Tag Archives: SPFL Championship

SCOTTISH CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTIONS 2015-16

7 Aug

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Ladbrokes SCOTTISH CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTIONS

1
Rangers

2
Hibernian

3
Falkirk

4
Queen Of The South

5
Raith Rovers

6
Dumbarton

7
Alloa

8
St Mirren

9
Livingston

10
Morton

Once again the Championship is where it is at.  Already taken up more column inches and the season has not started yet. 

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Rangers simple have to win this year. No one could have predicted the catastrophic events on and off the field last season and Mark Warburton has invested well yet kept enough experience to settle this side.  The Petrofac Training Cup demolition of Hibernian set a standard that might not always be held up but means that the no brainer is to back the Govan team to win this league and win it comfortably with or without Scott Allan.

This brings us onto Hibernian. Alan Stubbs seems more intent in kicking his rivals transfer bids than kicking his team into shape.  The only positive about the Scott Allan transfer saga for him is that it took away the pressure from losing at home to Rangers so badly in spite of taking an early lead.  Solid in second for the Leith side if they get their act together.  The Hibees have to hope that they will finally win a playoff tie in the new league set up.  Peter Houston’s Falkirk runners up in the Scottish Cup for me are solid in third a good cup team strengthened in right areas with a superb youth system and training set up.  Dangerous in playoffs given their cup record and always a tough proposition at the Falkirk Stadium. Third with a chance in Playoffs.

Queen of the South in fourth seems such a waste but its stable and that is exactly what the Dumfries side are solid dependable with enough skill to cause any team problems.  James Fowler has simply operated a business as usual police and you know for the Palmerston players same as last year and a good shout in play offs is not the worse result ever.  Good cup record too so always a danger.  Raith Rovers Grant Murray has that mix of youth and experience and looking at them it is another year in the Championship gaining experience with the occasional shock to build towards a genuine push next season.  Starks Park on a cold Tuesday in December is a cold and foreboding place and more than a few visiting teams will leave points in Fife.  For their part, blowing hot and cold away from home is a worry for the Kirkcaldy Side. 

Dumbarton in sixth Ian Murray may have departed on a ferry across the Clyde but Stephen Aitken has a solid well-drilled squad with a good mix and the shadow of the rock makes the sons a tricky proposition at any time.  Staying in Championship is their priority. Playing Rangers brings back the historical shared League title glory. 
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Alloa in seventh.  The much-maligned plastic pitch at Recreation Park is a great leveller whether there is anything that wrong with it or not.  It gathered a reputation that Hibs Fraser Fyvie can testify too and this fear makes teams travelling to play the Wasps wary of the sting in the tail.  Danny Lennon should enjoy his trips back to Paisley and his guile; self-assurance and need to get one over his former employers should place Athletic above St Mirren.

St Mirren Eighth.  A dismal season last year with a decision to release Danny Lennon compounded by a strange promotion of Assistant Manager then when he was sacked a senior player!  The only thing that distracted people from looking at the shenanigans in Paisley was the events happening just along the Paisley Road West in Ibrox.  Disastrous home form for the last two seasons and not much better away.  The League Cup Winners of 2013 have choked on the smell of Brasso and choked in the face of opposition from every league in all Cup competitions.  Ian Murray has jumped across the Clyde to sort it out but selling Kenny McLean might stabilise finances but hurt the team.  A year of rebuilding and should stay in Championship without challenging either the top four or endangering relegation spots. Important they keep the Buddies Fans onside too.
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Livingston ninth Mark Burchill is trying to rebuild a club that has been subject to more financial audits than is healthy for any club in recent years.  Do not get me wrong Burchie is the man for this job and although I predict a lowly finish, I do feel they have just enough to stay up. 

Morton Tenth.  The jump up is enormous they done well to beat Dunfermline last year to win promotion but it has to said there is really nothing that makes you think they will set the heather on fire.  Jim Duffy will enjoy the Renfrewshire Rivalry with St Mirren but Greenock will only be a destination in this league for one year.

