IN December I made the point that we weren’t really getting much of a challenge for the Premiership title to enjoy but the real battle was going to be at the bottom of the league. I believe this has turned out to be the case with a very early conclusion to the title race. 

At that time, the bottom six teams were separated by just five points. The comparison I made at the time was with the only other country that had a bottom half of the league separated by so few points. That country was Portugal where in a league of 20, the bottom 10 were separated by just four points. This hasn’t altered much as it currently stands that their bottom 10 are now separated by six points.

This however hasn’t remained the case in Scotland, where it now appears that the clubs in relegation danger have been reduced to three: Ross County, Kilmarnock and Hamilton Accies. 

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The three clubs above them, Motherwell, Dundee United and St Johnstone, aren’t that far ahead but have shown some more consistent form of late.

We’re about to have the league split in two weeks’ time and then at least we’re going to have the teams at the bottom having fixtures against their relegation rivals. I always did feel that this is an advantage of the split at this stage as it’s like having end-of-season Premiership play-offs to see who deserves to go down. We certainly missed out on this last season when football was all brought to a closure because of the pandemic.

It’s interesting to consider that when I did my December column, I noted that my former club Kilmarnock had just dropped into the bottom six due to a bad run of form. Since then however, there hasn’t been a turnaround and despite new boss Tommy Wright coming in, things have not changed yet. Considering they have lost nine of their last 10 league games, and have fallen to bottom spot, they now must be considered as relegation favourites. 

Ross County have won four of their last eight games, including the win against Celtic, and Hamilton have only lost one of their last six games. Regardless of current form we are aware that things can turn around quickly and sometimes surprisingly in football. A key factor before the coming split is that both Ross County and Hamilton Accies have two matches to play while Kilmarnock only have one. 

Tommy Wright is a very experienced manager and took St Johnstone to a new level during his time there but he certainly will have to turn Kilmarnock around quickly if they are going to be a Premiership club next season. 

HeraldScotland:

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AND ANOTHER THING . . .

I can imagine that a few ex-Rangers players might have been surprised and even annoyed with Dave King’s statement this week. He said that this season’s league win was the most significant in the club’s history.

As a league winner myself, I was immediately analysing my own experience and then thinking of the others who have achieved success over the years at Ibrox. Perhaps the players who won the league in 1997, to equal the nine-in-a-row previously set by Celtic, might feel this way.

However, I do have to admit that I agree with Dave King. Considering what the club have come through in the last nine years it certainly was a monumental triumph. Stopping a rampant Celtic from attaining another new record was the secondary aspect of it and it’s certainly now a major turning point in the club’s history.

It’s put Steven Gerard into the legendary category of Rangers managers and that sums up the matter when you consider that he’s only won one trophy with the club.