that but as it was, we held out to keep the scoreline the same. With Morelos out of the return match I wasn't going to hold out much hope for that game either. Despite the result I still managed to catch Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for an after match drink and also exchanged a few pleasantries with Sir Alex Ferguson too which was a great moment for me. Best of all, he congratulated me on our recent win over Celtic which he said he was chuffed to watch after a poor run against them in recent times.

A capacity crowd turned up in our next match against old foes Aberdeen as we looked to bounce back from defeat in the Europa League. Nathan Young-Coombes took his chance to shine against Aberdeen spectacularly as he opened the scoring with the only goal of the first half, great stuff by the young lad. Joe Aribo stole the show in the second half as the tricky midfielder netted a quickfire five minute double immediately after the break. Those goals were enough to secure a great result over another of our big rivals that kept us top of the table. Jordan Jones and James Tavernier got the goals for us against St. Johnstone in our next match as we got our fourth win on the trot in the league once again.

With Hearts in the League Cup semi final next and Man United in the Europa League immediately afterwards we had a tough couple of games to start off with in November and we'll need to be ready for it. We've had some great form most of the season so far but those little blips seem to be slipping in and I want to get the lads focused on the training ground to cut those out as we need to be at our best to see off them from the other side of the city.
A massive victory against Celtic in the Old Firm. I hope that this is the season the title returns to the blue side of Glasgow.

We've got to be more consistent

We got off to an extremely poor start in November as despite warning the players that the consistency had to be there all season if we're to win something this season they stuttered to defeat in the very next game as we exited the League Cup. There wasn't much to shout about in the match until Jon Flanagan finally put us ahead with just over twenty minutes left on the clock and Jermaine Defoe doubled that lead a minute later. Former 'Ger Steven Naismith started the comeback for The Jambos as he scored with less than ten minutes left to play. With the clock ticking down it looked like we'd done enough to gain the win but for referee Gavin Duncan's inexplicable decision to add five minutes of stoppage time on, no idea where that came from. As our luck would have it, a transfer target of ours, Aaron Hickey took full advantage of the added time to break our hearts with a ninety-fifth minute equaliser that sent the match to penalties. Borna Barisic stepped up and missed his penalty, Alfredo Morelos, Scott Arfield and Steven Davis scored theirs but Ross McCrorie missed his and with Hearts missing just one, through Naismith, the semi final was theirs.

Young Mason Greenwood continued to torment us in the return tie with Man United as he once again gave his side the lead although it was just the one goal in fifteen minutes this time around. Ross McCrorie bounced back from his penalty shoot out miss against Hearts to score against one of the best sides in the world as he equalised for us on the stroke of half time. Juan Mata showed his class in a ten minute spell for Man United where he grabbed two goals to finally kill us off. James Tavernier had other ideas though as he scored with five minutes left to play to give us a fighting chance of a draw but it wasn't to be despite our best efforts.

We continued our fine league form of late to earn nine points from a possible nine from our matches with Hearts, whom we got swift revenge on, St. Mirren and Ross County. Inbetween those league fixtures we flew to Sweden to overcome Malmo and get another three points on the board that kept us second in the group stage behind Man United. James Tavernier really stood out for us in November as he got four goals for his efforts on the park. Question marks were beginning to be placed on the form of Alferdo Morelos however, as his form begun to take a nosedive. The fact that Kane Ritchie-Hosler was the scorer in the next match against Livingston out of the two confirmed those thoughts as the youngster scored on his debut to outshine the much maligned Columbian. Scott Arfield got the other goal in that much before Dolly Menga's late goal proved little more than a consolation.

A narrow win over Kilmarnock followed as the impressive George Edmundson notched a goal to continue a great run of form which was proving his £700k transfer fee a real bargain. Europa League progress was made in the next match as goals by Ryan Jack and Jermaine Defoe led to a convincing three nil win over Kobenhavn. A win that confirmed our place in the last thirty-two of the competition for the first time since that spectacular run to Manchester back in 07-08 where we ended up runners up to Zenit St. Petersburg.

We got our revenge over Hibs with a narrow victory, after they ended our unbeaten run back in September. An early goal by Ryan Kent was cancelled out by the man Scott Allan but Alfredo Morelos made a return to form this match and put us back ahead before the break. George Edmundson made it three one late in the second half before that man Scott Allan once again scored against us although his goal was very late in the match and proved nothing more than a consolation. Motherwell took an early lead against us in the next match but a rejuvenated Morelos put them to the sword with a quickfire double just before half time that gave us the lead. Much like the last game, we scored another in the second half only for the opposition to score a late, late consolation goal. Even if these goals aren't costing us the game, they will eventually and we really need to cut it out and focus for the entirety of the game. With Celtic up next, we were up against a team that could punish us if we took our eye of the ball.

After a triumphant victory over Celtic at Ibrox last time out it was over the Parkhead for this one. Odsonne Edouard gave the home side the lead inside ten minutes but Ianis Hagi quickly pegged them back to level the scored before Alfredo Morelos scored his first ever goal against Celtic shortly after. Edouard slotted home a penalty to level, once again, before the half time mark after Borna Barisic pulled James Forrest down in the box. What followed was an end to end battle between both sides and it was a helluva battle two as a total of seven yellow cards were shown in what proved to be a feisty encounter. With neither side able to pull ahead once more this one ended up a draw but it certainly wasn't a bore one that's for sure. Ross McCrorie and Morelos got the goals that would see off the challenge of ten behind the ball Hamilton who actually scored late on in this one. With the first half of the season over, it is looking good for us as we sit top of the table but we really need to push on from here as we are just four points ahead of Celtic. I'll be doing my damnedest to ensure we don't come back from the winter break as sluggish as we have done in recent years as we simply cannot afford that. We have to keep out of sight of our big rivals at the top of the table whilst we also have a Scottish Cup encounter with Hibernian in January as well as our double header against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League in February.

He certainly would, let's hope so!

Can't beat an Old Firm win that's for sure. I'm hoping the very same thing!

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