10 Championship teams will battle it out across 36 match days in stadiums all around Scotland from August to April to try and be the team that lifts the title and gets into the Premiership.
You can split the division into four groups:
Title contenders – Dundee United and Falkirk.
Premiership playoff battlers – Dunfermline Athletic, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and St Mirren.
Also rans – Greenock Morton, Livingston and Queen of the South.
Relegation scrappers – Brechin City and Dumbarton.
These predictions may be wrong come the end of the season, but based on the various parameters that go into these guestimations this is what I have gone for. Now, there could be upsets. It is possible for Greenock Morton to make the playoffs once again, and Dumbarton could stay up for a six successive campaign.
At the top of the table, Dundee United and Falkirk, in theory, will be duking it out for the title. Yet, for the Tangerines’ sake, they will hope they can progress further than their last effort, in which they struggled to match their pre-Christmas form which took them to first until Boxing Day.
Once again, Falkirk, finished runners-up, 10 points worse than the year previous, and like their step back in terms of the point tally, they failed to capitalise in getting to the playoff final. This will likely be the last season the Bairns will be the best of the rest outside of the big clubs (Dundee United, Hearts, Hibernian, Rangers) that have found themselves in the Championship for one reason or another. What will sting though is that they may be moving back towards the rest of the pack with Dunfermline now established in the division, and St Mirren appearing to be on the right path. The Championship will be a lot more even in 2018/19; especially, if, the likes of full-time Ayr United and Raith Rovers return at the first time of asking.
After stabilising after a horrific start on their return to the second tier to finish fifth, a mere handful of points off Greenock Morton, Athletic built on that by looking impressive in the Betfred Cup. They have strengthened in the pre-season window, and giving their grasp of facing full-time opposition on a regular basis under Allan Johnston, it is possible they can make a 10-15 point improvement.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle can go one-way t’other. The instillation of John Robertson as manager raised a few eyebrows – the same reaction that came with Richie Foran’s appointment – seeing as the former Hearts centre forward has had a patchy career in management. Since he left the Highlands, his only other accolade came with Derry City, leading them to the League of Ireland Cup, nine years ago. Yet, he is in place at the club in which he took to the top tier for the first time and won the Challenge Cup in the same season. He will have to address the slide that came after winning the Scottish Cup and finishing third to being rock bottom and relegated in the space of two years.
In the not so distant past, St Mirren, were in a very similar predicament to Caley Thistle. Two years after winning a domestic cup they suffered relegation by going for the cheap and easy option after disposing of the manager that gave them an acceptable level of success. Only now does it seem they have returned to some stability under Jack Ross. There is an immense around of hype surrounding the Buddies, and will they do have a squad that can get into the playoffs, it should be stated that under the former midfielder, five clubs amassed more points. There has been another overhaul of players in and out, many of them making the step up to full-time football, which could be a hinderance.
Jim Duffy guided his small squad to great heights with a League Cup semi-final as well as a fourth place finish. Although, Greenock Morton collapsed towards the end of the season and limped over the line in fourth, where they ended up being bettered by United in the playoffs. He will have a difficult job to repeat the feat as once again the west coastal side has a depth that is shallow. What is going in their favour this season is a few out and out centre forwards and building up the level experience within the playing staff. If, Robert Thomson, can net some winners then the Ton could noise up a few and put them in the promotion hunt.
After Stranraer relegated them in May 2016, Livingston made a very comfortable return to the Championship at the first time of asking. Their point tally of 81 was the most for a League One side since Rangers in 2013/14. They have kept that momentum going as they topped their Betfred Cup group without defeat; ahead of Partick Thistle and St Mirren. David Hopkin kept the transfer business simple, with Liam Buchanan being the only outgoing that may cause concern. Although, bringing Neil Alexander back to the club will be a boost for their defence, and their support.
Once the initial hot streak wore off, Queen of the South snuck under the radar as one of the league’s poorer sides. They went on to accumulate 25 from a total of 84; Gary Naysmith was responsible for 24. This was after taking 18 points from the opening eight games under the stewardship of Gavin Skelton. Since the former Scotland internationalist arrived in December, only Dundee United, Ayr United and Raith Rovers garnered fewer points. Also, Stephen Aitken, John Hughes and Ian McCall had worse points per game averages. The Doonhamers jettisoned a majority of their outgoings to the lower leagues while they strengthened with most of their incomes coming from teams in their division. A worry is that QoS have 10 outs, and half that number coming into Palmerston, their playing staff is currently made up of 19 bodies.
