Scottish Premier League

Hoops start post-split at home

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Tue, 09 Apr 2013 19:14:00

Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic feels David Beckham has taken on an important leadership role at the club.

Having left the Los Angeles Galaxy, Beckham signed a five-month contract with PSG in January and has since made eight appearances for the Qatari-owned outfit, including a start in their 2-2 Champions League quarter-final first leg against Barcelona in Paris last week.

Speaking about the 37-year-old former Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan midfielder ahead of Wednesday's second leg, Ibrahimovic told CNN: "I think he has been very important for us.

"Because in the situation that we are in now, the club has been changing from a normal club to a top club, and Beckham gives you some kind of confidence.

"He has the responsibility, on the pitch and off the pitch, to lead the way for these two months (which) is very important.

"He has a quality, a big quality; he has a touch that I haven't seen many players have. And he is very elegant when he plays."

Beckham and Ibrahimovic are the two most high-profile among a number of notable signings PSG have made over the past couple of years following their Qatari takeover.

And Ibrahimovic, a former Barcelona player who joined the Ligue 1 leaders from AC Milan last summer, admits he is glad the ex-England captain is now helping share the spotlight.

"I think it's good for me that Beckham came so he gets more attention than me, so they leave me a little bit alone," Sweden international Ibrahimovic said.

"When I came here, everybody said 'don't worry, as a football player you can walk in the city and nobody will disturb you. Because as a football player here, it is not like it is in Italy'.

"But since the day, I came here it's been totally stressful. Everybody is chasing me with their scooters; I don't even walk in the streets.

"When David came, he got more of the media attraction, so that's good because he takes care of that and I can play football, focus on football."

Allen followed in his father's footsteps when he was appointed manager of the Robins in September 2008 but, after a difficult spell, left by mutual consent in December 2009.

Two stints at Barnet followed, sandwiching a short reign at Notts County, before Allen took over at Priestfield last summer. And he has enjoyed a season to remember in Kent, clinching automatic promotion with last weekend's 1-0 victory over Torquay.

The Gills could potentially seal the League Two title at Whaddon Road when the two teams meet on Saturday but Allen insists he is not going there to exact any kind of revenge on the Gloucestershire outfit.

He told Gillingham's official website: "No scores, I don't have to settle scores with anybody. I just do my job; I don't live in the past, I live to the future. It's a fantastic football club and it's the club I supported as a little boy, and for several years when my dad was the manager the supporters were good to me.

"I have some great memories there from when I was a boy, great times and I will always be very fond of that football club and no-one will ever change that.

"I'm going back there now as the manager of Gillingham. I certainly won't be dancing around on the touchline, I'll show respect to their supporters.

"I didn't do a very good job there, I made a lot of errors and a lot of mistakes and I should have done things differently."

Scottish Premier League chiefs have confirmed rivals Motherwell will kick off their post-split fixtures a day before the defending champions.

On Tuesday, the SPL revealed the final five rounds of top-flight fixtures, with Celtic starting the campaign run-in against Inverness on Sunday, April 21, while Stuart McCall's Fir Park side - 15 points behind the league leaders - will face Dundee United the day before.

Neil Lennon's men need just a point to wrap up their second successive league crown and will get their chance to celebrate in front of their own fans when they welcome Terry Butcher's Caley side to Celtic Park.

The Hoops will wrap up their season with games against Motherwell away on April 28, a trip to Ross County (May 5), a home clash with St Johnstone (May 11) and Dundee United at Tannadice on May 19.

The other big clash in the top six will see Motherwell take on Inverness on Saturday, May 4, at the Caledonian Stadium, with second spot in the league potentially up for grabs. Only three points currently separates the sides.

In the bottom six, Dundee - 13 points behind St Mirren at the foot of the table - could be relegated in Paisley on Saturday, April 20, if they lose to the Buddies.

The last Edinburgh derby of the season, meanwhile, is scheduled for Sunday, May 12, as Hibernian travel to Hearts' Tynecastle home, while the final round of matches in the bottom six will take place on Saturday, May 18.

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