Posted: February 21, 2012 by thebhoymcclay in Uncategorized

Thebhoymcclay's Blog

Celtic cannot allow media outlets, pundits and commentators to overshadow this seasons’ achievements, in what is turning out to be a league campaign which will be secured through sporting integrity, diligence and hard work.

Notwithstanding the 10 point deduction, Celtic were four points ahead of the game and powering home like a thoroughbred. Neil Lennon’s’ warriors galvanized, confident and with the momentum of a runaway train – are on an unbeaten run which has not been emulated since a decade past when Martin O’Neill’s inspiration guided his own Celtic team – captained by the current manager – to a domestic treble. A swing in the Bhoys favour of seventeen points had already been overturned in a whirlwind period of fifty-three winter days and had left Ally McCoist and his Rangers team on the ropes. The knockout blow was to come, and everyone in green & white and across the city…

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As you may have noticed, another man by the name of Ken has started writing on here – & you would be correct in thinking he is not me, as I am me. But he hasn’t hacked on and just started rambling away at my behest. As part of an ongoing development within thebhoymcclay blog I have taken Kenny on as a wingman of sorts and his clever, witty and thought-provoking articles will be a great asset to the site. Hopefully with articles and previews such as this, we can also continue to explore new and fresher pieces which will hopefully benefit not only the blogger, but also the reader. Enjoy

This is my second matchday preview for Bundesliga Football and as I’m a reasonable lad,  I thought rather than you doing the research on one of the most exciting leagues in Europe – I would deliver the facts, figures and key players in the German top-tier directly to you.

Last week I managed to correctly predict Mainz 1-1 Hannover in Matchday 21, let’s see if we can make it two out of two!

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v FC Augsburg (18.02.2012 – 1430 GMT)

Bayer Leverkusen’s poor run of domestic form extended beyond the Bundesliga on Tuesday night, as a ruthless Barcelona side ran out three one victors at the BayArena in the Champions League – Matchday 22 however, throws up an altogether different prospect with the visit of relegation threatened Augsburg.

A battling display saw Bayer respond with a second-half equaliser through Michal Kadlec, but class eventually prevailed and the Catalan giants emerged with a two goal advantage to take to the Camp Nou in three weeks time. The visitors will be hoping these European exploits will enhance their slim hopes of taking anything back to Bavaria – but the signs are encouraging as Bayer were only victorious once in the league directly following their group stage encounters last year.

Augsburg played out a goalless draw last week at home to Nürnberg in the Swabian – Franconian derby and have shared the spoils in their last three encounters following the rückrunde, picking up vital points in their battle against the drop.  Their problem though has been finding the net – with only 19 goals in the for column in their previous 21 encounters this is in stark contrast to games involving Leverkusen, where goals are seldom in short supply.

Kadlec - a player once on Celtic's radar, swaps match shirts with Messi

 

Robin Dutt’s men routed Augsburg four one earlier in the season in their first ever Bundesliga encounter, and despite sitting sixth in the league, Leverkusen are struggling to capture any semblance of form which could see them claw back the ten points currently sitting between them and a Champions League spot. Matchday 21 saw them travel to the league leaders Borussia Dortmund and BVB found it tough against a well organised and stifling Bayer side. Die Werkself invited pressure and had Dortmund switching from their normal free-flowing style to a more direct route in order to make any headway, and in the end only a Shinji Kagawa gave the home side the 3 points.

Left-back Marcel De Jong and midfielder Tobias Werner are out for Augsburg after picking up injuries in the Nürnberg game and it appears both could be sidelined for up to ten weeks, whilst long-term absentees Nando Rafael, Moravek, & Dawda Ba are still unavailable. Creative spark Sidney Sam is still on the Leverkusen treatment table but Michael Ballack and Eren Derdiyok should make the squad. German midfielder Daniel Baier sits out a one match suspension for Augsburg for crossing the disciplinary threshold whilst Czech international Michal Kadlec returns to Bundesliga action for the home side.

Michal Kadlec vs Axel Bellinghausen

Bellinghausen will be hoping to impress on his return to the BayArena after departing at youth level in 1998. Returning from injury to replace Tobias Werner in the second half against Nuremberg last week, the German midfielder will looking for a starting berth in order to prove his fitness. If this does transpire, he could be facing Kadlec on his league return for Leverkusen following suspension, and he will be keen to showcase his own attacking prowess in the Augsburg defensive third. The tall left-back has been with Bayer now since 2008 and is now only five appearances short of his one hundredth game for the club.

