Two faces of Celtic, Joey Barton, diving and Kilmarnock continuity

By Rob MacleanBBC Scotland
St Johnstone strikers Graham Cummins and Chris Kane
Graham Cummins and Chris Kane were booked for simulation against Hearts

If in doubt, get a yellow card out. In Scottish football's battle against diving, referees should be allowed to err on the side of a caution.

They won't get it right all the time, but I'm in favour of taking tougher action, even in borderline situations, to try to stamp out simulation once and for all.

St Johnstone pair Graham Cummins and Chris Kane are the latest players to go under the Sportscene "microscope" and, in both cases, there seemed to be minor contact and major over-reaction.

How many times do we have to see physically strong footballers flying through the air on the end of the mildest of challenges?

They should be staying on their feet and getting on with the game.

The cheats who get away with blatant diving are getting their fellow professionals in trouble.

It's they who should be getting booked and I'd be happy with a scattergun disciplinary approach on simulation until the conmen realise they won't get away with it.

Barton bust-up bursting Ibrox bubble

Joey Barton in training with Rangers
Joey Barton has been suspended by Rangers for three weeks

The Joey Barton sideshow is having its inevitable impact as Rangers make a stuttering start to the season.

When you invest in the 34-year-old midfielder's football talent, and there's been a limited return on that so far for the Glasgow club, you get the rest of the Barton baggage that goes with it.

Are we really surprised at the soap opera that this has become? Heavy Old Firm defeat followed by Murray Park bust-up and, in the third episode at Ibrox, Barton banned for three weeks.

The club suspension presumably buys Rangers time to work out a more permanent solution to their big question: How do you solve a problem like our Joey?

And, all the while, Premiership points are being frittered away. Rangers have won only two out of six league games so far and they badly need to get their eye back on the ball.

Case against Celtic's defence

Celtic's Erik Sviatchenko and Jozo Simunovic
Celtic conceded two more goals in Sunday's draw in Inverness

Keeping a clean sheet is proving to be a challenge for Celtic so far this season and they'll want to tighten up defensively if they're to realise their ambitions of landing a domestic treble and continuing their European adventure beyond Christmas.

Only twice in 13 games have they not conceded and the latest example of their vulnerability at the back was losing two goals in Inverness at the weekend, the second in the 89th minute, to drop Premiership points for the first time this season.

The goals against column, in all matches, stands at 21 and, while seven of those flew into the Celtic net in Barcelona against one of the best teams in the world, the stats do underline the need to improve in defence as they've already done in attack.

Veteran Kolo Toure has had a steadying influence when he's played, but I'm not yet convinced about former West Brom right-back Cristian Gamboa and there has to be a question mark about replacing Craig Gordon with Dutch goalkeeper Dorus de Vries.

Clearly, Celtic score more goals than they concede - they've netted 33 times since mid-July - but boosting their defensive organisation must be a priority for manager Brendan Rodgers.

Sinclair sees five

To be mentioned in the same breath as Celtic legend Jimmy McGrory is one of the greatest compliments that could be paid to current club scoring sensation Scott Sinclair.

Not since the great man was banging in the goals 80 years ago has a Celtic player found the net in the first five games of a league season.

McGrory went on to score in eight successive matches and you wouldn't bet against the former Swansea City and Aston Villa player matching that feat.

Sinclair hit the ground running when he nabbed the match-winner on his debut at Tynecastle last month and he's since scored in the Premiership against St Johnstone, Aberdeen, Rangers and Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

He's a class act and already proving to be £3.5m well spent.

Killie continuity hints at progress

Kilmarnock's Souleymane Coulibaly celebrates scoring against Partick Thistle
The tide of results could be turning for Kilmarnock

Kilmarnock fans pored over their team-sheet on Saturday and saw something familiar about the line-up.

For the first time since the summer, and that revolving door of new arrivals, manager Lee Clark had picked the same side for back-to-back matches.

On the bench was Nathan Tyson, Killie's 17th signing since last season ended, but the starting XI was unchanged.

The players appeared to thrive on some continuity and, having watched some disjointed performances from them in the last couple of months, I saw some progress in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Partick Thistle.

And there was nothing new about the guts of the side. Jamie MacDonald in goal, Kris Boyd up front, Stevie Smith with the captain's armband and a home-produced trio of youngsters in midfield - Dean Hawkshaw, Adam Frizzell and Rory McKenzie.

Kilmarnock are, of course, far from the finished article, but they do look now to be moving in the right direction.