Season preview 2009/10

Last updated : 10 August 2009 By Firparkcorner

Jim Gannon
St Johnstone return to the top flight after a seven year absence therefore some young Motherwell fans will be visiting McDiarmid Park for the first time. It has been a happy hunting ground for us in the past but Derek McInness and his team will be keen to make their mark. Among the new boys in Perth are Kenny Deuchar and Filipe Morais. The bookies have them listed as favourites for the drop and their ambition has to be survival and no more.

Falkirk and St Mirren must be contenders for the relegation place yet again. They finished last season perilously close to Inverness and although there has been plenty of close season movement, neither outfit seems to have strengthen sufficiently to have a decisive advantage. Falkirk have to shake off the embarrassment of their loss to Vaduz and they have the services of former 'Well player Brian McLean to bolster their defence. St Mirren have taken Michael Higdon from the Bairns and surely he will be an improvement over Jim Hamilton who has moved to Partick Thistle.

Our derby neighbours, Hamilton, did will to stay in the division last time out despite being favourites to return to the SFL. They will take some time to recover from the loss of McCarthy, Easton and Swailes. The exotic imports are an unknown quantity apart from the familiar Marvin Andrews. Billy Reid made big strides last year and his tactical brain might again be the Accies saviour this season.

Kilmarnock will probably grind out another set of results, enough to keep their heads above water. Much might depend on how Mark Burchill settles into a partnership with Kevin Kyle. The vastly experienced Jeffries has the ability to keep them alive.

We would like to think of Aberdeen, Hibs , Dundee United and Hearts as our competitors for a top half finish. If Motherwell can finish above any of them then our season will probably be a success. United have lost Zaluska but Andy Webster and Steve Banks will strengthen them. Hibs are now without Fletcher but inexplicably they have Kevin McBride on their books. John Hughes has plenty of experience on management in the bottom half of the table and it might be that they are the team most likely to stumble. Hearts seem to have stabilised under Laszlo's care and they must be favourites for third place this season. Nevertheless, they still have crazy politics behind the scenes and we should expect to take some points from them.

And what of Aberdeen? One certainty is that we'll hear plenty of Mark McGhee's thoughts (mostly about Celtic) and also lots of moans from Aberdeen supporters. Already humiliated in the Europa League, the tales of lack of finance and the difficulties in buying new players seem familiar to Motherwell fans. We must have the Dons as a target.

Finally we need to mention the gruesome twosome. Which of them finish first or second hardly matters. It may be that limited success in Europe might hinder progress in the domestic competitions but both have such huge resources compared to the rest that any points they drop will be gratefully taken. Remarkably Rangers have made no signings so far. Celtic have taken a couple from our old foe Nancy.

As ever the new season is keenly anticipated and given our excellent preparation there is no reason for Motherwell not to have hopes of a successful year. Can we qualify for Europe for the third year in a row?

Where will we finish? Poll results here.