The Scottish game from the Borders to the Highlands & Islands and beyond
The closing of the January transfer window is starting to be one of those great days in the football calendar, especially in Scotland after the fun and games of the last two years.
Robbie Keane's arrival at Celtic on loan from Tottenham exactly 12 months ago saw fans gathering outside the Parkhead stadium late into the night to welcome their exciting new signing, as Tony Mowbray briefly won the fans over with a shrewd, if temporary, piece of transfer business.
Fast forward 12 months and it's the Rangers' signing of El-Hadji Diouf from Blackburn Rovers on a short-term loan that has everyone talking...and not in quite the same way Keane's arrival in the SPL did.
What the Irishman brought to Celtic in a short space of time was plenty of goals as the Bhoys tried to salvage what had up until that point been a terrible SPL campaign. Keane may have scored 16 goals in 19 appearances, but Celtic fell to pieces in the last months of the 2009/10 season, typified by a 4-0 thumping by St Mirren that saw Mowbray sacked and Neil Lennon replacing him as manager. However you cannot argue his contribution regardless.
Rangers on the other hand have brought to Scotland a man so disliked in England after a string of misdemeanours and acts of sheer stupidity that you have to wonder just what Walter Smith is thinking of in his final months as Rangers manager before he leaves in the summer.
To say Diouf is a colourful character would be a huge understatement. Since arriving on these shores with Liverpool in 2001, he's been accused of spitting incidents at, not only fellow professionals, but an 11-year-old boy, and has also felt the long arm of the law by being collared over driving offences.
How could anybody hate that face? Oh, right - yeah...
And just last month was subject to a stinging attack by QPR boss Neil Warnock after being accused of shouting abuse at Jamie Mackie, while the Hoops star writhed in agony on the ground after suffering a leg break in an FA Cup tie with Blackburn.
It seems that he goes out of his way to court controversy and his move to Rangers, despite him having not kicked a ball yet, has done that already.
Some Rangers fans will be pleased at his arrival, with some of the mindset that he spat on a Celtic fan so that's already good enough. Sad, yet true. Others though are split on the Senegal international's move to the SPL.
Pundit Craig Burley voiced his strong opinion on ESPN the day after Diouf arrived, saying that he's not the kind of player wanted in Scotland, going to say he won't be happy commentating on matches he's involved with. If you hear his rant all the way, it's hard to argue with some of the points he makes.
As for his all round football ability, he is a player that is competitive and at times can do good with the ball. But in ten years south of the border, what has he actually achieved with Liverpool, Bolton, Sunderland and Blackburn? A big, fat zero is the answer to that.
Speaking personally, I've always believed him to be the epitomy of everything wrong with English football. An overpaid, mediocre and often foolish individual with money often seeming his only motivation and no interest in adding medals or achievements to his game.
The main arguments appear to be about his behavioural issues in the past and going by his charge sheet, it's hard to disagree. However the point should be taken that it's what he does in Scotland, however long he's here for, is what he should be judged on.
Diouf himself won't care. On the pitch he seems to revel in winding people up. In Scotland, he's already done that and he's not even graced a football pitch yet.
One thing's for sure though. Sunday's Scottish Cup tie between Rangers and Celtic will be much more fascinating if Diouf plays.
As a Rangers fan can I just say I can't stand the guy. I really don't like him as a person for some of the things he's done. But in football terms he could be exactly what Rangers needs. He's done nothing in the EPL but this is Scotland. So give him time, hope he behaves and spurs Rangers onto another title. Although from reading about some of the tackles he was getting last night he might not last that long....
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