Keith Jackson Does His Bit For Ibrox Morale, But Sends A Warning About Celtic To Clement.

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In the aftermath of the cup semi finals this weekend, a lot of the hacks who last week were in a cold sweat have their swagger back. Their club made the final and suddenly they are dreaming about a treble again. But it’s a been a strange couple of days nonetheless; yesterday, Keevins turned his guns on the Ibrox boss. Today Keith Jackson sent him a warning.

Now, Keevins’ warning was predicated, on the surface of it at least, on them losing but it wasn’t just about that. He was sending him a message about his attitude, which has shattered a lot of illusions this week about him being some sort of Mr Nice Guy and straight talker. The hacks dislike two things above all else; the Ibrox club underperforming after they have hyped them up and having to sit through someone talking nonsense.

That Jackson has devoted some of his article, at least, to warning Clement about the consequences of failure tells you how thoroughly the last week has rocked them. They aren’t as confident as they are making out, and they are putting this guy on notice already.

The headline of the article sets the tone for the rest of it.

Philippe Clement has one (Ibrox) route to avoid the same black cloud that followed Michael Beale – Keith Jackson

Right away, Clement should realise how bad this situation potentially is. Of all the names to name. Linking him with Michael Beale is serious stuff, and the definitive proof of what some of us were saying after Ross County; the honeymoon is over. This guy is now on “benefit of the doubt.” Jackson is clearly warning him that this is a finite resource.

The Belgian could still take a Treble to Ibrox this season after leading the Light Blues to the Scottish Cup final.

Aaaah it’s nice to have hope. It’s what kills them.

After the extreme excitement of the first one, Hampden probably needed something a bit more moderate, maybe even mundane. And that’s what the old place got yesterday as (the Ibrox club) eliminated Hearts with the minimum of fuss, in a game which was as good as over from the moment Cyriel Dessers rolled his side into an early lead.

The one tacit admission that Hearts did not try a leg. “The minimum of fuss.” Well, you don’t need to work too hard when the opposition manager decides not to bother with things such as tactics. In the aftermath of the game Naismith continued to talk utter rot about his team “learning”; he’s played the Ibrox club five teams this season under two separate managers and has not learned yet. There will be cobwebs on the moon before this guy gets something against them.

So when Dessers doubled up with another one near the end it removed all remaining doubt. In between times Hearts offered some huffing and puffing but never anything that meant the Ibrox men were significantly troubled. No dramatic plot twists. No game-changing VAR decisions. No goalkeepers mentally malfunctioning during penalties. There wasn’t even a great deal of football to focus on in between all the long-ball hoofing and tigerish tackling, just a rolling brawl with the ball in the middle.

And that’s a tacit admission that the game was absolute mince and contested by two terribly bad teams. Hearts “huffing and puffing” is actually more complimentary than they deserve.

In the hustle and bustle of it all, Todd Cantwell and Mohamed Diomande produced occasional nuggets of gold and sprinkled them around a congested midfield. Their quality was ultimately the difference between the two sides. And yet, for (the Ibrox team) and Philippe Clement, this win, as straightforward as it was to achieve, might in retrospect be looked upon as a key moment in a tumultuous season.

Congested midfield? What game did he watch? In the one I watched for 78 minutes there was no “congestion” at all; Diomande and Cantwell were allowed to stroll about in complete freedom, with no-one near them for most of the game. Even Lundstram could have been mistake for a world beater the way he roamed at will with no Hearts player near him. It was an utter embarrassment from Hearts from start to finish.

Because it means the Belgian will have the chance to bring down the curtain on his first campaign with another shot at Celtic and perhaps an opportunity to buy himself some breathing space for the summer, should it transpire the damage has already been done to his hopes of landing the league title.

There it is; the first warning shot. What he’s saying here is that Clement needs a win over us to set aside the real doubts and if it comes in a cup final all the better.

Don’t worry. If madness is your thing there will be plenty more to come back here on May 25 when the Old Firm collide again for the last silverware of the season. And if Clement goes into that one having lost out on the league title at least he’ll have the opportunity to land a glove on the chin of his club’s city rivals and complete a cup double.

A pitiful sentiment. The Ibrox club had their noses in front in the title race; Jackson is saying that the Scottish Cup would make up for that. It doesn’t. It won’t. The league is all that matters this season as he is well aware, and as all of us know full well. Aside from the irritating reference to “The Old Firm” – will our media ever drop that ridiculous term which one club absolutely deplores? – Jackson is nevertheless making it clear that Clement has to win that cup if the league slips away.

Who knows? If he can find a way to win behind enemy lines in the final league skirmish he may yet win the lot this season, which would represent a truly remarkable return. Or he could end up on the end of a couple of beatings then head off on holiday in the kind of situation which Michael Beale dragged on to the beach this time last year. Like a big black cloud.