Stefan Reinartz v Sascha Mölders

If Augsburg have any chance of staying in the top flight for any longer than one solitary season, Mölders has to add to his five goals so far this campaign. Having been an ever-present in his sides previous twenty-one encounters, his ratio of a goal for every nine attempted shots will have to improve. From the small & mesmeric Messi, to the tall and boisterous Molders – twenty-three year old Reinartz will enjoy a break from the Argentine superstar, but will have to endure a quite different test when up against the physicality of his compatriot.

Bundesliga Football Prediction: 3-1

Please visit http://bundesligafootball.co.uk For all this weeks previews and Special features on all things Bundesliga

You can also follow on twitter at @BLFuk 

Danke Schon


Hi, it’s me. Ken again. Ken… again. That rhymes! Oooh, look at the kitte- no; time to concentrate. So! Alex “Independence or Bust” Salmond has come out and suggested that Rangers exist for the good of Celtic and the good of Scottish football. Ok, that’s a bit sketchy. More sketchy though is the way he’s trying to influence the HMRC to be lenient with Rangers:

“We’ve certainly been arguing to HMRC on one hand, and indeed to Rangers, to for goodness sake get a settlement, get a settlement and a structure over time whereby Rangers can continue because Rangers must continue for the future of Scottish football and for the fabric of the country.”

Oh dear, Eck! Alex Salmond isn’t really in a position to comment on businesses in financial trouble (hello 2000) anyway, but there’s been a lot of talk about how this would be a bad move for Alex Salmond and the SNP to make politically. The term ‘political suicide’ has been thrown around, though I really don’t think this is the case.

I want to say at this point that I am not an admirer of Alex Salmond’s SNP or their politics. I think independence would be economically suicidal for Scotland and no amount of yellow smoke and mirrors will prove otherwise. I’m a great believer in ‘the facts’ and the SNP haven’t been able to provide any financial or political analysis or representation of facts that would suggest Scotland would be better off as an independent nation. Have people got such short memories that they have forgotten what happened to Ireland when they left the Union? Eurozone bailouts, anyone?

Salmond wants independence for Scotland, and sees Rangers (an extremely pro-Union establishment) as a demographic he can win favour with by urging the HMRC to be lenient with over potentially devastating tax concerns. Come time to vote, Rangers’ extreme large fanbase will have greater inclination to support the man who tried to help them out of a tough situation. But elections are a while away and while this has potential to cost them electorate support they’ve got a long while to ‘make amends’ for that. It’s a case of balancing short-term outrage against long-term loyalty.

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour are so unbelievably weak and fragile that they don’t dare contradict anything the SNP has said for fear of looking in any way like they’re not “for Scotland”. Yes, that makes them idiots. The Scottish Conservatives are falling apart. Their numbers halved from 16k party members to 8k party members in the last 6 years. The Scottish Lib Dems are entirely insignificant and as such there’s nobody in a position to challenge the SNP for the Scottish Parliament unless one or more of the above seriously up their game.

So Salmond thinks he’s bullet-proof. And all this does is gain him favour for a cause he believes in with a group who’d otherwise not think to offer it. Rangers are in big trouble, it’s a national issue – and like all national issues the First Minister had to weigh in at some point. And like everything else he does, there’s only one thing on his mind as he’s doing it.


Celtic cannot allow media outlets, pundits and commentators to overshadow this seasons’ achievements, in what is turning out to be a league campaign which will be secured through sporting integrity, diligence and hard work.

Notwithstanding the 10 point deduction, Celtic were four points ahead of the game and powering home like a thoroughbred. Neil Lennon’s’ warriors galvanized, confident and with the momentum of a runaway train – are on an unbeaten run which has not been emulated since a decade past when Martin O’Neill’s inspiration guided his own Celtic team – captained by the current manager – to a domestic treble. A swing in the Bhoys favour of seventeen points had already been overturned in a whirlwind period of fifty-three winter days and had left Ally McCoist and his Rangers team on the ropes. The knockout blow was to come, and everyone in green & white and across the city knew it – The Valentine’s day rebuff from HMRC has only brought the celebrations forward, and likewise with my experience from the closing stages of the 1999/2000 season – Rangers fans will want the curtain drawn on 2011/2012 as soon as possible. The only way Celtic can end this campaign negatively, is with a winning margin which does not reflect their on-field superiority.

