Premiership 2020-21 … club-by-club guide

The Scotsman assesses each club’s prospects for the season ahead

Odsonne Edouard - key man for Celtic this season.
Odsonne Edouard - key man for Celtic this season.

ABERDEEN

Manager: Derek McInnes.

Last season: Fourth.

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In: Jonny Hayes (Celtic, free), Ethan Ross (Dunfermline, end of loan).

Out: Frank Ross (released), Jon Gallagher (Atlanta United, end of loan), Greg Leigh (NAC Breda, end of loan), Zak Vyner (Bristol City, end of loan).

Chances: The Dons will be aiming for a top-three finish after following four runners-up spots on the trot with consecutive fourth-place finishes. 
Handing out long-term contracts to avoid another summer exodus denied them financial flexibility when the pandemic struck but it has given Derek McInnes 
continuity. The manager secured a major bonus when Jonny 
Hayes agreed to defer his wages for a year to facilitate a
return.

Key player: Jonny Hayes.

Prediction: 4th

CELTIC

Manager: Neil Lennon, below.

Last season: Champions.

In: Ewen Henderson (Ross County, end of loan), Vasilis 
Barkas (AEK Athens, £5.5m).

Out: Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen, free), Eboue Kouassi (Genk, undisclosed fee), Craig Gordon (Hearts, free), Calvin Miller (released), Jozo Simunovic (released), Fraser Forster (Southampton, end of loan), Moritz Bauer (Stoke, end of loan), Jack Hendry (KV Oostende, loan).

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Chances: Retaining Southampton winger Mohamed Elyounoussi on loan was a major boost but Neil Lennon seeks a new keeper and probably defensive cover while facing a challenge in getting striker Leigh Griffiths fit and firing. But his options in midfield ensure Celtic are favourites to land a record tenth consecutive title.

Key player: Odsonne Edouard

Prediction: 1st

DUNDEE UNITED

Manager: Micky Mellon.

Last season: Championship winners.

In: Jack Newman (Sunderland, free), Adam King (Queen’s Park, end of loan), Cammy Smith (Dundalk, end of loan), Logan Chalmers (Arbroath, end of loan).

Out: Paul Watson (Dunfermline, free), Rakish Bingham (released), Osman Sow (released), Sam Wardrop (released).

Chances: Although the pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for all clubs, United have had the strangest of preparations after Hearts poached their head coach, Robbie Neilson, and then launched a legal move to block their promotion, an action which ultimately failed. New manager Micky Mellon impressed in getting Tranmere consecutive promotions but their season is likely to pivot on Scotland striker Lawrence Shankland: if he remains at Tannadice he can fire them to safety and if he leaves 
they need to strengthen wisely with the transfer fee.

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Key Player: Lawrence Shankland

Prediction: 7th

HAMILTON

Manager: Brian Rice.

Last season: 11th.

In: Callum Smith (Dunfermline, free), Charlie Trafford (Inverness, free), Ross Callachan (St Johnstone, free), Ross Cunningham (Clyde, end of loan), Ronan Hughes (Stirling, end of loan), George Stanger (Forfar, end of loan), Owain Fon Williams (Dunfermline, end of loan), Tunde Owolabi (FC United, free).

Out: Blair Alston (released), Steve Davies (released), Alex Gogic (Hibernian, free), Johnny Hunt (released), Aaron McGowan (Kilmarnock, free), Mickel Miller (Rotherham, free), George Oakley (Pirin Blagoevgrad, free), Jack Breen (released), Andy Dales (Scunthorpe, end of loan), Luke Southwood (Reading, end of loan), Sam Woods (Crystal Palace, end of loan).

Chances: Brian Rice’s squad has become more youthful, only two experienced players arriving following the exit of eight established first-teamers. Accies were improving when last season came to an abrupt halt and there are likely to be plenty of ups and downs again.

Key player: Lewis Smith.

Prediction: 11th

HIBERNIAN

Manager: Jack Ross.

