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‘He’s got his head down’ – Steven Gerrard pleased with Sadiq Umar’s improvement – football news

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has expressed satisfaction with Sadiq Umar’s improvement in training after warnings that he should ‘improve everything’ and fight for his spot in September.

Since his temporary arrival from Roma in the summer, the Nigeria youth international has struggled at the Ibrox Stadium having played just 13 minutes of football in the Scottish Premier League this campaign.

With Rangers facing selection crisis [Alfredo Morelos’ suspension and Kyle Lafferty is cup-tied] ahead of their League Cup semi-final clash against Aberdeen next Sunday, Gerrard gave an update on Umar’s progress in training with the thought of having the 21-year-old in his plan for the future.

“Umar has shown that improvement. He’s been working very hard. He’s got his head down. He’s improved a lot,” Gerrard was quoted by Scottish Sun.

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“His application has improved, his quality has improved so he’s given me something to think about for the future.

“I don’t know (if the warning has sparked the change), that’s something you’d have to ask Umar.

“But sometimes when a manager is honest with you, sometimes you have to go away and self-reflect. If you’re a proper footballer, you go analyse and come back stronger.”

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When was the last time Celtic or Rangers didn’t win the Scottish Premiership? – football news

The dominion held by Old Firm foes Celtic and Rangers over Scottish football is one of the most dominant in the history of the game.

In 121 seasons of top-flight football in Scotland, the Glasgow giants have come out on top on a combined total of 103 times and the longest run without an Old Firm champion is just three years.

A remarkably small collection of teams share the remaining space on the honour roll, with a handful of pretenders enjoying what could perhaps tentatively be called ‘golden eras’.

Celtic are the reigning champions, but both they and Rangers have endured desperately poor starts to their 2018-19 league campaigns.

That fact has opened up the possibility that the Old Firm duopoly may be broken up for the first time in a long time. GBP Sports takes a look at when it last happened.


Who last won the Scottish league before Celtic or Rangers?


Ronald Reagan was in the White House, Margaret Thatcher was the British Prime Minister and Italy were the best team in the world when a team other than Celtic or Rangers were crowned Scottish champions.

The 1984-85 season saw Aberdeen lift the league title as they finished seven points clear of David Hay’s Celtic and 21 points ahead of Jock Wallace’s Rangers.

It was Aberdeen’s second league triumph in as many seasons and their fourth of all time.

Scottish champions in the 1980s (1979-80 to 1988-1989)

Season Winner Runner-up Third
1979-80 Aberdeen Celtic St Mirren
1980-81 Celtic Aberdeen Rangers
1981-82 Celtic Aberdeen Rangers
1982-83 Dundee United Celtic Aberdeen
1983-84 Aberdeen Celtic Dundee United
1984-85 ABERDEEN Celtic Dundee United
1985-86 Celtic Hearts Dundee United
1986-87 Rangers Celtic Dundee United
1987-88 Celtic Hearts Rangers
1988-89 Rangers Aberdeen Celtic

Sandy Jardine Hearts Alex Ferguson Aberdeen

A 43-year-old Alex Ferguson was the mastermind behind the Dons’ success during that period and he would go on to manage Manchester United not long afterwards, taking the reins at Old Trafford in 1986.

The 1980s were a relatively lean decade for the Old Firm as they failed to secure league honours in four seasons in all, a trend that had not been seen in Scotland since the late 1940s into the 1950s. 

Last 10 Scottish champions (2008-09 to 2017-18)

Season Winner Runner-up Third
2017-18 Celtic Aberdeen Rangers
2016-17 Celtic Aberdeen Rangers
2015-16 Celtic Aberdeen Hearts
2014-15 Celtic Aberdeen Inverness CT
2013-14 Celtic Motherwell Aberdeen
2012-13 Celtic Motherwell St Johnstone
2011-12 Celtic Rangers Motherwell
2010-11 Rangers Celtic Hearts
2009-10 Rangers Celtic Dundee United
2008-09 Rangers Celtic Hearts

Since Aberdeen’s 1985 triumph though, it has been business as usual, with the Glasgow giants sharing the title between themselves in every subsequent season.

Hearts did finish level on points with Celtic in 1985-86, but lost the title on goal difference, despite leading the division by two points going into the final game.


Who has won the most Scottish Premiership titles?


Rangers league champions 2011

Rangers are the most successful club in the history of Scottish football, with 54 league titles in their expansive trophy cabinet.

Celtic have long been in the shadow of their cross-town rivals, but recent success under managers such as Neil Lennon, Ronny Deila and Brendan Rodgers has seen them narrow the gap. The Parkhead side have won the league on 49 occasions, meaning they are just five shy of equalling Rangers.

Outside of the Old Firm, three teams follow, with Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibernian boasting four league triumphs each. The full breakdown of Scottish champions can be seen in the table below. 

