The punditry has spoken. Largely anyway. The predictions are in for tomorrow and most of them have tipped the home team to win. I get it. Our defence will be untested, our forwards aren’t exactly banging them away and the team looks low on confidence.
If the home club was playing at all well, I might even be concerned about the game. Actually, I’m not as will be apparent to anyone who reads this blog at length. Whilst I’m unhappy about the window – an understatement almost off the charts – I am not convinced that the team we’re coming up against are any great shakes, no matter who we have at the back.
I watched them unable to break down Kilmarnock. Neither did we. But we didn’t spend all those millions bringing in four front men and we have the excuse that the manager is attempting to do something different with our central striker, although God alone knows what that is and I hope it’s an experiment that comes to a swift end.
But they also struggled to break down Morton. And Servette. That they put four past Livingston puts some gloss on it, but three of those goals came late in the day. Against Ross County they got one early, and that always makes it easier. Their style of football is decidedly rotten; it’s public park, long ball up the pitch stuff and that’s not just the observation of an armchair fan but that of at least one professional football boss, the manager of Sparta Prague.
After they got the Ibrox club in the draw yesterday he said, “(They) are representatives of the old British type of football. Aggressive in the tackle, long balls and very quick on the counter-attack.” Those words convey so much.
When he describes that as the “old British type of football” it echoes what I’ve been writing on here. His style is a throwback to the sort of tactics that went out of fashion with bell bottom flairs. And based on this the hacks tip them to win?
My concerns are for our guys at the top end of the pitch. Whilst everyone else worries about how the defence will cope against their big punts, I worry that our own frontline isn’t firing yet. If we had gotten the early goal last weekend and scored even a third of our chances we’d have been out of sight in that game and we would be going into this match three points clear instead of just one ahead. And we’d have put down a marker in advance of this.
I’ve been saying for weeks I’m not worried about what they might do to us. My concern is that we might not offset any damage we do to ourselves by scoring enough to win the game. We’ve also failed, lamentably, to put any pressure on the officials and I think we might sorely regret that by the time the full-time whistle is blown.
So, most of the hacks have gone for the Ibrox club. It’s not unexpected, I’m just not entirely sure that we’re watching the same teams. Because I don’t believe they are any better than they’ve been over the past couple of years, and although we are, at least in theory, weaker for the loss of key players I suspect that their playing style drags them down.
For once I’m not going to mock the hacks for their predictions because we’re not playing well where I am comfortable predicting that we will win the game.
But it would not surprise me even a little if we did, because we’re much better than we’ve shown so far and they aren’t … and if we do rock up to Ibrox tomorrow meaning business then we will win and just once the press might even scrutinise the right person and the right club, because they have obvious problems the hacks are content to ignore.