Saturday, August 14, 2010

Just Like Starting Over

Bejabers! The SPL is back.

And that means the weekly Scottish Football Blog preview post must make it’s return.

I was tempted to avoid becoming a hostage to fortune again and stop the predictions that proved so farcical last year.

But where’s the fun in that?

So I’ll persevere. It won’t be easy. As Niels Bohr said: “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”

And if I’m as bad, or worse, than last year, then I’ll have proved I know nothing about football. But that should mean that I’ll be in line to become Chief Executive, President or Head of Youth Development at the SFA - and all those jobs pay better than this.

There are constraints this year because of the rules governing “reproduction” of the fixture list. Big Brother is watching me.

Actually, my big brother has read this blog from the very beginning. It’s the SPL’s hired sniffer dogs I need to be careful of.

Anyway without further ado here are the Scottish Football Blog’s SPL predictions for what very few people are calling “Match Weekend One.”

Inverness v Celtic
Welcome back Terry Butcher. How we’ve missed your mediocre management skills. Unfair. Possibly. Terry will be unfurling his very own championship flag at a time when other managers will be overseeing the switching on of the pie ovens.

I’m glad Inverness are back in the SPL. I think they might be in for a bit of an arduous season but I can see them staying up with a bit to spare. Tricky game today though as they entertain Celtic. I’m not really sure what to expect of Celtic. Fools and bairns should never see work half done: Neil Lennon’s revolution is not yet complete and we shouldn’t be too quick to judge.

But I’m all for the early underdog catching the Old Firm worm. So I predict a draw.

Aberdeen v Hamilton Accies
I’m fair tickled by the thought of Aberdeen’s brand new glow in the dark stadium. Sadly the reality for Mark McGhee is the need to find a team that doesn’t disappear in the afternoon light.

I expect a much improved Dons side this season while I’m not sure how Hamilton will manage with the loss of yet more players.

The need for Aberdeen to set down a marker at home will probably see them home here. Home win.

Hearts v St Johnstone
Although TV schedulers appear to disagree I can see this being one of the best games of the weekend.

St Johnstone will continue with the steady progression and sound football that we’ve seen over the last few seasons. Hearts will give some indication today of how the presence of Kevin Kyle is going to shape their style of play. That might just lead to a fascinating clash of different styles.

How to call it though? A tentative nod towards a score draw.

Rangers v Kilmarnock
OMG! I’ve never written that combination of letters and punctuation before and probably never will again. But how else to greet the news that Rangers have finally signed a player?

James Beattie. Here’s a tip for you: Beattie will be top scorer in the SPL this season.

But will he play today? I don’t know. Whether he does or he doesn’t it’s hardly the fixture Kilmarnock would have wanted to kick off a season that most people are predicting will involve a lengthy relegation battle.

And that seems fair enough because this is a home win.

St Mirren v Dundee United
Danny Lennon takes his competitive bow as manager of St Mirren. A lot of us have spent the summer sniggering at his policy of signing lots of players who did well for him in the Second Division.

But maybe Danny is right and we’re wrong. Maybe he’s unearthing talent that will illuminate the SPL to the point of securing the top eleven finish that his board crave.

If he is right then a win at home against the Scottish Cup champions and the current “third force” would be a good place to start showing it.

He probably won’t be though. Away win.

Motherwell v Hibernian
I wish I was a TV scheduler: “The last team these two met it was 6-6. Get them on again and we’ll enjoy a 12 goal thriller.”

Football, like life, doesn’t work like that. I’m tempted to predict this as a goalless draw just to spite those foolish people who would like to think that history will repeat itself.

I won’t, although I will say that this is unlikely to be a good enough game to warrant rushing weekly prayers or battling through a hangover to see.

I’m not too confident about Hibs’ ability to cope with much at the moment. Maybe the goals of Stokes and Riordan can see them through this one. Certainly if it becomes a tactical battle between John Hughes and Craig Brown then experience is likely to trump to talking an awful, awful lot.

For that reason: home win.

The tale of the tape: 0 out of 0. Pointless telling you that but it could be a high point so I’m posting it anyway.