Hours before the Govan Road was turned into a scene reminiscent of the Kim Jong-Ill funeral procession, Peter Lawell mirrored the viewpoint of the majority of Celtic fans when stating that the club does not, and will not need a strong Rangers side in the SPL for its own survival. Furthermore, Celtic would see this as a building block to a resurgent, and successful period in its history, where it would look to not only dominate in Scotland – but to take a significant step in European competition.

In Lennon, Celtic have a man who learned from one of the great managers of our times, and an individual steeped in hooped history. In his time as manager, Neil Lennon has, even this season, been close to the brink. At half-time at Rugby Park I was even doubting his managerial credentials, but again he battled back and from the depths of despair, Celtic resurrected their season beyond most fans own wildest dreams.

The squad built by Neil and his scouting network is young, dynamic and full of quality. Against Hearts recently, in the four nil Tynecastle victory, the average age of the starting XI was 23 – a statistic even the boss would have not envisaged at the start of his reign, feeling experienced individuals such as Jimmy Bullard and David James would be more beneficial than pure raw talent with little big game experience. Alex Ferguson was able to prove to Alan Hansen, that kids can win trophies – on top of last season’s Scottish Cup triumph, this Celtic team can gain an enormous amount of confidence and self belief with a domestic treble, the destiny of which, is very much within the teams control. A team which grows year on year, and can add silverware to its ongoing development – is conducive to building a historic and legendary legacy much, like the Lisbon Lions and Jock Stein created for themselves.

The next level of progression has to be the Champions League and the elite European competition has produced many Jekyll and Hyde results in the last eleven or so years staggered participation. Gordon Strachan, was able to guide his team twice to the knockout stages where even O’Neill could not, with a mixture of homegrown talent and experience from further afield. Bankier and Lawell now need to stand by their man, and with their full support and the stability of the team, they could be writing their own history.

Only time will tell how fulfilling any future domination can bring if the ongoing downsizing at Rangers continues – that is why it is up to the rest of Scottish Football to step up and show they can cement a challenge worthy of the leagues continuing funding and support.


Hi, I’m Ken. Not Mark; Ken. Mark’s cousin. Mark’s cousin – Ken. Hi. Turns out there’s only so many times one can say “want me to write you a blog?” before somebody calls you on it and you fumble your excuse to get out of it. So I’m here and you’re here so let’s make the most of it.

Me and him

Ok, now that I’ve lost half of you I’ll get onto the point of the blog – my somewhat wayward take on the life of being a Celtic fan. Quick bit of background on me: I was born in Dundee and raised in England, so… Celtic was an obvious choice? I’ve had the usual jibes about following my local team since I first moved back to Scotland; to me though, being a fan is about the community and family that it represents. And my family – the ones I’ll acknowledge anyway – are all Celtic fans.

I’ve been to a few matches, but not many. I buy a Celtic top every couple of season (my next one is going to have Kenaldo on the back, because – damn) and watch as many games on TV as I can. I pay for Sky Sports and ESPN who pay for TV rights, so I’m still supporting the club in a roundabout way. Although, actually, by that logic, I’m also funding Castle Greyskull. Okay, scratch that last part! My cousin Mark though, who you’ll probably recognise as the owner of this blog, is a much bigger fan. Going to a match with him recently was… an experience. Ahem.

(I'm the stupid one)

I’m not a complete idiot, and I know the words to You’ll Never Walk Alone, though apparently trying to sing it in the style of a choirbhoy isn’t in keeping with the general atmosphere of the stand. Beyond that though, I’m lost. I know to jump up and down and clap and cheer when something good happens for the boys in green, and boo and hiss when the bluenose in black (or bright yellow; damn the ref’s away strip) makes a bad call.

When it comes to the rest of the Celtic songs though, I’m genuinely at a loss. There was one song that felt more like a game of vocal tennis which started off with one end of the stand shouting “Celtic” at the other end, only for them to say it back. Just when I thought I was getting the hang of that, they sang something different back to us and I got lost at that point. You know what Celtic Park requires? A damned hymn book. Just… something with some bloody lyrics or something. I spent the entire match in awe of how amazing the ‘regulars’ were at supporting our club from the stands. I was well out of my league. I’ve learnt more songs on Twitter in the past week than I have done at any point in my life before hand!

 

And it dawned on my this Sunday past (05/02/2012) just how global the fanbase of the Bhoys really is when everyone started going on about the Superbowl. I mean, I’ve seen Any Given Sunday but I’d never sat down to watch a game in my life, and looked all set to continue that habit this weekend. As it turns out however, one of the players on one of the teams just so happened to be a Celtic fan and my Twitter feed was ablaze with comments referring to Lawrence Tynes. Figuring I hadn’t had an excuse to stay up late muching on junk food in a while, I decided to try and get into the game and support an overseas Tim.