Last season: 
Seventh

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In: Drey Wright (St Johnstone, free), Kevin Nisbet (Dunfermline, undisclosed fee), Florian Kamberi (Rangers, end of loan), Sean Mackie (Dundee, end of loan), Alex Gogic 
(Hamilton, free).

Out: Adam Bogdan (Ferencvaros, free), Vykintas Slivka (released), Steven Whittaker (Dunfermline, free), Jason Naismith (Peterborough, end of loan), Stephane Omeonga (Genoa, end of loan), Marc McNulty (Reading, end of loan), Greg Docherty (Rangers, end of loan).

Chances: Jack Ross will need to use his man-management skills to maintain squad harmony after the club cut wages and a number of jobs while bringing in players including striker Kevin Nisbet, whom they bought from Dunfermline. But they should be top-six finishers if he can build on what he started last 
season.

Key player: Martin Boyle

Prediction: 5th

KILMARNOCK

Manager: Alex Dyer.

Last season: Eighth.

In: Aaron McGowan (Hamilton, free), Mitch Pinnock (Wimbledon, free), Zeno Rossi (Bournemouth, loan), Calum Waters (St Mirren, end of loan), Danny Whitehall (Maidenhead, free), Brandon Haunstrup (Portsmouth, free).

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Out: Simeon Jackson (released), Jamie MacDonald (Raith, free), Laurentiu Branescu (Juventus, end of loan), Harry Bunn (released), Dario Del Fabro (Juventus, end of loan), Adam Frizzell (released), Niko Hamalainen (QPR, end of loan), Stephen Hendrie (released), Connor Johnson (Wolves, end of loan), Jan Koprivec (released), Devlin Mackay (released), Stephen O’Donnell (rejected contract), Harvey St Clair (Venezia, end of loan), Iain Wilson (Dunfermline, free), Dom Thomas (Dunfermline, undisclosed fee).

Chances: Alex Dyer was a popular choice as manager with the players and will aim to get close to the success he enjoyed as assistant to Steve Clarke. That will be a difficult task but they have enough experience to avoid the drop.

Key player: Stuart Findlay

Prediction: 6th

LIVINGSTON

Manager: Gary Holt.

Last season: Fifth.

In: Alan Forrest (Ayr, free), Jack Hamilton (Queen of the South, end of loan), Raffa De Vita (Falkirk, end of loan), Ross Stewart (Queen of the South, end of loan), Scott Tiffoney (Ayr, end of loan), Jack Fitzwater (West Brom, free), Matej Poplatnik (Kerala Blasters, free), Salim Kouider-Aissa (Queen’s Park, free), Max Stryjek, (Eastleigh, free).

Out: Ryan Schofield (Huddersfield, end of loan), Steven Lawless (Burton Albion, free), Chris Erskine (East Kilbride, free), Ricki Lamie (Motherwell, free), Craig Henderson (released).

Chances: The departure of Steven Lawless was a big blow but they are used to losing players and still surprising people. Their home record will ensure they can be very competitive again and striker Lyndon Dykes will either build on his impressive debut season in the top flight or earn the club a major transfer fee.

Key player: Lyndon Dykes

Prediction: 10th

MOTHERWELL

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Manager: Stephen Robinson

Last season: Third
In: Jake Hastie (Rangers, loan), Scott Fox (Partick Thistle, free), Ricki Lamie (Livingston, free), Jordan White (Inverness, free), Nathan McGinley (Forrest Green, free), Callum Lang (Wigan, loan).

Out: Mark Gillespie (Newcastle, free), Peter Hartley (released), Christian Ilic (released), Adam Livingstone (released), Christy Manzinga (released), Richard Tait (St Mirren, free), Rolando Aarons (Newcastle, end of loan), Mikael Ndjoli (Bournemouth, end of loan).

Chances: Have managed to keep the bulk of their squad intact and hold on to the impressive Stephen Robinson, inset – so far. They 
also have David Turnbull , left, back to fitness after recovering from the knee surgery that halted his £3 million move to Celtic.

Key player: 
David Turnbull

Prediction: 3rd

RANGERS

Manager: Steven Gerrard.