Team Number of titles Last title
Rangers 54* 2010-11
Celtic 49 2017-18
Aberdeen 4 1984-85
Hearts 4 1959-60
Hibernian 4 1951-52
Dumbarton 2* 1891-92
Motherwell 1 1931-32
Kilmarnock 1 1964-65
Dundee 1 1961-62
Dundee United 1 1982-83
Third Lanark 1 1903-04

*Rangers and Dumbarton shared a title in 1891

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From 1989 until 1997 Rangers were the undisputed masters of Scottish football, lifting the league title in nine consecutive seasons. 

However, Celtic re-emerged from the shadow of their rivals at the turn of the millennium, limiting the Gers to just four league triumphs since the 2000-01 campaign.

In recent years, with Rangers being forced to work their way back up the divisions, Celtic have firmly established their dominance, winning the last seven titles in a row.

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Villarreal vs Rangers: TV channel, live stream, squad news & preview – football news

A tough start to the Europa League campaign awaits Rangers in Spain as they pay a visit to Villarreal on Thursday.

Steven Gerrard’s team have had an indifferent start to the campaign but recovered from their recent defeat to Celtic by beating Dundee 4-0 on Saturday to take a much-needed confidence boost into the midweek tie.

The continental competition poses a different challenge for the Glasgow side, however, and Gerrard knows they are underdogs as they look to scrape a result against the Yellow Submarine. 

Game Villarreal vs Rangers
Date Thursday, September 20
Time 5:55pm BST / 12:55pm ET

TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch


In the United States (US) the game will be shown on Univision Deportes, and is available to stream live online via Bleacher Report Live.

US TV channel Online stream
Univision Deportes B/R Live

In the UK the game will shown on BT Sport 3 and is available to stream via the BT Sport online app.

UK TV channel Online stream
BT Sport 3 BT Sport Live

Squads & Team News


Position Villarreal squad
Goalkeepers Sergio Asenjo, Fernandez, Barbosa
Defenders Gaspar, Alvaro, Funes Mori, Victor Ruiz, Jaume Costa, Llambrich, Bonera, Layun
Midfielders  Caseres, Fornals, Trigueros, Pedraza, Fuego, Cazorla, Bruno Soriano, Raba, Chukweze, Lomotey
Forwards Moreno, Bacca, Sansone, Ekambi

Bruno Soriano and Santiago Caseres are both absent through injury and Jaume Costa is serving a suspension carried over from last season.

Potential Villarreal XI: Asenjo, Gaspar, Gonzalez, Ruiz, Pedraza, Trigueros, Layun, Cazorla, Fornals, Moreno, Bacca.

Position Rangers squad
Goalkeepers McGregor, Foderingham, McCrorie
Defenders Tavernier, Goldson, Flanagan, Ross McCrorie, Katic, Bradley, Barisic, Worrall, McAuley
Midfielders Dorrans, Jack, Ejaria, Halliday, Coulibaly, Kent, Arfield, Kelly, Grezda
Forwards Candeias, Sadiq, Morelos, Lafferty, Middleton

Ovie Ejaria, Ryan Jack and Gareth McAuley are all out through injury, while Alfredo Morelos and Jon Flanagan are suspended.

Potential Rangers XI: McGregor, Tavernier, Katic, XX, Barisic, Halliday, Arfield, Coulibaly, Candeias, Kent, Lafferty.


Betting & Match Odds


Villarreal are strong favourites to win at 4/11 with bet365. Rangers are priced at 19/2 to win and a draw is a 4/1 bet.

Click here to see more offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.


Match Preview


James Tavernier Rangers

Steven Gerrard has a “quiet confidence” about Rangers’ chances of causing an upset in Group G and is hoping they can make a bright first impression Thursday’s clash with Villarreal.

A draw at the Estadio de la Ceramica would be considered a positive result for the Scottish side as they take on the side that finished fifth in La Liga last term.

Villarreal have hardly been at their best so far, though. Last week’s win at Leganes was their first of the season and they have lost both of their home matches.

With Santi Cazorla, Carlos Bacca and Miguel Layun in their ranks, they have several stars capable of creating danger for the visitors, but Gerrard says his players must not be underestimated.

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“We are the underdogs in the group in terms of people’s opinions on the outside, but inside the dressing room, we have a quiet confidence about us and a belief that we can cause an upset, a shock and try to get out of the group,” he said.

“I will always say the same thing, it is important to face what is in front of you, and that is Villarreal right now. But, of course, we are not here to make the numbers up. We are here to challenge the group and see where we end up.”

He added: “But we all believe it is where this club should be – we are at a huge football club which has had difficult times. I don’t think many gave us a chance of getting to this stage.”

