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Chick Young's view

By Chick Young
BBC Scotland football correspondent

The World Cup? It was a tale of ifs and butts. If only the superstars had turned up. The butts? Refer to Z for Zidane.

It was an awful way to bring down the curtain on a glorious career, a supreme artist unable to control the street-fighting instincts of a Marseille childhood.

No matter what form of verbal taunting he took from Marco Materazzi, Zizou should just have sorted him out in the tunnel.

In the end, it was a forgettable tournament that will be recalled in 50 years more for Zidane's nod than the football.
So what we need now is a memorable domestic season. The pre-season friendlies would suggest that you would be well-advised not to hold your breath.

There's no cliché like an old cliché, of course, and clubs - the Old Firm in particular - love to tell you that they don't play friendlies.

This, of course, is blatant nonsense. Rangers' love-in with Middlesbrough at Ibrox on Saturday was as competitive as a game of dominoes in my local.

The second-half action was so bad that referees, who have the right to apply time added on, should be allowed to take time off if a match is in danger of turning a crowd suicidal.

For all that, my pulse is fair racing at the prospect of the road that lies ahead, from a hot August afternoon when Celtic will raise the championship flag, through the dark winter nights and freezing afternoons, to the spring again, when hopefully we will be holding our breath in anticipation of a last-day showdown.

A year ago, I scoffed at the idea of Hearts as champions and, in the end, was proved right. But they flirted with the prospect and, truthfully, I never thought they would achieve even that.

Of course, I have purchased a new notebook and sharpened my pencil in anticipation of a wealth of nonsense pouring out the boardroom. Tynecastle is the soap opera capital of the game and those of use who earn our corn weaving tales remain eternally grateful.

Consequently, they have earned the right to be considered contenders. Vladimir Romanov has even purchased a submarine, presumably in the hope that there are 20,000 leagues under the sea and that surely Hearts can win one of them.

Gus MacPherson celebrates winning Division One
Gus MacPherson's St Mirren have returned to the SPL
And that, joyously, means that we face a three-horse race that just has to be an improvement on the traditional Old Firm version of Monopoly. A bored game if ever there was one.

And yet I still cannot see them coming out the shake-up with the Glasgow pair in their wake.

Me? I am prepared to push the gamble button and suggest to you that the persuading of Paul Le Guen to succeed Alex McLeish at Ibrox will win the title.

It remains an impressive appointment. People in France are still staring into their pastis, stroking their moustaches and making Gallic hand movements about the wonderment of one of their most talented young coaches taking a job in Scotland. Allez Les Bleus, right enough.

At the other end of the Scottish Premier League, let me boldly say that I have no fears about my own favoured side, St Mirren, yo-yoing back to from whence they came.

It's a bit like the World Cup. As I worked in Germany, it crossed my mind that our rapidly improving national side would not be running scared from the lion's share of the teams in Germany and that we are not, after all, that far off the pace of the world game.

Likewise, St Mirren won't win the league, nor qualify for Europe, but they will be the match of the clubs at the dodgy end of the division.

It'll be a dogfight down there, but players should be advised to keep the head. Unlike Zizou.

Taken from the BBC

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