The early elimination of all four Scottish teams from Europe this season has added extra focus to our domestic game, not least the SPL which is now in full flow and providing plenty of entertainment.
Although the table has now developed a familiar look with the Old Firm rising towards the top, Motherwell have started the season superbly well and look like they could well keep on the coat tails of the Glasgow giants as the season progresses. Not only are they banging the goals in (only Kilmarnock have equaled their feet of scoring 4 goals in a match), they have also added a level of consistency which has taken them to their current position joint top of the league.
Knowing how crucial it is to make this season’s European failure a blip and not a regular occurance, both Rangers and Celtic will now be even more determined to finish top of the tree and earn a pop at the ‘promised land’ of the Champions League. Both teams appear strong and equally matched again this season, however rare slip-ups from both at home already have shown they are far from invincible.
St Mirren and Dunfermline are the other 2 surprise packages so far, it was only a matter of weeks ago I said on these very pages that I thought both would likely be involved in a relegation scrap. 5 games in and that statement appears misguided at best, ridiculous at worst! I am happy for Danny Lennon and Jim McIntyre as both managers would have read similar grim predictions every day while trying to prepare their team for the season. They both deserve to be sitting nicely where they are in the top 6, and although a long season beckons, it’s not inconceivable they’ll remain there.
While the Edinburgh Festival has transformed our city into a wonderful mecca of song, dance and play during August, it has been the exact opposite for the poor old Hibees. 4 defeats in 5 matches leaves them rooted to the foot of the table and craving “a performance” themselves, of any sort. However, it is early days and the curtain is not coming down just yet. But improvement is needed soon.
Hearts meanwhile, have hosted their own little Festival down Gorgie way. Only Tottenham Hotspur and their team full of top internationals caused any real problems for The Jambos, and despite another change of manager, find themselves sitting comfortably in 4th place, on piles of smiles after the weekend derby victory.
The other team which have caused eyebrows to be raised are Inverness, and not for the right reasons. Last season’s surprise package, who twice took pints off both the Old Firm have had a woeful start to the current campaign, conceding sloppy goals and falling at the first hurdle in the League Cup against first division Ayr United. Terry Butcher will need to work hard with his small squad if he wants to improve their fortunes ,or it will be a very hard struggle for Caley Thistle this season.
So far, so good then. So many shocks and surprises. So, unpredictable. So, Scottish.