So the start of the SPFL is now just a day away and this seems to right time to predict the positions of the teams for the upcoming season.
Despite the departure of Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper both leaving for good money, it must be noted Celtic did the right thing in gaining as much money as possible in both deals and selling at the right time. Celtic already have Kayal and Rogic in place to try and replace Wanyama but Celtic need at least one if not two new strikers to replace Hooper, that being said the side still have enough to concur the SPL once again. The signings of Virgil van Dijk and Amido Balde are positive moves, both players are young and are tipped to have a big future, while if Steven Mouyokolo can be kept fit, Celtic have a no nonsense defender who is a valuable centre-back.
Michael Higdon is a big loss to Stuart McCall’s side, Higdon had stated that he may stay but that did not turn out to be the case. It is a case of rebuilding a side that impressed particularly during the end of last season, Nicky Law is another big loss but the big signing for Motherwell has to be James McFadden who can be a real difference maker for his home town side. The other signings of defender Stephen McManus will offer the side maturity in a youthful squad; while Defender Fraser Kerr, goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen and forward John Sutton all return to Fir Park on free transfers and have the advantage of already being at the club, the final signing as of right now is midfielder Iain Vigurs who looked destined to move to a League one or Championship side in England but McCall has done well to sign this creative midfielder.
Derek McInnes has invested wisely and brought in a number of older heads to accompany some of the younger players. Barry Robson, Gregg Wylde and Willo Flood are all proven in the SPL, and will have been looked at by other sides in the league. McInnes realises he must deliver this season and he will hope to make this his side and not Craig Brown’s. English goalkeeper Nicky Weaver adds a wealth of experience between the sticks, finally the signing of Congo forward Calvin Zola on a free transfer from Burton Albion could turn out to be his best business as the tall, strong striker should complement Niall Mcginn perfectly.
After the departure of Steve Lomas to Millwall, the appointment of Tommy Wright seemed to be a natural choice by the St Johnstone board although some disagreed, but after the brilliant result against Rosenberg Wright has already gained the fans support. Over the past few weeks a number of key players have joined the club including boyhood fan midfielder David Wotherspoon on a free transfer from Hibernian, New Zealand forward Rory Fallon on a free transfer from Aberdeen; and midfielder Richard Brittain on a free transfer from Ross County. But the most important deal could be Murray Davidson who has re-signed for the Saints after failing to find a club in England; this should be an impressive first season for Wright.
After the memorable cup Leigh Griffiths has now returned to Wolves despite the efforts of the club to keep him, and he will be almost impossible to replace, but £200,000 man James Collins has been given that task and he may just achieve it. The feel-good factor that the fans must have felt after getting to the final of the Scottish Cup is bound to have almost disappeared after the 7-0 loss at Easter Road to Malmo, but Pat Fenlon has made some decent signings for the upcoming season. Fenlon has invested in improving the depth of the squad with forward Rowan Vine, defender Fraser Mullen Craig and midfielder Owain Tudur Jones joining on free transfer while Ryan McGivern’s loan spell from Manchester City has been made permanent I still expect the side to finish in the top six and push on during the later stages.
6) Ross County
Derek Adams has made a number of shrewd signings after the impressive season where Ross County proved many critics wrong and in the process gained the side a fifth place finish. Defenders Steven Saunders and Ben Gordon both signed on free transfers both have enough experience in the Scottish Premiership and will help sure up the Staggies defence. Adams has also decided to bring in a number of Dutch players who although relatively unproven have shown potential and could show the quality required to get the side into the top six yet again.
7) Dundee United
There have been a number of big name departures from Tannadice during the summer including leading striker Johnny Russell, the only real positive for Jackie McNamara was that he knew these departures were going to take place. But with Gary Mackay-Steven and Ryan Gauld staying there are a number of positives for the supporters and the hope is some of the young signings made will step up to the task. The signing of David Goodwillie could be a masterstroke, the Scottish international has never looked comfortable while playing for Blackburn Rovers, and the hope is he will find some form as he returns to the club where he made his name.
Will Terry Butcher be able to repeat some of his shrewd buys from last season? That has to be one of the key questions for Caleys fans. A number of players from non-league and league two in England have joined the club, and Butcher will be hoping he has found a few gems within ten signings he has currently made. In terms of his two key men from last season, Butcher has seen Andrew Shinnie depart for Birmingham City, but on a more positive note Billy McKay has stayed and a lot of pressure will be put on him to get the required goals.
It has been a difficult summer off the pitch at Kilmarnock with a number of changes that have angered fans at the club with Kenny Shiels leaving and new manager Allan Johnston’s appointment as manager coming at a time just after most clubs in the Premiership had signed the free agents left, this will prove to be a difficult season for Killie. The re-signing of Kris Boyd could be the best piece of business of the summer, as Boyd is a goal scorer in this league but he must be kept fit. And while goalkeepers Antonio Reguero and Craig Samson have joined on frees, the question is will they be able to match the performance of the departed Cammy Bell.
10) St Mirren
It was a memorable season for Danny Lennon’s men last season in terms of the League Cup victory over Celtic in the final, but in the league it was a struggle for the Buddies and it looks like another frustrating league season is in store. Danny Grainger is an accomplished left-back in this league and if fit is an asset, and Lennon knows he will have to get the best out of his threadbare squad once again this season. For St Mirren a repeat of last season would be clearly a success and it wouldn’t shock me if Lennon decides to prioritise a cup run, if safety is achieved.
It will be difficult for Partick to stay up this season, but I hope the side can play the attacking football the side played in Division One last season, and if they show the desire Dundee showed later on during last season, Partick may have a chance of staying up. Midfielder Gary Fraser on loan from Bolton Wanderers has signed for six-months, Dougie Freedman rates Fraser highly and Partick will be hoping he can flourish during the loan spell which could be extended until the end of the season. The other signings include Forward John Baird on a free transfer from Dundee; Goalkeeper Paul Gallacher on a free transfer from Ross County. But Alan Archibald will have a difficult challenge during the upcoming season and Partick will struggle with relegation, but should have enough to stay up.
After all the turmoil during the last few months with financial problems, the team and fans will be looking forward to starting the season. Hearts have been able to keep a few of their better players, but new manager has seen the squad deteriorate to a point where they have lost pretty much all depth. The permanent signing of defender Danny Wilson on a free transfer from Liverpool is a positive move and making the centre-back captain is a required move, but Hearts are bound to struggle this season in the league, especially as they start with a -15 points deficit.