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Soccer Scene O’Neill: No one can emulate Stein’s Celtic

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Joe Behan

Rangers hammered Celtic 5-1 at Ibrox to stop Martin O’Neill from upstaging the unbeaten record of the legendary Jock Stein. The fantastic run by Celtic was stopped in its tracks at 16 games when

£12 million signing Tore Andre Flo back healed Rangers’ second two minutes after Henrik Larsson made it 1-all.

Once Alan Thompson was sent off for Celtic, in the 65th minute, Rangers went on the rampage and avenged the 6-2 thumping earlier in the season by the Hoops.

The most interesting aspect of this game was the match preview by Martin O’Neill himself. His concerns and insights did indeed come true, which leaves the Celtic support a little dumbfounded.

It is hard to get one’s head around the astounding prophecies of O’Neill when he insisted: "I am very aware that Rangers are capable of winning this game, the one they have in hand, and going 12 or 14 unbeaten and taking almost maximum points, as they did last season. But after what we have achieved for ourselves, I believe we will be capable of picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves down and getting on with things when we hit that inevitable bad patch."

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All the apprehensions are there to see but what made O’Neill’s preview that much more interesting was when he said, "Even if we get hammered on Sunday . . . " And that’s what happened.

If the Celtic boss is right about Rangers putting together that unbeaten run, well, at least the Hoops know what they have to do. There was too much talk at Parkhead about matching Stein’s achievements and that’s understandable. Celtic, one of the most passionate supporters in the world, were given another prediction by O’Neill as he believes no Celtic manager will ever come close to Stein, winning the European Cup twice might. "Jock Stein is God," O’Neill declared.

Typical Manchester United

Arsenal and Liverpool were beaten over the weekend as Manchester United move further ahead. At the minute, it is not who will challenge Manchester United for the Premiership, but, rather, which teams in the pack can stop Alex Ferguson from running away with the title. The contenders may have to rely on one of the best tacticians in the game being George Graham when Spurs play Man. Utd. this weekend.

A delightful back stab by Paul Scholes as he raided the Derby box was met by the oncoming Teddy Sheringham to slot home for a Utd. goal. The execution of the goal showed the gap between the sides. Utd. were simply too fluent for County. Dwight York is getting his act together and struck a lovely goal in off the upright: 3-nil was the final score.

Luke Chadwick is the newest kid on the block at Old Trafford. He is David Beckham’s understudy.

Leeds scrap Gunners

Olivier Dacourt’s first goal for Leeds, a 55th-minute deflected free-kick, was the difference in this fiery affair. It has been that way for Leeds since the start of the season and perhaps their record signing of Rio Ferdinand may calm things down from the back. Arsenal had some chances and were more slick than Leeds but not more hungry.

There were seven bookings in the game and little or no friends were made in this one. Except after the game, Arsenal and French international midfielder Robert Pires said that Leeds manager David O’Leary was blowing kisses to him during the game after a touchline challenge on Lee Bowyer. Pires confronted O’Leary and accused him of provoking trouble.

Newcastle, Dyer Liverpool

Kieron Dyer put Liverpool away with a 70th goal from a Shearer touch. It was another scrappy game but Liverpool did try to make amends but it was too late. Emile Heskey got on the score sheet with a brave goal to make it 2-1, the final score. Utd.’s Shay Given, man of the match, made some outrageous saves that had a little luck as the ball just would not fall for Robbie Fowler. That’s three away loses in a row for the Pool.

Hoddle buy not think

West Ham United moved into the top half of the table for the first time this season by beating Southampton 3-2. United’s unbeaten run of five games looked threatened when Matt Oakley’s 30-yard shot flew past Shaka Hislop in the 20th minute. But just before halftime, the West hit Southampton for two. A great move involving Paolo Di Canio saw Frederic Kanoute nod a powerful header that goalie Paul Jones couldn’t hold.

The killer blow came in the form of the old war horse himself, Stuart Pearce. The 38-year-old blasted home a bad clearance by Southampton, who were unable to get back on equal terms across the board. It’s got to be mental at this stage for Glen Hoddle’s side, it most definitely is for the ex-England coach as he left the field with much on his mind.

Ince saves Robo

Paul Ince scored for Middlesbrough in the dying minutes of the game to share the points with Bradford. Ince got onto a ball and fired a vicious strike that spun under the City goalie, to the relief of Boro manager Bryan Robson. Speculation that the ex-superstar is under pressure to get results was firmly denied by Robson when he said, "I will do what is best for the club."

Robo and Ince go back in their playing days but time may be running out and a youth policy may be the answer to Boro’s future rather than the big dollar.

Roundup

Ipswich beat Manchester City 3-2 to go third in the premier.Joe Royle said his side were defensively ridiculous. Les Ferdinand scored an opportunistic hat trick that beat Leicester 3-nil. Sunderland and Peter Reid got a 1-nil win against old rivals Charlton.

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