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No tonic for the hoops?

Following a run of disappointing results, there's a very real danger that Gordon Strachan's Glasgow Celtic could finish the season without a trophy to their name.

Tony Cascarino, 15 Apr 2008

And that, come next year, the club could be looking for a new manager.

This has been the first season Gordon Strachan has been in charge of Celtic that the team’s performance hasn’t matched the supporters’ expectations. I don’t think Strachan will be there next season, because it’s got to the stage where too much has gone wrong at Parkhead. Particularly after the defeat to Motherwell, it doesn’t appear as if the fans are behind him.

As I’ve written in this column before, it’s very hard to win over fans who have turned against you, especially – as in Strachan’s case – when you’ve been at the club for a few years. I’ve always felt that in his interviews he can be a bit patronising towards the man in the street, and I don’t think either Celtic players or supporters take to that too well.

It also wasn’t a good sign that Celtic’s leading scorer, Scott McDonald, was involved in a heated exchange with Strachan when he was taken off during the Motherwell game. Celtic are now likely to end the season trophyless, and it could be that the club is about to hit a trough, given that Celtic and Rangers’ periods of dominance tend to be cyclical.

Also in the SPL, it was interesting to see Stephen Hunt’s brother, Noel, scoring for Dundee United in their 3-3 draw with Rangers. Ireland will need as many striking options as possible during the World Cup qualifiers and Noel probably deserves a full international call-up at this stage, having previously played in a B international. He has definitely shown some impressive form this season, and has been among the top scorers in the SPL.

He also finished joint top scorer in the Scottish League Cup and even scored against Rangers in the final. It’s a bit unfair, but Hunt would probably have a better chance of getting a call-up were he playing in the Championship. Still, the fact remains that we need to look at all of the in-form players available to us.

In another SPL-related story, Aiden McGeady has been linked with a move to Newcastle, in a possible swap for Damien Duff. It’s hard to say who would benefit most from the deal, as Duff has struggled to make an impact at St. James’ Park, and I feel that McGeady still has a lot to learn as a player.

Damien has hit a bit of a rough patch lately, and it’s probably the first time since he was a teenager that his football career hasn’t been on an upward trajectory. Coming to terms with a slight downturn in fortunes can be tough on a player, and that’s something Damien will have to address. However, he’s still relatively young and there is no doubt that he has the ability to turn things around. He’s an absolute gem, although I’m really not sure if Celtic would be the right move for him.

Playing at Newcastle might make more sense for McGeady, but I still think he’s lacking in one or two areas. He’s a great player to run at a defence, but he tends to keep his head down and not be aware of his teammates’ positions. Having said that, McGeady has time on his side, so hopefully he’ll make the improvements necessary for him to really fulfil his potential.

Finally, some commentators have suggested that the big four clubs are now no longer as intent on winning the FA Cup, and are happy to focus more on the Premiership and the Champions League. Personally, I don’t see it that way. I just feel it’s been one of those seasons where the smaller clubs, like Cardiff and Portsmouth, have battled hard and enjoyed a bit of luck when they’ve needed it. However, you can bet your bottom dollar that the big sides will be back in contention next year.

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