Date: 26th September 2019 at 12:05pm
Written by:

It’s that time of the week again, Michael Gannon hour, when I read one of his articles and laugh so much that I wonder why Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais thought they could do comedy when a third rate hack on a Scottish tabloid is so much better at it.

Here’s the thing though; they hit the mark when trying to write humorously.

Which is why I idolise their work and have nearly everything they ever made, from Auf Weidersehen to Porridge.

Gannon doesn’t have their skills.

The parts in his work that are meant to be funny stink like a dead fish left under a radiator and the parts that are meant to be serious are the ones that sometimes leave you gasping for breath with sore sides.

His own skill is in writing preposterous pro-Sevco puff pieces so unmoored from reality that it become hilarious.

Today he’s written one of them.

It’s entitled “Rangers lacked flair but Livingston victory proves they can slug out results.”

So let’s go over the first half of it line by line, because it deserves it. I’m going to ignore the second half, because it becomes a pretty bog standard match report at that point, but I did enjoy the first half of it because it contains some gems, although none better than the opening.

“Top cup competitions are not like Hallmark greeting cards. It’s about the destination in knockout football and nothing to do with the journey.”

Did you know that football competitions are not like Hallmark greeting cards?

Have you ever picked up a Hallmark greeting card and thought “You know, this is just like a top cup competition…”?

No?

Me neither.

Hallmark greeting cards also have nothing to do with either journeys or destinations.

This piece is just opening and I’ve already coughed coffee all over the computer monitor.

“No one cares about the long and winding road as long as it eventually reaches Hampden.”

I actually like The Long And Winding Road.

It’s one of the best songs on a very good album, Let It Be.

One of the other songs on that album is Dig A Pony, which Lennon (John, not Neil) described once as “a piece of garbage” because, in effect, it’s just a collection of random words thrown together with no underlying logic.

A lot like a Michael Gannon piece if you ask me.

“Rangers will just be glad this trip along the M8 was only an awkward detour and didn’t turn out to be a dead end.”

Yep. I agree, because based on what I’ve seen and heard they were rank.

But I see we’re still on the motoring metaphors here without yet returning to Hallmark cards and their significance in this piece.

Still, he has this one right. Sevco were dreadful last night and are very lucky still to be in the cup. Had we been able to loan Bayo, for example, to Livingston prior to that game they would be playing Hearts in the semi and looking forward to the final.

“The Ibrox men are in the Betfred Cup semi-finals and still in the hunt to end their long quest for major silverware. But it was torturously hard work at times against Livingston.”

They have never won major silverware in the history of their club.

It would be an historic event if they were to manage it.

Nobody should be holding his or her breath.

“Glen Kamara’s deflected fourth-minute pile driver proved to be enough for the Light Blues on a wild night that could have been a comfortable win for Steven Gerrard’s side or a shock victory for Livi – or anything in between.”

Dear God. The first major piece of cognitive dissonance.

Livingston could have won that match with room to spare. At no point did the Ibrox club seem remotely “comfortable.” And Sevco’s win is exactly what did fall “in between” a comfortable win for their club and a Livingston victory, so what the Hell is this clown talking about?

As to the “piledriver” … I saw one of those last night too.

It was scored by Olivier Ntcham … you will not see a better goal in this year’s competition.

“It was lucky for Rangers – and defender Filip Helander in particular – first not to concede a penalty, then not get sent off after a last-man lunge.”

Yes, and instead of talking guff about Hallmark cards – which still haven’t made a reappearance in this piece or even been explained as relevant to it – you’d think the writer would be more focussed on exactly why those decisions didn’t go the home club’s way.

But that would be breaking the sacred compact of Scottish sports journalism, wouldn’t it?

The one that says Thou Shalt Not Scrutinise Refs When They Give Decisions To A Club From Ibrox.

“Likewise, Ricki Lamie for Livi was fortunate to escape any kind of card for wiping out Joe Aribo with a stray elbow that ended the midfielder’s night early.”

Probably right, but it was a challenge for the ball and was not, therefore, as contentious a decision as leaving Helander on the park and refusing Livingston’s penalty claim.

