Levein says he’s tired of referee mistakes

 

Hearts manager Craig Levein is still as incensed as he was on Sunday about the events that took place during the game against Steven Gerrard’s side.

Rangers came back from a goal decide to beat Hearts 2-1 but the Jam Tarts boss feels the match officials cost his side the three points.

Replays showed that Colombian striker Alfredo Morelos was offside when scoring the winning goal. Morelos also got away without being booked by referee Bobby Madden despite committing numerous fouls, as well as goading the crowd after his match-winning strike.

Levein was in a typical scathing mood when the topic of Sunday’s match was brought up again this afternoon.

He said; “I criticise my players, I criticise myself. If officials make the same blatant mistake seven times this season I should be entitled to say that.

“Of course I’m angry. This is my job, my livelihood.”

JohnMenzies_HeartsBadge_TBS

Hearts are away to St Johnstone on Wednesday night.

Levein also hit back at ex-referee Steve Conroy, who believed that the Hearts manager’s comments towards Madden were more on a personal level than professional, something which he strongly denies.

He added: “Looking back, I’m probably angrier than I was at the weekend.

“I’m angrier when you get ex-referees who come out and just talk rubbish. To say I made a personal attack on Bobby, I wasn’t having a pop at Bobby’s character – as a person he’s a great guy.

“But as a professional performance, that’s completely different and I think I’m entitled to do that.”

Ahead of tomorrow’s trip to face St Johnstone, Levein revealed that he will consider resting captain Christophe Berra, after he made his return to action following four months out against Rangers.

“Of course I’m angry. This is my job, my livelihood.”

Officials at the clubs are keen to not demand too much from the skipper since he has just made his comeback, as they don’t want him to risk a recurrence of the hamstring injury that had previously sidelined him.

Levein said: “Getting Christophe back is a big plus. I don’t know if we can play him tomorrow, we will need to see how he is recovering from Sunday.

“It might be just taking too big a chance but I’m not sure. I’ll wait and see.”

The defeat against Rangers means that Hearts have gone six matches without a win, which also includes five defeats. On the other hand, tomorrow’s opponents are on a six-game unbeaten spell under manager Tommy Wright, and they will be looking to extend that run against Levein’s struggling side.

Podcast: Scotland discover their Euro qualifying group

International Friendly - Scotland v Belgium

Scotland face off against the world’s best team in Belgium. Picture by Lee Smith via Reuters

Alex McLeish’s side have discovered who they’ll be facing off against for a spot in the European Championships in 2020.

A favourable group for the Scots yet some tough opponents await.

David Ronney is joined by Bryce Donaldson, Luke Barry and Fraser Munro as they assess the Tartan Army’s chance of reaching a finals tournament in over 20 years.

Sports Paper Review – 4th December

Fraser Munro and John Menzies sit down to discuss the biggest stories in today’s papers including Shaun Maloney and how he is set to face off against his own nation in the Euro qualifiers and last night’s Ballon d’Or awards.

Ballon D’or host apologies for sexist remark

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Luka Modric (left) and Ada Hegerberg (right) were awarded the Ballon d’Or. Photo by Benoit Tessier via Reuters

French DJ, Martin Solveig has apologised for his comments during the Ballon d’Or awards as he asked Ada Hegerberg if she knew how to ‘twerk’.

Solveig sparked a sexist row after he presented Hegerberg the Women Ballon d’Or with her award and asked the Lyon forward if she knew how to twerk.

The incident has sparked criticism from several sports personalities, one of which is Scotland’s Andy Murray.

The tennis player was among those on social media who criticised Solveig’s comment, calling it just another example of the ridiculous sexism in sport.

He said: “What questions did they ask Mbappe and Modric?

“I’d imagine something to do with football. And to everyone who thinks I’m overreacting, and it was just a joke … it wasn’t. I’ve been involved in sport my whole life and the level of sexism is unreal.”

Hegerberg, who helped Lyon to the French title and Champions League, scoring in the final, pipped Denmark’s Pernille Harder to the prize but appeared embarrassed after Solveig’s questions.

