It’s always good to help out fellow bloggers.

So when Paul Fisher was looking for some help to host his new Scottish Football Podcast I was happy to help out.

The show covers all things Scottish football with in depth analysis of the weekends SPL games and a look ahead to the following weekends games with our predictions.

From Paul Fisher and friends I give you “The Commentary Box”

MP3 File

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Over the next 24 hours you will hear all the stereotypical clichés in football “form goes out the window” “it’s a battle of who wants it more” etc etc. This is a very arcyic view of modern day football, with the lush playing surfaces and players in peak physical condition it is no longer a “battle of the fittest” it’s a tactical battle played under extreme pressure, and no match in Britain if not the world comes close to the pressure of an Old Firm derby.

In a way you can throw form out the window as both teams have 100% records. Rangers have a slight edge in the goals scored column, but Celtic even that up with fewer goals conceded. This will be manager Neil Lennon’s second Old Firm in charge although last season’s meant very little as the title was already gone. Lennon is likely to pick seven players for their Old Firm debuts this could put a little advantage the way of Walter Smith’s side, all of Walter’s predicted starting line-up have played in an Old Firm game before and of course Walter himself has an amazing record in this fixture.

Rangers will most likely line up with five in the midfield 4-5-1 would possibly be Smith’s preferred formation for this fixture, leaving Kenny Miller to run the line on his own preferring to pack the midfield and hit Celtic on the counter attack. Celtic’s formation of late has been a fluid 4-4-2 with Antony Stokes playing wide right his instincts push him far forward leaving Wilson exposed at times down the Celtic right. This game will be won in midfield, it would be very surprising if Lennon picked Ki Sung-Yung and Joe Ledley in the centre of midfield putting them against McCulloch, Davis and Edu would be a very tough ask. More likely the Mexican Efrain Juarez will return to the centre and his stamina and hard working ethics combined with his ability on the ball would give the Celtic midfield more dig and bite and someone who can put their foot on the ball and control the play.

Samaras as he always does will drop back into the midfield looking for the ball, this will occupy McCulloch, leaving Maloney, Stokes and Hooper to take on the Rangers back four. Leaving Samaras time to create chances could be lethal for Rangers, although he is a very frustrating player to watch and many chances go to waste the Greek has unquestionable talent and eventually he will make you pay, it will be Lee McCulloch’s job to keep him under wraps.

In recent weeks Rangers have shown great ability to break forward at pace, Naismith, Miller and either Lafferty or Weiss will again look to capitalise on any loose balls Celtic may gift them and charge forward look to expose the weaknesses of Loovens and Mastrojovic at the back, the duo are untouchable in the air but can be susceptible against pace. Miller will play on the shoulder of the last defender looking for any sniff of a chance and how would he love to score a goal back at Celtic Park, giving the form he is in the odds will be short to see his name on the scoresheet.

Don’t let the tabloids fool you, tactics matter in every game, this match will be full of interesting battles at both ends of the pitch, the team that wins the majority of these battles will win the match.

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This football blog business is all about exposure, you need to get your name out there to as many people as possible, Twitter is such a great media for this, today with 350 followers I am overwhelmed by the interest shown in what I do, I keep saying to myself, not bad for someone who failed English at A-Level, it helps when you get to write about something you love.

I am really enjoying my writing at the moment so in this rich vein of optimism and interest I have opened my doors and have accepted a few opportunities to write for other websites, enjoy spreading the football word.

The piece on Stv.tv really started it all off got my name out there for quite a few people, the Utrecht piece saw over 700 visitors to the site, so I thank them for that and hope to do more in the future.

3 more opportunities have arisen since, I contributed my first SPL review for Global Football Today, that will be an ongoing role, really excited to help those great guys out. This morning saw my first article for the popular Scottish website Scotzine, I was honoured to be asked to write something for them, at first it was going to be an in-depth piece on the Utrecht v Celtic game, but after the terribly poor performance by Celtic it was deemed unnecessary, instead I wrote a piece on Scotland’s ever dwindling Co-efficient points total and how it could affect the league.

