OBLIGATORY CORPORATE PLUG
Rangers v Hearts
Sat. 12.30pm Sky Sports 2
Hibs v Celtic
Sun. 12.30pm ESPN
If there are more than four goals in either of the above games, Paddy Power will refund all losing 1st Goalscorer, Last Goalscorer, Correct Score and Scorecast singles on that match. Conditions
With the English Premier League still reluctant to let the Old Firm clubs move south and milk their cash cow, money is tighter than a pair of skinny jeans on Robbie Coltrane for all SPL sides. Neither Celtic nor Rangers has done much in the way of spending, but by and large they’ve managed to hold on to their key players from last season, especially us, with Rangers finishing last year with a few loan signings who’ve now gone home.
Rangers’ chances of defending their title will depend on how Super Sally Ally takes to management. Will he be one of the few who slot perfectly into the manager’s seat after being a right hand man or is his greatest attribute being able to take credit for things he had very little to do with by associating himself with more successful people? We’re well aware of his ability to score goals and make us feel immensely queasy by flirting with Sue Barker on A Question Of Sport, but his capacity to guide a team to league success something that hasn’t been proven. He has inherited a winning team, but one that benefited from Celtic’s collapse almost as much as they claimed the title for themselves. Under Walter Smith, Rangers played a brand of football with all the aesthetic appeal of Jo Brand in a basque, particularly in Europe. Pargmasmithism as my RST mate called it was tedious, but it was all about getting the job done. Smith called on his vast experience to guide his team to the title and there have to be serious questions about McCoist’s ability and desire to do the same and questions already about his relationship with Smith & Whyte.
Thanks to the mindless death-threats sent the way of Neil Lennon and the difficulties the human mind has separating sympathy from genuine affection, the actual performance of the Celtic manager was somewhat secondary to other events – and rightly so. There’s no doubt that Lennon had a tremendously difficult time last season dealing with the hatred aimed in his direction. It’s hard to truly gauge how big an impact his traumas had on the players, but in reality it matters little. Give a professional footballer an excuse not to perform and he’ll grab it like it’s a glamour model’s silicone-enhanced bosom. If there is a silver lining to throwing away a league title, it’s the fact that at least we got themselves in the position to throw away a league title. There’s still time for a change, but as yet Celtic have kept the vast majority of their key players from last season and augmented them with a few potentially useful signings so you’d expect us to be capable of performing to a similar level in the season ahead.
Aiming to top the best of the rest mini-league are Hearts whose promising season fizzled out like a firework that’s been stored in an overly damp room. The Edinburgh club that make events on Dream Team look like the stuff of factual documentary have been busy adding to their squad with a few interesting additions to an already burgeoning squad (John Sutton could be a decent bet in the SPL Top Goalscorer betting) That argument implies a level of the ‘quantity over quality’ approach, but amongst the vast ranks they’ve got some quality and with Jim Jeffries at the helm, you’d expect that progress to be maintained at least and more than likely built upon.
So what are our expectations:
Shockeroony, Harry Brady picks Celtic for the SPL at 8/11
Difficult as we don’t know of other arrivals (Bellamy please please), but Commons might be an outside bet.
Stick your own predictions below, on twitter @celticrumours or @harrybradycu or on Facebook.