Archive | July, 2016

Ladbrokes Championship Predictions 2016-17

31 Jul

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Continuing on from the Ladbrokes Premiership Predictions its probably a good time to step into the mire that is the Ladbrokes Championship.  Mire is a apt word as this league is by far the hardest to predict and Clubs finding themselves dropped into this league have found it easier to fall out the bottom of the League than gain Promotion to the Premiership.  In last three years only Hamilton Accies have moved up via the perilous route of the Playoffs.  Relegating Hibernian who have repeatedly failed to get out of the league.  Falkirk failed at the last Hurdle last year and Rangers the year before.  Don’t think for a second that remaining a in the Championship is easy too Alloa were last years whipping Boys and they successfully Beat or Drew with Teams chasing Promotion and Playoff Places.  Even before Ross Jack took some green paint to narrow the pitch.  The remaining teams will be delighted that their fixtures don’t include two trips to the dodgy carpet at The Innodrill.   

1 Falkirk
2 Saint Mirren
3 Hibernian
4 Raith Rovers
5 Dundee United
6 Dunfermline Athletic
7 Queen of South
8 Greenock Morton
9 Ayr United
10 Dumbarton
Falkirk Stad

Copyright thescottishfootballpartnership.com

 In a League spoiled by Title Contenders I have plumped for Falkirk to gain automatic Promotion.  Peter Houston’s late goal kings simply have something money can’t buy they don’t give up which is good because the lack of any real investment in the Squad and relying on Loan’s and Youth to freshen up the Squad is the only real reason the perennial Bridesmaid cant walk down the aisle to the Premiership.

 

Alex Rae’s Saint Mirren in second is again, some will say a surprising choice.  It’s the former Rangers stars first real Season in Charge and he took Ian Murray’s Duds at Christmas and turned them into a team with something that the Paisley Buddies hardly recognised.  A Team that would play well at The Paisley 2021 Stadium not  just playing well a team that actually won at Home.  Rae has stamped his personality on the Squad,  determined, skilful, thoughtful and playing with a smile.  New Owners with Fan involvement should ensure smiles all round Greenfield Road this season.  Maybe not automatic promotion but a good chance in the playoffs.

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Scottish Cup winners Hibernian in Third.  Neil Lennon replaces Leith Hero Alan Stubbs but there is something worrying in Easter Road.  After beating the Cup Jinx can Hibs beat the League Jinx.  With tricky trips to unfamiliar surroundings and with a slightly lower standard of Referees will former Celtic Boss Lennon remain in the dug out long enough to exert influence.  The European failure gave the impression that the Hibs team has a feel of after the Lord Mayors Show.  No amount of exuberance can hide Hibernians terrible record in the Playoffs,  so with all this in mind my thoughts is another season of under achieving in the league.

If it wasn’t for Bad Luck Gary Locke would have no Luck at all.  Head Coach at troubled Hearts then being Sacked by new Board to move to take over at equally troubled Kilmarnock to be sacked mid Season.  Locke is a good Coach, one to watch and maybe the stability of Kirkcaldy will suit him so a nice easy Fourth and a playoff place.  No One would grudge Hearts Legend Locke that. From the good foundations laid by Ray McKinnon I suspect that Raith Rovers will cock a snoop at their previous Manager.

in Bottom half of the league.  Its by the talents of the former Raith Boss that I place United in fifth.Dundee United have that look of British Home Stores.  Faded glory,  if you look past the neglect and mismanagement you can see hints of gold leaf but you have to look through layers of dust. The Days of Jim McLean and Ivan Golak have been tarnished by Stephen Thompson’s colossal mismanaging his inheritance.  Board Room Family Squabbles, Managers on commission on sales of players,  Finger Pointing and generally blaming anyone but himself in conjunction with being a loud voice in matters not directly involving Tannadice.  If I have missed something out in that description its only because they are so many rocks a Arab can throw at The Tannadice Board Room and Pantomime villain Chairman Moan Thompson.  Ray McKinnon former player in the good old days has gambled his stock with the Tangerine Fans.  Ray has a top heavy demoralised squad with a mighty wage bill to service and a Shop Keepers Idiot son as His Boss.  If it wasn’t for sheer respect for McKinnon I would once again like last year place Dundee United

Dunfermline Athletic in sixth as the Pars recover from near financial meltdown.  If any club could have the tag too big to be… then surely its the East End Park Club. Allan Johnston has slowly filled a playing roster with youth and players on last chance to great effect.  A year to cement away days in Dunfermline as the development continues with a creditable Sixth place.