Last season: Runners-up.

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In: Calvin Bassey (Leicester, free), Jon McLaughlin (Sunderland, free), Leon Balogun (Brighton, free), Greg Docherty (Hibernian, end of loan), Ross McCrorie (Portsmouth, end of loan), Jamie Barjonas (Partick Thistle, end of loan), Jamie Murphy (Burton, end of loan), Glenn Middleton (Bradford, end of loan).

Out: Matt Polster (New England Revolution, undisclosed fee), Andy Halliday (released), Jon Flanagan (released), Wes Foderingham (Sheffield United, free), Jak Alnwick (St Mirren, free), Florian Kamberi (Hibernian, end of loan), Jake Hastie (Motherwell, loan), Sheyi Ojo (Liverpool, end of loan).

Chances: Steven Gerrard had plenty of time to reflect on why his team’s domestic season crumpled so quickly and emphatically after the winter break but he has focused on hitting the ground running during an impressive pre-season with a very settled first team. Much could depend on Alfredo Morelos, who has never hidden his desire to move to a bigger league and only scored once after being sent off twice in quick succession in December. If the Colombian remains motivated he could fire Rangers to success while a sale could allow Gerrard the finances to strengthen all round.

Key player: Ryan Jack

Prediction: 2nd

ROSS COUNTY

Managers: Steve Ferguson, Stuart Kettlewell

Last season: Tenth

In: Stephen Kelly (Rangers, loan), Regan Charles-Cook (Gillingham, free), Alex Iacovitti (Oldham, free), Connor Randall (Arda Kardzhali, free).

Out: Nathan Baxter (Chelsea, end of loan), Ewen Henderson (Celtic, end of loan), Richard Foster (Partick Thistle, free), Marcus Fraser (rejected contract), Lewis Spence (released), Sean Kelly (released), Declan McManus (Dunfermline, free), Don Cowie (retired).

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Chances: Struggled last season after an injury to top goalscorer Ross Stewart but the striker is back fit and will pose any team problems. Lost skipper Marcus Fraser and will be happy to stay out of trouble.

Key player: Ross Stewart

12th

ST JOHNSTONE

Manager: Callum 
Davidson.

Last season: Sixth

In: Shaun Rooney (Inverness, free), Isaac Olaofe and Danny McNamara (both Millwall, loan).

Out: Drey Wright (Hibernian, free), Steven Anderson (Forfar, free), Matt Butcher (Bournemouth, end of loan), Isaiah Jones (Middlesbrough, end of loan), Danny Swanson (East Fife, free).

Chances: Have come through the departure of Tommy Wright, themost successful manager in the club’s history, in relatively stable 
fashion after appointing his former assistant in his place and only 
losing Drey Wright from their 
normal first team. Davidson, a 
popular choice with the fans, has a tough act to follow in Wright, though.

Key player: Callum Hendry

Prediction: 8th

ST MIRREN

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Manager: Jim Goodwin.

Last season: Ninth.

In: Richard Tait (Motherwell, free), Jak Alnwick (Rangers, free), Nathan Sheron (Fleetwood, loan), Joe Shaughnessy (Southend, free), Isak Thorvaldsson (Norwich, loan), Marcus Fraser (unattached).

Out: Stephen McGinn (released), Vaclav Hladky (end of contract), Gary MacKenzie (released), Oan Djorkaeff (released), Ross Wallace (released), Tony Andreu (released), Danny Mullen (released), Cody Cooke (released), Seifedin Chabbi (Gaziantep, end of loan), Alex Jakubiak (Watford, end of loan), Lee Hodson (Gillingham, end of loan), Akin Famewo (Norwich, end of loan), Calum Waters (Kilmarnock, end of loan).

Chances: Jim Goodwin showed his managerial nous after taking over late last summer and his defence will be improved by the arrivals of Richard Tait and Joe Shaughnessy. Goals were the initial problem last season but Jon Obika came good and his form could be crucial in determining whether the Buddies
 can mount a top-six 
challenge.

Key player: Ilkay Durmus.

Prediction: 9th

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