THERE is yet another big week on the horizon for Scottish teams in Europe and I can see both Old Firm clubs getting credible results.
Without undermining today’s league game for Rangers at Hamilton Accies – and it’s important for them to win away from home for the first time in the SPFL this season – the Europa League clash against Spartak Moscow, at Ibrox on Thursday evening, is mouthwatering.
A victory is well within their capabilities and that would put them on seven points from three games. That could mean the Light Blues are just one really good result away from qualifying for the last 32. That would be an unbelievable achievement.
Not only that, it also keeps the profile of Rangers on the up and up and people across Europe will be taking notice.
That can very beneficial in a number of ways.
For example, if your team is doing well in Europe then it should enhance the market value of a number of players.
That’s what happened to Celtic over a period of time when they were winning games in Europe, all of a sudden they had bids in excess of £10million for Victor Wanyama, Virgil van Dijk and Fraser Forster.
I’m not going to speculate how much any Rangers player might be worth, or what kind of bids they might receive in the future. But it certainly does your bargaining power no harm if clubs from England or abroad are showing an interest in the likes of James Tavernier or Alfredo Morelos.
Morelos really does have good potential – as long as he keeps to the rules on the park. He is of no value sitting in the stand.
That said, I’m sure Steven Gerrard will want to keep all of his best players at Ibrox. But it may not be harmful to have things to consider. It’s nice to have options.
Buying at bargain prices and moving on for huge profits is a good way to run a business. Celtic have achieved that many times in the past few years and all credit to them for that.
That said, the balance sheet won’t be on Brendan Rodgers’ mind on Thursday night when he goes to Leipzig.
German teams are always more than useful and the Hoops face an enormous task. But they are due a result away from home and this might just be the one.
However, they do face a powerful and talented football team. Remember, Liverpool signed Naby Keita from Leipzig in the summer for a fee in the region of £50m and he is a wonderful player. So, it shows the type of quality at Leipzig.
I think a point would be an excellent result for Celtic and that would set them up nicely for the second half of the group games, and give them a platform to build on.
Also, good results for both clubs this midweek would see them going into the Betfred Cup semi-finals in fine spirits.
Rangers, of course, play this afternoon and they will not be taking their eye off the ball. Hamilton will be difficult opposition and it’s never easy to play on that 4G surface.
Kyle Lafferty is not available for this game after the Northern Ireland FA invoked a rule that stops him for playing for his club within five days of pulling out of an international game.
That’s all very unfortunate and suggests that they felt that the player might not have been fully honest with them.
I’m sure it will come out and it will be interesting to see. But it might not be a bad one for Kyle to miss as an Achilles injury wouldn’t be suited to playing on Hamilton’s surface.
So, Steven will get on with it with the players he has available. He will be right up for this game and will want to win it to start a run of hugely important games.
Considering he had to make a number of changes to the Rangers squad during the summer, he deserves enormous credit for what he has done so far. He has bought well in the market – whether or be loan deals or permanent signings – and has also improved players. That is the sign of a very good manager.
Overall, Steven has given everyone at Ibrox a huge lift. His presence has been powerful.
I also believe it has taken Scottish football up a notch and other managers have responded.
You only need to look at what Hibs and Hearts have managed to do in the opening three months of the campaign. They have had some fine victories and played some very attractive football.
Kilmarnock are on course to improve again and then there has been the success for Livingston under Gary Holt.
Of course, as is always the case, sadly, people lose their jobs and Neil McCann at Dundee was the latest casualty.
Jim McIntyre has taken over and Jim knows the game well. He achieved good things at Ross County and will look to steer his new club up the table.