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Scottish season gets under way this weekend

Posted Jul 22, 2011 by Chris White

The season starts earlier this year to avoid the postponements of recent years

Believe it or not, in mid July, the Scottish Premier League season gets under way this weekend and I’ve taken a look around all 12 clubs to give you a rundown of who has joined, who has left, and where I expect them to finish.

Hamilton were relegated from the top flight last season, with Dunfermline returning to the big time as champions of division one, while Rangers are the reigning champions and therefore, the ones to beat.

ABERDEEN: Finished ninth last season under Craig Brown who took over a desperately sinking ship. Youl Mawene, David Gonzalez, Isaac Osborne and Chris Clark all have English league experience and move to Pittodrie, while Chris Maguire is the highest profile departure, joining Derby for £400,000. Veteran Paul Hartley has also left the club, joining Alloa.
Prediction: an improvement on last season – sixth.

CELTIC: Last year’s runners-up, as so often is the case if Rangers are the Champions. Neil Lennon will remain in the job despite speculation about his future after high-profile incidents last year. Youngster Adam Matthews has joined from Cardiff, along with Kelvin Wilson from Nottingham Forest and Victor Wanyama. Several youngsters have left the club, with only Freddie Ljungberg a high-profile departure.
Prediction: second again I’m afraid Hoops fans, not enough cash injected into the squad.

DUNDEE UNITED: Fourth last season and a lot hinges on their ability to keep hold of David Goodwillie. If he goes to Rangers then their season could be a write off. Willo Flood has joined from Middlesbrough, while five players have left the club.
Prediction: fourth if they keep Goodwillie, lower if they don’t.

DUNFERMLINE: Promoted as Division One champions last year and facing an uphill task to remain in the SPL this campaign. Several free transfer signings this year, and only Calum Woods has left the club for Huddersfield so Jim McIntyre has the majority of his squad in place as they make the step up.
Prediction: Sorry, but rock bottom. I can’t see any other side being as weak over the course of the season.

HEARTS: Third last time out under Jim Jefferies and could have cemented that place much earlier last campaign with more consistency. Proven SPL quality added this season with Jamie Hamill and Mehdi Taouil joining from Kilmarnock, and John Sutton and Danny Grainger join from Motherwell and St Johnstone respectively.
Prediction: a solid third again this time round, can’t see anyone catching them, similarly can’t see them catching the Glasgow sides.

HIBERNIAN: Certainly not as good a season as their Edinburgh rivals, finishing tenth. Ivan Sproule, Garry O’Connor and Sean O’Hanlon will all boost the club’s prospects this time round, with Derek Riordan, Colin Nish and Ricardo Vaz Te among those to leave. Still plenty of uncertainty over the future of manager Colin Calderwood.
Prediction: tenth, but a lot rests on the future of Calderwood. If he goes, they need a man to pull them up the table quickly. If he stays, he needs to do a lot of work.

INVERNESS CT: A solid mid-table campaign last season for Cally, but they have allowed a number of their more experienced players to leave, replacing them with youngsters such as Greg Tansey from Stockport. Will definitely suffer from the loss of Adam Rooney to Birmingham.
Prediction: seventh again seems likely if they can keep Hayes fit and firing in place of Rooney. Terry Butcher needs to get the youngsters in and playing well soon though before the experience of other sides catches up with them.

KILMARNOCK: A successful season in 2010/11, finishing in fifth place but they have a lot of work to do if they’re going to repeat that this time round. They have allowed a number of their top players to leave, either in January or over the summer, such as Conor Sammon and Frazer Wright, and haven’t really replaced them.
Prediction: if they can get some new players in, they could push for the top half again, but I think eight is more realistic.

MOTHERWELL: Stuart McCall lead the side to sixth place last season but the squad is very thin and has only got thinner over the summer. If they can keep the tight-knit squad together, and fit, I can see them having a very good year.
Prediction: fitness and form permitting, fifth.

RANGERS: Ally McCoist takes his first step into management this season and takes over at the Champions. Not spent a lot of money in recent years, surviving off loan signings, and only Juan Manuel Ortiz has come into Ibrox this summer. Still got a more than good enough squad to challenge for the SPL title again with Celtic.
Prediction: champions. Only Celtic could catch them but I can’t see them doing it.

ST JOHNSTONE: Struggled last season because of their lack of fire power up front, finishing as the lowest scorers in the division. Derek McInnes has tried to rectify this over the summer, but only time will tell. More players have left McDiarmid Park than have arrived and that could cause problems once the schedule gets hectic.
Prediction: one lower than last season, ninth. Goal scoring could again be a problem.

ST MIRREN: Saints struggled last year and could do so again. Steven Thompson and Gary Teale have arrived from Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday respectively, and will provide valuable experience to the team. However, too many players have left the club.
Prediction: finished eleventh last year and look likely to do so again this time. If Teale and Thompson make a difference, they will stay up, if not, they could be scrapping for their SPL lives again.

PREDICTED TABLE

1 Rangers
2 Celtic
3 Hearts
4 Dundee United
5 Motherwell
6 Aberdeen
7 Inverness CT
8 Kilmarnock
9 St Johnstone
10 Hibernian
11 St Mirren
12 Dunfermline

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