Next on the agenda is my work for In Bed With Maradona, a wonderful website bringing stories out with the normal football focus, really excited to write something for them, more on that one when it happens.

Last week saw my debut on the Global Football Today podcast, and tonight I move away from my own solo podcasts and I will be recording the show tonight with Charlie (@LucianoSays) from the Carvalho Peninsula, Brent (@GlobalFoot2Day) from Global Football Today and possibly Chris (@ChrisMayerV1) from 6pointer.com, I have had quite a lot of interest from other excellent bloggers about future podcasts, so the future is looking bright for gibfootballshow, and to anyone else reading this that is looking for contributions to their site or podcast guests, drop me a line and if I have the time you can count me in.

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I had the pleasure last night in taking part in a Podcast for the wonderful website Global Football Today, nice to take part in a podcast when I’m not just talking to myself, we preview this weekend’s EPL games with some predictions, I gave the viewers a quick round up on the SPL’s opening weekend and what matches are on this weekend.

We then delved into some transfer stories, Neymar, Alberto Aquilani, Arsenal’s goalkeeping situation, and Loic Remy and we concluded the discussion on the question “Who would you have in your team right now: Frank Lampard or Ryan Giggs”

So if you would like to download the podcast you can visit HERE, HERE subscribed to my podcasts HERE or search for gibfootballshow on iTunes.

Please take some time to visit Global Football Today and go on twitter and follow @GlobalFoot2Day

Hopefully I’ll be on with Brent again, whenever they want me I’m sure I’ll be free.

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As someone put it today on Twitter, I am starting my own football revolution, first their was this website, then I brought you my Podcasts, so what’s next I hear you ask, well…….

gibfootballforum

Yes that’s right I have launched a sister site to this, a forum where people can go and make their own points, start conversations, teach each other about players and teams we might not be aware of.

There used to be a group of us on a Pro Evo forum that had indepth conversations about football the in’s and out’s of the beautiful game so I wanted to create a place where this could happen again, so please go to the forum, sign up and start the conversation.

I hope to see a few of you there.

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Finally after a long wait Neil Lennon was confirmed as Celtic’s new manager this morning at a Live Press Conference, there was no confirmation about his assistants the thoughts are that  ex-Celt Alan Thompson and ex-Leicester City teammate Gerry Parker, Johan Mjallby will be his assistants.

It had been the worst kept secret in football, weeks of stories linking Celtic to player targets with no one in charge just solidified to me the fact that Lennon would be Celtic’s number 1 for the upcoming season, the question now is, Is he the right man for the job? I don’t know to be honest. When Mowbray was picked I was happy, a Celtic man, plays good football and West Brom were a good team to watch, all things Celtic fans want from the team, and we all know how well he performed at Parkhead.

Tony just wasn’t the right man, tactically not confident, any press conference I watched or listened to he failed to inspire or give you confidence in what he was going to do, I’m sure the board had doubts too when January came around, however they backed him and let him rip apart the squad and bring in 13 new players, nothing wrong with making moves, in my opinion letting 2 experience centre backs go and bring in 2 young players is a very bad move, I like the look of Josh Thompson and Thomas Rogne, would they have not learned a lot more playing with Caldwell and McManus each day and not being thrust into an Old Firm derby.

Tony was then booted out after the disgraceful defeat to St-Mirren, not the result itself because the Buddies played us off the park, it’s the performance of the players and the choice made by Mowbray that sealed his fate, and he had to go.

Lennon had 8 games and 1 cup game to prove his ability and qualities and potential to become Celtic’s new manager, I think I watched 5 of the last 9 games under his leadership, the impression I got was the first thing the team wanted to do is win, forget the fancy football, get a clean sheet and score a goal, and although this is not the football Celtic fans want to see, it’s winning football and that should be good enough.

I missed the Cup game against Ross County as I was working, I listened to it on the radio and it sounded terrible from a Celtic view point, Ross County seemed to play fantastic though and I think it was more a factor of a poor performance and a great performance rather than just Celtic being awful, and it was good to see Lennon as annoyed as the fans by the player performances.