The 23-year-old said “no” and seemed to attempt to leave the stage, before reluctantly agreeing to dance to another song with Ginola. Solveig tweeted shortly after the ceremony, saying he had apologised to Hegerberg for the remark.

When Hegerberg came on stage to receive her award, Solveig said: “You’ve seen that I prepared a little celebration for Kylian [Mbappe] so we’ve said we’re going to do something similar. Do you know how to twerk?”

In an apology video later on that evening, he apologised for his actions.

He said: “Well guys I’m a little bit amazed, astonished by what I’m reading on the internet. I, of course, didn’t want to offend anyone. This comes from a distortion of my English level and my English culture level which is obviously not enough. This was a joke. Probably a bad one, and I want to apologise for the one I may have offended. Sorry about that.”

“This was a joke. Probably a bad one, and I want to apologise for the one I may have offended.”

The controversy aside, the awards marked the first time in over a decade that Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo have missed out on the golden ball award.

Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder, Luka Modric ended the decade of dominance after a successful year including a Champions League title and was also named the best player in Russia’s World Cup.

PSG and France forward, Kylian Mbappe was the first ever recipient Kopa award, given to the best youth player in the world. The 19-year-old was one of four goalscorers in France’s World Cup final win over Croatia.

Edinburgh City boss admits injury scare ahead of cup replay

John Menzies credit to Ross

James McDonaugh looks ahead to tonight’s cup replay. Photo by Ross Cowper-Fraser

Edinburgh City manager, James McDonaugh admitted that his side could do without tonight’s Scottish Cup replay as they fear potential injuries.

City travel to the Highlands to play Inverness Caledonian Thistle and while a cup run is of importance, their focus will also be on retaining their two point lead in League Two.

McDonaugh spoke ahead of tonight’s third round replay.

He said: “Because we are struggling with injuries, tonight’s match is one that we could do without. I guess so far it’s okay because we keep winning, but at some point we’re going to be really struggling if we get a couple more injuries or any suspensions.

“We haven’t been able to give any of our first team players a rest over the past six weeks, so we’ve had to stick with the same core of players for our last few games. Of course the team keep winning games but we could easily lose a player or two to suspension, and then we’d really be in trouble.”

City drew the first meeting 1-1 at Ainslie Park against John Robertson’s side and hope they can do it again as they travel to Tulloch Caledonian Stadium for the 19:45 kick off.

They’re coming off the back of Saturday’s 2-0 win against Queen’s Park. A performance that certainly pleased McDonaugh going into tonight’s game.

He added: “I thought we were very good in the first half, playing on the front foot and at a good tempo. We always looked like a threat going forward.

“In the second half, the game turned very scrappy and we didn’t play as well but to be fair, we were 2-0 up because of a lot of hard work in the first half.”

“Overall, the players deserve a lot of credit for securing another three points.”

Inverness CT come into tonight on the back of only their third defeat of the season, and their first in the league. They lost to 3-2 to McDonaugh’s former club, Falkirk over the weekend.

But despite that setback, the Highland side will be fancying their chances to progress at home to lower league opposition.

And McDonaugh expects it to be a very tough task against their Championship opponents.

“For us to have a chance against Inverness, every player for us must perform at their best, and we need them to have an off day, and a bit of luck as well. We would need all three to go our way. Of course we can win, but the chances of it happening are very minimal.”

Should Edinburgh City come through tonight’s match, they will be rewarded with a home tie against Lowland League side East Kilbride in the fourth round.

Celtic edge Aberdeen in Betfred Cup Final – The Talking Points

Celtic celebrate Betfred Cup victory. Photo by Russell Cheyne via Retuers (1)

Celtic celebrate Betfred Cup victory. Photo by Russell Cheyne via Retuers

Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic won their 18th League Cup title over the weekend as they beat Aberdeen 1-0. This is the Glasgow side’s seventh consecutive trophy under Rodgers whose side begin their defensive of Scotland’s domestic silverware.

While the scoreline may not reflect it, there were plenty of talking points as Celtic aim for their third consecutive treble winning season.