When Previous Managers flew north to Ross County James Fowler faced up with the expectations of the Dumfries fans and didn’t quiet reach the mark. Selling good players on or losing them to others didn’t help and I suspect Fowler is still learning at Queen Of The South. I suspect the influx of Teams with Premiership Experience has made Queen Of The South’s task of Challenging difficult.  It would be a Leicester City style shock of Biblical proportions for Queen Of The South to be in top half of the table but I don’t see them troubling the Playoff or relegation places either.

Jim Duffy what can you say about a man who is so enthusiastic and a Football Man.  Strip controversy apart their is a hard core loyal fan base to please in Greenock and on the whole Duffy’s Morton do just that.  Tight Budget constraints mean that Morton for me will shock sometimes awe but mainly settle for a nice Eighth.

Ayr United in ninth,  Ian McColl worked wonders bringing the Somerset Park Club up last term and with similar Budget to Jim Duffy along the coast at Greenock I think Ayr United will miss the experience of Morton and fail to overtake them in League.  I do think in the final shakedown a trip to the Beach will be on the fixture list next year.

 Dumbarton in automatic relegation place as the Championship waves goodbye to the Rock.  Stephen Aitken is a good coach but there are only ten teams in this league and some one has to finish last and its difficult to argue against Dumbarton not filling that slot. 

 

 

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Ladbrokes Premiership Predictions 2016-17

30 Jul

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It’s that time of the year where fools go and the devil fears to tread simply put its prediction time.  Season 20016-17 can not be understated.  The return of Rangers and the massive additional fan base this gives the league generates interest in every game every week.  Only time will tell on how accurate this prediction is but anyway here goes.

 

Ladbrookes Scottish Premiership Predictions

1 Celtic
2 Aberdeen
3 Rangers
4 St Johnstone
5 Hearts
6 Ross County
7 Dundee
8 Kilmarnock
9 Partick Thistle
10 Inverness CT
11 Motherwell
12 Hamilton
Bren Rog

           Brendan Rodgers               ( © Belfast Telegraph)

 

 

 

 Can’t really be a surprise to pick Celtic to win this season.  Brendan Rodgers simply has to win or be judged a worse failure than he was at Anfield.  There can be no slip ups.  Interesting signings belay the fact that there is simply too many Players on Celtics books. The Wage Bill is enormous and even reopening areas of the Stands and the new still to be tested Standing area will not reduce the pressure of paying wages for no return.  The embarrassment of Lincoln Red Imps shall be the fired at Rodgers if his Hoops lose in Any Match.  Celtic to win but not by Much certainly not more than 10 Points.

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Derek McInnes   (© Ronny Davies)

 

 

Aberdeen in Second seems an easy pick too.  Oh how every Dons Fan wants to forget October 2015.  The usual Consistency Question Mark sits over a soon to be demolished Pittodrie.  The Squad seem to take their eyes off the ball for long periods of the season.  Draws at Home to Partick and Inverness seem to compound the maintaining of Standards set so High by Derek McInnes who has to be attracting other Clubs wishing a vibrant Manager to reverse their Clubs Fortunes.  A Massive season for Aberdeen they simply have to impose themselves as valid Championship Contenders on the Field before as you would expect the Old Firm begin to resume pass the Cup across the Clyde Game they play so well.  In addition Aberdeen’s Board have to not focus so much on the New Stadium In Westhill so that they lose sight of the actual business of Playing Football.

New AFC Westhill

New Aberdeen Stadium Plans          Westhill Aberdeenshire              (© http://www.afc.co.uk)

 

Rangers in Third seems like a newly promoted clubs Dream but Rangers are not really comparable to the usual promoted Teams.  Rangers have a Squad littered with International Class Players,  have a well-respected and feared manager in Mark Warburton.  Also lets mention the Elephant in the Room have more than a point to prove against Clubs whom in the eyes of Rangers Fans and Board were heinous in their victimisation of Rangers in last five years.  As Criminal Proceedings continue it would be unwise to comment but as the dust settles most fair-minded Commentators realise the fervour that was aimed at Rangers and placing the club in the lower divisions was short-sighted and fuelled by Jealous and Hatred.  Almost Every Game Involving Rangers in the Premiership will have this edge.  The Important things for Rangers Fans is to curb this enthusiasm so its channelled positively and not into any Rod Petrie Style Exuberance.  Dave King has Talked the Talk its time he Walked The Walk.  The stage is set for him to back himself and his words the question is will he?

