Tag Archives: Derek McInnes

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.

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Manager Report Cards March 2016

13 Mar

When you examine the season so far only really one thing stands out.  The performance of Managers.  With only a few stand out players and a couple of memorable games what you are left with is how well the Coaching staff have done. So in view of  this I have complied a Top Twenty Managers.
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Ladbrokes SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP PREDICTIONS

10 Aug

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Ladbrokes SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP PREDICTIONS

1
CELTIC

2
ABERDEEN

3
DUNDEE

4
ST JOHNSTONE

5
HEARTS

6
MOTHERWELL

7
INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE

8
ROSS COUNTY

9
PARTICK THISTLE

10
KILMARNOCK

11
HAMILTON ACADEMICALS

12
DUNDEE UNITED

Once again The Scottish Premiership is upon us and only a fool would tip anyone but Celtic to win it.  Ronny Delia can hardly be flushed with a League, League Cup double and an insipid European adventure that had everything in its story including Lawyers.  Delia has a very tricky job he is not only expected to win the league before the spilt but he has to do this in a style that pleases a massive fan base.  It is very difficult to predict what kind of season Celtic will have but you can say they win this league.  Virgil Van Dyke is a talisman but a failure in Europe will mean that he simply makes the club a nice profit following transfer window.
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Aberdeen in Second a lack of silverware last term did not lose Derek McInnes the fickle Dons Fans support.  Intelligent clever signings like Graeme Shinnie in addition to January signing Kenny McLean adds freshness to the squad as well as increasing the skill level.  A very pacey talented squad with a Manager proving to be in the frame for any bigger job. The big question is have Aberdeen got the bottle to stay in the hunt and run Celtic close.  Drawing at Pittodrie against Partick and dropping points after good results was their downfall last term.  If this club needed a theme tune, it has to be Journeys “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Third Place for me is a surprise and controversially I am pluming for Dundee.  Paul Hartley has managed to turn Club 12 round, the attacking style with solid defence for me is a potent mix, and if you are going to offend a city, you may as well offend half the City.  A visit to Dens dripping in History is a tricky experience and gives the Dark Blues fans something to come out for and Dens is a tricky place that will steal points from any team at any time.

Perth with a couple of years of fleeting European experience comes up with a pleasing fourth for Tommy Wright’s Saints.  The phrase workmanlike is easy on the mind with St Johnstone Scottish Cup Winners in 2014 they seemed to miss Stevie May last year but just when they needed to get it together after Christmas that’s exactly what they did.  Any team that includes veteran James Mc Fadden passing down knowledge to younger players has to be included in your thoughts for good cup runs and occasional shock results.  As soon as they become consistent then they could even challenge higher but a sturdy fourth place.

Robbie Nelson might talk the talk but his Hearts will be broken in a very creditable fifth place.  Edinburgh’s only representative in the top League will be looking to bring some Capital Gains to Old Reekie.  The rampaging style of last season will be thwarted by more drilled skilled teams shutting down the free scoring Jambos.  Losing Danny Wilson and Jason Holt will hurt. Maroon fans have to hope that the latest crop of youth and experience shall keep them in this league and maybe even challenging for cups and looking to stabilise.  The key to smiles in Gorgie this season is post Christmas.  Keeping in the mix will be important to a team that already looks like its running on adrenaline.
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Escaping Relegation last season Ian Barrowclough will look to push on from the lucky escape last year.  From Ugly scenes to a beautiful sixth should please Motherwell.  With a crop of great young players and experience of Stephen Pearson, David Clarkson all bodes well for The Well.  I get a feeling that sixth is as good as it will get for Motherwell with a touch of claret and amber luck they may just trouble the cup semis but a consolidation season safe mid table.

