ST Mirren finished bottom of Scotland’s top-flight last season and took the dreaded drop. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) assesses the runners and riders this year.
Scottish Premiership | To Finish Bottom | 1st August 2015
This is a remarkably tight betting heat with just a point and a half separating the first five in the betting. Let’s go through it in price order. Ladbrokes have Kilmarnock and Motherwell as 7/2 favourites to prop up the rest but I’ll be avoiding that pair.
In truth it’s reasonable for Killie fans to be feeling a little queasy going into the new season. When Gary Locke took caretaker charge upon the exit of Allan Johnston results really improved. Incredibly though when he was offered the job full-time they dropped like a stone and finished down in 10th.
Locke needs to rediscover what he was doing right in this post and you’d imagine he’ll be given time. He’s opted for experience and brought in Rangers pair Kris Boyd and Lee McCulloch along with Hearts defender Scott Robinson. Locke got the best out of Robinson when he was in charge of the Edinburgh club and that could be a shrewd move. As for Boyd and McCulloch? Tough one. They may well be damaged goods but the former has been prolific when based at Rugby Park and believe it or not he’s still only 31.
The loss of Manuel Pascali and Alexei Eremenko is likely to be felt by the club but I think Killie will have too much about them to finish bottom.
Motherwell have lost Lee Erwin and John Sutton over the summer but look to have recruited well. David Clarkson is always worth a punt plus the addition of Lewis Moult from Wrexham is a fascinating one. Moult scored 23 goals in 37 starts for the Conference Premier side and he might do some damage in this division.
This of course is Ian Baraclough’s first full season in charge and he’ll start the season still on a high after the way he masterminded the destruction of Rangers in the Premiership Play-Off Final in May.
Hamilton and Ross County are next at 4/1 but I’ll immediately ignore the latter as they’ve made some really interesting signings and manager Jim McIntyre made real progress in the final months of last season.
Hamilton though are a concern. Accies fell apart after Alex Neil left for Norwich in January and dropped like a stone down the league. New manager Martin Canning had to wait till his 14th game in charge before he picked up a win.
Over the summer they lost the services of highly-rated Stephen Hendrie to West Ham but have brought in a few replacements including ex-Hearts man Christian Nade and the Latvian Antons Kurakins. A tough season ahead? Yes, it’s hard to think otherwise.
Partick Thistle look a side who could struggle and at 5/1 to finish bottom look of interest. Kallum Higginbotham and Lyle Taylor have left the club over the summer and their replacements don’t look at the same level. This is Thistle’s third season back in the top flight but it looks sure to be one of toil and frustration.
I’ll dutch Hamilton and Partick Thistle in this market and if either finish bottom I’ll still finish in profit.
Scottish Premiership – Hamilton to finish bottom (4/1 Ladbrokes)
Scottish Premiership – Partick Thistle to finish bottom (5/1 Ladbrokes)
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