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Premier League clubs will pursue Gerrard & Lampard, says Rooney – football news

Wayne Rooney does not believe it will be long before his former England team-mates Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are being lined up for Premier League managerial roles, saying that it is ‘the right time for English managers to step forward’.

Gerrard and Lampard have each taken their first steps in management this season, with Liverpool legend Gerrard moving on from his role with their academy to assume charge at Rangers, while Lampard has taken the reins at Derby County.

Rooney, who left boyhood club Everton earlier this year to move to MLS side D.C. United, played with the pair at international level for 11 years between 2003 and 2014, and expects them to move onto bigger things at the top table of English football in the not-too-distant future.

“I think it is brilliant for those two,” the 32-year-old told the Mail on Sunday. “It is the right time for young English managers to step forward.

“I am sure in two or three years there will be clubs in the Premier League coming to try to snatch them away.”

The former Manchester United striker, who has seen a rejuvenation following his departure to the USA from Merseyside this summer, also laid out his plans to move into management himself, reiterating a desire to move to the dugout when his playing days are over.

“Football is what I know. It is what I have done my whole life,” Rooney added.

“I just think it a shame when you see players who have had careers like mine, when they have been footballers from a young age, you see them finish and they just walk away from the game.

“A good way to start out as a manager is to, first of all, be honest with your players, but also know your players and know how to manage them.

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“I think man-management is more important sometimes than the training you do.”

Rooney’s D.C. United defeated Eastern Conference rivals Minnesota United 2-1 on September 13 and take on New York Red Bulls today.

Gerrard’s Rangers drubbed Dundee 4-0 on September 15 and next face Villarreal in their first group stage game of this season’s Europa League, while Lampard’s Derby County will look to bounce back from a 1-0 loss to Rotherham when they host Blackburn Rovers on September 18.

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Celtic captain Brown happy to assert dominance again over Rangers in Old Firm derby – football news

Celtic captain Scott Brown admitted that he was satisfied to help his side reaffirm their status as Glasgow’s best football team after they defeated Rangers 1-0 in the Scottish Premiership.

The Parkhead outfit’s cross-city rivals, under new manager Steven Gerrard, had enjoyed an unbeaten start to the new season both at home and abroad ahead of the Old Firm derby.

Oliver Ntcham’s second-half score however was enough to ensure that Brendan Rodgers’ side came away with the three points and local bragging rights as they extended their unbeaten streak in the fixture to 12 games.

Brown, the former captain of the Scotland national team, has featured in his fair share of Old Firm fixtures since arriving at Celtic Park in 2007 and acknowledged that he was pleased with the result.

“Performance wise it was exceptional. From start to finish, we dictated,” the 33-year-old said.

“They came to Celtic Park and we pretty much showed them who was boss for 90 minutes.

“The lads have been outstanding these last two seasons and it’s about kicking on now. They didn’t want to press us too high up the park because they had a hard game in midweek and they were probably a bit leggy.

“We’ve got a great team spirit and we showed it again on the park. We celebrated together. But when we lose we also lose together and that’s what a good team does.

“Craig [Gordon] has had one save to make in 90 minutes. If it hadn’t been for Allan McGregor then it could have been a bit more.”

For the first time since former Liverpool manager Rodgers arrived in Glasgow two years ago, Celtic have endured a rough month or so, following a failure to qualify for the Champions League group stages amid a fraught transfer window, though Brown maintains that the squad have not lost their focus.

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“People can question us all they want, but it’s about team spirit and what we do in the dressing room,” he added.

“There’s always going to be hard days but it’s about how you come back.

“We don’t read too much in the press or in social media. We just stick together and work as hard as we can.”

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Gerrard would be in crisis at Rangers if not for Europa League – Commons – football news

Steven Gerrard’s start to life at Rangers has been heavily overrated, according to former Celtic star Kris Commons, who believes fans have been tricked into thinking they have made progress under their new manager.

Rangers lost for the first time under the former Liverpool midfielder in any competition when they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to arch-rivals Celtic on Sunday.

However, the Ibrox side’s five points from four games in the Scottish Premiership marks their worst start to a domestic season since 1989-90.

Gerrard has received praise for guiding his team to the Europa League group stage this season, but Commons believes that achievement has compensated for their underwhelming start, stating they should really be in a crisis.

“All the pre-match talk centred on the theory that Rangers had closed the gap on Celtic since the sides last met. That Steven Gerrard’s men were in a really strong position going into the first Old Firm game of the season,” the former Celtic star wrote in the Scottish Daily Mail

“But the bottom line is that this is the worst start Rangers have made to a league season since 1989-90. That’s extraordinary.

“The feel-good factor has certainly improved recently but only because they are now playing in European football until Christmas. Strip that away and it would already be crisis time.

“I saw Rangers at Aberdeen and Motherwell and they are still a squad who’ve been put together in a very short space of time.