Ryan Christie haunts Dons

After a successful season under Derek McInnes side last campaign, Ryan Christie returned to Glasgow with the hunger to compete for first team football.

The 23-year-old had to wait some time for his chance but as soon as it arrived, the Scotland international hasn’t looked back. Christie has been involved in eight goals for club this season (five goals, three assists) and scored the all so decisive goal in Hampden on Sunday.

Speaking after the match, Christie highlighted that ‘it’s so strange’ the position he is in now in comparison to when he initially returned back to Celtic.

He said: “It’s hard to kinda look back and put myself in the mind frame I was at the start of the season. I’m delighted obviously how things have turned out and long may it continue because obviously I’m loving my football at Celtic right now. Even when I signed the contract I said that I wanted to make an impact at this club and wanted to help them bring back silverware so days like today help that.”

 

Aberdeen lack firepower

Despite both sides being fairly even with regards to possession, it was Celtic who dominated in the chances in front of goal. Rodgers’ side relished 17 shots, seven of which were on course to goal in comparison to two of Aberdeen’s seven finding the target.

This has once again set eyes on both McInnes and the board on recruitment with the club failing to replace players like Adam Rooney, James Maddison and Jonny Hayes with those who can fill the void of a clinical finisher. All three of which started the two sides last meeting in a League Cup final in 2016.

This is a problem Aberdeen have got away with in cup competition over the years under McInnes but has caught up with them this season in the league. They’re six points worse off than they were at this point last campaign and currently sit seventh in the SPFL.

The concussion to Gary Mackay-Steven sustained in a clash of heads with Dedryck Boyata certainly didn’t aid Aberdeen’s chances to pull back an equaliser. Thankfully Mackay-Steven has been discharged from hospital and begins his recovery but it must be said that his creativity for the Dons was clearly apparent.

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Celtic edged Aberdeen at Hampden on Sunday. Photo by Jmorrison230582 via Wikipedia

Will Celtic complete a ‘treble treble’?

While we’re not even into the new year and their Old Firm rivals sit top of the Premiership – albeit Celtic have a game in hand – some are beginning to believe Celtic could be on course for a record breaking third treble winning season in a row under Brendan Rodgers.

However, the Hoops manager has no intention of getting carried away with this idea and insisted after the final that the Glasgow side have plenty of work still to do before they can consider this possibility.

He said: “We haven’t even played the second round of games yet in the league. That’s a long way away. This was a very satisfying win this, after the start that we had in the summer we had. The last two months we’ve pulled our idea back round again in terms of our football and the quality of our game. Like I say, these players deserve it today. But like everything they’ve done since I’ve come in, they’ve had to earn it. There’s been nothing presented to them. They’ve had to earn it and they’ve earned it today.”

Girls With Goals

Women’s football has never been so popular.

Scottish Women's Football Team. Credits to Anders Henrikson

Scottish Women’s Football Team. Credits to Anders Henrikson

It may not be the official sport of our nation, but football’s following in Scotland is one of the most passionate around the globe. Sorry, golf fans. However, while off the field problems can blur the importance of what’s happening on the pitch, one section appears unfazed by these issues: the women’s game.

Support for women’s football is on the rise in Scotland with match attendance and viewing figures growing every season.

One of the leading teams in Scotland, Glasgow City, is on course for what could be their 12th consecutive league title, beating league rivals Hibernian in the closing stages of the league campaign.

You could argue that City’s dominance in the division doesn’t make for the most compelling league to watch, but their style of play is up there with the best. Hibernian can give Glasgow a run for their money at the best of times – with both sides having some success in the Women’s Champions League in recent years.

The success of teams domestically has somewhat transitioned to the national team as well. The Scotland women’s side qualified for their first ever World Cup earlier this year, having played in their first finals tournament in the European Championships in 2017.

It’s been more than 20 years since Scotland’s men’s team qualified for a major football tournament yet the women’s team have restored faith in Scottish football. When the team arrives in France for the World Cup, they may feel slightly out their depth.

