Championship 2019/20 Season Preview

The Scottish Championship is set to kick-off on Friday night with Dunfermline Athletic playing host to Dundee at East End Park.

Ahead of the league campaign beginning, Cammy Anderson will provide a brief overview of each of the 10 teams, name who he believes is each sides best signing and gives his prediction as to where the clubs will finish.


Alloa Athletic

Alloa Athletic come into this new season under new management in the shape of Peter Grant (more on him here), following the departure of Jim Goodwin to Premiership outfit St. Mirren.

The Wasps shocked many as they survived last season and will be in for another tough season this time round too.

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Goodwin’s departure is sure to hurt the Wasps | Photo: @alloaathleticfc

They have managed to keep a hold of almost everyone who was actually under conttact from last season including Iain Flannigan and Neil Parry but did lose a lot of players they had on loan such as defender Sam Roscoe and attacker Dario Zanatta.

They have managed to add some real firepower in the shape of Liam Buchanan and Robert Thomson and skilful winger Andy Stirling in the market and should be looking to add some more numbers to the defence in the remainder of the window.

Best signing: Liam Buchanan – Buchanan has returned to the Indodrill Stadium for a second spell and the Alloa faithful will be hopeful he can repeat his exploits from his first spell as he netted 14 in 33.

Prediction: 9th – Alloa should do enough to avoid automatic relegation but will likely end up in the relegation playoffs.


Arbroath

Last season’s League One champions will not be in for an easy ride this season as they return to the second tier of Scottish football for the first time in a number of years.

The Angus club were deserved winners of Scotland’s third tier last term and the club have been very loyal to last year’s squad by adding just four players to their ranks over the course of the transfer window.

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Gaston is experienced at Championship level | Photo: @arbroathfc

Bobby Linn was influential last season scoring 23 goals in all competitions and one could argue that Arbroath’s fate will largely be determined by the 33-year-old, who, from the outside looking in, is their best player.

Best signing: Derek Gaston – In Gaston, Arbroath have added an experienced Championship goalkeeper to their ranks, who had 43 clean sheets in 149 Championship appearances for previous employers Morton.

Prediction: 10th – Arbroath haven’t recruited enough Championship quality to suggest they are in with a chance of avoiding the drop.


Ayr United

Ayr United hit the ground running last season and had many thinking they could have followed Livingston in securing back-to-back promotions for much of the season.

The Honestmen lost pace with title chasing duo Ross County and Dundee United eventually but still secured a very respectable fourth placed finish.

Lawrence Shankland had the season of his life and it did not come as a surprise to anyone when he departed at the end of last season.

The Somerset Park outfit managed to sign Ross Doohan on loan again and have added the aforementioned Sam Roscoe and experienced Kris Doolan among others.

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Doolan has been tasked with replacing Shankland’s goals | Photo: @ayrunitedfc

Best signing: Ross Doohan – The Celtic-owned youngster was one of, if not the best ‘keeper in the second tier last season. The 21-year-old kept 14 clean sheets in 36 Championship games last term.

Prediction: 7th – I predict them to fall off quite heavily, particularly due to the fact they no longer have Shankland there.


Dundee

After an absolutely abysmal season last season, Dundee deservedly find themselves in the Championship for the coming season and will no doubt be looking to bounce right back.

The dark blues have recruited some of the better players from last season’s Championship in Jordan Marshall, Josh Todd and Declan McDaid whilst they have also convinced Danny Johnson and Shaun Byrne to drop from the Premiership.

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Johnson has arrived at Dens on a two-year deal | Photo: @dundeefc

There are certainly reservations to be had about James McPake being in charge because of it being his first job but the quality of the squad should help the 35-year-old out.

Best signing: Danny Johnson – The 26-year-old scored eight goals for Motherwell in his debut campaign with the club last season and going by his performances, he should manage to score plenty in the second tier.

Prediction: 2nd – McPake’s side should run their city-rivals close but will ultimately fall short.


Dundee United

Dundee United are heading into their fourth straight campaign in the Championship and this season surely has to be the season they secure their return to the Premiership.

They have managed to ship out a lot of the deadwood from last season and added well by adding Lawrence Shankland on a free transfer as well as Liam Smith and former Swansea midfielder Adam King.

LAWRENCE SHANKLAND WITH SCARF

Shankland could lead United to promotion with his goals | Photo: @dundeeunitedfc

Robbie Neilson’s men look to be the team to beat, much like Ross County were last season.

Best signing: Lawrence Shankland – United pulled off quite the coup by signing Shankland, who reportedly had interest from down south. I predict he will score 20+ goals in tangerine this term.

Prediction: 1st – The Arabs look an absolute shoe-in to romp the Championship this season.


Dunfermline Athletic

Many had tipped Dunfermline Athletic to be among the playoffs last season with an outside chance at the title but the Pars faltered to a very poor 7th placed finish, with them only just narrowly missing the drop.

