Our chief football writer Cameron Deacon previews all 12 Premiership clubs ahead of the new season. @Cam_Deacon21 – Twitter
It seems that no matter what direction that we step, there is always something in the way. For the past few months Scottish Football has been a whirlwind of news stories and controversy that can’t help but rear its head every moment there seems to be some peace. But finally, after weeks of uncertainty the rollercoaster which is the Scottish Premiership is back for the 2020/21 season. There are still cracks to be covered with fans returning and a pandemic still ongoing, but football is back and ready to answer the big questions! Can Steven Gerrard take Rangers forward to stop Celtic getting the dreaded 10-in-a-row? Will Hamilton survive the drop again? Who will step forward to finish in the top three? I will attempt to answer some of these questions as I preview the return of topflight football in Scotland team by team!
Predicted finish: 3rd
Aberdeen will be absolutely desperate to take back their crown as the best of the rest squad in the Premiership this season after what was a more than disappointing season for the Dons. With nine draws to their name last season the Reds will be hoping to rediscover that finishing touch which should take them that extra place higher. Another factor which will be key to Aberdeen is their away form, winning only 5 from a possible 15 matches last term. Unless they can change this stat Aberdeen could once again end up languishing below 3rd. However, I believe that with the ever-improving Sam Cosgrove and the addition of Jonny Hayes, Aberdeen should find themselves taking back that 3rd place spot.
Predicted finish: 1st
Now this one was tricky to call. Yes, I did just say that! To me it seems like it is only inevitable that Celtic are going to take 10 in a row, but I do genuinely expect the title race to be very close this season. Celtic have a winning side with a winning mentality only getting outdone by a fellow Scottish team in the Europa League with Rangers processing one round further than the Bhoys. They hardly put a foot wrong last campaign bar one week where Rangers took the first-place spot. One of the key factors to Celtic’s success this season will be if they still have Odsonne Edouard come the start of it. With Arsenal and a host of other Premier League sides wanting to bag the young Frenchman if Celtic lose him, his 22 League goals will be hard to fill and Rangers could be licking their lips.
Predicted finish: 6th
Yes, here it is the outlandish prediction! I think Dundee United will get a top half finish in the first time of asking! Last season they took Hibernian to a replay in the Scottish Cup with star Shankland scoring in both and were beating Aberdeen in the League cup right until the 91st minute, Aberdeen then went on to win in extra time. They bossed the Championship last season and already showed glimpses of what they can do against some of the teams that they will be competing against this season. Plus, with the recent addition of Man City winger Luke Bolton becoming Micky Mellon’s first significant signing. If he can link up with the phenomenal Shankland then Dundee United I really be a force to reckoned with going forward!
Predicted finish: 12th
I’m afraid Accies fans, this will be it. Your long stay in the Premiership where you have been predicted to finish bottom for every single one is finally at an end. Since getting into the top division in 2014 Hamilton have been, probably, the favourite to finish bottom every year. With the impact of the pandemic on the club’s finances and the exit of 15 players in the summer Brian Rice is going to have to find some gems in the academy if they have any hope of survival. They lost as many games as relegated Hearts and scored fewer goals with an amazing final two games which saw them beat Rangers at the Ibrox 1-0 and then win at home against Kilmarnock thanks to a 90 minute penalty winner, in a game in which they had only 10 men for the final 15 minutes. Had these two results not gone there way then they would’ve been the side relegated on goal difference! They have been able to get the results when they need them, and I respect them for that, but unfortunately, I believe that the Accies luck is going to run short.
Predicted finish: 4th
When you look at Hibernian by all accounts, they could have the third best team in the country. Yet, since their promotion back in the 16-17 season they have seen a slow decline in their positioning. From 4th to 5th and now to 7th unless they can find some constancy in their season Hibs could easily begin to drop away, especially with the top half of the table being as competitive as ever. However, I have faith in the Edinburgh side. They have a Scottish Cup semi-final against relegated rivals Hearts to look forward to in October. They had positive results against Celtic, Aberdeen and Motherwell last campaign and showed promising signs during an unbeaten run of nine games…Obviously the start of that run was five consecutive draws making up the back of 10 games without a win but I digress. With the squad that they have and Christian Doidge upfront there is no reason why Hibernian can’t be challenging for those top spots.
