The new season gets underway today and it could prove to be the most exciting in many years, with the addition of Rangers meaning that there’ll be new blood at the top of the table. This means that teams will be moving around the league more often than they were in previous seasons though, so the excitement will flow into the top six races and relegations fights too.
It may be tough to predict what’ll happen over the course of a 38 game season, but here’s my best guess as to how Scottish football’s top tier will end up this season:
Celtic have more than enough to win their 6th consecutive Scottish title, with the additions of Kolo Toure and Moussa Dembele being quality signings by new manager Brendan Rogers.
The only thing that could hurt their league chances is a solid Champions League run, but even still no other side can match what Celtic should have to offer over the whole course of the season.
Despite their unfortunate exit from the Europa League this week, there’s still plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the Dons. They’ve kept a hold of their strong players and still have one of the best squads in the country.
I think their experience over the last few years will see them finish 2nd again. They’ll need to improve their consistency a little, and will face more high intensity games with the addition of Rangers, but I still think they’re worth the money for 2nd.
The big story in the Premiership this season is the return of Rangers, and with the likes of Joey Barton and Niko Kranjcar on side I think maanger Mark Warburton has shown that he wants to continue building a team that’s fit to compete.
It’s too early yet though for the Gers, with the mix of very old and very young being a little too uncertain yet to be title challengers. They struggled in some games in last year’s Championship and the main thing for them this year will be to prove they can do it week-in, week-out.
The title might be out of reach, but 3rd will net them a Europa League place – which would be a worthy progression of Rangers’ revival.
Embarrassed in the Europa League by Maltese minnows, Hearts don’t look like the tough side they were in seasons gone by. I’m not sure they’ve got the togetherness they once had to get results from nothing, and so they’ll rely on the individual talent of some of their players this season – which might not be enough to best the Old Firm and Aberdeen but will likely best the rest.
Only Celtic have had as many top six finishes in the last five years as St Johnstone, and I see no reason for them to fall away this year.
However, their side seem fairly stagnant and even though they’ve managed to snag Paul Paton from relegated United I don’t think they’ll have much new this season to add to what they did last year.
With stronger sides in the league I think they’ll struggle in the bigger games but be able to beat the “smaller” teams pretty regularly – and that’ll be enough to seal a top six place.
Dundee have made some quality signings over the summer and I think they could be surprise package this year, with perhaps a closer finish to the top sides than would be expected.
What Dundee will need this year are goals, as they proved hard to beat last year but just couldn’t convert draws to wins – and that’s what Greg Stewart and Faissal El Bakhtaoui will be tasked with. If they can get the service they’ll get the goals, and that will see the Dens Park side thrive this season.
It’ll be a solid season for the Fir Park side this year under the steady guidance of Mark McGhee. They’ve not got much in their side that can really set the league alight and I don’t think they’ll be pushing for the glories they once had – but they could be a good side on their day that’ll prove to be a thorn in the side of those with higher expectations.
While another top six finish would be incredible, I think my team will have a reasonably comfortable, if unspectacular, season of it. Our side isn’t as good as last year’s, with Jackson Irvine already proving a big miss and the potential loss of Andrew Davies and others worrying too – but if the players we have do perform like they can, we should be fine.
Caley have lost some big players over the summer, and that’s why I think they’ll struggle a little this year. Manager Yogi Hughes has not managed to get the best out of the side yet, and doesn’t seem to have much ambition with them either.
Without some further signings this month I see Caley languishing a little this season, although probably staying just above the relegation fold.
Partick will be in amongst the relegation fight this year I’d imagine, without a strong defence and little going forward either – but what might just about save them is their experience in getting results in such a situation. They’ve proved in recent years, despite facing relegation challenges, that they can dig themselves out – and with midfielders that can provide an engine to the team they’ll probably be able to do the same this year.
Hamilton’s side lack the experience needed at the top level in most areas with their side – with manager Martin Canning looking a little shaky in his role and the loss of quality players Ziggy Gordon and Michael McGovern over the summer being a big loss.
Unless they can turn things around and get some solid results at the start of the season it could be hard for them.
Killie have struggled for years now, and their mid-season switch around – with 11 new players arriving – will make it even harder for them to find a consistent team. Josh Magennis’ potential exit would nearly seal the deal I’d imagine, so it could be the end of Killie’s long stay at the top table this year.
It’s a long way to go, though, so whether these predictions prove right next May I don’t know. All I know is that it’s going to be an exciting, topsy-turvy season an there’ll be plenty of excitment involved. Bring it on!
Think I’ve got things wrong? Let me know below!