Football: Scottish round-up: Rangers have work to do

Click to follow
The Independent Online
There were signs on Saturday that the accepted order in Scottish football could be about to change. As David Murray, the Rangers chairman, and Fergus McCann, of Celtic, consider the set-up of their "super league", the current system was throwing up an unusual occurrence.

For the first time in 26 years, St Johnstone recorded a victory over Rangers, an occasion so rare it will inevitably lead some to conclude that Rangers' dominance of the Scottish game may be about to end.

Heart of Midlothian, who beat Dundee United 2-0 at Tynecastle to move level with Rangers on points, will use Saturday's result to rekindle belief in their own chances of lifting the title, and if Celtic beat Aberdeen tonight they will make up a triumvirate level on points at the top of the Premier Division.

The situation at the start of February is more open than it has been for many years, partly because Rangers are not playing well, a fact acknowledged by their manager, Walter Smith.

"We're showing no consistency or desire, which is worrying. We only show a reaction when other teams score right now, and that won't do."

With Paul Gascoigne restricted to the bench with a groin strain, and Marco Negri out of action with an eye injury, Rangers did not have much ingenuity against St Johnstone. Hearts and Celtic will believe that their time may have come.

The biggest enemy for Hearts is a lack of self-belief, and perhaps a small squad that will in time be caught by injury and suspension. However, their 2-0 win over Dundee United, achieved through a Colin Cameron double, has set them up for Sunday's game with Celtic.

Celtic themselves have shown a fragility against the smaller sides, but if they are to stay in contention they must dispose of an Aberdeen side that has a poor defensive record this season.

- David McKinney