The point is arrived at. What have I been saying about Clement? He could have exited this season as a hero simply for closing the gap in the title race. But having gotten his nose in front he will not be the miracle worker but the guy who blew it. And it gets worse if, as is entirely possible, he winds up having played us four times and failed to win. If we finish with a double then a lot of their fans are going to blame Clement personally for it … and the irony is delicious. Had we not dropped those points in December they would have forgiven him his slips. Their going top albeit temporarily is what has put him under the first real pressure of his time there.

But however it all turns out, Glasgow’s big two have some scores to settle and given the trouble Celtic had in seeing off Aberdeen, it’s far from certain they’ll deliver their side of the bargain without doing something stupid along the way.

It’s typical of a Sevconian to think in terms of “settling scores.” What scores do we have to settle? We’re interested in winning the trophies, not in vindictive and petty nonsense like this. As to the “trouble” we had in seeing off Aberdeen, that’s a consequence in part of coming up against a team that prioritised winning the only trophy they have to compete for, a side with a coherent tactical plan, one that involved making our lives difficult. And for all that we were a matter of minutes away from going through in normal time and seconds away from going through in extra time, and we’d have richly deserved it in either case. Nobody wants to give Aberdeen credit, although they deserve it. That’s especially true in light of Hearts’ pitiful surrender yesterday.

Saturday’s semi was a mystifying affair but amid the head scratching and jaw slackening, Celtic emerged with their place in the end of season showpiece secured. That’s precisely what Brendan Rodgers had been hoping to secure so in that respect it was a case of mission accomplished.

What was mystifying about it except in that Aberdeen came to Hampden with the mad notion that they should have given their all to reaching the final? I know watching yesterday’s game might have given people the mistaken impression that only one side is meant to turn up for these matches, but in fact that’s not the case. Aberdeen performed brilliantly. That is exactly what they were supposed to do. You need to be pretty stupid to be mystified by that, or you need to have the attitude that certain teams just need to show up and the rest is easy. That’s a very Sevconian attitude as well.

Yet the standard of his side’s performance also leaves a huge question mark hanging over the run-in. Quite simply, Celtic look too flaky to be trusted even though they have their own destiny – and the prospect of a league and cup double – in their own hands.

Agreed. But the Ibrox club won’t play Hearts every week either. When the chips are down we get the job done more often than not, and we just need to keep on winning and we’ll make it. Three out of five of our games at home; if we win the three home games in the league then the show’s over because we only need a point from the other two.

They had been quietly getting on with what had been by some distance their most enjoyable week of the season so far, watching Rangers hit the road from Dingwall to Dundee with catastrophic consequences. But then someone went and spoiled it all by asking them to play some football of their own.

What an idiotic statement that is. I’m not even going to bother detailing the many reasons why. Our most enjoyable week just because their side dropped points? Clown.

And that served as a reminder of why they are in this sticky position in the first place, still unsure if they have it in them to retain their title. They may have got there in the end but Celtic were a million miles off the pace at the National Stadium – and not for the first time.

I repeat; it’s the opposition’s job to make our lives difficult. Aberdeen did exactly that. As to being “unsure” if we have it in us, that’s utter rubbish. We know we have it in us. We also know we have to be a lot better if we’re going to get there … that’s the difference between us and the club across the city. We are not in any way arrogant about this stuff.

In fact, they have made a habit of performing only in fits and starts and this alarming lack of consistency, not knowing what to expect from them from one minute to the next, is what will keep this title fight interesting until it’s settled one way or the other.

True. I’m not even going to deny it. But the club across the city have done pretty much the same, and what started out as an article about their manager has turned into one about us.

Their defensive frailties were exposed time after time by an Aberdeen side which, to almost everyone’s surprise, was on the front foot from the very first kick. In fact, this was the kind of rousing, spirited display that might make error-prone chairman Dave Cormack wonder if he’s done the right thing by failing to persuade Peter Leven to take the manager’s job on a more permanent basis rather than bringing in Jimmy Thelin from Elfsborg.

To almost everyone’s surprise, he says. A cup semi final team trying a leg. A novel concept, I’m sure, and especially after watching that crap yesterday.

But that’s for another day. Right now Cormack must still be wondering how it could be that ref Don Robertson retrospectively awarded Celtic a free-kick and only after Cameron Carter-Vickers had nearly taken one of Junior Hoilett’s legs off from the knee down.

My mid-day article covered this exact point. I actually laugh out loud at the idea of Don Robertson doing us any favours. The bitching over this incident, which made zero difference to the result, is absolutely pathetic.

And, as if that made no sense at all, then how could it be that Aberdeen’s keeper began to cramp up during the penalty shoot-out which followed? It wasn’t as if Kelle Roos had been out there running himself into the ground along with the rest of his team-mates?