Lennon was never my first choice as manager, just don’t feel he has the experience to be the man in the hot seat, but now that he is in charge I am going to get behind him, there is no point being against him, if the board have picked him, we as a club and as fans need to give him 100%.

I have been quite excited by the players linked to the club, Liam Lawrence, Sol Campbell, Joe Ledley and a fit Jimmy Bullard would be exciting players to watch, I feel we really need to strengthen upfront but hoping that Morten Rasmussen gets his chance as he has always looked good when on the pitch.

Now Celtic’s summer can really begin with Lennon in place, it seems he has lots of targets in mind, and I hope the board back him and let Neil build his team; surely it has to be a better season than last, surely?????

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This weekend sees the climax of League One and League Two in England, the Bundesliga, Portugal’s SuperLiga, Scotland’s SPL and of course the English Premier League.

LEAGUE ONE

 


I’ll start with Saturday’s events, 5 teams in England are all fighting for promotion to the Championship; Leeds, Millwall, Swindon, Charlton and Hudderfield can all still mathematically make the leap to 2nd place.
Leeds have it all in their hands 9th place Bristol Rovers travel to Elland Road for what is expected to be a capacity Elland Road all eager to see their team make the jump finally out of League One, however this is a team made up of mostly lower league players, and how many have played in front of 45,000 people all baying for blood, the ocassion could be too much, or someone could become a hero.

Millwall v Swindon is a winner (maybe) takes it all situation, a win for either side along with a Leeds draw will give the victor passage to the Championship, Millwall’s 16 wins at home would make them favourites for this match, but Swindon can’t be ruled out.

Charlton travel to Oldham knowing that a victory along with a Leeds defeat and of course a draw between Swindon and Millwall would see them promoted, it is a lot to ask for but crazier things have happened in football, an even crazier situation would be a Leeds and Charlton defeat a draw at The New Den and Huddersfield go to Exeter and win, which against all odds would see them come from nowhere to get promoted, and what a story that would be.

2 Leeds United 45 32 83

3 Millwall 45 31 82
4 Swindon 45 17 82
5 Charlton 45 21 81
6 Huddersfield 45 27 80

Also in League One Tranmere visit relegated Stockport knowing a win could be enough to keep them in the division, Exeter, Hartlepool and Gillingham hover above the dangerzone looking down, Exeter have that difficult game against Huddersfield, Hartlepool travel to Brentford who have nothing to play for, knowing a win for the ‘pool would keep them up, Gillingham travel to relegated Wycombe and a point should be enough to ensure their safety.

18 Gillingham 45 -13 50
19 Hartlepool 45 -8 49
20 Exeter 45 -13 48

21 Tranmere 45 -30 48

So a very exciting day for League One fans with 9 teams all waiting on their fate.

LEAGUE TWO

 
Loads of teams with things to play for, gonna try to break it down.

6 Morecambe 45 8 70
7 Dag & Red 45 9 69

8 Bury 45 -5 68
9 Port Vale 45 11 67
10 Chesterfield 45 -2 67
11 Northampton 45 9 66

6 teams playing for 2 playoff spots:
Morecambe v Aldershot
Darlington v Dag & Red
Northampton v Bury
Port Vale v Shrewsbury
Chesterfield v Bournemouth

Wins for Morecambe or Dag & Red would secure their playoff status even a point for Morecambe should be enough, however a slip up could give 1 or even 2 of the other 4 a chance to steal a playoff berth at the death, Northampton v Bury is another win takes all situation, Port Vale have a great chance to win at Shrewsbury, Chesterfield have a tough home game against Bournemouth, it’s all to play for though and a single goal could make all the difference.

At the bottom it is all to play for, 3 teams fighting for survival and it is still all to play for, Cheltenham, Barnet and Grimsby know that Non-League football could be their destination depending on how the results play out.

21 Cheltenham 45 -17 47
22 Barnet 45 -17 45
—————————————
23 Grimsby 45 -23 44

If Cheltenham draw at home to Accrington Stanley then they are safe,  however if 13th place Accrington can win, it means Cheltenham could be in danger, Barnet are at home to Rochdale: although already promoted, Rochdale could still come 2nd and places do mean more money, Grimsby travel to 14th Burton Albion knowing anything but a win and they are relegated, but a win would put pressure on the other two teams, could be a nail biting finish.