The club have been extremely open about their new approach to recruitment wherein they hope to add young players on an upwards trajectory.

Last season’s top scorer in League One Kevin Nisbet has joined from Fife rivals Raith Rovers and highly-rated Kyle Turner has come in from Stranraer with Tom Lang, Josh Edwards and Aaron Comrie also fitting the mould of being young with a real upside.

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Nisbet has started brilliantly in black and white | Photo: @officialdafc

Paul Paton has arrived to bring some much needed experience to what is a very young squad and the former Northern Ireland international has replaced Lee Ashcroft as captain.

Best signing: Kevin Nisbet – Nisbet netted 34 in 46 games across all competitions and has managed to carry that form into the new campaign with him netting five goals – including a hat-trick on his home debut – in the league cup group stages.

Prediction: 5th- I predict the Pars will challenge for the promotion playoffs but will ultimately miss out to a more experienced side.


Greenock Morton

It has been virtually all change at Cappielow at the Summer with many incomings and outgoings as well as David Hopkin coming in as manager.

The Ton finished fifth last term and have lost several big-name players, namely Michael Tidser and Charlie Telfer, who have left to join League One side Falkirk.

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Grant is a solid addition for the Cappielow club | Photo: @morton_fc

Morton do not look the most attractive of sides when you look at the names in the squad but with Hopkin in charge, they could cause a few surprises because afterall, who expected his Livingston side to do as well as they did in the Championship?

Best signing: Peter Grant – Grant was once higly-rated but injuries ultimately curtailed what was a promising career. Still only 25-years-old, there is still time for Grant to recover and he should do a more than good enough job for Morton.

Prediction: 6th – I think Morton will slightly regress on last season.

For a more in-depth look at Morton, check out Evan McFarlane’s piece here


 

Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Inverness Caledonian Thistle made the playoffs last term but could not get the better of Dundee United at the semi-final stage.

The Highland side have managed to keep almost everyone from last season but have lost star midfielder Liam Polworth to Premiership side Motherwell as well as Joe Chalmers to highland rivals Ross County.

Only Ross County lost less games than Inverness did last season highlighting just how hard Inverness were to beat but at the same time Caley secured the most draws in the division with 14. If they can turn some of those draws into wins they could be in with an outside chance of the title.

In terms of recruitment, it has not been all that inspiring with James Vincent, a hero of their Scottish cup winning side, returning and Nikolay Todorov coming in too.

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Vincent had success in his previous stint with Caley | Photo @ICTFC

The signing of James Keatings is however a bit more promising if he can perform how everyone knows he can.

Best signing: James Keatings – The 27-year-old played a key role in Hearts and Hibs Championship title winning sides in 2013/14 and 2014/15 respectively and if John Robertson can get him back to that level then Inverness can only benefit from it.

Prediction: 3rd – Caley should make the promotion play-offs yet again this coming season due to keeping almost all of the squad who achieved this last season.


Partick Thistle

Gary Caldwell’s Thistle will be hopeful of being able to avoid the start to the campaign they did last season, this coming season.

Despite a disastrous start and sitting in or around bottom for much of the season, the Jags managed a sixth place finish in the end.

Having got rid of some of the duds from the last season and added some good players, a better season almost surely awaits for the Firhill outfit.

Veteran striker Kenny Miller has arrived on a free transfer whilst Scotland youth international Ryan Williamson has also joined the club among others.

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Miller is still capable of making an impact | Photo: @partickthistle

Goalkeeper was a problem position for them last season and they have moved to ensure this isn’t the case this season by adding Scott Fox, who was part of Ross County’s title winning side last term.

Best signing: Kenny Milller – Despite being almost 40-years-old, Kenny Miller showed last season he still had it in the Premiership. He brings in a wealth of playing and goal-scoring experience and should score goals for the Firhill side.

Prediction: 4th – I predict Partick will make the play-offs this term. They finished 11 points off last year but if they avoid the same start they should manage to pick up that amount of points.


Queen of the South

Queen of the South survived by the skin of their teeth last season as they overcame Raith Rovers in the relegation play-offs and will be in for a similarly difficult season this time round.

Over the Summer the Dumfries side have lost several of their better players from last season including Lyndon Dykes, Jordan Marshall and Josh Todd and have failed to recruit similarly talented players.

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Dykes has joined Gary Holt’s Livingston | Photo: @livifcofficial

Thanks to having the Championship’s best player in Stephen Dobbie, the doonhamers should be fine but fans should not be expecting fireworks from the team.

Best signing: Robbie McCrorie – The highly-rated shot-stopper has arrived at Palmerston Park on a season-long loan deal from Premiership giants Rangers and is a fine addition for Allan Johnston’s side.

Prediction: 8th – the Doonhamers should survive but will not do much more than that.

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