Now the World Cup has come to a close, and with the Commonwealth Games also finished, it's time to look forward to the 2014/15 Scottish Premier League campaign.
Aberdeen looked much better than in recent years last season. Derek McInnes has reinvigorated the “underacheiving” side, who in recent seasons look a far call from the history of sides associated with the club.
But Aberdeen's League Cup triumph, with 40,000 fans travelling down to Celtic Park to see a classic 0-0 final, showed just how big the club remains in the Scottish game.
Their European campaign so far has been fairly impressive too, a 2-1 aggregate win against FC Groningen showed also that they can mix it against some good European teams. Their business so far in the window hasn't been too shabby either. Securing Shaleum Logan permanently is good business, as he seems a fairly solid full-back, along with Scott Brown (no! Not that one), Ash Taylor and the loan signing of Jeffrey Monakana.
On top of all this, David Goodwillie has decided to return to the SPL with the Dons after an unsuccessful time down south, failing with Blackburn, Crystal Palace, Blackpool and a brief return to Dundee United. He certainly seems a million miles away from the striker that was banging them in left, right and indeed centre, but if there's any place I'd tip him to succeed it would be here.
So, Aberdeen should be in for another successful season. Decent cup runs could be on the cards in both domestic competitions, they'll be looking to take second after losing out to Motherwell on the final day. How far they go in Europe remains to be seen, but it will be difficult to sneak past Real Sociedad
Not too much to say in all honesty, another title in the bag. A new man at the helm but the expectations remain the same. The title should be theirs, no question about it. The main talking point will be their Champions League hopes.
I can see this season being a real opportunity for the youngsters and underperformers to shine. Calum McGregor has already shown his prowess with a goal and another decent performance against KR Rejkavik. Liam Henderson was in the first team towards the end of last season, I expect those two to feature heavily.
I also expect this to be Teemu Pukki's decisive season, the real time for him to show if he has a future in the East end or not. I would expect to see maybe one or two more additions to the squad, but unless Fraser Forster or Virgil Van Dijk leave, not too much business should be done. I think Deila will use what he's got, certainly as they have failed to make the group stage of the Champions League, there will not be any major arrivals.
So, the league will almost certainly be theirs, in what could be their final season Rangersless. Cup runs would be nice after their failures last season, but most importantly a decent Champions league run is needed.
Dundee are an interesting one, certainly in recent seasons they seem to have taken on the role of a sort of yo-yo team, and after another promotion to the top-flight, Paul Hartley has added many new faces to an already strong team. With additions such as Kevin Thomson and Paul McGowan providing the talent but also the experience of this league, having “been there and done that.”
With Luka Tankulic and Thomas Konrad, they've also added some quality from outside the UK. Simon Ferry also seems to be a good acquisition also. Their summer form has been relatively good, a 2-0 win against a Manchester City XI containing the likes of Stefan Jovetic, Jesus Navas and Willy Caballero started a good pre-season.
They've also managed a win over Morecambe and a very impressive 3-0 defeat of Hearts. Although there have been blips, a 0-0 draw with Brechin and losing to Sheffield United, Dundee have officially ended their pre-season with a 4-0 win over Peterhead in the first round of the League Cup.
So, with a host of impressive new signings, I believe Dundee will have a good season, although getting them to gel will be the biggest challenge, Dundee should be in the top half or thereabouts by the end. In Paul Hartley, they have a hungry and talented manager who has built a talented squad.
Last season was a good but ultimately by the conclusion, disappointing season. Despite a 4th place finish and reaching the Scottish Cup final, there was no European football on the cards this season for the Tangerines and they missed out to St Johnstone in the final with a 1-0 defeat.
Jackie McNamara knows his team will be competitive again, but the Arabs loyals will be hoping for European football next season, as well as their young team to progress. With Andrew Robertson and Ryan Gauld leaving for relatively large fees (£2.85m and £3m respectively.) Rebuilding has and will continue to be needed. Defender Conor Townsend has arrived on loan from Hull, and Mario Bilate, Jaroslaw Fojut and Michal Szromnik have all come in. Young talent in Blair Spittal and Charlie Telfer have also arrived.
McNamara has a good squad still, despite losing two of his most promising youngsters, he should be able to be near the top again, with possibly a decent cup run in the bag to suit.
Hamilton's promotion last year was deserved after a fantastic comeback against Hibs at Easter Road, and Alex Neil has vowed to allow the boys that got them into the top-flight to show what they can do, but I can't help but feel that this could be the wrong tactic to employ. The Hamilton side doesn't look very spectacular at all.
The arrivals of Dougie Imrie, Michael McGovern and Danny Redmond could prove to be shrewd signings however. I just don't see past Hamilton not being in the relegation battle, they don't have a great deal of depth and did not set the Championship alight last year either, despite a 10-2 win over Morton.
So, overall, Hamilton should get relegated and unless they manage to sign a few more before the end of the window, or the boys they have pull together, it will be through the automatic relegation spot.
