OLD FIRM Clashes apart, Scottish football now
sets fewer Pulses racing than a vegetarian stew.
Every season we know who the top two are before they
start and the other three Divisional winners were
decided last year weeks before the end. Why don’t
they have play-offs to bring in more revenue and
The only surprise about the early markets is that
some bookies cannot spilt the Old Firm quoting 5-6
the pair, and Rangers at that price are just about
value. I'm with those who make Gers 4-6 favourites
and Celtic 11-10. Given how Celtic start with a
tricky rerun of May’s fatal, final fixture at
Motherwell and the champs with a gimme agasint
Livingston, even 4-6 may not last the week. Rangers
were already the more settled side and their summer
signings so far look better than Celtic’s.
John Hartson should score 30+ again but he'll
have to make do with accomplices like Jeremie
Aliadiere and Maciej Zurawski.
Rangers actually nicked their big new central
defender Jose Pierre -Fanfan of PSG from under
Celtic’s nose, and with Barry Ferguson back in
midfield as captain, they should be less prone to
the shock results that settle this title as much as
the Old Firm games. Stefan Klos’ return to fitness
also means competition in the goalkeeping
Celtic’s time will come again (they won the
reserve and U-19 titles last year) but at Ibrox,
Alex McLeish has got a strong nucleus of players in
their mid-20s just as Martin O’Neill did when he
went to Parkhead.
Elsewhere, Aberdeen have an impressive 6-2-1
record in pre-season but have also collected
injuries that might hamper their start. They have
nabbed Dundee striker Steve Lovell and head the
“without Celtic and Rangers” market at 2-1.
I prefer well-funded Hearts at 11-4 with Skybet.
New manager Craig Burley is close to clinching
three trialists who’ve featured in recent friendlies
(Lithuanian striker Edgaras Jankauskas, and Czech
pair Michal Pospisil and Roman Bednar) plus another
two players this week.
The lower divisions look more competitive and it’a
unlikely they will be won by margins of 15,9 and 20
In Division One it’s hard to see past favourites
Dundee,’ but speculation makes little sense until
their relegation is finally confined. In Division
Two, Partick hope to bounce back from relegation
just as Brechin did, but may start slowly -they
called off a friendly last week because of injuries.
Morton are more likely to challenge Gretna,
especially with striker Derek Lilly back. Saturday’s
Gretna-Morton Cup tie might be revealing, but it’s
the money-bag borderers that carry my cash.
In Division Three, Cowdenbeath won four and drew
two of their last six, scoring 14 in the run, so
their Outlook five-match-form figure was second only
Their final run included a 4-0 win over Peterhead
and points against Montrose, Stenhousemuir and
Queen’s Park, all now ahead of them in some lists.
Skybet go 7-1 against the Blue Brazil when
Ladbrokes, who have good sources in Scotland, go
only 9-2, so take the hint. Skybet also offer 1/5
the odds for each-waY to finish in the top three 50
with 7-1, the place bet looks good jnsurance.