The new Scottish Premiership season begins on Saturday 31 July and for the first time in a decade Rangers go in as favourites to retain their crown. After stopping Celtic’s quest for ten league titles in a row, Rangers boss Steven Gerrard will be looking to build on last season’s success.
Scottish Premiership: Rangers Go for Two in a Row
The Title Favourites
Steven Gerrard’s Rangers will feel they are in a good position to retain their Scottish Premiership crown. They have a settled squad and have further strengthened with the additions of former Sheffield United midfielder John Lundstram and striker Fashion Sakala.
Also, with Old Firm rivals Celtic currently in a transition and going through a rebuild, the Rangers support will feel this is a great opportunity to build on last season’s success.
Despite being favourites, there still remains some question marks over this Rangers squad. The future of star striker Alfredo Morelos is still in doubt. The Colombian international continues to be heavily linked with a move to Porto.
The Colombian is also set to miss the first few games of the season after taking an extended break due to his participation in Copa America.
Midfielder Glen Kamara is another player who has been linked with a move away from Ibrox. Losing the Finnish midfielder would be a big loss. Last season, Kamara was one of their best players and in recent seasons.
Patterson – Tavernier Dilemma
Another dilemma for Steven Gerrard will be what to do with young defender Nathan Patterson. The 19-year-old broke into Rangers’ first team last season, deputising for the injured James Tavernier.
In pre-season, Patterson has played at right-back, with Tavernier as a right-winger. It will be interesting to see if Gerrard continues with that tactic. Either way, Patterson is a player who needs game time to continue to develop.
Rangers are undoubtedly the favourites for the title but have shown that they do struggle under pressure. Last season, when Celtic got knocked out early in the League and Scottish Cup, Rangers weren’t able to handle the tag as favourites failing to win either domestic cup competition.
It will be interesting to see if they can handle the tag as favourites this time around.
Celtic Look to Bounce Back
Celtic will look to bounce back after a dismal campaign last season. They failed to win the coveted ten in a row and failed to win a trophy for the first time since 2010.
The Parkhead side are currently going through a rebuild both on and off the field with a new Chief Executive and a new manager in place.
A failed pursuit of number one managerial target Eddie Howe meant Australian boss Ange Postecoglou taking the Celtic hot seat. It has been a difficult pre-season with player recruitment being too slow and mixed pre-season results.
However, there have been some positives with new signing Liel Abada looking like an impressive addition. Also, new signings Carl Starfelt and attacking midfielder Kyogo Furuhashi both look exciting additions.
Another positive is there are signs of Ange’s exciting style of play beginning to take shape. Fast-paced, attacking football is sure to get the Hoops fans onside.
The rebuild will take time and the fans have to be patient. An instant return to the top of Scottish football won’t happen overnight. Expect Celtic to get stronger and better as the season progresses.
Best of the Rest in the Scottish Premiership
The battle for the best of the rest is likely to be between Hibernian and Aberdeen. Hibs manager Jack Ross recently signed a new deal and will look to build on a decent first full season in charge. They finished in third place last season there highest league finish since 2005.
However, there were big disappointments in the cup competitions. They lost to Edinburgh rivals Hearts in the delayed 2019/20 Scottish Cup semi-finals and to St Johnstone in the League Cup semi-finals. They followed those disappointments with a dismal display in the 2021 Scottish Cup final losing to St Johnstone again when they failed to turn up.
Jack Ross will be pleased that they have managed to hold onto star players Ryan Porteous, Josh Doig, and striker Kevin Nisbet. He has also added to his squad with new signings Daniel MacKay and midfielder Jake Doyle-Hayes.
Hibs’ challengers for third spot will be Aberdeen. Under new manager Stephen Glass, the Dons will be hoping to improve after a poor campaign last season.
The Aberdeen fans will be looking for a better season and return to their spot as best of the rest. Under Derek McInnes, the Dons became stale and predictable, with their new signings and a new manager there is renewed optimism at Pittodrie.
Can Saints Build on Momentous Season?
Last season was a campaign that St Johnstone fans will never forget. They won both the League and Scottish Cups in what was the most successful season in their 137-year history.
They became the first team outside of the Old Firm to win both domestic cups since Aberdeen in 1990. Arguably it was the greatest season in the history of Scottish football. The big question is how on earth to top it?
Saints boss Callum Davidson has so far have managed to keep hold of their best players and will be looking for a top-six finish. He will also be hoping for strong defences of their cup victories.
Scottish Premiership Welcomes Return of Edinburgh and Dundee Derbies
For the first time since the 2004/05 season, Scotland’s top flight will feature Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Dundee derbies.
Hearts returned to the Scottish Premiership after a year’s absence. Despite winning the Championship comfortably there were criticisms amongst the Jambos’ support about their style of play. Also, they suffered a humiliating defeat in the 2nd round of the Scottish losing to Highland League side Brora Rangers in one of the biggest shocks of all time.
Despite this expectations will be high amongst the Hearts support that they should be challenging for a top-six finish. As yet their squad isn’t significantly stronger than last season and a top-six finish could be a tough ask.
Also, returning to Scotland’s top flight are Dundee for the first time since 2019. The Dens Park side defeated Kilmarnock in the promotion/relegation play-off last season.
Led by former Liverpool midfielder Charlie Adam, Dundee’s primary target will be to stay up. They have been very impressive in the Premier Sports Cup winning all four of their group stage matches and scoring 14 goals in the process. They seem well equipped to stay up and will be looking to establish themselves as the biggest club in Dundee once more.
Overall it is set to be an exciting and interesting season, which kicks off with Rangers hosting Livingston at Ibrox on Saturday 31 July.