Turns out that supporting a team in a game of American football is even harder than it is a team at Paradise. At the tender age of 26 I’d finally realised what it must be like to be a woman having the offside rule explained. What was this nonsense? They kept substituting their entire team for an entirely different team depending on who had the “ball” [<- seriously?] and the what was described as a 60-minute match lasted the better part of 3 hours. And they had more commercials than a Classifieds section of the Argos catalogue. In a strange twist of fate, it turns out that despite being the decider of the National “Football” League – the biggest sport and sporting event in the country – most people watching the game prefer the commercials anyway. Wouldn’t get that watching the World Cup final I’d say! You know, proper football.

 

So yeah – I know sweet (S)FA about being a Celtic fan, less about American football, and couldn’t pick Lawrence Tynes out of a line-up with name tags. But he (/they) won, so the biggest sporting event in America somehow became all about a Celtic fan winning the Superbowl. I’m ok with that, but until he starts doing a conga or eating various childrens-party foodstuffs I’d like to think I’m at least a bigger fan that Mr Tynes. I have absolutely nothing on the Green Brigade or anyone that’s a Celtic Park regular. I shall soldier on though, and try to appreciate Celtic for the club that it is and the extended family it offers. I shall try to learn some words to some songs before I go back to Paradise to save getting curious looks from anyone who heard me and the elbow in the ribs from my rather embarrassed cousin. Ultimately, for the time being at least, I get to enjoy a good run of form from a club that I love and just can’t get enough of!

For more uninformed ramblings; sometimes about Celtic, sometimes it’s unclear; follow me on Twitter @kenhalfpenny

#HH, Mark!


New Striker Pawel Brozek

Celtic completed their transfer dealings with a day to spare as Pawel Brozek joined on loan from Trabzonspor until at least the end of season having already concluded deals for cover in midfield and defence in the Winter window.  Rabiu Ibrahim, a young Nigerian midfielder, has vowed to wow the fans with his flamboyant and skillful game which he models on a hybrid of Zinedine Zidane and David Silva, (a cross between the two would be just fine!) and the view from the manager and my Lennoxtown scout is the boy is something special. Denied any quality game time at PSV, Lennon has taken a worthwhile gamble on the twenty year-old who has received nothing bar glowing reports along the way – and the next few years at Celtic will hopefully be a productive one for player and club.

Rabiu Ibrhahim out to impress

Announced back in November, Mikael Lustig was the first player through the door arriving on a pre-contract from Rosenborg. There is still much debate surrounding this right-sided defender given the abundance of riches at the sides disposal in this department – Adam Matthews & Cha Du-Ri are already vying for the first team position, whilst the experienced Mark Wilson and young development player Andre Blackman also work towards a starting role. A fully fledged Swedish international in his prime playing years will not be arriving at Celtic Park for a place on the bench, however comfortable.

There were three heading the opposite direction with fringe youngsters, Paul Slane, James Keatings and Lewis Toshney going on loan to MK Dons, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock respectively for some valuable first team experience. The one disappointing story of the frantic final days proceedings, was that of Mark Wilson and the breakdown of his move to Leeds United. Disjointed & frustrating are words you would use to sum up the defenders spell at the Hoops since joining in 2006 – long-term injuries and rehabilitation being the route cause. And with additional back-up in Lustig his playing days with the Bhoys may now well be at an end. The opportunity of some game time in the Championship on the road back from his latest knee problem would have been essential if Wilson is to ever play competitive football for a sustained period.

Lustig in the Classic "Signed" Position

The main purpose of this window in my opinion, was for Celtic to maintain their current squad and especially their prized assets such as the striking combination of Gary Hooper and Anthony Stokes.  As I mentioned last month in “When The Saints Come Marching In” http://thebhoymcclay.com/2012/01/18/when-the-saints-come-marching-in/ – No good could emerge from Celtic letting their star striker leave at this point in the season, for any amount of money. Polish international striker, Brozek is waiting in the wings for an opportunity but again, how long will it take to get an understanding with another partner? Will he adapt to Scottish football in the short period he has to impress Lennon before he makes a decision on whether to make his stay permanent? Current squad members, who some may have not lost sleep over moving on to pastures new, such as Samaras and Ki – will prove their worth in the coming months also. Both players have individual styles of play with a lot of fans struggling to comprehend what they bring to the team. The Greek is direct and pacey, meaning the team can quickly switch to counter-attack or when struggling to break down a well parked SPL double decker. The Korean Player of the Year on the other hand, is able to command a game with the ball at his feet – his vision to pick a killer pass or dictate the play when under pressure could be vital.

