This preview appears in the August 2021 edition of FourFourTwo.
This summer, the impossible happened. For a few glorious weeks, Scottish football’s all-consuming tit-for-tat was parked as fans found common ground getting behind their national team at Euro 2020.
All was calm... at least until the domestic game’s excitable headline generator cranked back into life. Normality, at last…
Celtic have been front and centre of it all, on the back of a nightmare season of self-sabotage. Eddie Howe was meant to lead an extensive rebuild after their 10-in-a-row hopes were obliterated, with influential chief executive Peter Lawwell stepping down and captain Scott Brown following Neil Lennon out the door. Howe’s last-minute change of heart piled on the pressure, though, with the alternative – former Australia boss Ange Postecoglou – a left-field choice. He’s impressed in his early dealings, but make no mistake: his task in restoring the Bhoys to their former glories is vast, as the Champions League qualifying exit to Danish side Midtjylland has proved.
Across Glasgow, life is a lot more straightforward for Steven Gerrard’s Rangers. Their biggest challenge has been holding on to the stars who led them to last season’s superb title, though emerging talents like Nathan Patterson should play bigger roles.
Hibernian face a fight to hold on to their ‘best of the rest’ spot in third, and should be pushed by a rejigged Aberdeen. New manager Stephen Glass has been backed to reshape his squad – not least with the arrival of Hoop talisman Brown as player-coach. Hearts are back in the top flight after a brief stay in the second tier, meanwhile, but won’t be content to settle for a top-six spot.
How St Johnstone go about backing up their double-winning exploits is anyone’s guess. Rookie boss Callum Davidson’s team was the success story of the season as they finished 5th and scooped both the League Cup and Scottish Cup, making their own act incredibly tough to follow.
Dundee’s promotion means a welcome return for the Dundee Derby; United hope that promoting the little-known Tam Courts – previously head of tactical performance – to succeed Micky Mellon will help fast-track the development of some promising academy prospects.
Livingston and Motherwell are unknown quantities to an extent, after the loss of some dependable performers, while St Mirren will aim to maintain their gradual improvement. Ross County are desperate to avoid another relegation battle, but look like an interesting proposition after the divisive appointment of former Cardiff boss Malky Mackay.
Whatever happens, it won’t be dull….
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