Terry Butcher's move to Hibernian has proved bad for all parties, Hibs were relegated, Butcher sacked and Inverness fell from 2nd to 6th. John Hughes has not proved to be the best manager so far, and I can't see anything improving.
Their summer business has been far from busy or impressive. Whilst teams around them have pulled out some very decent signings (see St Mirren, Aberdeen and Dundee) Inverness seem to be intent on staying put with their squad.
Infact the only arrival has been Ryan Baptie from Hibs, not exactly had a fantastic window, have they? They've lost Conor Pepper to Morton, which although not a huge departure, he could've been a decent member of the squad.
Far from the days of Terry Butcher's highland revolution, John Hughes' barmy army could have a very disappointing season, a few years of top half finishes will be ended, and I can't see any repeat of their League Cup final appearance last season either.
Losing Kris Boyd is a massive blow for Killie. At one point there was talk of a Goodwillie/Boyd partnership harbouring at Rugby Park, but it seems they've both said no. And who's to bang in the goals this season? Why, Lee Miller of course.
They have added a few faces, Josh Magennis I still rate as a good player, but not as someone I'd choose for my fantasy team, put it that way. Paul Cairney and Mark Connolly should be decent additions though. Overall however, their team in my view is a lot worse than last season. Replacing the goals of Kris Boyd is a difficult job, and I don't think anyone in this team can do it.
So, it could be a long and painful season for the Kilmarnock faithful. Unless, of course Josh Magennis or Lee Miller manage to find their scoring boots and project Killie up the table
I always find Motherwell difficult to predict, often their summers are disappointing, losing their best players with no money to replace them, but with some minor miracle end up finishing in the top 3. This year, I can't see any miracle however. James McFadden has gone along with Henri Anier and Shaun Hutchinson.
Josh Law has arrived and Lionel Ainsworth has made his move permanent. But, the team seems a lot worse off compared to last year, and their exit to the Starjnan shows maybe, just how weak they are. That early exit could leave no money to strengthen, and McCall may have to once again find some miracle if they are to record a top-half finish, let alone a European spot.
Could this be the season where Motherwell's failure to invest in their playing squad finally catches up on them, I can see nothing other than a bottom half finish.
Thistle did well last year to avoid 11th spot. They looked shady in many points however, and Archibald has work to do. Losing Aaron Taylor-Sinclair to Wigan is a huge blow. They've also lost Chris Erskine, Prince Buaben and Lyle Taylor back to their parent clubs.
The only additions being Abdul Osman from Crewe and Ryan Stevenson from Hearts. Although both are fantastic deals, with Osman being a big, strong central midfielder, perfect for dictating the play, and Stevenson running the show upfront. However, they're still missing squad depth, and although their first XI is still strong enough to be a mid-table side, they may run into trouble when rotating their squad.
Archibald has vowed more signings, and if they can make some more decent additions, Thistle could be in for a very decent season but as they are know they may be in the relegation battle again
County have continued their fine tradition of recruiting from abroad. Derek Adams has used his Dutch contacts in particular, and there has been no stopping the in door in Dingwall. In for a special mention should be the return of Filip Kiss on a season long loan, Tim Dreesen from Fortuna Sittar, and Uros Celcer from Parma. I think they're very much like Dundee.
The signings they've made have been impressive but its all about how they gel this season, which will determine how well they do. I can't see a repeat of a relegation battle from last season, and I think they may have a decent crack at European places, but only if the team gels from the off.
Certainly a difficult one to predict. A team which could, in essence be anywhere. I can't see them being down the bottom, but can't see them challenging Celtic either, so just above mid-table is where they're most likely to finish up.
A lot rests on Stevie May, they don't rely as heavily on their star striker as Kris Boyd was relied on at Killie, but with Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday both sniffing around their prize asset, losing him could be a major blow.
Following last year's Scottish Cup run, morale is high and their squad is still strong but no additions could be seen as a disappointment. Surely, if May were to leave a replacement would need to be found. The Saints should be looking to add a few faces regardless of whether their best player leaves or not.
They should be near the top this year, but May leaving could leave them with a very ordinary squad, if he stays they should be aiming for European slots again.
A change of management for the first time in 4 seasons in Paisley leaves it an interesting season for the Buddies. With the return of Jeroen Tesselaar being a good addition at left-back, and Ross Caldwell, James Marwood and Callum Ball helping upfront. Plummer in on loan at the back and Ridgers in goal, with Kello signing on for another year.
The loss of Darren Mcgregor is a bit of a blow at the back, as he was beginning to really look like a decent defender towards the end of last season. Paul McGowan's departure is a bit of a shock too, as he was a big player in midfield. But the most important piece of business is keeping Kenny McLean.
It should be a decent season for the Buddies but I can't see anything spectacular under Tommy Craig. Ball and Plummer should be good young talents, and I think they'll manage a higher finish than in recent seasons, and they could challenge for top-half.
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