There’s no beating around the bush, the funding for Scotland’s women’s team is far behind the wages of other national sides. But, leading into this tournament, out of the 23 players in the Scotland squad, 19 are professional.

The remaining four non-professionals may have to leave Scotland and head south of the border – where there are no amateur clubs in the top flight – to pursue their dream of becoming full-time players; something which their male counterparts probably would not have to do.

However, the success of the national team has struck a chord with young girls across Scotland. Participation in women’s football has risen from 6,500 to 12,000, bringing the goal of a professional women’s league in Scotland a lot closer.

It’s shocking to believe women’s football was once banned in Scotland. During World War One, the attendances for women’s football exceeded 50,000 but came to a halt when the men came home. One hundred years later, it’s women who are bringing football home.

The peak in interest has prompted UEFA to provide women’s football with 50% more funding from the year 2020. An additional £2.4 million will be given to women’s football projects per year, provided by profits from their male counterparts.

The rise in funding aims to take football right to the top as Europe’s biggest female sport but to get there they also need to fund coaching development. Something UEFA assured they would do, as they announced plans to increase the number of qualified female coaches.

Scotland has a national side playing in the World Cup next year, something we haven’t seen with the men’s side for over two decades. We should be excited about the future of women’s football – it’s certainly about to kick off.

Opinion: What now for Partick Thistle?

Alan Archibald

Alan Archibald was sacked after a poor run of form. Credit to Lauren Archer.

On Saturday, Partick Thistle sacked their manager, Alan Archibald. Archibald was the second longest-serving manager in Scotland, after being appointed by the club in 2013.

Archibald began his managerial career after the departure of Jackie McNamara in January 2013, although this was purely an interim basis. In March, Archibald and former player Scott Paterson were given the job on a permanent basis, signing a one-year rolling contract. In his first season, Archibald guided Thistle to the Scottish Premiership, after winning the First Division – now known as the Championship. In the same season, Archibald took the team to the Scottish Challenge Cup Final, narrowly losing to Queen of the South on penalties.

Archibald’s Thistle had a rocky start to their time in the Premiership. The club went seven months without a win at home but their record away from home proved they were more than able to stand toe-to-toe with other Premiership teams. The 2015/16 season saw the team go on a run of success, picking up seven points out of nine, resulting in Archibald being awarded the Premiership Manager of the Month award for November.

Speaking in 2016, Archibald hailed his side for consistent improvement over the years of his managerial reign.

Partick Thistle host Dundee United this weekend at Fir Hill. Credit to Lauren Archer.

He said: “I’ve always had a good group of players here underneath us and with a bit of success, winning the Championship. We’ve stayed in the league and that’s judged the success here because of our smaller budget. We’ve always progressed and gradually we’ve gotten better and better.”

Archibald kept Partick in the top flight for five consecutive seasons, finishing in the top six of the 2016/17 season for the first time since the post split fixtures were introduced in 2000/01.

Thistle suffered in the 2017/18 season, finishing in 11th place, meaning the team went into a relegation/promotion play-off with Championship runner-ups Livingston. Partick Thistle lost the two games, resulting in the club being relegated. At the time, the Thistle board were happy with Archibald and decided to stick with him. After a poor start to the 2018/19 Championship season, Archibald was dismissed by the club.

“I’ve always had a good group of players here underneath us and with a bit of success.”

So what now for Partick Thistle? Well it’s been all quiet on the Western front of Glasgow as there has been next to nothing with regards to candidates to take the managerial role.

The team face Dundee United on Saturday, who appointed Robbie Neilson as their head coach on Monday. Neilson himself was linked with the Thistle job, reportedly staying not too far from Fir Hill.

However, The Jags missed out on the former Hearts manager leaving them in a race to appoint a successor ahead of their Championship fixture this weekend.

Dobbie would score anywhere says Naysmith amid Scotland link

Queen of the South Arena

Queen of the South Arena. Copyright credit to Hugh Close.

