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Chick Young's view

Rangers on-loan striker El Hadji Diouf
El Hadji Diouf's arrival at Rangers has received plenty of attention

Chick Young
By Chick Young
BBC Scotland football reporter

If Rangers deal their games in hand with the style of a card shark, they will remain in pole position for the Scottish championship.

But right now, for my money, Celtic are holding all the aces.

As Walter Smith turns defence lawyer for El Hadji Diouf, suggesting that serial killers get better publicity than the Senegalese headline maker, the Rangers manager is playing his cards right.

If he doesn't go in to bat for his players don't expect them to perform for him.

The Ibrox club are currently undergoing an exercise in short term-ism where the horizon stretches no further than the season's end.

As Celtic collect players like they were Panini stickers, Rangers are shopping at the Lucky Bag counter.


There is just one Champions League place up for grab at the season's end - and it ensures a long qualifying route at that.

If they fail to win it, the financial quicksand sucks them in ever deeper.

Believe me, next season, if Rangers were paying the wages of sin, you couldn't even get naughty.

Diouf was available, high-profile and, despite the baggage, a right good player.

No further questions could Smith afford to ask.

A recent spat - if you'll excuse the phrase - of bad publicity, when the then Liverpool player gobbed on a Celtic fan, has made Diouf none too popular.

But he was the gamble that Rangers couldn't refuse.

Diouf himself, meanwhile, must have things on his mind and, if not, why not? A clear conscience is usually the result of a bad memory.

This is some chance to polish up his act, but he had better get the Brasso out sharpish.

Celtic strikers Gary Hooper and Anthony Stokes
Hooper and Stokes are working well together at Celtic

But, while Smith's mass murderer comments were just a shade tongue in cheek, he did add that everyone makes mistakes and deserves a second chance.

Fair enough, but Diouf had better be prepared to be wound up like a clockwork railway.

He will be tortured and teased to the limit by opposition players and fans. His patience had better be elastic.

Red mist is a bad ailment for players and can sideline them for all sorts of durations. Ian Black, of Hearts, for example, seems particularly prone to the condition - though he is hardly a man alone.

Meanwhile, in the east end of Glasgow, Celtic are purring.

Gary Hooper and Anthony Stokes are a striking marriage brought together by a gifted matchmaker, and Beram Kayal and Emilio Izaguerre have been inspired signings.

Manager Neil Lennon has the look of a pessimist who fears this might go horribly wrong at any time.

But deep in his inner soul he must know that, as the fist anniversary of his appointment looms - and it was, may I remind you, just a temporary arrangement until last June - he has done sterling work.

Celtic are currently the best football team in the land. By a street they are.

The truth is that it will take extraordinary resolve from Rangers if they are to retain their title, to say nothing of a major contribution from their headline signing.

If Diouf's maverick days aren't over - and actually, from this distance, even if they are - Celtic for me look the spitting image of champions.

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see also
Lennon not relying on good form
03 Feb 11 |  Scotland
Smith slams Diouf media reception
02 Feb 11 |  Rangers
Rangers boss backs Diouf to shine
01 Feb 11 |  Rangers
Rovers' Diouf on loan at Rangers
01 Feb 11 |  Rangers

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