ALAN ARCHIBALD wishes his pre-season prediction had not been so accurate.

The Partick Thistle manager, even before a ball was kicked in anger, openly said that he believed the Premiership would be a far tougher contest than the last campaign which saw his team finish in the top six.

Archibald felt the return of Hibernian would be a factor and always felt the bigger clubs would spend enough money to ensure the likes of Thistle found themselves on the wrong side of the split this time around.

As it is, Firhill’s finest are second bottom of the league having played two games more than Hamilton who sit just ahead of them, and with Aberdeen due in Maryhill tomorrow, plus some difficult games on the horizon, this campaign is not about to get any easier.

Archibald said: “The league has got stronger this season, teams are getting better and more money is being spent.

“We felt at the start of the season that a bigger gap might open up between top and bottom, with the tip five or six taking care of themselves in terms of budget, which is probably how it should be.

“There are always one or two teams which pop up. We did it last year, Kilmarnock are doing it now which is great to see. But the top five teams are going to get bigger and stronger as time goes one.

“We have a tough run-in. We knew it was coming. I am no different from any other manager in the bottom six in that we look at certain games as ones we need to win or at least as the more winnable ones.”

Thistle’s last two matches have seen them lose to fellow strugglers Hamilton and Dundee, teams they really need to be taking points from, and both results left Archibald a frustrated man.

He said: “The problem with the last two games is we didn’t see the game out. We played really well against Dundee and then switched off in the last ten minutes on two occasions and lose the game.

“And with Hamilton last week, there was nothing in it but we didn’t defend in the last bit. Overall our play has been fine, we just need to find a way to win a match. At this stage of the season it’s not about playing well it’s about getting three points.

“Grinding out results is so important in this league. I said that to lads after the last two games. When we have won this season they have been hard-fought matches which we managed to grind out a win. Our game management was good, which it hasn’t been so good in the last two games.”

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes is an team-mate friend of Archibald, they were at Dundee United together, and the two have remained close despite being opposing managers.

Archibald said: "Aberdeen have evolved this season. I think they are a different team from last year but still have good quality. Getting Niall McGinn was massive for them. They missed him, players such as Adam Rooney certainly did, but the key threats are still there.

“We have to stop the supply to Rooney and Stevie May.

“The table doesn’t lie. Derek has done a great job there. They haven’t been playing as much free-flowing football but the pitch doesn’t help. They are still a tough nut to break.”