Growing the side from a position of strength is something relatively new to Celtic, there is usually a diminution or two within the playing staff as has been seen in the last few windows. Rangers on the other hand, have adapted a polar opposite and not only let go of their most prized possession in Nikica Jelavic, but allowed another dozen or so players leave on loan or for good – if Celtic to fail to deliver the knockout punch in the coming months, it would have to go down as the most disappointing and unbelievable league campaigns of recent history. It is sport, human nature and one man versus another and of course, anything can happen – but to have such a dominating & dynamic young squad and positive mental edge, the forecast for green and white ribbons to be fluttering in May looks a sure thing.

 

 


suarez

"Is it this way to the goal?"

Andy Carroll was a man in form and in demand last year – a goal every other game for Newcastle United, an England cap which alluded to a rising stock for the long-haired front man.

Now the much maligned young striker has failed to live up to the hype which surrounded his £35million move last January – A fee which Carroll immediately attempted to distance himself from, deep down knowing that the Anfield club had bowed down to Newcastle’s overzealous estimation of the player following his striking feats in the black and white.  I was of the belief that if Suarez and Carroll had a successful run in pre-season and both stayed injury-free, this could be a very rewarding partnership for Liverpool and a masterstroke from manager, Kenny Dalglish. The tall target man, initiating the knock downs for the wily and tenacious forward in the Uruguayan – a match made in footballing heaven on paper. In reality, it’s started off with nothing more than a whimper.

Luis Suarez @luis16suarez

Great win for keep gaining points! Last match that I can not play with my colleagues! A hug and thanks for all the support!

The partnership was already without a reasonable period of togetherness this season following derailment due to injuries and meandering form, prior to Suarez’s eight game sabbatical when found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United star, Patrice Evra during October’s Premier League clash at Anfield. Given the haste in which the Uruguayan was convicted, it seems the FA have pandered to their own Euro ambitions and desires by allowing John Terry the chance to captain the national team this summer – the evidence, witnesses in tow would seem more clear-cut than the aforementioned “altercation”.

Step forward the evergreen former Celtic forward Craig Bellamy, now in his second stint with Liverpool, to attempt and recapture some semblance of a strike force in the number sevens’ absence. Where the Anfield side would be without the Welsh hitman in his current purple patch is hard to say – but perhaps not sitting fifth in the league or still in the hunt for two trophies might be a starting point. He is also just one goal away from his total return at Anfield during his first tenure in the 2006-2007 season. When Bellamy is not in trouble with officials or on the treatment table, he is a veritable joy to behold – he can turn defences inside out and score a variety and abundance of goals. He probably scored one of the finest hat-tricks in modern-day history at Tannadice when in the hooped shirt of the Bhoys.  He is also not a penalty box striker – which could help propel his recent efforts to a whole new dimension when Suarez returns at Spurs next Monday evening.

One of the few times this season when all three were on the pitch, was at Goodison Park back in October – with Carroll and Suarez both on target late on following Bellamy’s introduction with twenty minutes remaining.

Their first league win of 2012 against Wolverhampton and a long-awaited goal from Andy Carroll completed a resurgence in form for Dalglish’s men after dumping the two sides of Manchester out of the League and FA Cup in the same week. But just prior to that, a three one defeat at lowly Bolton Wanderers had seemed to question King Kenny and his managerial capabilities. They have a League Cup final and the chance for silverware against Championship side Cardiff City to look forward to, along with the return of their captain and talisman, Steven Gerrard to full fitness, Suarez champing at the bit and a newly confident Andy Carroll – when your best players are all on form, it is nigh on impossible to drop them to the bench.

Liverpool have been reverting to a 4-3-3 formation and I believe for the club to build on their recent good form, a three-pronged assault with Bellamy and Suarez supplying Andy Carroll has all the ingredients for success. Part of the Geordie strikers repertoire is also laying on goals, and his flick on’s in previous matches for Dirk Kuyt and Craig Bellamy have showcased this ability perfectly. The Reds, currently just outside the Champions League places, are on their day a tougher, and more consistent prospect than both Chelsea and Newcastle who sit above them currently. Also now installed as rightful favourites for the FA Cup, you wouldn’t back against a  domestic double trophy haul for King Kenny and his Merry Men.

Top Goal Scorers

  1. Bellamy
    9
  2. Suarez
    8
  3. Carroll
    5