As the new season looms, the Pig prepares to roast the bookies for another year. Although last year was a bit up and down, we finished the season strongly and ended up with a healthy profit, follow this link if you want to see more detail on last seasons performance.
Surely every sound minded football fan has to put some bets on at the start of a new season and the Pig is no different. Starting with the Premiership, there are a number of outrights here that are worth considering. This years title race is probably the first time in years where it might actually be worth putting a bet on the winner but there are a few other offers that catch my eye first.
Top of list is Kilmarnock to be bottom 6 at 27/20. Killie have lost their miracle worker in Stevie Clarke and how do you follow that? Answer is you don’t, and certainly not with an unknown Tally who has practically no experience of management and will know f*ck all about Scottish football. Me thinks Billy Bowie has tried to be too much of a smart-arse here, and 27/20 is outstanding value. In fact 66/1 to be relegated isn’t completely out of the question.
Talking of relegation, time will tell, but for me the prices are f*cked up. Ross County are favourites for the drop with St Mirren a close second. St Mirren I can understand as they have only half a team right now, but Ross County have momentum, a strong squad, and Roy McGregor. I think St Mirren still have a lot of business to do so they are a bit of an unknown, but my first picks for relegation would be Hamilton and Livingston. Livingston are a massive 8/1, and whilst they still look a decent side, (relatively speaking, for a diddy team), they have lost their most influential players and are worth a bet.
For the winner I am going for Rangers. I think it will be tight this year and the momentum behind Rangers could swing it. Both sets of fans are clearly a fickle bunch but Neil Lennon seems closer to the edge. If things start to go awry, (and for spoilt Celtic fans, awry means not pissing over everyone else in the league), then things could quickly turn sour. 9/4 Rangers is the pick here.
Moving down to the Championship is a bit easier for me. I think Dundee Utd are strong favourites here. Robbie Neilson finished last season well and has just bought the best striker in the league. I don’t see as strong a challenge as previous years. I don’t think Dundee will have enough to turn it around and go back up in one season – especially not with a rookie manager. Partick have started well, but… Gary Caldwell. My biggest concern is Inverness, always well marshaled by John Robertson. A good start and they could challenge. But at 9/4, it’s Dundee Utd for me.
League 1. Well Falkirk are the obvious picks, and you have to say will probably win it, but not worth backing at 4/7. They have the strongest squad by miles, but the pressure of the lower leagues has told on Dunfermline and Raith who were unable to get out quickly and Falkirk fans are probably the most negative bunch of moaning b@stards in Scotland – and that is saying something. So I don’t think they are a sure thing. So looking down the list for something worth backing, I’m ruling out Raith – they look to be a weakened side, with a manager who has already lost support. Airdrie and Forfar are both 14/1 at least with some bookies and I think they are decent outside bets. Even though Airdire have just turned full time, I’m going to risk a wager on Forfar at 14/1. It’s a long shot, but they have a strong looking squad, and have started the season well, getting through to next round of League Cup.
Last but not least, a happy hunting ground in League 2. Cove Rangers are hot favourites but I think they are overshot. First year in the professional leagues, they are going to need to be really good to win it at first time of asking. That leaves us with value on Edinburgh City who are my picks at 4/1. They have kept most of the side who led the league for much of last year, and added a bit more, (Alex Harris most notable) – I think they deserve to be favourites. For an outsider, Queens Park could be worth a punt. They finished last year strongly, and underperformed overall, and have started this season well. If they can start well, then 14/1 is worth a small risk.
I usually always add the winner of the English Premiership to complete the list but I’m going to skip to League 1 this year. I went for Liverpool last year, but I’m not so keen this year, have a feeling last year was the peak and I think Man City will retain. However I’m not backing them at current prices. Instead I’m going for Sunderland in League 1, primarily due to the influence of Jack Ross, now he has survived his first season. It’s risky of course – a bad start to the season and he’ll be gone by September but he is a top manager, and Sunderland are clearly the wealthiest side in the league so 7/2 is good.
That’s all folks – good luck for the season!