John Hughes has his doubters and fans never not with something to say and always good value and his personality has infused every team he has been connected with.  The Scottish Cup Holders will miss Shinnie as he moved down the A96.  The fear of complacency runs through the Highland capital.  Caledonian Thistle shall do well at Home as the wind blows in off the Morey Firth and will give a good game away too.  Nevertheless, for me they will struggle to hit the highs of last season but again a solid mid table not really challenging but not in any danger of falling out the League or even flirting with the playoff place.

Ross County in eighth is a bit of a punt with several players joining Jim McIntyre’s squad.  Richard Foster tormented at Rangers last year must be trying to regain professional pride for one.  The problem is that as hard as you look at the Dingwall squad you cannot find any real class so you have to look for a well-drilled well-organised team.  Sadly, for the Victoria Park side that given the last couple of Years Foster does not bring that to the table.  A troubled season for Ross County the only saving grace is that there is worse in this league to stop their slide down into the danger zone.

Partick will need more than a scary mascot to survive and in Matthias Pogba they might just have enough to secure survival. He may not be as good as his brother but he is good enough to please the well-worn Maryhill Faithful.  As you would expect Firhill will supply thrills, spills and some skills hand in hand with Lisa Simpson on acid and surprises too.  Staying up with the big boys is all this club wants they will sacrifice cups to simply stay in this league and they will.

Kris Boyd, Lee McCullough join Gary Locke in a Kilmarnock team that looks on paper tired and plays worse shipping goals and looking disjoined its going to be a long season on plastic at Rugby Park.  With Questions still being unanswered in the boardroom and seats going unsold in the stands this is a club in free fall.  Like Partick above them, the numbers game means that teams worse than them will save them. Ayrshire fans must hope that. Something like a foundation lying season is in front of them and all eyes shall be on season 2016-17.  There is enough talent at this club but a lack of gelling and cohesiveness will be the failure.

Hamilton will want to forget 2015 already and I feel this year will not appear in any big selling DVDs at the club shop Martin canning has simply not been able to keep up the standards of Norwich’s Alex Neil.  There may well be a new sensational young player bursting from the most productive youth system in Scotland but August to January saved this club last season and without a great start like that again then this club will simply slip quietly into eleventh and the play off position.  With my other prediction for the Ladbrokes Scottish Championship a rematch against Hibs seems likely and that tie if it occurs already has the mouth watering.  A lowly position but without any light it seems a dark season is in the offing for Accies.
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Twelfth place in my predictions goes to Dundee United.  I simply do not care how financially greedy the club was.  I also do not care how much commission Jackie McNamara got if you lose Makay-Stevens, Armstrong and Cifti then it is no wonder you lose games.  I am not saying these players are bigger than the club is but as a collection of loses it means you lose and lose badly.  United look disjointed without a direction and a shambles of the side that started last season.  I predict also that the Manager must be favourite to be sacked this season.

When The Mole Hill Becomes The Mointain

28 Sep

I have watched from the sidelines over the last couple of years,  seen some good football too but consistently I have had a wee nag in the back of my head. 

You know the one the “what if woman” sorry girls that’s what I call her.  Mainly because my nagging voice is actually my maternal Gran.  Now lovely lady that she was (she died in 1999) she could nag me into anything.  In addition she would expect me to do what she said.  So this voice nags away at me and I know it’s nog my Gran but it’s her voice so “what if woman” is the voice.

Now why go over the events that have swamped Rangers.  Old news and every man and his dog has a view.  It is recent comments coming from Clubs, Scottish Premiership Clubs at that and especially John Hughes that have spiked me into writing.

John Hughes following defeat at Pittodrie does not blame his players for not performing this would be honest perhaps.  In fact the Inverness Manager blames budgets.  Strange call especially given that I had seen an Inept Rangers beat a woeful I.C.T. in the league cup not two weeks ago.  To recap a ineffectual Rangers dominated possession with a series of misplaced passes and lacking clinical killer instinct in final third BEAT Yogi’s hopeless Caley.  I cannot tell you how bad Rangers were that night it was almost impossible to think of ways to play worse but John Hughes’ team achieved the impossible and found a way. 

