OPINION: The dumping of Rangers to the cellar of Scottish football provided some novelty value for observers of the game north of the border - and it was expected the fallen giants would romp away with the title.
But it hasn't happened that way - and signs are it won't. Rangers are fourth, having failed to win away from home, and this week they were dumped out of the lower league Ramsdens Cup on penalties at home by Queen of the South.
If ever the artificial impact of outside forces in football is being illustrated, it is with the demise of Rangers at the hands of football authorities.
Quite simply, it is Manchester City in reverse. We all know that if the oil barons turned off the tap at Maine Road, the club would implode overnight.
Rangers' problems were self-inflicted. The club became insolvent last year and a consortium took over and formed a new company. The Scottish Premier League refused to let the new company in and eventually it was given a home in the Scottish third division.
Andrew Johnson has been ruled out for the most of the rest of the season with a knee ligament injury . . . Thierry Henry scored direct from a corner - and in off the far post - for New York Red Bulls this week . . . Everton are watching Saint-Etienne striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Manchester United fans will be under scrutiny on Monday morning when they play Liverpool for the first time since the damning Hillsborough report. Some were chanting "always the victim, never your fault" last weekend.
Got to say, Chelsea and QPR turned on a cracking London derby this week to rival anything from years gone by. Grown men clattering into each other for 90 minutes and not a death roll in sight.
And say what you like about John Terry, the bloke had a superb match. He looked down and out with a knee injury at one point, but got up and finished the match. Ryan Nelsen played Fernando Torres off the park, too. Referee Andre Marriner was a contender for man of the match.
Roberto di Matteo blamed media for the hype around the handshakes - or lack of them in the case of Terry and Anton Ferdinand (word is Evra and Saurez will on Monday morning), but I can't recall the Sun or the Mirror insisting players lineup with mascots and children then shake every hand they see.
Top scribe Brian Woolnough has died at 63 after battling bowel cancer . . . Southampton may sign one-time £9 million keeper Craig Gordon, who was released by Sunderland in May . . . Demba Ba could move away from Newcastle in January.
La Liga highlights are to be shown in Spain on You Tube, as Scottish premier highlights are north of the border now . . . Owen Coyle needs a few wins at Bolton to save his job . . . Portsmouth's administrators are considering five separate bids for the club.
On the move:
Loan: Reece Wabara Man City-Oldham, Ross Barkley Everton-Sheff Wed.
England, Chelsea v Stoke, Swansea v Everton, Southampton v Aston Villa, West Brom v Reading, West Ham v Sunderland, Wigan v Fulham. Sunday, Liverpool v Man Utd, Newcastle v Norwich, Man C v Arsenal, Spurs v QPR.
Scotland, Celtic v Dundee, Dundee Utd v Hearts, Hibernian v Inverness, Kilmarnock v St Mirren, Ross County v St Johnstone. Sunday, Aberdeen v Motherwell.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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