Hibernian Ladies head coach Kevin Milne admits the 2018 season, which gets under way today will have been a failure if the club doesn’t win its first title for 12 years.
It was close, but no champagne, for the Edinburgh club when they finished five points behind Glasgow City last season.
They were in the running for a treble, but lost 3-0 to the 11- time champions in the penultimate game and had to settle instead for a repeat of their 2016 League Cup and SSE Scottish Women’s Cup double.
“We want to win the league, and for me if we don’t that’s a failure,” Milne said. “That’s the pressure I’ve put myself under, and it’s the same with the players.”
Looking at the movement of personnel over the winter break, Hibs appear to have the advantage over Scott Booth’s side.
Whereas City have lost seven players, four of them first-team regulars, Hibs have not only retained the same squad but added three midfielders.
Scotland internationalist Lizzie Arnot, pictured, is also due to return next month following almost a full year out with an ACL injury. When another long-term casualty, Claire Williamson, is fit again in the summer, Milne’s squad will have swollen to 22, leaving him with a job on his hands to keep all the players happy.
“I probably expect a few to move on in the summer when the English market for the 2018-19 season opens up,” he explained.
Milne also has a new assistant head coach in Grant Scott, who worked with him at Lowland League Hawick Royal Albert.
The only cloud is captain Joelle Murray’s foot injury, which rules her out of today’s opener against Spartans at Ainslie Park, and possibly for further games.
Spartans have an interesting new head coach in Paul Greig, a Fifer who was temporarily in charge of top American club Sky Blue FC last year. “I’ve known Paul for years and he’ll put a lot of good information into Spartans,” Milne predicted. “If the players take it on board I expect them to have a good season.”
Glasgow City, who have recruited three new players but are still running a very tight ship, start with a game against Stirling. Head coach Booth insists his squad hasn’t been weakened by the exodus and they should easily see off a side which has lost a number of top players.
Celtic host Rangers and Hamilton Academical are at home to newly promoted Forfar Farmington.
In SWPL2, Hearts, who finished second last season, have relegated Aberdeen to contend with but Motherwell are likely to be a bigger danger. New head coach Eddie Wolecki Black has recruited a full team of experienced players.