The Inverness Coach did not blame funds that night.  This must mean he considers Rangers a smaller club with less money.  It could be of course if he had used that line he would of been laughed out of the press room.  To say there is more money in Govan than anywhere right now is not just funny it’s “Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special” comedy gold!

Derek McInnes quite rightly smacked down Hughes errant comments.  Although making reference to comparative budgets of present day Aberdeen and Hibernian from 5 years ago is a cul de sac of confusion because the landscape has changed dramatically. 

Celtic’s Cheif Executive Peter Lawell recently said to his shareholders that a conservative estimate of TEN MILLION POUNDS has evaporated from Celtic’s annual revenue because of the much disputed insertion of Rangers into league 3 a few years ago.  That would equate to two players from Celtic’s proven scouting network plus wages with a view to sell on and make profit etc.  This is currently Celtics business model and it’s appears to work. 

Days after Stuart Gilmour Chairman of up for sale Saint Mirren said his clubs figure was THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS a year.  This clearly states the gulf in finiancial clout of clubs basically saying Celtic are THIRTY times bigger than their neighbours alone the M8.  I would imagine that Inverness possibly are missing slightly more than St Mirren abd considerably less than Celtic. 

It would be interesting to see what the other clubs that voted to expell Rangers have lost annually.  This kind finiancial honesty is beyond the ken of most of the others.  No doubt the Edinburgh two could still provide decent figures inspite of being relegated.  I would love to hear anyone at Aberdeen responding to the question “If Celtic lost £10 million and St Mirren £300000 then how much do you estimate you have lost?”. If you consider that the current Laegue Cup holders could spin this loss into a public relationions triumph then why are they not confessing.  Same goes for Scottish Premiership Leaders Dundee United, Scottish Cup Holders St Johnstone, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Kilmarnock.  I fear we will never get an answer because as these clubs hide behind company confidentiality they will all know that to release this information allows then to be placed in the big club league.  The same as very quickly given the statements from Parkhead and Paisley we all did a quick sum and said St Mirren times Thirty equals Celtic we could all do similar with the other clubs. 

So with a sense of challenge to some clubs and a congratulatory thanks for being honest I publish my league table with how much their income has reduced since they voted Rangers out of their league. 

1 CELTIC.                 £10,000,000*
2 HEARTS.               £  1,600,000
2 HIBERNIAN.          £  1,600,000
2 ABERDEEN.           £  1,600,000
5 DUNDEE UTD.       £  1,200,000
6 KILMARNOCK.      £     800,000
7 ST JOHNSTONE.  £     700,000
8 I.C.T.                      £     400,000
9 ST MIRREN.          £     300,000*

I applaud Celtic and St Mirren for their honesty but as you can see the gulf seems to paint it’s own picture.  It would be excellent if someone at Pittodrie yesterday said “well we have had to take a £1.6 million a year loss in revenue on the chin and still win cups. What has I.C.T. lost 25% of that? And won nothing!”

Don’t get any perverted sense of pleasure if your a Rangers fan because a estimate of close to Celtic is the missing revenue from Rangers annual books.  In addition to the millions of pounds of saleable assets that wondered to Southhampton, Norwich etc when the finiancial event kicked in at Ibrox.  With additional rebuilding costs Rangers have lost HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of Pounds. 

The Silent chairmen know that to admit loss of revenue is to admit they made errors.  Roy McGregor, Stewart Milne and Cheif Moaner Stephen Thompson all incrediable vocal when vote was cast now silent on what it has cost them. 

The cut your cloth brigade of fans that seem to think that they have been immune from changes in finiancial environment.  Lets see how they feel when the life blood of their club dries up.  The easiest cut in budget is always Youth teams.  Lack of youth to sell on in coming years will be the double whammy for most clubs.  Down on income this year last year and year before,  no sales next year the year after etc.  It’s a spiral that is summed up this year in the condition of the two clubs honest enough to admit costs and revenue reduction. 

