Thursday, October 15, 2009

Choose your own Topping

Scottish Football Blog, SPL predictionsThat's international week over with and fans of Scotland are scratching their heads as to what the point of our Japanese adventure was. All we really know is that George Burley is not scared to play replacement replacements if required. Probably didn't have to go all that way to find that out.

In SPL world we are being buffeted by winds of change from across the border and over the north Atlantic. Are we any further forward on that issue? You tell me.

One definite change before we get down to business is in the SPL chairmanship where Lex Gold has stepped down and William Hill's Ralph Topping has stepped into the most coveted role in world football. Or not.

William Hill? First prediction of the week: if Ralph has granted Chick Young an interview (no doubt erroneously described as a global exclusive) and one of them uses the phrase “if I was a betting man” then I will most probably shoot one or both of them. Or myself.

Ralph says the job combines his three passions: business, football and Scotland. Poor old Mrs Topping.

It's game week eight and here's the runners and riders.

Aberdeen v Hearts

Anglo-Scots hybrid Andrew Driver has been the talk of the country this week giving Csaba Lazlo another unwanted distraction as Hearts try to kick start their season. Mark McGhee's budget tinkering at Pittodrie will have continued apace during the international holiday. Goals are not coming easily for either side and another low scoring match seems likely. I'm tempted by the draw but I'll go for the home win.

Celtic v Motherwell

I'm not sure if a lay off after an Old Firm defeat is good or bad. Apparently Tony Mowbray has spent his time working on new partnerships at the centre of defence so we can probably expect to seen Maloney and Samaras starting at the back. Jim Gannon keeps Motherwell plugging away and will have relished the extra few days with them. I'm saying a home win but I don't rule out a shock.

Dundee United v Hamilton

United's away draw with Hibs last time out seems to confirm the view that those two will be in at the business end of the third place battle. Hamilton won't be involved in that but will probably have a battle of their own to fight come next spring. If Ralph Topping was to give me a free bet I'd put at least £1.99 on a home win.

Falkirk v St Mirren

At some point Falkirk are going to need to start winning games like this at home. St Mirren are not opponents that you relish but revivals need to start somewhere. That's if revivals are possible. If they're not then you'd probably scrape a draw in a game like this. So I'll back a low scoring share of the points.

Hibs v Kilmarnock

Apparently John Hughes is worried that Benjelloun and Zemmama will have hangovers after the disappointment of missing out on the World Cup with Morocco. Derek Riordan's influence clearly knows no bounds if two Muslims are the worse for drink. On a serious note Hibs had a few players away and Kilmarnock will be up for this one. The kind of game that Hibs need to win to prove they are a class above the Kilmarnock's of this world this season. They should win.

St Johnstone v Rangers

No money, no players and an Old Firm win. Funny old game etc etc. Rangers should be too strong for the Saints and probably will be. But such is the Ibrox madness this season I'm sticking my neck on the line and going for a Perthshire party. Well, maybe not a party. But a resounding share of the spoils.

By the way, I've gone alphabetical this week. St Johnstone entertain Rangers in front of the TV cameras and it kicks off at 12.30 on Saturday.

Tale of the tape to date: 13(!) out of 36 (I missed a week)