Scottish Premiership: Kilmarnock preview -Transfers | Key player | Prediction | From Europe to relegation fight?

Kilmarnock have had a disastrous summer so far. Picture: SNS
Kilmarnock have had a disastrous summer so far. Picture: SNS
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It has not been a good summer for Kilmarnock. Joel Sked analyses the Rugby Park side ahead of the league opener.

Manager

There was real excitement when Angelo Alessio, a former assistant to Antonio Conte at Chelsea, Juventus and the Italian national team, took over from Steve Clarke. It has not started well with defeat to Connah's Quay Nomads in the Europa League an embarrassing stain on Scottish football.

Last season

The club's best league performance since 1966 in terms of position. Steve Clarke built on his excellent work in the 2017-2018 season, taking Killie to third in the league and even an early title challenge. They qualified for Europe for the first time in 18 years.

Transfers

IN: Mohamed El Makrini (Roda JC), Laurentiu Branescu (Juventus, loan)

OUT: Daniel Higgins (Cove Rangers), Jordan Jones (Rangers), Daniel Bachmann (Watford, end of loan), Conor McAleny (Fleetwood Town, end of loan), Liam Millar (Liverpool, end of loan), Youssouf Mulumbu (Celtic, end of loan), Mikael Ndjoli (Bournemouth, end of loan), Aaron Tshibola (Aston Villa, end of loan), Kris Boyd (retired), Scott Boyd (retired), Will Graham

Most interesting recruit

Alessio tapped into his contacts to sign Laurentiu Branescu on loan from Juventus. He has huge gloves to fill, figuratively and literally.

Daniel Bachmann was a colossus between the sticks last season. Jamie MacDonald played in the two Europa League ties but will he be in that position come Sunday when Rangers visit on Sunday?

For a 25-year-old Branescu has had an itinerant career around Europe but has not played an awful lot of first-team football.

Key player

At the time of writing Eamonn Brophy is the club's only first-team forward with not an awful lot of creativity behind him.

He hit double figures last season for the first time in his career and his goals will be crucial once more, even more so if Killie don't get the reinforcements required.

His shoot on site policy is admirable albeit naive but he may have to do that a hell of a lot more.

What do they still need?

They are in real need of attacking verve. Jordan Jones, Liam Miller, Youssouf Mulumbu and Kris Boyd have all departed or retired. Killie lined up with a defensive midfield trio of Alan Power, Gary Dicker and Mohamed El Makrini against Connah's Quay Nomads, accompanied by Rory McKenzie and Chris Burke on the wings. Inventive it certainly was not.

The question: Can Killie really get dragged into a relegation fight?

At this moment in time the answer has to be yes but with the defensive options, at the back and in midfield, it would be unlikely.

That good feeling which was generated last season was almost obliterated when they exited the Europa League at the hands of Welsh side Connah's Quay Nomads who, if you are being really kind, could be described as functional.

There is already suspicion and pressure on Alessio. Even amongst the Killie support.

The team are in desperate need of reinforcements. But if, as reported by the Daily Record, ex-Hamilton and Hearts defender Lennard Sowah is the standard of potential recruits it is going to be a long season.

Any other business

It will be interesting to see if Kilmarnock maintain their position and continue to give the Old Firm only one stand come the end of the season.

Prediction

9th

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*Transfers courtesy of Narey's Topepoker