Celtic in Europa League not Champions League even with a reprive they still didn’t have the quality to qualify for group stages.  Saint Mirren languishing at bottom of Scottish Premiership for sale with out any interst. 

That nagging voice the meltdown that happened to Hearts could of changed it’s clothes cut it’s cloth to fit if you will and is currently on the catwalk dressed in a deadly camouflage. Waiting til suddenly the short fall in income stops being a manageable problem and becomes a insurmountable issue.
Today’s Molehill tomorrows Mountain.

Celtic and other Participants

31 Oct

Its Halloween and as I watch fancy dressed trick or treaters traverse our streets I think what other occasions or events are enhanced by fancy dress.

I have a mate who a couple of years ago entered the London Marathon.  He trained hard and certainly contributed to the spectacle but to be fair I never really thought he would win.  Even though he confidently predicted a good performance and indeed talked a good race he did not win the event.  This is how I think the inaugural SPFL Premiership is for a number of clubs.  I think that most fans will agree Celtic will win the Premiership.  Sadly it’s not a question of if but when. This will mean that despite challenges from the other towns and cities the top league prize will remain in Glasgow for a thirtieth year.  With the absence of Rangers the big league trophy (probably being designed by Neil Doncaster as we speak) will don green and white ribbons and be paraded around the East End of Glasgow come May.  There will be twists and turns for second place but as Ron Dennis of McLaren F1 says “second is just first of the losers.”

It is in this notion that lies the problem recently Aberdeen hosted Dundee United “The New Firm”  a feisty tasty clash it looked like on paper too before the game the hype and hope was intense.  Thirty years ago a guaranteed sell out between European Cup Winners Cup Holders and League Champions.  A battle between Ferguson and McLean.  A pitch littered with Scottish Internationals and household names.  A few weeks ago barely half full Pittodrie witnessed Derek McInnes Aberdeen beat Jackie McNamara’s United one nil.  When this game was for cups and titles you could not get a ticket for love or money now it’s for  at best second place in a devalued league you get your choice of seats.  This is not to deride the eleven thousand Aberdeen Fans or the twelve hundred United fans who braved a misty damp cold October day, no they stand by their teams some would say stand free admirably.  For even this many to want to follow teams with no realistic hope of winning a league is to be applauded.  The Question is though what are the hopes and ambitions of clubs in the SPFL Premiership?

  1. Not get relegated
  2. Finish in top 6
  3. Do well in a cup
  4. Don’t accrue debt
  5. Hope none of our fans (customers) notice so we can continue this charade of competitiveness next season.

Lets take this one by one I think and am agreed with widely that Hearts are going down automatically.  The deductions just make it impossible now I feel for The Jam Tarts to survive in SPFL Premiership.  Also I feel that given current circumstances that Kilmarnock are not a team you would bet on staying up.  There is just too much uncertainty going on at every level at Rugby Park for me to believe they could survive.   So that’s relegation taken care of for ten teams.

Finish in top six?  This can only be because in doing so you have a 40% chance of hosting Celtic (Maybe for a title party) with all the additional income their fans and TV bring.

Do well in a cup?  Allows Chairmen and Managers to cling on to some Brasso and looks good in next years team photos.

Don’t accrue debt? look at Hearts and for 75% of the SPFL premiership the question is not accrue debt its service the current debt.

Number 6 needs no explanation.

So you see from my view Celtic will win the SPFL Premiership Hearts will go down to a Championship that is looking incredibly tasty next season already.  Kilmarnock will join them.  Sad to say the rest of the League is nothing more than also ran’s and fancy dress charity merchants.  Looking to beat personal bests raise money for just causes (Usually banks they own money too).  Pick a club out with Celtic Hearts and Killie and all you really see is participants,  and like my mate who participated in the London Marathon they too are desperately hoping the guy in the divers suit does not overtake them.  For the record my mate finished in over six hours and was not happy when I suggested did that include the time he sat down for a pub lunch mid way through.