SPL

 
The bottom half of the SPL is in action today and all eyes will be on Rugby Park what a finish we have, Falkirk travel to Kilmarnock in what is a relegation dog-fight, Falkirk sit bottom of the table on 30 points but know if they can beat Kilmarnock they would leap frog above Jim Jeffries side and survive for another season in the SPL.
Relegation would be a disaster for Kilmarnock, reports of losses up to £1.5 million if they go down could cripple a team like Killie, which would be sad for Scottish football, Killie have it in their own hands though, avoid defeat and they could save their club.

Aberdeen travel to St-Mirren and St Johnstone host Hamilton but they have nothing to play for and the Aberdeen players will be happy to end what has been a poor season for them, St Johnstone and Hamilton will celebrate what has been a successful season for both clubs and another year in the SPL beckons.

BUNDESLIGA

 
The Final day of Germany’s Bundesliga kicks off at 14:30 today and it would take a miracle for Bayern Munich not to win the Championship, Schalke travel to Mainz knowing they have to do their job and pick up 3 points, but already Relegated Hertha BSC host Bayern Munich and for Schalke to lift the Title, Hertha need to collect all 3 points, Bayern will be hoping to complete part one of a possible Treble with the DFB Pokal Cup and Champions League final still to come.

Bayer Leverkusen or Borussia Dortmund could cap off wonderful seasons if they can pip Werder Bremen for the last Champions League place, both have already guarenteed Europa League football next season, the Champions League is where all teams want to be though.
Leverkusen travel to Monchengladbach who are save from relegation and nothing to really play for, Dortmund travel to Freiburg who are also safe, Werder Bremen host Hamburg who are trying to steal the Europa League place from Stuttgart so the pressure will be on the team from Bremen, Dortmund need Bremen to lose, however for Leverkusen a draw could be enough.
Stuttgart need a point against Hoffenheim that would secure that Europa League place, visiting Hoffenheim that will not be the easiest place to pick up that point.

At the bottom things are just at tight, Hannover, Bochum and Nuremberg can all still go down, Hannover are on 30 points and 2 points ahead of Bochum and Nuremberg, 1 will stay up, 1 will go down and 1 will have to play in the relegation playoffs, Nuremberg host FC Koln, and then in Bochum the biggest game of the day as they host Hannover, I am amazed how many times the fixture list brings up great fixtures like this.

Should be an exciting day in Germany.

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For the 4 years Gordon Strachan was in charge of Celtic I can’t say I was ever convinced, and I was one of the many people demanding him to be removed as manager, any outsider looking at his record would think we were all crazy.

3 League titles, 1 Scottish Cup, 2 League Cups, and 3 years he won the SPFA Manager of the year, not exactly the record of a bad manager, however in his last year the team struggled alot, Rangers fans would even admit there team has one of the poorest they’ve ever seen but Strachan failed to beat them, and Rangers went on to lift the title, Celtic fans had never been enamoured with Gordon’s style of play, so many times they would have to come from behind to pick up a victory, scrappy football is not the Celtic style of football.

Tactically he seems very inept 4-4-2 was always used and when in trouble the only change he ever made was like for like using the same formation, no risks ever taken, players bought and never used, Derek Riordan one of the brightest talents in Scotland came to the club, 24 appearances in 2 years scoring 5 goals and then sold back to Hibs for a loss, and for Hibs he has 20 goals in 52 games in a year and a half, the kind of player if they hadn’t screwed him around Celtic would be very interested in.

Players like Evander Sno and Perrier-Doumbe showed alot of promise, I watched alot of Sno in the reserves, and you could see him commanding the game from the middle of the park, but then Gordon would bring in lots of central midfielders, and Sno was never given his chance, Robson, Hartley, Crosas, Donati, apart from Robson none of them showed they were far superior to Sno, now only 22 years old, was sent back to Ajax were he played 19 games and now on loan at Bristol City, he started on the bench but now has worked hard for a starting place, and from what I’ve seen he has impressed playing 19 games scoring 3 goals, I would love him to still be at the club.