“They have a better quality of player there. But, on the evidence of yesterday, they are still way off it.

“Ever since I’ve been up in Glasgow, it’s all about the league. Not only do you need to be competitive. You need to be winning it.

“It’s the title which the fans want. It’s that which then gives you the means to attract better players and make real inroads in Europe.

“I know it’s early but they are now sitting seventh in the Premiership. That puts them behind Hibs, St Johnstone and Livingston as well as Hearts, Celtic and Kilmarnock.

“It’s already getting to crunch time for Gerrard’s players where they’re going into games knowing they’ve got to win. If they slip up again, it’s a long way back.

“The wool has been pulled over people’s eyes in terms of how improved they are. If Pedro Caixinha had overseen the worst start to a league season in 29 years, they’d be calling for his head.”

But Commons sees room for improvement and believes the upcoming international break will allow Gerrard to get his team into shape and climb up the table.

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“After the 3-3 draw with Motherwell and yesterday’s defeat, Gerrard would have learned a little bit more about his squad,” he added.

“After a gruelling spell, the international break gives him time to work on some things and implement more.

“His players will need to learn fast, though. Despite their commendable achievements in Europe, they are already at the point where there is no room for error domestically.”

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Celtic launch investigation after fans are hurt in ‘shambolic’ Old Firm overcrowding incident – football news

Celtic have promised to investigate an overcrowding incident at Sunday’s Old Firm derby match that led to five people being injured.

Hundreds of supporters became stuck outside the North Stand ahead of the meeting with Rangers, which the champions won 1-0.

According to Chief Superintendent Brian McInulty of Police Scotland, five people were hurt, one of whom was taken to hospital after falling from a wall, in what some fans described as “a crush” outside the ground.

“People couldn’t walk round the stadium anymore, so there was a bottleneck under the north stand,” an unnamed fan told BBC Sport.

“Suddenly there was an absolute crush because there were about 1,000 people trying to get one way and about 1,000 trying to go the other way. The corridor is only six to seven people wide.

“They kept letting people through from either side of the corridor and it became a crush, with people getting semi-trampled.

“I was behind a woman with a boy of about 10 who was getting rocked and people were panicking and climbing over the fences as they couldn’t actually breathe properly. It was that bad.”

Another supporter, named as Martin Lennon, told Sky Sports: “The scenes were shambolic. After being refused access down London Road, I tried to go through the Janefield Street tunnel, the main route round the stadium.

“When I got there I found myself among thousands of supporters who were blocked from using the tunnel. There was no warning, no explanation, nothing over the PA system, no details about alternative routes and only a handful of police.”

Celtic later issued a statement in which they vowed to work with police to find out what happened.

“We are aware of the issues caused by congestion prior to kick-off,” they said. “We are pleased that stewards and police were able to assist quickly and we thank our supporters for their patience shown while the matter was being dealt with.

“We will work closely with police to investigate and review this matter. The safety of our supporters will always be our priority.”

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I had to fight Celtic to make €22m Lyon move – Dembele – football news

Moussa Dembele has admitted that he had to fight hard to ensure he made a deadline day move to Lyon from Celtic.

After two years in Scotland, where he won six trophies with Brendan Rodgers’ side, the Frenchman has moved back to his homeland, with OL having brokered a late €22 million (£20m/26m) deal with the Europa League hopefuls.

Dembele, though, has said he needed to battle with his previous employers to ensure his dream move went through before the close of the window, with the 22-year-old having apparently criticised his previous employers via social media.

“It was a certainty that I wanted to come to Lyon,” he said. “I was determined to come here and the Celtic board had to back down. It was hard. I gave everything and, finally, it paid off.”

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, meanwhile, was impressed with the desire the France Under-21 striker had to move to the club.

“I want to thank him because he’s talented and he’s shown determination to come here,” he said. “Without that, it would not have happened.

“Lyon has financial power that’s known all over Europe. Sometimes you have to use it. We had to be flexible and smart to finish negotiating and to reach an agreement with Celtic. I’m personally very happy, I’m satisfied and confident.”

Head coach Bruno Genesio, meanwhile, is looking forward to unleashing his new attacking weapon, who has arrived to replace Mariano Diaz, Cristiano Ronaldo’s replacement as Real Madrid’s No.7.

“He’s the type of player we don’t have in our team,” he said. “He’s a real No.9. We’ll need him, especially in the Champions League. He gives me more possibilities. He can play alone or with another forward by his side.

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“His desire to come to the club really impressed me. He wanted to join our project after our first discussions with him.”

Dembele, whose spell at Celtic was hampered by hamstring injuries, scored 51 times in 94 outings in Celtic, having previously spent time in the youth ranks of Paris Saint-Germain and Fulham.

Lyon, meanwhile, suffered a disappointing 1-0 loss to Nice on Friday.

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