Yeah, blame it on the Unseen Hand. There are probably entire threads devoted to that on Ibrox fan forums already. Give them a hand, why not.

But down he went in any case, as if he’d been shot in the back of a calf – leaving Ryan Duncan clutching the ball for an eternity as the colour rushed from his face. The poor lad was in such a mental fog he could hardly find his way back into the penalty box, never mind actually stand a chance of converting from the spot.

How fortunate of us, eah? That’s the inference here. Penalties are a mental game as much as anything else. But do we get credit for that? Of course not.

He hit the post before Joe Hart then stopped Killian Phillips to send Celtic through. But then again that was the least the veteran could do having put himself before five outfield players to take – and miss – the penalty that should have seen them through in the first place.

I have given Hart a bit of a slagging for that myself, but when you look at his reaction to it you can see that he was just brimming with confidence and never doubted that he’d save one and make up for it. He is the walking proof that penalty kicks are about mental strength; he’s got it in spades, and all the experience in the world to use it properly. He exuded calm. That mattered.

Now Glasgow’s feuding neighbours have two more of these head-to-heads still to settle in order to decide which of them rules the roost. It’s time for the faint of heart to step aside.

The winners of the league title rule the roost. It does not matter how he and others attempt to dress that up. If we win this title we claim the biggest prize, the one that means everything this season, the one that guarantees access to those Champions League groups and which will enable us to get stronger. And if we do win this it will not just because our players are mentally strong but because we have better players. Don’t let anyone kid you about that either.

It’s a typical Jackson article; it starts off saying one thing but ends up saying something else, and whilst the second half of it is actually about us, the first half is where the real meat of the story is; Jackson is putting Clement on notice, and he’s not the only one who is.

Four games against Celtic and he’s being warned that he has to win one of them and the silverware that goes with it. If we beat them twice and secure a double, he’s in a lot of bother. He will start next season with the guillotine already built, and he’ll be halfway up the stairs to the platform.

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  • The Joker says:

    To think they let Jackass Jackson near scissors is scary stuff.

  • Skinny Jim says:

    Five games surely, counting the Cup Final?

  • The Joker says:

    Rumours doing the rounds tonight on Goldson having been involved in a bust up with Spew Heevins lovechild manager,apparently he has been told to pack his bags and that he won’t play for sevco again.

    • James Forrest says:

      Yep hearing that. Will be very interesting if true.

      • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

        Bloody Hell – Do Scotland have a basketball team ?

        Because if he (Goldson) is getting booted outta Sevco then I think they’ll have a top player in waiting should he fancy a career change !!!

  • Tam says:

    Celtic down and out in the league are now in pole position. Lost a goal in a couple of minutes against Aberdeen in the semi final of the cup and still managed to qualify. The goalkeeper missed a penalty kick then saved the penalty seconds later that took Celtic through to the final fantastic to keep his nerve. SMSM and expert pundits all said that………. maybe they didn’t…… well why would they when it comes to CELTIC facts don’t count

  • Dan says:

    Don’t wish disrespect to Aberdeen in any way, but the pitch was brutally slow, were they afraid to water it in case it cut up as usual. Anyway, Celtic really struggled to get any flow and it made the game a battle. The speed of the pitch obviously had no bearing in two headed goals from crosses in any way, but the surface stopped any slick football. Hearts were nothing short of a disgrace and they looked like they turned up for a wee kickabout with their full fat cousins and pals

  • Frank Connelly says:

    on a separate issue just watched the sevco game. Souttar booked does that mean his one match suspension kicks in

  • Bob L says:

    Love it when you dissect this muppet’s attempts at journalism. How do these guys get jobs?? Oh, I know …

  • Frank Connelly says:

    Scales taking a bit of a doing re his performance on Saturday but the room Alistair Johnston gave up and attempts to cut out the crosses was pathetic. The Aberdeen winger had yards and yards of space to work in.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Have tae laugh at the ‘congested midfield’. Clearly obvious that’s where the ibrox team were havin the most effect, because of the room they were given in that area all day. Ffs even Michael Stewart was sayin it repeatedly and couldnae understand why naismith was failin tae try and sort it, by puttin another player in there tae even it up. And yep, of course, clown jackson has his usual, routine attack on Celtic.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Aye well – The Crayon Scribbler gets out on the loose once again with his Pro Sevco Pish Pot Jerker Rhetorics…

    The usual ‘If and Could’ Drawing Board mentality then…

    If Auntie Jackson had balls, she’d be Uncle Jackson, but she doesn’t so she isn’t…

    Keep exposing his garbage James and giving us all a laugh at his expense –

    Although it harder for those like me with false teeth at the top !!!

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