Another season in the books then and another filled with a great deal of excitement and talking points. Scottish football has suffered greatly over the last few years and the process of rebuilding it’s reputation has been an arduous one. This season however has provided a more positives than negatives and points to a bright future for the sport in Scotland
Here we look back at the last 9 months and detail the winners and losers to have emerged from throughout the SPFL
Champions as expected, but Neil Lennon’s men did it in style. Losing only one game all season and setting an impressive clean sheet record along the way, Celtic wrapped up the title in the final week of March. Over 100 goals scored and only 25 conceded left the Glasgow club on 99 points and despite failing to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Champions League or win a cup competition, Lennon and his players will still look back on the 2013/14 season as a great success.
There’s a certain feeling around Scottish football that a sleeping giant has awoken in the form of the Dons. Derek McInnes has done a terrific job in developing a team that the city can be proud of, with the fantastic support that attended the League Cup Final at Celtic Park testament to that.
Although they will be disappointed to miss out on a Scottish Cup Final after falling in the semi-finals to St Johnstone, 2013/14 will be fondly remembered by Aberdeen fans. They may also have cruelly missed out on second place in the final seconds of the season to Motherwell, but the future looks very bright for all associated with the team from the Granite City.
An outstanding season from the SWFA Young Player of the Year. May followed up his prolific loan spell with Hamilton the season before by replicating his goalscoring feats in the county’s top division. Registering the fourth highest goal tally in the league is a great achievement considering his inexperience and the quality of those above him.
27 goals in all competitions with a Scottish Cup Final to come, May could yet cap off an impressive season with his first piece of senior silverware. A call-up to the Scotland squad surely beckons who has already represented his country at Under-20 and Under-21 level
Scotland National Team
Gordon Strachan’s appointment in early 2013 gave Scotland some much needed impetus after the dull and insipid reign of Craig Levein. Optimism is high and with the next European Championships in France expanding to 24 teams, there is real belief that the national team could qualify for their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup.
Since June of 2013 Scotland have lost only two of their eight fixtures, going down 2-3 to England at Wembley – despite leading twice – and 0-2 to the excellent Belgium. They have recorded home and away wins over Croatia, a victory in Skopje against Macedonia and two wins from three against USA (home), Norway and Poland (both away).
Hibernian / Terry Butcher
A poor season could get even worse if Hibs can’t negotiate their way through a tricky play-off to stay in the Premiership. There was optimism in Edinburgh when Terry Butcher was recruited following an impressive spell at Inverness CT, but a average start has got steadily worse, culminating in an appalling end of season run, which has seen the Easter Road club fail to register a single league victory in their last 13 matches, stretching back to mid-February.
Since then they have lost twice to city rivals Hearts and found the net only eight times. Scoring – or a lack thereof – has been Butcher’s biggest problem at the club. With 31, Hibs scored fewer goals than any other club in the top division and only East Fife failed to better their ‘goals for’ tally, also registering 31.
Escape relegation, and Butcher’s side will be keen to put the 13/14 season as far behind them as possible; strengthen in the summer – especially up front – and try to re-establish themselves as a solid Premiership club. Fail to beat the drop, and it may be a while before we see the green half of Edinburgh in the top flight again.
From second place to last place in the space of a year.
It hasn’t been an easy year for Morton and Kenny Shiels after taking over from Allan Moore, but it will be bitterly disappointing for fans to have seen the team slide so far down the table; eventually finishing 14 points adrift of Cowdenbeath. Their misery was compounded on the final day of the season, taking a 10-2 hammering away at Hamilton; Shiels resigned soon after.
Fans will hope that a change in leadership will provide the platform for a rejuvenated Ton to make a promotion challenge in League One next season.
Heart of Midlothian
As harsh as this may seem considering their strong finish to the season, 13/14 will not live long in the memory for the club’s performance on the pitch. Securing the club’s future through Ann Budge’s Bidco takeover was the most important story to come out of this years dealings at Tynecastle, but on the pitch they suffered. A young squad were unable to cope with the demands of a full league season and the pressure on them to overturn a 15 point deduction, with relegation confirmed in the first week of April.
It seems a little unfair to label Hearts with the ‘loser’ tag, but it shows how poor they have been that even without the 15 point deduction as a result of administration, they would only have finished three points off the bottom, even with their strong finish to the league campaign.
Their demotion to the Championship will help to strengthen that league, with Rangers and potentially cross-city rivals Hibs joining them, and with their future looking far more secure, few would bet against seeing the Jam Tarts back in the Premiership before long.
The Champions spent relatively heavily in the summer of 2013. Significant outlays were made on Virgil van Dijk, Teemu Pukki and Amido Balde; admittedly offset by the large income from the sales of Victor Wanyama and Joe Ledley to the English Premier League. Derk Boerrigter was another addition, costing close to £3m from Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam.The tall winger had enjoyed a successful spell in his native Netherlands, winning the Eredivsie title in both 11/12 and 12/13 before making the move to Scotland. Unfortunately for the player and club, his debut set the tone for what has been a difficult and disjointed season at Parkhead; picking up an injury not long the match against Ross County.
Over the course of the season, Boerrigter has made 23 appearances for the Hoops, scoring only once. He has struggled to force his way into Neil Lennon’s starting XI and will have been frustrated not to see more playing time after the league championship was confirmed long before the end of the domestic programme.
Time is still very much on the Dutchman’s side and next season will provide a fresh opportunity to make an impact. However, at a club like Celtic, with an emphasis on continually progressing – especially in the Champions League – Boerrigter will have to hit the ground running if he is become a regular in the champion’s starting line-up.
Honourable mentions must go to Rangers, Motherwell and Dundee