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SPFL Championship Predictions 2014-15

9 Aug

This has been the most difficult to predict in essence you have FIVE teams competing for two places of value. Any of the ten teams in this league can and will beat any other team in the league. This is Scotland’s first league of Death.

1. Rangers
2. Heart of Midlothian
3. Falkirk
4. Hibernian
5. Raith Rovers
6. Queen of the South
7. Livingston
8. Dumbarton
9. Cowdenbeath
10. Alloa

Rangers not surprising first but almost in spite of boardroom officialdom and fandom the Govan Giants have just got on with it. This is the third leg of a five year plan and the plan to get promotion is the only plan they have. The addition of quality proven strikers and some interesting defensive squad players mean that the quality may not be what the fans remember but it’s a squad more than capable in the league company. Rangers should at least be more comfortable playing teams with a more traditional league style. The days of every game feeling like a cup tie are gone. The opponents faced this year will have players more used to playing against the Old Firm. No more visitors enjoying the party and going to very welcoming clubs for games.

Heart of Midlothian A club freed from admistration and the points deductions start the season with no points and how the Gorgie Road loves it. New coaching staff Under Robbie Neilson. The rotating door of players at Tyncastle has left the club relying on youth with only the tiniest whiff of experience. The youth though has gained experience last year. Can the freedom from admistration free up the players? Maybe but I think some of the starlets will freeze in some of the less luxurious souroundings. With a tiny squad there could be problems mid winter. A solid second and go up via fearlessly in play off.

Falkirk Peter Houston’s Bairns have a fearless brand of youth. I think that this very youth will be the reason that Falkirk will finish third. Having no fear will win certain games and pick up points at others but having all your experience sitting on dug out with the Manager and coaches will drop and lose points at others. A year of great experience to aid season 15-16 but not this year.

Hibernian Disjointed shambles is how to describe Hibs last term. Free falling under Pat Fenlon to terminal velocity under Terry Butcher. A new manager and Chief Exec is not always the best way to turn round a club (ask Manchester United last season). Alan Stubbs may well arrive from Everton Coaching role highly recomended but is the likeable Ex Celtic defender able to be his own man alone at the top. Not so sure given the anti board feeling and loss of players at Easter Road I have picked forth place, it could be a while before we see Sunshine on Leith.

Raith Rovers Kirkcaldy will be a interesting venue for many clubs. With relatively short distances to the league’s big three then there will not be room to dance on the streets of Raith let alone on the terraces. Christian Nade will relish Tyncastle and Easter Road as well as Ibrox. Add Ross Perry and Grant Murray has a nice wee blend of Youth and experience for Grant Murray with a point to prove. An experience gathering fifth for all at the club.

Queen of the South Jim McIntyre will have this squad fired up and raring to go. Expect more points won at home than away. The trip down to Dumfries is the longest away day for all the other nine clubs and will cast up some unusual results. With Billy Dodds as a coach expect top class strikers. A sturdy sixth place for this biblical club.

Livingston John McGlynn man of many clubs and most of them are now in this league. He will definitely be a man on a mission to prove people wrong. With player coach Mark Burchill expect surprises from this mainly young squad but a strong seventh.

Dumbarton Former Hibs and Rangers Player Manager Ian Murray will have the Sons of the rock up for the challange with Lee Mair and David Van Zanten in the part time squad I almost had this team further up the league. In the end it was the part time football that has me placing them eighth.

Cowdenbeath Jimmy Nichol will know no fear he has seen it done it and wore the t-shirt both as player and manager. A uninspiring looking squad on paper will no doubt be a very strong team forged by Nichol. Don’t forget Cowdenbeath Chairman Donald Finlay QC will revel in the media attention this league and his club will receive. Ninth but reveling in finiancial security and increased public visability. Playoff bound without a care but good chance to stay up.

Alloa Unlucky Barry Smith will struggle to keep the wasps up with nothing but youth. Even the maligned plastic pitch at Recreation Park won’t save them automatically down. Tenth but will enjoy the away days.

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.