Predicted finish: 8th
This season could once again prove difficult for Killie. Last season they finished a disappointing 8th after having finished 3rd only the season before. There low squad depth compounded by managerial changes saw Killie go on a run of six games where they completely failed to score a single goal within a run in which they only managed to get three wins in 16 games. In truth it is a real surprise that they didn’t end up finishing lower, had it not been for Hearts against who they got nine points and 33% of their wins that season, Killie could have finished much lower and I don’t expect much to change. 8th is a generous prediction for a side that may really struggle this season.
Predicted finish: 9th
Now this really is a tough one to call. Livingston are the living definition of having to wait and see what side turns up on the day. They managed to finish 5th in a season where they took four points off Celtic, went on a run of eight games without a win, lost to Inverness in the Scottish Cup and who’s top striker only managed to score nine league goals. Sometimes Livingston look like the worst side in the league but then a week later beat Celtic 2-0. If they can find some form then maybe they could get top six, but honestly, I can see at least seven teams who are better than them this season.
Predicted finish: 5th
I think that top six is all but secure for Motherwell, but I think that replicating their 3rd place finish like last season may be a step too far. They have a solid defence which saw them keep 11 clean sheets last campaign, so if they are looking to head into European heights again maintaining their high-level defending will be imperative. David Turnbull is the other essential piece to this puzzle, as long as he can stay fit and firing (and actually stays at the club) then who knows Motherwell could finish in a position which mirrors how good their kit is. (Very good)
Predicted finish: 2nd
Rangers could do it. With Hagi leading the line and Morelos apparently staying put, I would say that Rangers absolutely have the potential to win the league. However, Rangers have a problem with bottling, should win games. They lost five points too Hearts, they lost against Kilmarnock and Hamilton within a month and only won two in five for the entirety of February. Rangers have the skill and the players to finish first but they have to want it, there are time when they beat Celtic at Celtic Park that you wonder why they aren’t getting closer to their rivals and honestly I think it comes down to confidence. Even in some games which they win they look shaky and nervous. They must rid themselves of these nerves if they are to have any chance of catching Celtic and stop them from getting 10-in-a-row.
Predicted finish: 10th
Same again I think for Ross County. The only highland side playing in the Premiership, the Staggies enjoyed a spirited return to top flight football last campaign, which for a very short amount of time saw them as the only other side in the whole league, other than Celtic and Rangers who would finish a week in the top two (Yes this was the first week). County did enjoy some games beating top six sides Aberdeen, Motherwell and Livingston whilst holding St Johnstone to a draw three times. However, they must sure up their defence this season, on 11 occasions they conceded three or more goals in a game and concede 60 goals throughout the season, way more than anyone else! And if that continues the small Town of Dingwall could be up for a testing season.
Predicted finish: 7th
St Johnstone will be hoping for a better start to this season, suffering the biggest defeat of the season in a 7-0 drubbing by Celtic. But they managed to finish strong losing only two of their last 15 games, a run which managed to drag the Perth side from rock bottom all the way to sixth! Do I think they will have such luck this time round? No. After Tommy Write left the club after 7 years in charge, the usual outcome of a team losing a long-term manager is that they drop off. They will have lost backroom staff, the environment for the players will be different and unless Callum Davidson can step unto the mantle after playing second fiddle since 2014 then The Saints could drop like a stone.
Predicted finish: 11th
So not least but potentially last is St Mirren. The Buddies finished a respectable 9th last season after surviving through a relegation playoff the season before. It may be a straight fight between themselves and Hamilton to see who survives the drop this season. This the Saints relying almost entirely on Jonathan Obika unless he shoots sharp then the Saints could go down. Tony Fitzpatrick (CEO) may know something we don’t though after suggesting that his side could finish in the top six. I can’t see it myself and genuinely can only see them surviving because Hamilton are in a much worse position than they are.
So, what do you think is going to happen? Keep in mind that this is my own personal predictions and the outcome could be very different.