27 November ~ Cast your minds back to May 7, 1994. It is the day after the Channel Tunnel opened, John Smith is leader of the Labour Party and Blur's Parklife is the country's number one album. It is also the date of Kilmarnock's last home win over Rangers. That is 17 and half years of the occasional hard-fought draw and more than the occasional thumping. The most recent of these came on the final day of last season, as Rangers, looking to clinch the title, went 3-0 up inside seven minutes and eventually ran out out 5-1 winners.

It was embarrassing but predictable. A team that had won plaudits all season for some of the best football ever seen at Rugby Park seemed to have one foot on the beach from the moment Mixu Paatelainen left the manager's job to take over the Finnish national side at the end of March. As Paatelainen's replacement Kenny Shiels has mentioned in the build-up to this weekend's encounter, some players may have been protecting themselves before moving elsewhere in the summer.

Shiel's position is an interesting one. You would expect that a record of three wins in 23 SPL games would lead to demands for a change, "Shiels Out" banners and maybe even the odd protest march from a pub. However, he has some goodwill in the bank as he was part of Paatelainen's management team and has an excellent reputation as a youth coach. A decent League Cup run with a Hampden semi-final to come against local rivals Ayr United hasn't hurt either.

His popularity can be traced largely to the style of football on show. Admirably, Shiels has stuck to the entertaining passing game that served the team so well for most of last season. When it clicks, as it did in the 4-1 win over Hibs and the first half against Celtic a few weeks ago, it is a joy to behold. But when the players fail to string a couple of passes together the roof can cave in, Exhibit A being the 6-3 reverse in the last home game against bottom club Inverness.

Which Killie will turn up today? A team that has scored six goals in their two previous home games should be full of confidence but when nine goals have been conceded in those same two games and just one point has been collected, only a fool would dare predict today's score. So I predict some attractive Killie moves resulting in praise from the media, one or two chances created (and missed) and that a ruthless, clinical Rangers run out 2-0 winners. Andy Wilson


Comments (6)
Comment by henry 2011-11-27 14:40:48

Nice article. Can you do one next week on how Chelsea are going to stroll past Valencia into the Champions League knock-out stages?

Comment by Alex Anderson 2011-11-27 15:07:29

Congratulations, Killie. Today you allied the requisite steel to that open attacking style. Huge result for you - could yet be a huge result for Rangers - and all the best in kicking on from here.

Comment by oscar mike 2011-11-27 15:54:31

"only a fool would dare predict today's score". Indeed, ahem. Concede 6 to the bottom side, then beat the leaders. Go figure.

Comment by Rogin, veranda chair fan 2011-11-27 17:43:09

Man United have never lost in Switzerland, can you do that one next?

Comment by ingoldale 2011-11-28 10:20:31

Last year, I had a season ticket at Easter Road and I can safely say Kilmarnock were one of the best teams I saw last year in Scotland. Connor Sammon's opening goal v Celtic - if I remember rightly - (at Rugby Park) was a great example of some of the football they can produce. A fluid, fast paced counter attacking move which had everything - a nice turn and pass from Eremenko and a great first touch and finish from Sammon. In fact, over the last 3 seasons Dundee, Hibernian, Killie and this year St. Mirren and Motherwell have all impressed at least at some point with great passing football. It is refreshing to see and instills hope that interest could yet still return to the SPL.

Comment by ingoldale 2011-11-28 10:21:39

By Dundee, I meant Craig Levein's Dundee United side of 2009/10.

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