Don’t know your Alloa from your Elgin? Gary Smith (@Gstar21986) has a look at the movers and shakers within Scottish football and previews the impending Premiership and Championship season.
As one door closes another one opens. We are officially on the countdown to the new Scottish football season and if it`s anything like last year we are in for another campaign of high drama and tension.
Hearts had the bouncebackability factor when they romped to the Championship last season after their future looked bleak when plunged into administration. Hearts to win the Cahmpionship was one of our top free football tips last year.
The other new boys of Scottish football are Betting giants Ladbrokes after they secured a two year sponsorship deal worth £4million.Whether any of these funds are implemented to our game remains to be seen. It certainly puts the pressure on Scottish Football tipsters, like ourselves and Mr Fixit Tips of Daily Record fame, to deliver.
A fourth year without Rangers in the top flight may disappoint many fans up and down the country however their loss is the Championships’ gain as they prepare to do battle yet again with Hibernian, Alloa and St Mirren who were relegated last season.
Ronny Deila will attempt to strengthen his squad in his quest for a second Premiership crown, Celtic`s fifth in a row. With the signings of Dedryck Boyata from Manchester City and Saidy Janko from Manchester United they are doing just that. Deals are also in the offing for Jelle Vossen from Genk and Dundee United today confirmed they have accepted a bid for Nadir Ciftci.
Aberdeen meanwhile will also hope to have their star men such as Rooney, McGinn and Pawlett firing on all cylinders as they aim to push Celtic as far as possible in the title race.
They have also been busy with deals with Kenny McLean of St Mirren arriving in January and Liverpool Keeper Danny Ward coming in on a season long loan. Ryan Jack and Barry Robson also committed their future to the Dons.
Last season Derek McInnes side broke their record points target however will have to dust themselves down and prepare to go again. They were one of the most eagerly sought sides for betting tips, particularly into the second half of the season.
Another manager lapping up the praise from last season is John Hughes and he will also hope to emulate his Inverness sides success. After winning the Scottish cup and finishing third they will also be playing European football this month.
Dundee United flattered to deceive and will undoubtedly aim to come back stronger after a disappointing end to the campaign as they lost two (ED: Now three) of their prized assets to Champions Celtic. They have signed Paul Dixon from Huddersfield and Robbie Muirhead of Kilmarnock.
Jackie McNamara will hope to bring in a few extra faces to replace his growing list of leaving stars.
Gary Locke came into save Kilmarnock at the 11th hour last season however with the re signing of Scottish Footballs top Goalscorer Kris Boyd, former Rangers starlet Steven Smith and the potential arrival of Lee McCulloch he will hope more fresh faces can revitalise the Ayrshire club.
Ian Barraclough was a new face to Scottish Football last season as he was brought in to replace Stuart McCall and ironically faced up to his Predecessor. On a nail-biting Play off final double header it was Motherwell who lived up to their “Steelmen” nickname.
Some shrewd signings helped Motherwell stay up last year, Marvin Johnson and Scott McDonald came up from the English leagues with Nathan Thomas also joining the pair. With a couple of players already released they will be hoping to bring in fresh talent to help them get back to the dizzy heights of challenging Celtic and playing European Football.
So many questions are still to be answered such as can Aberdeen or Inverness step up to the plate and break Celtics dominance of Scottish football and who will drop down to the championship.
Many will feel Aberdeen are Celtics closest challengers however I feel that Hearts could be challenging at the top and can find themselves back in the European stage.
Dundee and Hamilton will have to survive second season syndrome and will need a great start to the new campaign much like they did last year. Hamilton recently signed Cristian Nade from Raith Rovers in an attempt to find the goals Tony Andreu took to Norwich City.
If I was to choose a couple of teams to be battling at the bottom it would probably be Partick thistle and St Johnstone. That may be a surprising prediction considering Tommy Wright did so well last season however I feel that with the European qualifiers so early and draining I can see it affecting their domestic games.
Thistle still looked like a championship side to me and played like it for much of the season, I do hope they survive as I like having another Glasgow side in the league and will be hoping to prove me wrong however they must strengthen well probably in the form of loan players. There is talent out there its all about having the right scouts working with you.
Whatever happens from now until the business end of next season we are sure to be entertained by the never dull Scottish game.