Saint Mirren

Teams /  Scotland  / Saint Mirren 
Saint Mirren have 1 Fans
SPL season 2010-11 preview
Ewan Murray - 4 years ago

Twelve months ago Celtic had a new manager who had gone on a summer spending spree. Across the city, Walter Smith hadn't been able to supplement his Rangers squad at all due to financial restrictions. Funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Celtic's hope of wrestling the Scottish Premier League title back from Rangers' grasp this season centres on one key point: Neil Lennon surely cannot make as many fundamental errors during this, his first full season as the club's manager, as Tony Mowbray did last time around.

Smith's predicament is not quite on the same scale as a year ago, thanks to winning a second successive title and the monetary leeway that comes with it. Rangers have the finance, their manager says, to sign half a dozen players yet Smith would rather sign half of that number if that means they are of a higher quality. Replacing the prolific Kris Boyd, Smith will readily acknowledge, is of paramount importance.

Both halves of the Old Firm may benefit from English Premier League teams having to reduce squad sizes between this weekend's kick-off and the end of the transfer window, with a host of previously unobtainable players suddenly available at that juncture.

If there is little doubt Rangers are the club more in need of fresh faces ? especially with a Champions League campaign to come ? only the brave would bet strongly against Smith calling time on his Ibrox tenure with another championship. Nonetheless, until those new signings are forthcoming, Celtic have the edge.

For all the Rangers squad lacks depth and, in many cases, quality, they have a manager better versed in what it takes to succeed in Scotland than any of his opponents. Where the reigning champions are glaringly susceptible is in the event that meaningful bids arrive for key players in their squad ? many, such as Kenny Miller, have only a year left on their contracts ? before the end of this month.

If Lennon's ill-advised decision to blast back at criticism of his team from an ex-Celtic player is anything to go by, he may be feeling the pressure already. His decision to overhaul Mowbray's underachieving squad is bold and therefore worthy of praise; a Saturday lunchtime kick-off in Inverness should reveal whether those new faces have gelled any better than the recent Champions League qualifier against Sporting Braga suggested. Defensive woes have prompted one widespread prediction ? Inverness will score at least one.

The Old Firm can take collective solace from the fact they still won't have much to beat domestically. Diminishing standards lead some to believe sides outside of the big two can join the race for the SPL title. Such a theory has not been borne out in recent seasons, a lack of finance elsewhere meaning no club has brought in the players required to trigger a meaningful championship push.

Dundee United have managed to retain the squad that claimed third place and the Scottish Cup last time around, Andy Webster's return to Rangers aside. Yet finishing best of the rest in consecutive seasons has proved troublesome for any team since the inception of the SPL.

Hearts have finally added the strikeforce they have craved for the best part of four years thanks to the addition of Stephen Elliott and Kevin Kyle. If Jim Jefferies can convince his Lithuanian masters to sign an attacking midfielder, and count on the fitness of the injury-prone Andrew Driver, the Edinburgh side have a genuine chance of pipping United.

Hibernian have opened the season with what has become a typical disaster in European competition ? if it was left to them, Scotland could be the first country to hold a negative coefficient with Uefa ? but, like Celtic, suffered in part from playing before a domestic ball had been kicked in anger. Hibs, in all seriousness, still have attacking prowess which their competitors clearly lack.

Aberdeen's dismal pre-season campaign hints at more trouble for Mark McGhee who, like the Hibs manager John Hughes, has not been short of critics among his own club's support. The arrival of Paul Hartley at Pittodrie, though, may just add the experience and on-field leadership McGhee badly needs.

The none-too-subtle pleas for extra money by the Motherwell manager Craig Brown suggest they will be hard-pushed to scale the heights of last season. Brown has been forced to cut his budget but retains an impressive first XI. Only injuries and suspension should disrupt Motherwell.

Relegation looks more of a two-horse race than ever before. Kilmarnock's drastic cost-cutting has left them with a squad which appears ill-equipped to handle the rigours of a full season and, whilst St Mirren are better off in terms of numbers, the Paisley side's policy of signing players from Cowdenbeath looks dangerous.

Supporters can rest slightly easier given the likely demise of the SPL in its current format. This could be the last season of the infamous split and, even more dubiously, the closed-shop one up, one down scenario. The latter situation does nothing for competition, which should be at the root of all sport.

Ewan Murray's predictionsChampions Celtic

Relegated St Mirren

Scottish Cup Rangers

League Cup Motherwell

SPL top scorer Gary Hooper

This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.

Share your thoughts
Sign in to comment

Latest News, Blogs & Podcasts

The Guardian - 3 days ago
Dundee United added to St Mirren's miserable start to the season by beating them 3-0. Second-half goals from Chris Erskine, Radoslaw Fojut and substitute Blair Spittal condemned the men in black and white to their fourth straight Scottish Premiership ...
The Guardian - 3 days ago
There's no doubt about who the happier manager is at St James' Park - Neil Warnock is all smiles as he shakes hands with a fairly non-plussed looking Wilf Zaha, the substitute who rescued a point for his side mega-late doors. QPR celebrate Neil Warnock ...
Evening Telegraph - 3 days ago
“It's just another game of football,” said Roberts. “People are saying it's a big game for us but you don't get any more points for beating Celtic than you do St Mirren. “Three points are three points whoever you beat. “And that's what we're hoping to ...
Evening Telegraph - 3 days ago
He's hoping for one at St Mirren and, with the Buddies failing to score in their three league fixtures so far, statistics suggest he's got a good chance. However, he'll be taking nothing ... “But this is football and everything can change. “You have to ...
The Guardian - 3 weeks ago
Motherwell made a winning start to their 2014-15 Scottish Premiership campaign with a goal from Lee Erwin enough to beat 10-man St Mirren 1-0 at Fir Park. Last season's runners-up were off the mark in the 64th minute as Erwin scored his first goal for ...
Adams and his father, George, director of football at the club, were sacked by County yesterday and already a queue of interested parties is forming. Both managers are out of work, with Lennon, who had a brief spell as a player at Victoria Park in 1999 ...
Evening Telegraph - 3 days ago
“It's just another game of football,” said Roberts. “People are saying it's a big game for us but you don't get any more points for beating Celtic than you do St Mirren. “Three points are three points whoever you beat. “And that's what we're hoping to ...
"We know we can do that as well as play good football and we want to keep that going. It's been a good start to the season from the lads. "Three wins out of four is good going and we want to make that four out of five when we go to St Mirren. That has ...
In Fergie Rises: How Britain's Greatest Football Manager Was Made At Aberdeen, the journalist recalls the day in 1978 when a hot-headed, rebellious young boss arrived at Pittodrie – after being sacked by St Mirren. The tome charts Sir Alex's eight-year ...
Evening Telegraph - 5 days ago
Making six changes from the side that got the club's first Premiership win of the season at St Mirren, the manager watched on as his side tore Raith Rovers to pieces in cruising to the third round of the League Cup. Not just that, the players he ...
Kick4Life - changing lives through football