It’s a very tight Premiership at the moment, with the top six clubs separated by just four points. It’s also strange when you consider that Rangers and Celtic are at opposite ends of the top six. That hasn’t been the case too often over the years. There’s a long way to go on the league scene but this week took us much closer to the conclusion of the first trophy on offer this season, the Premier Sports Cup or, as most of us refer to it, the League Cup.

We’ve now got very interesting semi finals to look forward to with both Old Firm clubs there along with Hibernian and St Johnstone. The quarter finals were decent matches with no real surprises in terms of the final results. Rangers won very comfortably against Livingston, which was very significant after their victory over Celtic last weekend. This maybe illustrated the problems that Celtic are having currently in terms of playing away from home. It’s certainly very significant and embarrassing for one of the big two to have gone seven months without an away win. That will need to change soon for Celtic or there will certainly be a major fan reaction to the current management team and in particular Ange Postecoglou, if it doesn’t. Having a quarter-final tie at home against a lower division side was certainly a fortunate situation for Celtic but nevertheless, it was a good professional performance and a comfortable win on the night. Now they are playing St Johnstone in the semi final they will have a reasonable degree of positivity about how the season is going if in advance of this match they have turned around their poor away form.

I can’t talk about cup football without being very affirmative about St Johnstone. Under Callum Davidson, they did unbelievably well last season by winning both cups. With the semi final now to come against Celtic, they will be playing at Hampden for the fifth time this year. I still believe Davidson should have been manager of the season for 20/21 but maybe if they win this trophy he’ll get his deserved award this season. Rangers and Hibernian are probably relieved they have avoided drawing St Johnstone in the semi final but if the Saints’ cup run continues then whoever meets them in the final will have a degree of nervousness with having to take them on.

Hibernian have started the season well with a second place in the Premiership and only one defeat in 12 matches which was to Rijeka in the Europa Conference League. An easy win over Dundee United away from home is a measure of what they are capable of. I’m sure they would have been pretty confident of competing with whoever they got in the semi final. They haven’t played Rangers yet but they do have a league meeting next weekend, so this might give us an indication of how the semi final will go. However, as we’re two months away from the semi final, there could be changes to the form of both clubs prior to them meeting so you can’t consider current form as an indication of who will make it to the cup final.

The main thing about the cup semi finals is that we’ve got the two biggest clubs there, the team who are the current ‘best of the rest’ and the outstanding cup team over the last year. I think these will be games that will really create a lot of interest with the public in general as they are not easy to call. Last season was outstanding for Rangers but they couldn’t progress beyond the quarter finals of either the League Cup or Scottish Cup. This is why it won’t be taken for granted who will progress to this season’s final. I will be very keen to take in both games for that very reason and I’ll certainly wait to much nearer the time before I’m comfortable enough to give my predictions.

And another thing

I know I’ve spoken about this topic before, but I’m still being totally angered by the amount of cheating that goes on in the modern game. Week after week I’m watching matches where the video replays of the actions we’ve just watched, highlighting free kicks or penalties clearly demonstrates the incident was not similar to that considered by the referee in control of proceedings. I brought in retrospective punishment for simulation when I was CEO of the SFA as I felt that players gaining an advantage from being awarded a penalty or having an opponent sent off should be punished. What I would change in the current game is the use of VAR when it comes to players cheating in matches at the highest level. Two people are watching the matches and reporting directly to the referee regarding major incidents like offside, penalties and possible red cards. Why can’t these officials give immediate reports to the referee regarding cheating in order that a booking can be given right away? In my opinion this would definitely improve the behaviour of these imposters and clean up the game both currently and for future generations.