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Celtic High On Cup Win As SPL Resumes

Here’s the weekly Full Scottish ahead of the weekend’s SPL action following a great win for Celtic in the League Cup Final.

The Full Scottish

By Brian P. Dunleavy

Are we still riding a high from the League Cup final on Sunday? The Hoop’s 2-1 win over Rangers at Hampden had everything you could ask for: spirited play (from both sides), tension and some great attacking football (again, from both sides). And the result was nice, too—at least from our perspective. However, time marches on and while the Celtic victory was cause for celebration (for some), there are other matters at hand.

Does Celtic eat its young?

Winger Mikey Johnston’s decision to represent Ireland (via his Derry-born grandparents) was welcome news in the Republic, where the national team has lacked a creative spark for some time. Still, many have noted that Johnston—who is still just 23—struggled to get game time at Parkhead, particularly under current manager Ange Postecoglou. At least on paper, Johnston, a native Glaswegian, seems like the kind of player who would thrive in “Angle-ball.”

There’s still time, of course, but the fact he is now finding it difficult to break into the starting XI at Vitoria, where he’s on a season-long loan, may be a red flag. Celtic isn’t supposed to be the training program for the national team in Ireland, a country with which the club has a natural affinity. However, many observers in the Republic are questioning whether the Glasgow giants are even a proper place for young Irish players to develop, what with recent recruits such as Liam Scales (on loan at Aberdeen), Johnny Kenny (loaned to Shamrock Rovers) and Jonathan Afolabi (now at Bohemians) struggling to break through in Scotland.

The Dundee United Challenge

Jim Goodwin wasn’t out of work for long. After getting the sack at Aberdeen in January, following a horrific run of results that ended with a Scottish Cup loss to semi-pro side Darvel, the Irishman (coincidentally a former Celtic youth product who never made it to the first team) is back in the dugout at Tannadice. Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire. United currently sit at the bottom of the table in the Prem, four points back from 11th-place Kilmarnock. Goodwin’s appointment has divided the support, large segments of which have questioned the competence of the club’s board and American chairman Mark Ogren over the past couple of years. Keeping the Terrors up is clearly Goodwin’s remit—but is he up to the task?

Can we leave it with Levein already?

Prior to Goodwin’s appointment at United, some pundits floated the idea of former Hearts and Scottish national team manager Craig Levein as manager, or perhaps director of football. In fact, Herald Scotland reported that Levein had strong support within the board at Tannadice. True or not, Levein remains—for now—at Brechin City, where he serves as an advisor. Fairly or not, Levein is still linked with the 4-6-0 formation he once used during his time with the national team. He had his reasons then, but if ever a club needed an innovator at the helm, it’s Dundee United. Levein continues to be mentioned whenever a job opens in Scotland (much like former Celts boss Neil Lennon), but an innovator he is not.

How special is the support?

A recent survey by Transfermarkt suggests that Scottish football has the highest match attendance per capita in European football this season. Data from the Germany-based football analysis firm found that the SPFL had 21.3 attendees per 1,000 people in the country’s general population at matches across its top four divisions, and a weekly average support of 117,700 supporters (true, roughly half of that number passes through the turnstiles at Parkhead or Ibrox). That’s nearly double the per capita attendance of second-place Netherlands, which has 12.9 attendees per 1,000 people. England and Wales sit fifth in the survey with 11.4 attendees per 1,000.

Take that, EPL!

Scottish football association

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