On the 8th of June 2009 Celtic fans got there wish Strachan was out, and in came ex-Celtic hardman and inventer of the Celtic pregame huddle Tony Mowbray was appointed manager, the fans were overjoyed at the appointment, a manager who likes to play attractive football which he had shown during his time at West Brom and in the SPL with Hibs, also a Celtic man, who knew the club and had the clubs interest at heart, surely this could only be a good thing.

Lets fast forward to today 30th of January, 21 games played and Celtic find themselves 10 points behind Rangers with a game in hand, not exactly the dream start for Mowbray. Celtic have always made Celtic Park a fortress the epic 32 game unbeaten record in Europe during the O’Neil days, this season 4 draws and 1 defeat is nowhere near a fortress, more a holiday camp, the away record not exactly sparkling either 3 defeats and a draw, Rangers in comparison only beaten once at home and once away and 6 draws and 17 goals better off, it looks an impossible task for The Bhoys to overcome.

Mowbray of course needs time to build his own team, so far gone are Nakamura, Hesselink, Balde, Doumbe, Hartley, Donati, Caldwell , Robson, Flood, and Killen, the last 3 will be reunited with Strachan at Middlesbrough along with Stephen McManus on loan more on that later.

In their place Mowbray’s signings are not names that create excitement Zaluska, Fortune, N’Guemo (loan), Josh Thompson, Zheng Zhi, Ki Sung-Yong, Hooiveld, Rogne, and Rasmussen, I left out Danny Fox as even though he only joined in the summer, he’s now been sold to Burnley for a profit of £300,000 which to me is baffling, is that Tony admitting he was a bad signing, or was Fox not happy, that brings me to my next point.

The fans were not a fan of Strachan, but it seems however the players must have been, Chris Killen never got a game under him, but has joined Middlesbrough to link up with Strachan again, as have, Barry Robson, Willo Flood and Stephen McManus and they could soon be joined by Scott McDonald, Gary Caldwell nearly joined but Wigan came in, and he wanted a crack at the Premiership.

What does it say that players that hardly featured only one manager, would then jump at the chance to again work under him, I can’t work out if that makes Gordon a good person to play for or worringly does it make Tony a bad person to play for.

The one player gone that worries me is Stephen McManus, I have met Stephen personally, his girlfriend live next door to my Uncle, and the man bleeds green blood, he has been there since he was a child, and came through the ranks to captain the club, surely a boyhood dream, then Tony came in, took away his starting spot, what worries me is that when Boro made the offer and Tony let Stephen know about it, it was said that Stephen jumped at the chance to link up again with the man that made him captain, and not stay and fight for his place at his club, the club he has loved since he was old enough to kick a ball, this makes me question Tony Mowbray as a man manager, 5 players have followed Strachan to Middlesbrough, 1 player has followed Tony from West Brom.

Today while thinking about this blog and what I was going to write, I came to a bit of a more positve mindset, the team Strachan built was decent however an ageing team, so it needed rebuilding, when is the best time to rebuild a club, I don’t think there is one, so far this season 13 players have left the club, and 10 players have come in, surely only now is Mowbray putting his stamp on the club, and with 17 games remaining this season in the league, it could be that the players don’t gel together till the end of the season or even in preseason.

I am gonna put this season down to rebuilding, aslong as we come 2nd it’s no disaster, this gives Tony 7 months to mould the squad for the start of next season, and from now on only then will I judge him as a Celtic manager, I know from years of being a Celtic fan, the majority will not be as patient, it seems though that the board are, giving Tony the money to buy players build his own squad, it would be ridiculous now to remove him and bring someone else in, the new man might not like the players brought in for £4 million this January, which would just be a waste of money.

Only time will tell if it’s been a year of building or a year of destruction, however I am now willing to give it the time it needs to show through, and I hope my fellow fans do the same.

HAIL HAIL!!!

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