“In between times Gary Holt’s men refused to allow Gers to get into any sort of rhythm, with Helander and Connor Goldson looking relieved at the end just to get out of Dodge.”

Because Gerrard’s team could have “comfortably” won this one, right?

“There were flashes of flair from the Light Blues – but it was a sleeves-up job as Gerrard’s side proved they can slug it out when needed.”

Flashes of flair? Someone must have plugged him in to a stream of Celtic rolling over Thistle, because the only flair that was on show anywhere in Scottish football last night was at Parkhead.

The idea that Gerrard’s team “slugged it out” is entirely apt though.

It is both onomatopoetically appropriate and a very good summation of their style of play.

“The Gers boss wasn’t mucking around with his team sheet. Gerrard could have been tempted to rotate some of his squad but he went full pelt instead.”

In other words, this was Sevco’s strongest eleven last night.

And Gerrard clearly does not trust the rest of his squad.

Celtic made eight changes including giving a youth player a start at right back.

And we blew Thistle away.

Neil Lennon is not mucking about.

“It was understandable. The Rangers support are craving silverware and there’s no room for any slip-ups at this stage. “Kamara and Scott Arfield slotted in for Steve Davis and Brandon Barker in only two changes from the weekend win at St Johnstone.”

Desperate stuff.

Gerrard has signed more than 20 players in two years, and he can just about squeeze a modest starting eleven out of them.

Really, I keep on hearing about their strength in depth, but I’m not seeing it.

We had Sinclair, Brown, Edouard, Forrest and Forster on the bench last night. A Ukrainian international winger didn’t get in the squad. There was no Christie or Griffiths. No Mikey Johnston. No Christopher Jullien. No Bitton. No Greg Taylor, a £2 million signing yet to play a match.

That is what you call strength in depth.

That Gerrard is relying on the same dross week in week out is damning of his signing policies since taking the Ibrox gig.

“Likewise for Livi boss Holt – with striker Lyndon Dykes back after his ban following the red card against Gers a few weeks back.”

Yeah but then they don’t have a £30 million wage bill to fall back on.

“It was a real attacking line-up from the hosts. The plan was to take the game to Rangers, squeeze them up the pitch and get a foothold …”

And it worked for almost all of the game. Gerrard didn’t seem to have much of a plan.

“Ah. Goal down after barely four minutes. So much for that idea.”

So much for it? Livingston kept on going.

They played the better football.

It was the Ibrox club who, before long, were playing hit-and-hope stuff.

At this point, the article devolves into its match-report and is full of Gannon’s attempts to write in colour instead of settling for the black and white laying down of facts.

Take this paragraph for example, which is obsessed with the heat. (It was freezing last night.)

“But the challenge must have been a whisker away from the big Swede getting first dibs on the away dressing-room hot water. Gerrard’s players might have felt the temperature rising at the interval as the manager didn’t look too chuffed at the first half’s lukewarm display. He would have been even more fuming with the way his side started the second half.”

Fresh from Hallmark cards and long journeys he’s now trying to drag out the “hot water” metaphor as much as he can.

Which is perfectly fine as long as we’re not supposed to take this stuff seriously.

Here’s another of his attempted descriptions; the Livingston pitch, soaked after a night of rain, was like “a pinball machine on ice.”

Dig A Pony?

Honestly, I hung in as long as I could but Gannon’s efforts to make a dire Sevco display sound exciting were about as poor as the performance itself.

There is no polishing this turd.

He can praise Gerrard for “grinding it out” as much as he wants … some of us would call that riding his luck and that’s what the Ibrox club is getting by on right now.

Luck is not like a Hallmark Greeting Card.

Did you know that?

It runs out, and they never do.

As we wait for the Ashley hearing judges to come in with what Sevco owes the Sports Direct magnate, the only Long and Winding Road the Ibrox NewCo is on is the Highway to Hell.

Michael Gannon, I salute you.

Another piece of unintended comedy genius.

The idea that this Ibrox club is remotely ready for us is the most laughable one of all though.

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