Just days after announcing a deal with CBS Sports to show live Scottish football in the US, the 2021-22 campaign will kick off this weekend with four matches on Saturday.
The Full Scottish with Brian P. Dunleavy
However, picking the order of finish this season, at least for 11 of 12 places in the table, is no “cinch.” Get it? (Lame reference to Premiership title sponsor.) Anyway, without further ado, or bad jokes, here’s how The Full Scottish sees it:
The reigning title holders are the odds-on favorite to repeat. Manager Steven Gerrard now knows what it takes to win, and he’s bolstered an already strong side with several key signings, most notably midfielder John Lundstram, from Sheffield United. Really, the only question is whether Gerrard can secure either or both domestic cups, and how far he can take ’Gers in Europe.
Perhaps we’re still reeling a bit from Wednesday’s disappointing result in Denmark, but the Hoops are hardly assured of second place in 2021-22. The board waited far too long to bring in a new manager and the influx of desperately needed new talent has been slowed as a result. Significant holes remain—literally—between the sticks and in the back four, meaning Ange Postecoglou’s men are likely to leak goals this term. Meanwhile, the immediate futures of Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie remain in doubt, with no clear replacements signed. In a word: Yikes.
Yes, we see Jack Ross’ side pushing their counterparts in green for the second Champions’ League spot this term—provided they hold on to the likes of Josh Doig, Ryan Porteous, Martin Boyle and Kevin Nisbet. Finances in Leith mean that the Hibees, like most Scottish clubs outwith the Glasgow Two, are perpetual sellers and bargain-seekers. However, if Ross can keep his key assets for the entire campaign, he’ll have his side nipping at the heels of Celtic.
We’re not yet sold on the managerial acumen of Stephen Glass, but the Dons are always in the mix for the top three, and they’ve added a proven winner in new (and former Hoops) skipper Scott Brown. How much remains in Brown’s 36-year-old legs will likely determine whether they, too, will push Celtic for second in the table.
Callum Davidson’s side were arguably the story of the season in 2020-21, as they secured the domestic cup double. As with Hibs, the key to their success this term will hinge on their ability to retain key players, such as midfielder Ali McCann (above). However, a top-six finish seems almost assured, what with the lack of real quality among the others fighting for the fifth and sixth spots.
Another club that has done more with less since its return to the top flight, Livi will once again be one of the toughest sides in the league to play against—particularly at home. However, will that grit be enough for them to hold off…
The Tangerines had to make an unexpected change in the dugout this summer, handing Tam Courts the reins. But, they still have Benjamin Siegrist in goals (for now) and have added some experience (and set-piece proficiency) in former Celt Charlie Mulgrew (right). Provided Siegrist stays, they may have just enough to push Livi, and perhaps even St. Johnstone.
Robbie Neilson is back at Tynecastle, of course, and the Jambos still have Craig Gordon between the sticks. Both of those facts are old news. However, the Edinburgh side is only just back in the Prem after a year in the Championship, and we don’t think they’ve added enough pieces to make a serious push for the top six.
It seems like ages ago, now, that Motherwell were akin to St. Johnstone and working miracles with resources stretched thin. Now, though, the Steelmen have maybe seen too much quality depart Fir Park (see: Turnbull, David) without developing new talent to fill in. Still, they have enough in the squad to remain above the bottom-feeders.
The Saints’ strength lies in its boardroom and in the dugout, the latter in the form of manager Jim Goodwin. With limited resources, the Paisley side have, if nothing else, demonstrated that they have staying power—as in, they have remained in the Prem. They’ll likely avoid relegation again, if only just.
Well, the Staggies brought in Malky Mackay to run the show. Whether that will help or hurt them remains to be seen. The manager, perhaps best known for seeing his career in England derailed by allegedly racist, sexist and homophobic text messages, gets a fresh start in the Highlands after three years in exile. Can he keep the Dingwall side out of the relegation battle?
Oh Dundee, we hardly knew ye. The Dee is back, but their return to the top flight is likely to be short. Still, seeing the Dundee Derby will be nice—if only for one season. Let the games begin.