Brechin City are pretty much a League Two side in infrastructure, crowd support and history. Yet, they have managed to reach the Championship against all expectations. They relegated Raith Rovers and seen off favourites, Alloa Athletic, via a penalty shootout. Not only did City concede more than they scored, but they lost more games than they won. That does not tell the story of the club under Darren Dods. With 10 games to go, they were seven points worse off than local rivals Forfar Athletic, who had a game in hand. They went on a run in which they earned 24 points from a possible 30 and finished seventh; eight points ahead of the bottom of the table, Loons. They will take anything above 10th, but they can surprise the wider community and do the unthinkable again.
Dumbarton have hit their glass ceiling with finishing fifth in the Championship, three years ago; their best placing since 1987 when they were third. It has been the best period to be a Sons fan since the 70s and 80s. They can trouble others, and could drag one or two sides into a battle to stay out of the relegation playoffs. Although, they have lost many good players – for their level – to rivals. Yet, Stevie Aitken has recruited well to stay out of danger over the previous couple of pre-season windows. What may not save them this time is there is not a team in a state of disarray like Raith Rovers last season to prop them up into eighth.
Manager: Darren Dods
Captain: Paul McLean
Defenders – Euan Spark (Dunfermline Athletic), Ryan McGeever (Queen’s Park) and Sean Crighton (Livingston).
Midfielders – Jordan Sinclair (Livingston).
Forwards – Issac Layne (Grays Atheltic).
Defenders – Dougie Hill (Dumbarton) and Gareth Rodger (Edinburgh City).
Forwards – Alan Trouten (Albion Rovers) and Ross Caldwell (East Kilbride).
Last season’s position: 4th (League One)
This season’s prediction: 10th
Manager: Stephen Aitken
Captain: Andy Dowie
Goalkeepers – Scott Gallacher (Hibernian).
Defenders – Andy Dowie (Queen of the South), Craig Barr (Raith Rovers) and Dougie Hill (Brechin City).
Midfielders – Chris Johnston (Raith Rovers), David Wilson (Partick Thistle), Kyle Hutton (St Mirren) and Tom Walsh (Limerick).
Forwards – Alistair Roy (Hearts – loan) and Mark Stewart (Raith Rovers).
Goalkeepers – Alan Martin (Queen of the South)
Defenders – Darren Barr (Greenock Morton), Gregor Buchanan (St Mirren), Mark Docherty (East Fife) and Tom Lang (Stranraer).
Midfielders – Andy Stirling (Queen of the South).
Forwards – Gary Fleming (Alloa) and Robert Thomson (Greenock Morton).
Last season’s position: 8th
This season’s prediction: 9th (Relegated)
Manager: Ray McKinnon
Captain: Tam Scobbie
Goalkeepers – Deniz Mehmet (Port Vale) and Harry Lewis (loan – Southampton).
Defenders – Tam Scobbie (St Johnstone).
Midfielders – Jordie Briels (Fortuna Sittard) and Sam Stanton (loan – Hibernian).
Forwards – Billy King (Hearts), James Keatings (Hibernian), Patrick N’Koyi (MVV Maastricht), Paul McMullan (Celtic) and Scott McDonald (Motherwell).
Goalkeepers – Luis Zwick (Hansa Rostock).
Defenders – Paul Dixon (Grimsby Town) and Sean Dillon (Montrose).
Midfielders – Blair Spittal (Partick Thistle).
Forwards – Simon Murray (Hibernian).
Last season’s position: 3rd
This season’s prediction: 1st
Manager: Allan Johnston
Captain: Callum Morris
Defenders – Jean-Yves M’voto (Raith Rovers)
Midfielders – Aaron Splaine (Stranraer)
Forwards – Dean Shiels (FC Edmonton) and Declan McManus (Fleetwood Town).
Goalkeepers – David Hutton (Arbroath).
Defenders – Ben Richards-Everton (Accrington Stanley) and Callum Fordyce (Queen of the South).
