Football: Rangers race to a comfortable lead

SCOTTISH FOOTBALL
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The Independent Online
RANGERS, LIKE Celtic, have become the subject of a takeover bid, but while Celtic supporters hold their breath in anticipation of the possible return of Kenny Dalglish the currency around Ibrox is measured in points rather than pounds.

After just 14 games Rangers have opened up a 10-point lead over their rivals and a six-point lead over second placed Kilmarnock. They could move further ahead of Celtic when the two meet on Saturday at Celtic Park. The latest victory - 2-1 over Aberdeen - follows a 7-0 rout over St Johnstone and provides further evidence that Dick Advocaat is creating a team with strength in every department. Even so, you will not find anybody at Ibrox getting too carried away, with Colin Hendry saying: "You win nothing in November. I remember Manchester United being 16 points clear when I was at Blackburn and we cut it to two."

While Rangers were winning on Saturday, Celtic were losing when a mistake by Vidar Riseth led to St Johnstone's winning goal as Sandy Clark's side demonstrated a remarkable resilience after a feckless performance of last week.

The defeat will increase the pressure on Dr Jozef Venglos and there is little doubt that a defeat against Rangers would intensify the pressure on Fergus McCann to sell his shares early to the consortium headed by Dalglish and Jim Kerr.

McCann does not have to sell, of course, and is duty-bound to consider the best interests of the shareholders, but the high-profile pair are being backed by serious money and McCann has indicated he could be persuaded to sell earlier than his planned date of March if the board decide it would be in the club's best interest.

A double by the Motherwell striker Owen Coyle accounted for Hearts in a 3-2 success at Fir Park and inspired him to pay tribute to his new manager, Billy Davies. Coyle's brace added to John Spencer's opener to continue Motherwell's impressive surge of form since Davies' arrival at the helm was christened with a painful 5-0 trouncing at St Johnstone in mid-October.

Motherwell have now risen to fifth in the Scottish Premier League with the often negative tactics deployed by Davies' predecessor, the cautious Finn, Harri Kampman, now consigned to the past.

Coyle said: "I know the players are the ones who have done the job, but the drive has been coming from the manager who is very enthusiastic and that rubs off on everybody.

"He was very attack-minded as a player and he is now looking to make us a very attack-minded team so hopefully we can do that and the fans will come back to Fir Park."

Hearts, who scored through a Jim Hamilton penalty and a skilful Vincent Guerin strike, are still without an away league win this season.

Elsewhere, Kilmarnock were frustrated by the resilience of Dundee at Dens Park in a 1-1 draw that left their goalscorer, Jerome Vareille, casting doubt on whether a title charge is realistic.

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