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The issues fans are talking about on fixture release day in Scotland

By June 15, 2018No Comments

The Ladbrokes Premiership fixtures for 2018-19 were announced on Friday morning.

Here, Press Association Sport’s Andy Newport takes a look at some of the talking points.

Steven Gerrard thrown in at the deep end

Pundits have not been slow in suggesting Rangers have taken a major gamble by hiring the untested former Liverpool captain as their new manager. His coaching experience extends to just one campaign in charge of the Anfield side’s under-18s but he will have his abilities put to the test early with a trip to Aberdeen on the opening weekend, quickly followed three games later by his first meeting with his former Reds boss Brendan Rodgers at Celtic Park. Rangers do not have time for Gerrard to find his feet and need their new manager to make his mark from the off.

Celtic seeking further domestic bliss

The issues fans are talking about on fixture release day in Scotland PLZ Soccer
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has led his side to an unprecedented double treble (Jeff Holmes/PA)

To say Rodgers has had it all his own way since moving to Glasgow’s east end two summers ago would be an understatement. His first campaign ended with an historic unbeaten domestic clean sweep and his ‘Invincibles’ followed that achievement by claiming an unprecedented double treble. The arrival of Gerrard should make Rangers stronger but Rodgers’ side could quickly quell any uprising with another derby triumph when the Glasgow giants face off on September 1. Aberdeen, Hibernian and Hearts are all looking to strengthen too but the Parkhead side’s superiority in spending power should see them carry on their dominance on home soil.

Hearts aim to redress capital pecking order

Tongue may have been planted in cheek when Craig Levein claimed his Hearts side had “restored the natural order” in Edinburgh with victory over Hibernian in last January’s William Hill Scottish Cup clash. But the grin was wiped off the Jambos boss’ face when Neil Lennon’s team ended the season 18 points ahead of their city rivals. The Leith outfit undoubtedly remain top dogs in the capital and will be looking to put pressure on the likes of Aberdeen and Rangers again this term following their fourth-place finish. But having made eight signings so far, Levein will be backing his men to shake things up when the meet Hibs for the first time on October 31.

Tough start for the new boys

As if Livingston did not have enough on their plate as they look to find a new boss after David Hopkin decided to quit last month, the play-off winners have been handed an opening day clash with Rodgers’ rampant Hoops. Second-tier winners St Mirren are given the honour of hoisting their Championship flag at home to Dundee first off but the Buddies – with new boss Alan Stubbs in charge following title-winning manager Jack Ross’ switch to Sunderland – face a trip to Ibrox on matchday two. The new boys meet a week later on August 25 and that clash could go a long way to deciding their eventual survival fate.

Can Killie carry one?

Kilmarnock looked to be heading in only one direction when Steve Clarke was appointed last October – down. But he presided over a remarkable turnaround whicht eventually saw the Rugby Park side finish fifth. Maintaining that progress will be the former West Brom and Reading boss’ big task this time and he will see a home clash against St Johnstone on the opening day and trip to Livi the following week as chance to kick off the campaign with a couple of wins. But he may well need them, with a tricky run of fixtures then seeing them take on Hearts (home), Aberdeen (away), Hibernian (away) and Celtic (home).