Queen of the South boss, Gary Naysmith believes ‘on fire’ striker, Stephen Dobbie could do it for Scotland, however, he doesn’t expect Dobbie to receive the call of duty anytime soon.

The 35-year-old has scored 24 goals already this season, more than the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe put together.

With Leigh Griffiths pulling out Alex McLeish’s Scotland side to ‘focus on fitness’, it leaves a vacant space up front for the national side.

While Naysmith was open to allowing the Scottish Championship striker to be included in the match squad for Scotland’s matches against Israel and Portugal, he doesn’t expect a ring from the Scotland boss.

He said: “Well you’ll get the cynical people who’ll say that it’s just the Scottish Championship and it doesn’t really count but to score that amount of goals at any level it takes some doing. And he’s done it consistently at his time at Queen of the South.

“There’s no doubt he’d be available, yes I would be surprised. I think Stephen answered that question himself in the papers at the weekend that he thinks his time has passed.

“He’s quite happy to be playing for Queen of the South. But what I would say is to anybody is Stephen Dobbie will score goals at any level. He’s done it while he was in England, scored in play-off finals. Stephen Dobbie will score goals wherever he plays.”

The Queen of the South manager added that it would be a step up for Dobbie to cope fitness wise, but he believed he could cope with the challenge.

“I do think he could cope with it. Obviously, it’s just speculation, people are putting two and two together and trying to make something happen but it is just speculation.

“It’s a big step up to try go through Scotland Championship to international level but like I said previously, he would score goals at any level he plays at.”

The Doonhamers take on East Fife in the third round of the Irn Bru Challenge Cup this weekend, a side Naysmith managed for three years up until 2016. The League One side have won their last six fixtures and Naysmith was weary of the threat they pose.

“Stephen Dobbie will score goals at any level. He’s done it while he was in England, scored in play-off finals. Stephen Dobbie will score goals wherever he plays.”

He said: “They’re a team that are in form. They never started the season too well, but they’ve picked it up in recent weeks.

“They’re going to be a tough game. They’re a team playing with confidence and any team playing with confidence become harder opponents. They beat Partick Thistle in the last round in the cup, it wasn’t like Partick played a really weakened team. They made one or two changes, but they still had a really strong team out. So, it’s going to be a very difficult game for us.”

East Fife have kept four clean sheets in those six wins but Naysmith was confident that his side have the firepower to break them down.

He said: “I’m always confident we’ll score with the attacking players we’ve got in the team. I think we’ve scored something like 40 odd goals in 15 games this season.

“That’s how we set the team up, to go and try and score and sometimes it goes the other way and you concede a few but we do generally fancy ourselves to score.”

Dundee United appoint Robbie Neilson

Photo credit to Benson85 via Wikipedia.

Dundee United have confirmed Robbie Neilson as the club’s new manager on an 18-month-deal.

The 38-year-old takes charge of the club ahead of their clash with Partick Thistle on Saturday with the club currently sitting fourth in the Championship.

He succeeds Csaba Laszlo who was sacked by the club after a heavy 5-1 home defeat to Ross County back in September.

Neilson was excited for the challenge ahead.

He said: “It is an exciting opportunity at a great club and I am confident I can lead Dundee United back to the Premiership. This is the perfect challenge for me at a club I know well and I am looking forward to meeting the coaching staff and players tomorrow and getting straight to work ahead of Saturday’s match at Partick Thistle.”

Neilson has been out of work since January after leaving MK Dons in the relegation zone of England’s League One.

The new United boss has Championship experience, having gained promotion to the Premiership with Hearts in the 2014/15 season.

“I am confident I can lead Dundee United back to the Premiership. This is the perfect challenge for me at a club I know well.”

Neilson’s also a former Dundee United player, spending a brief spell with the club in the 2011/12 season making 23 appearances.

Dundee United Chairman, Mike Martin spoke highly of the club’s new manager.

He said: “I am delighted Robbie has agreed to become Head Coach. From a long list of impressive applications, he was the outstanding candidate.”

Neilson had also spoken to opponents Thistle about a possible move to Glasgow after Alan Archibald was sacked on Saturday.

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