Team by team guide

From Almondvale to Tynecastle, contenders and pretenders of the Scottish Premier
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The Independent Football

Aberdeen

Aberdeen

Optimistic signs of Pittodrie revival (seventh last term) punctured by summer defection of 17-goal Arild Stavrum to Besiktas. Porous defence is main problem, but Ebbe Skovdahl has a growing crop of youngsters who handled pressure last season and are maturing rapidly. Acid test in opener against Rangers.

In: Roberto Bisconti (Charleroi, Bel). Out: Arild Stavrum (Besiktas), Andy Dow (Motherwell), Paul Bernard (released). Prediction: 6th.

Celtic

Martin O'Neill has not been resting on laurels, but it is a sign of the Treble-winners' standards that no signing targets have yet come up to scratch. Henrik Larsson's Golden Boots remain most persuasive argument for continued success. Paul Lambert-Neil Lennon midfield axis is a potent force .

In: Bobo Balde (Toulouse, Fr). Out : Alan Stubbs (Everton), Ramon Vega (Watford), Eyal Berkovic (Man City). Prediction: Champions.

Dundee

Mamma mia! Last season's success story (6th) are embroiled in internecine feuds that would do justice to The Godfather. Player-manager Ivano Bonetti and his erstwhile friends Marco De Marchi and Patrizio Billio are in legal dispute after the pair remained in Italy this summer following a £25,000 fine each.

In: Julian Speroni (Platense, Arg). Out: Claudio Caniggia (Rangers), Willie Falconer (released), Frank van Eijs (Rot Weiss Essen, Ger). Prediction: 8th.

Dundee United

Tannadice welcomed Roma, Barcelona and Manchester United in glory days of late 1980s, but it took all of Alex Smith's guile to prevent Ayr, Clyde and Raith being on itinerary this time. Smith has tried to build on great escape by bringing back Billy Dodds to United but the Scotland striker refused to move. Danny Griffin and Charlie Miller are midfield gems.

In: Jim McIntyre (Reading). Out: Alberto Naveda (released). Prediction: 7th

Dunfermline Athletic

Not only survived return to the SPL last season, but thrived. Manager Jimmy Calderwood has gone back to his old club in Holland to recruit striker Jack de Gier, but it is new Scotland cap Barry Nicholson who provides most flair. East End Park will remain a formidable place to visit.

In: Jack de Gier (Nijmegen, Hol), Gus McPherson (Kilmarnock), David Nicholls (Falkirk), Benito Kemble (Motherwell). Out: None. Prediction: 10th.

Heart of Midlothian

Just missed out on a place in Europe, but Craig Levein is restructuring squad to his needs by cutting huge wage bill which led to £4m loss last year. Manager has resisted advances from England for both captain Colin Cameron and keeper Antti Niemi, and has raft of young talent coming through. Could revitalise Hearts.

In: Kevin McKenna (Cottbus, Ger). Out: Darren Jackson (St Johnstone), Lee Makel, Gordon Durie (released). Prediction: 4th.

Hibernian

Third place in title race and reaching Scottish Cup final is not enough for Alex McLeish, who spent a club-record fee on classy defender Ulises De La Cruz – currently starring in the Copa America for Ecuador after his goal helped to beat Brazil recently – but top scorer Mixu Paatelainen has yet to be replaced.

In: Ulises De La Cruz (Deportivo Universitario, Ecu), Alen Orman (Antwerp), Tony Caig (Charlton), Franciso Luna (Monterey, Mex), Derek Townsley (Motherwell). Out: Russell Latapy (Rangers), Mike Franks (PSV Eindhoven, Hol), Mixu Paatelainen (Strasbourg, Fr), Dirk Lehmann (Brighton), Stuart Lovell (Livingston), Marc Libbra (Toulouse, Fr). Prediction: 3rd.

Kilmarnock

No new faces at Rugby Park, merely the exit of Ally McCoist's smiling one. Bobby Williamson is another who is relying on surge of young talent emerging from his ranks, rather than gambling on maverick foreign mercenaries. Teenager Paul Di Giacomo looks worthy successor to McCoist's lineage.

In: None. Out: Gus McPherson (Dunfermline), Paul Wright (Falkirk), Ally McCoist (retired). Prediction: 5th.

Livingston

In 1974, they were simply a works team for Ferranti. Now, a relocation and name-change later (from Meadowbank Thistle), their impressive 10,000-seat Almondvale Stadium will be filled for visit of Hearts. Management duo of Jim Leishman and David Hay will face perennial struggle of all promoted sides, but summer of investment may buy time.

In: Massimiliano Caputo (Brescia), Oscar Rubio (Farense), Nathan Lowndes, Gary Bollan (both St Johnstone), Stuart Lovell (Hibernian), Javier Sanchez Broto, David Fernandez (both Airdrie). Out: Neil Alexander (Cardiff), Derek Fleming, Graham Coughlan, Charlie King, Gerry Britton, Sean Sweeney, Allan McManus (all released). Prediction: 11th.

Motherwell

Revolving door at Fir Park brought in seven to replace side sold off in mid-campaign last season to avert debt. Motherwell were a shadow of the club which finished fourth in 1999-2000 and new blood – especially gifted Old Trafford cast-off Cosgrove – will freshen things, though striker Kelly's old bones may prove more vital.

In: David Kelly (Sheffield United), Karl Ready (QPR), Stephen Cosgrove (Manchester United), Andy Dow (Aberdeen), Mark Brown (Rangers), Eddie Forest (Airdrie), Roberto Martinez (Wigan). Out: Said Chiba (Nancy), James Okoli (Hertha Berlin), Derek Townsley (Hibernian), Benito Kemble (Dunfermline). Prediction: 9th.

Rangers

Battered pride from last season's mauling by Celtic has not really been healed by new recruits. Defence still looked shaky on pre-season tour of Scandinavia, while midfield has been shorn of its best elements by departures, despite Nerlinger's arrival. Finding right partner for Tore Andre Flo remains the chief puzzle for Dick Advocaat.

In: Claudio Caniggia (Dundee), Christian Nerlinger (Borussia Dortmund), Russell Latapy (Hibernian). Out: Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Arsenal), Jorg Albertz (SV Hamburg), Kerimoglu Tugay (Blackburn Rovers), Mark Brown (Motherwell), Rod Wallace, Sergio Porrini, Lionel Charbonnier (all released). Prediction: 2nd.

St Johnstone

Third place in 1999-2000 was followed by a slump last term. Even though key players Nathan Lowndes and Gary Bollan have jumped to Livingston, there is plenty of home-grown talent at McDiarmid Park, especially precocious teenage striker Keigan Parker. However, the inconsistency of youth may be Saints' Achilles heel.

In: Darren Jackson (Hearts), Grant Murray (Hearts), Layton Maxwell (Liverpool), Rachid Djebailli (unattatched, France). Out: Nathan Lowndes, Gary Bollan (both Livingston), Michael O'Neill (Portland Timbers), Alan Kernaghan (released). Prediction: 12th – relegated.

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