Friday, 2 August 2013

Scottish Football Preview

Scottish Premiership

A new title, a new league and a new play-off but no sponser.  With the possibility of two teams relegated and Hearts starting with no money and a 15 point deduction 2013-14 looks to be an interesting season in scottish football.



Aberdeen

The Dons have been the biggest spenders (bar the old firm) this Summer in a bid to give manager Derek McIness a squad to end Aberdeen's under-achievning and 18 year trophey drought. The Reds' first signing was Cape Verde Islands international Cavin Zola on a Free Transfer. Followed by Gregg Wylde and  ex- Scottish international Barry Robson from Bolton and Sheffield United also on free transfers. With another ex-Dundee United star Nicky Weaver signed from the other side of Sheffield. Also with the signing of Willo Flood from Dundee United and the loan signing of Micheal Hector from Readng. My prediction with the new signings is for a top 4 finish.

Celtic

The defending champions will have their sights set on Europe as well as the league. Even with the loss of Victor Wanyama (£12m to Southampton) and Gary Hooper (£5m to Norwich) it is very hard to look past Celtic for the Premiership title. Despite this I dont think that Celtic will runaway with the league. Neil Lennon has signed Amido Balde from Portugese side Vitoria as well as Steve Mouyokolo as a free agent. Celtic didn't have a great pre-season with only one win (2-1 vs Brentford) and five losses.  However, Cetlic beat Cliftonville 5-0 on aggregate in the UEFA Champions League 2nd Qualifing round. My prediction is for Celtic to win the League by 15 points.

Dundee United

After 9 summer signings, Jackie MacNamara will be looking to take United to Europe for the fourth time in 5 years. Despite the departure of Jon Daly (to Rangers), Willo Flood, Barry Douglas (Lech Poznan) and Johnny Russell (Derby County £750K) the manager has replaced them with Brian Graham (Raith), Paul Paton (Partick Thistle) and the loan return of Tannadice legend David Goodwillie (Blackburn). This will be the managers first full season in charge of the tannadice club. The Tangerines pre-season tour of Germany and Spain went badly but after a 3-1 victory in Dunfermiline and a 1-0 win away to the FA cup winners, Wigan, United seemed to have peaked at the right time. My prediction is for a top 4 finish.

Heart of Midlothian

Starting the season with a 15 point deduction and the possibility of liquidation. Hearts' season may be over before its begun. Hearts have been able to sign Danny Wilson on a permanent basis. Despite this they have lost quite a number of key first team players, these are : Darren Barr (Kilmarnock), Fraser Mullen (Hibs) and John Sutton (Motherwell). The Jambo's Pre-season has been a mixed bag with a 5-1 defeat to Dinamo Bucherest, a 5-0 win over Raith, a 2-1 win against Dunfermiline, 2-0 win over Crusaders and a 0-0 draw at Palmerston against Queen of the South. My predection is for bottom and relegation.


Hibernian

Hibs manager Pat Fenlon did not experience a great pre-season as they lost one of four friendlies (Nottingham Forest 2-1), drew two (Dumbarton 1-1 and Raith 0-0), and won one (Gibraltar 3-1). Hibs' European campaign was named "embarrassing" as a 0-7 loss to Swedish side Malmo resulting in a 9-0 aggregate loss knocked the Hibees out of Europe. They lost Leigh Griffiths after his loan spell ended and 3 other first team players. However, Hibs signed 6 players including James Collins for £200,000 from Swindon. My prediction is a bottom 6 finish with them fighting to avoid Relegation.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Terry Butcher's side have had a great pre-season with 8 wins and 1 draw including a 7-1 win away to Arbroath and a 1-0 win at the Valley against Charlton. With 12 players - in all but one (northern Ireland) from English clubs, and 14 out, this season Caley will look a lot different to last season. Last season Caley were unlucky to miss out on Europe as they were either 2nd or 3rd for most of last season. My prediction is for a top 6 finish for the Highland side.

Kilmarnock

After the sacking of Kenny Shields, Kilmarnock played three friendlies with two wins (0-1 vs East Fife and 0-2 vs Glentoran) and a draw (2-2 vs Carlisle United). Kille have not lost any players in the transfer window but have only bought Darren Barr from Heart of Midlothian. It will be interesting to see how Kille fare with new manager Allan Johnstone - in his first season in charge. My prediction for the Ayrshire side is similar to last season a bottom 6 finish.

Motherwell

After a great season last season, The Well's pre-season has not been well, with two draws (0-0 vs Doncaster and 1-1 vs Notts Forest) and a loss (2-4 vs Newcastle) this was not the ideal preparation for their Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round match against Kuban Krasdandor. Stewart McCall has signed 7 players and lost 11 including Henrik Ojamma and Nicky Law, though the new signings of John Sutton and Iain Vigurs. My prediction for the Lanarkshire side is for another top 6 finish.

Partick Thistle

Newly promoted Thistle will be looking to stay in the Premiership for more than one season. They have been given a boost by Hearts receiving a 15 point penalty. Partick have lost six first team players two of which to Dundee United (Paul Paton and Chris Erskine) to compensate for this, the Jags have signed eleven new players. Thistle's pre-season has been a mixed bag with  the same number of (two) wins, draws and losses. My prediction for Partick Thistle is to avoid relegation.

Ross County

After a great debut season in Scotland's top flight, manager Derek Adams has strengthened his squad by the addition of two Dutch players and 3 players from other Premiership clubs to the Stags. The team from Ross-shire first match is against Celtic at Parkhead on Saturday at 5:15 live on Sky Sports. Last season Ross County played Celtic second and were unfortunate to only get a 1-1 draw. My prediction for County is that they will lose their surprise factor and will narrowly miss out on top six.

St Johnstone

After their giant-killing of Rosenburg in the Europa League, manager Tommy Wright will be wanting to take their European form into the domestic season. Saints have signed seven players including David Wotherspoon from Hibs and Rory Fallon from Aberdeen, they lost Liam Craig and Rowan Vine to Hibs and Gregory Tade to Cluj. Saints had two wins and a draw in pre-season friendlies. My prediction is for a top six finish for the third year running.

St Mirren

Saints have been active in the transfer market with the signing of ex-dee Gary Harkins but that has been their only signing. The Buddies lost in pre-season to Premier League side Newcastle United 2-0. Last season St Mirren were second last in the SPL, if they do the same they will find themselves in a play-off to stay in the Premiership. Top scorer for St. Mirren Steven Thompson will be looking to improve on his tally of 13 last season. My prediction is for more of the same from the Buddies and a bottom six finish.

Premiership Predection

  1. Celtic (by 15 points)
  2. Dundee United
  3. Motherwell
  4. Aberdeen
  5. St Johnstone
  6. Inverness CT
  7. Kilmarnock
  8. St Mirren
  9. Partick Thistle
  10. Ross County
  11. Heart of Midlothian
  12. Hibernian (R)



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