Scottish football appears to be in a serious state of decline. With the fall from grace of Rangers to the bottom tier of professional Scottish football comes the news on the 8th of August that Scotland have dropped a staggering 9 places in UEFA’s coefficient rankings making the league now the 27th most valued in Europe. They have now fallen behind such leagues as Cyprus, Belarus and Bulgaria in their importance to European competition.
It is early days just yet but after steadily building a solid side at Tannadice they impressed with an opening day humbling of Hibernian.
The Tangerines have a good manager in Peter Houston and talented players in the form of captain Jon Daly and Johnny Russell. Out of all the teams in the SPL Dundee United appear favourites for second spot this season and despite the glory days of making the final four of Europe’s elite competition in 1984 being a long way off a successful season would take them one step closer.
Hearts have been the only side in recent years to come close to threatening the Old Firm. When Vladimir Romanov first came in as chairman of the club it led to the purchase of big names such as Rudi Skacel arriving and the emergence of players such as Craig Gordon they won the Scottish Cup and finished second in the league in 05-06.
Since then however the Lithuanian’s tendency to sack managers more then he changes socks and poor debt management have lead Hearts into trouble off the pitch. Yet on the pitch they continue to succeed, winning the Cup again last season and the form of Zaliukas, McGowan and Driver will be pivotal in their upcoming season.
They defeated St Johnstone comfortably on the opening day and with a win in the Edinburgh derby this weekend could really rubber stamp their credentials as Celtic’s leading challengers.
The last team from outside Glasgow to win the Scottish league, Aberdeen impressed in the opening league fixture against Celtic. Despite going down 1-0 it was largely down to an uncharacteristic mistake from goalkeeper Jamie Langfield.
Last season did not go to plan for The Dons but this season they see the removal of Rangers as their chance to rise up and challenge Celtic for the title like they once did. With Craig Brown at the managerial helm the team from the Granite City will hope to add silverware to a cabinet collecting dust since 1995 this season.
What do you make of the SPL’s shocking demise and can these teams challenge without the financial clout?