Midfielders – Andy Geggan (Ayr United), Lewis Spence (Dundee) and Rhys McCabe (Sligo Rovers).
Forwards – Michael Moffat (Ayr United).
Last season’s position: 5th
This season’s prediction: 3rd
Manager: Peter Houston
Captain: Mark Kerr
Goalkeepers – David Mitchell (Dundee).
Midfielders – Alex Harris (Hibernian).
Forwards – Rory Loy (Dundee).
Defenders – David McCracken (Peterhead) and Luke Leahy (Walsall).
Midfielders – Craig Sibbald (unattached).
Forwards – Bob McHugh (Greenock Morton) and John Baird (Inveress Caledonian Thistle).
Last season’s position: 2nd
This season’s prediction: 2nd
Manager: Jim Duffy
Captain: Lee Kilday
Defenders – Darren Barr (Dumbarton) and Jack Iredale (ECU Joondalup)
Midfielders – Conor McManus (Celtic) and Gary Harkins (Ayr United).
Forwards – Bob McHugh (Falkirk) and Robert Thomson (Dumbarton).
Defenders – Jamie McDonagh (Sligo Rovers).
Forwards – Kudus Oyenuga (Chelmsford Town).
Last season’s position: 4th
This season’s prediction: 6th
Inverness Caledonian Thistle
Manager: John Robertson
Captain: Gary Warren
Goalkeepers – Mark Ridgers (Partick Thistle).
Defenders – Colin Seedorf (RKC Waalwijk) and Joe Chalmers (Motherwell).
Midfielders – Alex Cooper (East Fife) and Riccardo Calder (Aston Villa).
Forwards – Connor Bell (Servette), Felitciano Zschusschen (Saarbrücken), George Oakley (Wimbledon) and John Baird (Falkirk).
Defenders – Louis Laing (Hartlepool).
Midfielders – Greg Tansey (Aberdeen).
Forwards – Alex Fisher (Motherwell), Henri Anier (Lahti) and Scott Boden (Wrexham).
Last season’s position: 12th (Premiership)
This season’s prediction: 5th
Manager: David Hopkin
Captain: Craig Halkett
Goalkeepers – Neil Alexander (Aberdeen).
Midfielders – Ross Brown (East Fife) and Scott Robinson (Livingston).
Forwards – Dylan Mackin (Motherwell), Josh Peters (Forfar Athletic) and Nikolav Todorov (loan – Hearts).
Defenders – Morgyn Neill (Stranraer) and Sean Crighton (Brechin City).
Midfielders – Jordan Sinclair (Brechin City) and Mark Millar (Forfar Athletic).
Forwards – Liam Buchanan (Raith Rovers).
Last season’s position: 1st (League One)
This season’s prediction: 7th
Queen of the South
Manager: Gary Naysmith
Captain: John Rankin
Goalkeepers – Alan Martin (Dumbarton).
Defenders – Callum Fordyce (Dunfermline) and Shaun Rooney (York City).
Midfielders – Andy Stirling (Dumbarton).
Goalkeepers – Jim Atkinson (Annan Athletic).
Defenders – Andy Dowie (Dumbarton), Chris Higgins (Ayr United), Jamie Hamill (Stranraer) and Scott Hooper (Annan Athletic).
Forwards – Aidan Smith (Annan Athletic) and Dale Hilson (St Mirren).
Last season’s position: 6th
This season’s prediction: 8th
Manager: Jack Ross
Captain: Stephen McGinn
Goalkeepers – Craig Samson (Motherwell) and Ross Stewart (Albion Rovers).
Defenders – Gregor Buchanan (Dumbarton) and Harry Davies (Crewe Alexander).
Midfielders – Ian McSahne (Ross County).
Forwards – Cammy Smith (Aberdeen), Dale Hilson (Queen of the South), Jordan Kirkpatrick (Alloa Athletic), Gavin Reilly (Hearts) and Ross Stewart (Albion Rovers).
Defenders – Ben Gordon (East Fife).
Midfielders – Kyle Hutton (Dumbarton), Jordan Stewart (Clyde) and Stevie Mallan (Barnsley).
Last season’s position: 7th
This season’s prediction: 4th
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