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Mark Warburton 

(© Ronny Davies)

Saint Johnstone in Fourth seems a push but I like Tommy Wright,  he has a workmanlike Managerial style that is displayed by His team week in week out.  Perth is blessed with a good tried and tested Squad that can easily spring surprises in the league and should unspectacular hit fourth with no real sparkling individual displays but a great team ethic.  To my mind it’s really that short and sweet.

Hearts in Fifth,  the Gorgie Club flattered to deceive last year poor in cups and disappointing in the games that mattered.  Letting Neil Alexander go seemed fuelled by either lack of ambition or an unwillingness to Pay a seasoned Professional the going Rate.  The loss of some experienced players in Tynecastle’s home dressing room will only be exposed in the games when Craig Levine And Co can’t walk onto the Pitch during games and look out for Graeme Hogg style targets.  The Fan ownership model and Ann Budge have yet to display that no matter how ethical everything financial is at Hearts it’s yet to deliver anything notable in terms of pure footballing success.  Winning the Championship in 2014-15 will not keep Jam tarts fans happy for much longer.  A long season ahead for the Maroon Legions.

Ross County In Sixth again much like Saint Johnstone the Dingwall side just seem to consistently be there or there about. Mid Table far from mediocre more secure in knowledge they are safe might interfere with European places might change the destination of the Title and might be the team that pushes a Club mathematically into the Championship or play off place.  They will do all this without actually being the club in any of the places neither at top or at bottom.

The  City of Discovery’s only representative in the top league in Seventh place.  Following James McPake’s horror injury the Dark Blues seemed to be in shock for most of the season afterwards.  I witnessed Paul Hartley in a Post Match Press Conference looking like a Crime Watch Victim reliving a Mugging.  Too many times last season Dundee were Mugged, robbed of valuable points and the sparkling performances from Gary Harkins shall not be so easily done with the loss of the Highly talented Kane Hemmings.  I imagine a tight race for seventh place in a league within a league  with Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle.  The lack of Dundee Derby’s will give the Dens fans the chance to lord it over their City Rivals in Pubs and Clubs and at work but the missing sparkle and excitement of the rivalry will detract from the feeling with in Dens Park.

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Paul Hartley post Match

(© Ronny Davies)

 

 

Kilmarnock in Eighth. It is a punt in the dark. Lee Clark has signed a whole new starting eleven!  How quickly they gel and how easily they are accepted is of paramount importance to The Rugby Park faithful.  With their own Celebrity You tuber ready to fire off vitriol from the Rugby Park  Car Park even before the final whistle its very much up to Lee Clark and Co to silence the uneasy dwindling masses who have more than enough to throw at everyone at Rugby Park.  Kilmarnock are a club on precipice of Board room troubles and Player Revolts hand in hand with a Fan Base that is near the end of its tether.

Partick in Ninth for me the best organised team in the league. Alan Archibald has no star players he has a well-drilled squad that collectively is greater than the sum of its Parts . How no Club from down south has whisked Alan away to  pastures new is beyond me. Quietly Spoken and intelligent When you look at the Firhill Teamsheet the twelfth man is listed as head Coach because you play twelve when you play Partick. Hard to break down but the rest of the Clubs have seen chinks in the Harry Wraggs armour the question is has Thistles brilliant manager identified them too and filled them with his excellent organisational tactics for the new season.

Inverness  Caledonian Thistle in Tenth for no other reason than the departure of the vibrant John Hughes and the installation of a Player direct from the Dressing Room as Manager Rarely works  even the Great Kenny Dalgleish struggled and he was the only real successful transition from Pitch to Dug Out in recent times . Saint Mirren suffered Humiliation and relegation two seasons ago following this route, and it is only the bottom twos making better cases to be in these positions that to my notion prevents Inverness following out of the Premiership.  I very much doubt Calley will be out the bottom Six past September and will flirt with Playoff and Relgation all season sure they will still spring a surprise result here and there but not in a way that will propel them up the league.

Will deal with Eleventh and Twelve together or the Lanarkshire derby Hamilton look like their Luck has run out with no new Wonder Kids coming out of their usually Prolific Academy the season looks like a journey back to the Playoffs for The New Douglas Park Club where their Playoff History makes them a force to be reckoned with. Motherwell have the same feel as Dundee United had last term no new blood same old same old for Mark McGhee to pick from and like their Neighbours across the M74 no real exciting Youth prospects to display or even some one in the pipeline.  The New Ownership Model seems to strangle Scotland Assistant Coach McGhee’s ability to raid the transfer market and from disappointing survival last season to automatic relegation seems the most likely outcome in May 2017.