Mad Christian Harold Camping was reportedly “flabbergasted” that the Rapture didn’t take place last Saturday, May 21, as he had confidently predicted.
I am similarly flabbergasted that Kilmarnock weren’t relegated, as I assuredly stated on August 12: “I can’t see them anywhere other than last place.”
Camping is now saying the Rapture was spiritual, not physical, and the real Rapture will happen in October. I’ll just admit I got it wrong.
WHERE THE BOYS LET ME DOWN
Kilmarnock (predicted bottom, finished fifth). They’ve got no money, they lost their top goalscorer Kevin Kyle, they started the season with two defeats under a new manager who left them halfway through the season… they had no right to do this to me.
But Killie, the oldest professional club in Scotland, put together a cracking run of form through the winter months and ended in their best position since 2006. What gives? A Finn with a Russian-sounding name on loan from a Ukranian train factory team. Step forward, Alexei Eremenko of Metalist Kharkiv.
Me, August: “Dundee United will do well to retain third place.” Sixth or seventh, I thought, and in November I was looking good.
Me, now: Well, I was right in my assertion that “the team in third place rarely repeats the feat,” but I clearly underestimated Peter Houston’s side. They recovered well in the second half of the season and in the end were just one win away from repeating third.
Caley Thistle recorded the best placing – seventh – of any promoted team since Livingston’s surprise third-place finish in 2001. Having spent just the one season outside the top tier, the squad retained plenty SPL experience and thanks to their outstanding away form in the first half of the season, they bested my “eighth or ninth” prediction. Their defensive record was better than third-place Hearts.
I thought Yogi Hughes could turn around Hibs slide in form to end third or fourth, but he didn’t – Hibs endured an absolutely dismal 2010, with his replacement Colin Calderwood just beginning to make an impact late in the season as his team pulled away from relegation danger and ended tenth.
“The Accies will struggle to outperform again and will be embroiled in a relegation battle for sure.” Indeed. I thought Hamilton would survive, though – I said Killie would go down, remember? – but the loss of their two best players (McCarthy and McArthur) over the last two off-seasons was too much to handle, as was a 22-game winless run. Looking back, if Billy Reid had taken that Swansea job when it was on offer last summer, he might have been planning a trip to Old Trafford next year instead of Dingwall.
WHERE THE BOY DONE WELL
I said Rangers and Celtic would be top two. Tough call, huh?
I also said I wouldn’t trust Neil Lennon with ten million pounds. How wrong I was there. Lennon also succeeded in doing what Mowbray didn’t – “combining the new and old players into a coherent and functional unit.” He has earned his new contract.
“Stability might be a good thing for Rangers,” I said, and I think I was right. Team spirit saw the Ibrox side through their low points of the season and they survived the departure of Kenny Miller to take the title.
I said Hearts (third) would be third or fourth. I still haven’t had an answer to my pre-season question, though: “Quite how Hearts are not yet in administration is beyond me.” Now they’re surveying their fans about a potential move from Tynecastle. And the money comes from where?
I said Motherwell (sixth) would be fifth or sixth. Losing the Brown/Knox management team probably cost them a Europa league spot, but Stuart McCall has settled in decently and kept them in the top half.
I reckoned St Johnstone (eighth) would be eighth or ninth. Derek McInnes continues to show he’s a fine manager and as long as he’s in charge in Perth, he’ll be tempted with bigger offers from down south. (Which could mean Ibrox, if McCoist falls flat.)
I thought St Mirren (11th) would be tenth or 11th, mainly because they replaced a decent manager with an unknown. New boy Danny Lennon struggled at first, with one win in his first nine league games, but then his Buddies became a tougher side to beat. But a strong defensive record offset problems up front: the Paisley side scored only three goals for in their last seven games.
Aberdeen (ninth): “My guess: ninth or tenth, unless they replace McGhee in October with Billy Reid, then eighth or ninth.” Well, they waited too long to boot the hopeless McGhee, so I win this one. The replacement Brown/Knox management team inherited ten points from 15 games and won 28 points from their own 21 games, but there is lots to do to make the Dons competitive.
Aggregate score against Celtic this season: P6 W0 D0 L6 F1 A21. Shameful.
Though not as shameful as telling thousands of gullible idiots that the world is going to end in October.
Wales vs Scotland Goals – May 25, 2011