SCOTTISH football needs a strong Rangers.

How many times, in the name of the wee man, have we heard that over the last five years and, indeed, even now quite regularly some former employee of Ibrox pops up to parrot the party line despite the fact the club are back in the Premiership.

However, I shall place a tin hat on and suggest there's something in this.

Because for our game to flourish it would be much better if as many of our clubs as possible, in particular the bigger ones, were at least functioning well, and at best living up to their potential.

So, for example, if we had a league, as we did in the 1980s, when three and sometimes four teams began the season with a genuine chance of winning the Premiership then, obviously, that would be a good thing.

And, honestly, this is not having a go at the best Celtic team I have seen in quite some time.

It's just that title races are exciting. Last-day wins and losses live forever in the memory. The matches between those tussling at the top would be sell-outs.

As it happens, our game got along just fine when Rangers were on "The Journey" no matter what some try to peddle.

The idea Scottish football was going to die without them was insulting nonsense. Ironically, the one club which suffered, in terms of finance at least, was Celtic.

But, and I might be wrong here, I'm sure these same people who openly mourned the absence of Rangers didn't see a problem when Aberdeen were a bottom six side, or when both Hearts and Hibernian were in the Championship, where today you will find Dundee United, one of the teams of the 1980s who won a title and could have had several more?

Surely we want to see every club to be as strong as they can. Aberdeen are doing their bit, as are St Johnstone and so, too, our two Edinburgh clubs who meet tonight at Tynecastle.

Forget Rangers, Scottish football needs a strong Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian, to given them their proper names.

It's been a funny old year for Hearts – don't mention the forgotten seats -but Gorgie's finest are in pretty good fettle and are led by a manager who is going a long way to redeeming himself.

I've always been a bit of Craig Levein fan and, while he got off the slow-ish start, has Hearts playing some good football and they have picked up a fair amount of points.

Levein did make a hash of the Scotland job. His decision to play with no striker in Prague must keep him awake at night but his record at club level with Hearts first time around and especially Dundee United is good.

Sure, he got it seriously wrong with Ian Cathro and the prolonged stay away from Tynecastle didn't help him initially; however, there is a young, exciting team there and that's good for our league.

Some felt that Ann Budge went for the easy option to hire the guy down the corridor as manager but it was the sensible thing to do. Levein is not everyone's cup of team but I've always found him to be a good guy who clearly knew his stuff.

So Hearts being a competitive team again is a good thing, as has been the return of Hibernian.

Neil Lennon gets driven mad by his streaky team but they have been a breath of fresh air this season. A few bad days aside, Hibs play attacking football from front to back and are great to watch.

Tonight's derby could be superb.

And that's what we want. Two of our top clubs doing well and adding to the league going at it hammer and tongs in front of 20,000 punters which looks good on the telly.

Celtic will win the league by the best part of 20 points but that doesn't mean the second half of the Premiership season won't be exciting.

Kilmarnock have become a big story under Steve Clarke and could muscle their way into the top six the way things are going.

Whisper it, but this might be the strongest top tier we have had since Rangers went 'wibble'.

I've enjoyed it so far and I believe, hand on heart, that it will get even better.


KENNY Dalglish is, for me, the greatest British footballer of all time.

He is certainly the best to ever come from this country, which does count for something.

However, Dalglish's legacy will be how he behaved at the time and years following Hillsborough.

He attended every one of the 96 funerals, somehow kept that club, and city, together, and never stopped campaigning for the families to get justice.

And yet another honours list comes out without King Kenny becoming a knight.

Is it just an oversight or is the fact he went up against the establishment rather than writing them cheques gone against him?

I'll let you decide.