By Brian P. Dunleavy
Callum McGregor finally got his song.
The lifelong Celtic fan, who first signed with the club as an eight-year-old, has become a first-team regular during Brendan Rodgers’ tenure, and has scored several big goals. On the day his song—an up-tempo take on a religious hymn—“debuted” at Celtic Park (on Saturday; we were fortunate to be there ourselves), McGregor arguably saved the Hoops from defeat to Neil Lennon’s Hibernian side, a loss that would have stopped the Hoops’ unbeaten run at 57 matches. He scored two goals—the second in the 80th minute—and the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
The Celtic midfielder’s brace cancelled out the two-goal performance of his Hibs counterpart, John McGinn, himself a lifelong Celtic fan (his father served on the Parkhead board for a time). With their play on Saturday, McGinn may have forced his way into Gordon Strachan’s starting XI for the Scotland national team (particularly with Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong out due to injury), and McGregor finally received his long-deserved call-up into the squad.
It will be interesting to see if Strachan gives either or both significant playing time in the Tartan Army’s crucial qualifiers this week against Slovakia and Slovenia. Scotland needs to win both to get to Russia, and the two players are arguably the two of the best the country has on offer right now. Strachan may also need to win both to keep his job—although, we have to ask, is there a better manager out there?
Or at least one that would actually want to take on the Scotland post?
Speaking of dugout upheaval, when we wrote in August that Kilmarnock had seemingly found the right man for the job in Lee McCulloch, we expected him to at least make it through to our trip to Glasgow in September. Oh how wrong we were, on both fronts. To be fair, though, we sat next to a Killie fan on the flight over—one of the few, and not so proud (his joke, not ours)—and he essentially told us the club is, to use an American cliché, running on fumes.
For their match at Rugby Park against Ross County, under the stewardship of a new manager themselves in the form of Owen Coyle, Killie had an announced attendance of 3,337. However, from our view, watching the reply on Saturday night on BBC Alba—we live the fast life when we go to Glasgow—the club’s accounting was a bit off (we’re being polite). Given that we knew the result—County won easily, 2-0—we eventually did what most diehard Killie supporters would have done; we quickly changed the channel.
Frankly, we were waiting for “Taggart” to start on STV anyway. We know. We need to get out more.
On the other side of Glasgow, meanwhile, Rangers may have saved manager Pedro Caixinha’s job, for a while, with a 4-1 win at Hamilton Friday night. Having said that, though, our taxi driver on the way in was only the first ’Gers supporter to tell us that the board’s decision to hire the Portuguese man is still looking like a big mistake.
The only problem is, they reminded us, if the board do ultimately decide to sack him, what can or would be done with all of the players he’s brought in, many of them internationals from countries such as Mexico and Portugal (we wonder if there is “code” being employed here), with no links to Scotland or the club. Or with Kenny Miller, whom the bench boss has exiled to the reserves.
There is also the matter of finding a replacement, to take on what, like the national team post, seems like a no-win job, for now at least. Well, McCulloch is looking…