As season looms, it’s time to tell the future again
WELL, it’s that time of year again. The signings have been made, the training has been done, the friendlies have been played and some of our teams have been knocked out of Europe.
But there is still one bit of housekeeping to be completed before a ball can be kicked and the new Premiership campaign can get off and running.
Yes, sports writers up and down the country have to put their heads above the parapet, or on the chopping block, and give their predictions on who the big winners and losers will be in the coming months.
You can find out who the Evening Times team are tipping for title glory and relegation hell later in the week.
Make sure to keep a note of them so they can be used as online ammunition and held against us from here until the final whistle at Hampden in May.
But remember, it is only a prediction. If it doesn’t work out how we think, it’s not the end of the world. It’s only a game, folks.
As it turned out, nobody on our desk got the full house of Celtic for the title, the Scottish Cup and the League Cup, Aberdeen for second and Inverness for the drop 12 months ago.
Looking back, it was all so obvious. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, right enough.
The two-horse race became a one stallion canter to the finishing line in the Premiership, while the Old Firm were reunited in the division but ended the campaign with Aberdeen in between them.
The only magic that was in Mark Warburton’s hat was used for his disappearing trick from Rangers, while Joey Barton spent more time signing books than he did on the park.
At the other end of the table, there was no top-flight drop for Kilmarnock as the huge squad Lee Clark compiled and Lee McCulloch inherited picked up enough points to retain their place amongst our 12 highestranked clubs for another season.
Sadly for Alan Archibald, Partick Thistle didn’t end their long wait for silverware at Hampden and win the League Cup. That particular prediction was burst even before it became obvious that six-in-a-row was on the cards.
Celtic did, of course, win the Scottish Cup in the most dramatic of circumstances as Brendan Rodgers’ side wrote their names in the history books.
So that meant one out of five. Not so much could do better as must do better.
This time around, we will have to see if Aberdeen’s cycle has come to an end or if they are about to find another gear under Derek McInnes, while Ian Cathro may have to buy a ticket for Tynecastle if he wants to be there when the new Main Stand is opened in September.
The Jambos will be in the sights of a resurgent Hibernian, while St Johnstone will look to continue their run of top-six finishes as Partick Thistle aim to make it two-in-a-row.
Hamilton will once again have to defy the odds and Motherwell need to avoid another scrap at the bottom. Neil McCann may want to make a Bosman move back to Sky Sports, Ross County have to replace the top scorer in the Premiership and Killie will consolidate.
AT THE top, Celtic will win the league comfortably and Rodgers will eye more domestic silverware. Pedro Caixinha has to do that as well, but first Rangers have to recover from arguably the worst result in their history to mount some sort of challenge.
The crowds will be low at times, the quality on the park won’t be great at others and people from outwith these shores will continue to knock Scottish football from pillar to post.
But there will be enough headlines, touchline bust-ups, weird and wonderful tales and Twitter spats to keep us all entertained for the next few months.
It is said only a fool would predict the future. It is best to expect the unexpected.
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