Review of 2009/10
For the second year running, the title went to Ibrox. Walter Smith’s team suffered only three defeats all season and clinched the trophy with a 1-0 victory at Easter Road on April 25.
With it came the prize of a place in the group stage of the Champions League as Rangers celebrated back-to-back titles for the first time since Dick Advocaat achieved the feat a decade earlier. The Light Blues also lifted the League Cup thanks to a late Kenny Miller goal in the final against St Mirren, despite the handicap of being down to nine men.
Kris Boyd was again leading scorer, with 23 goals in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, a tally that included an incredible five-goal haul in the 7-1 win over Dundee United at the end of December – a night when he surpassed Henrik Larsson as all-time top scorer in the SPL.
It was a disappointing season for Larsson’s former club Celtic. Robbie Keane netted goals aplenty on loan from Spurs and they finished strongly with a run of eight successive league victories under Neil Lennon but by then it was too late. Some poor results, not least the 4-0 defeat to
St Mirren in March that precipitated the departure of Tony Mowbray, undermined their challenge.
In contrast, Dundee United enjoyed their best ever SPL campaign. They overcame the loss of Craig Levein to the Scotland post midway through the season to finish third in the table under Peter Houston. Their previous best had been fifth place but the highlight of 2009/10 was a Scottish Cup final triumph against Ross County – only the second in their history.
New Hibernian manager John Hughes secured European football for the Easter Road men, helped in no small part by the goals of Anthony Stokes and Derek Riordan. Hibs put together a 12-game unbeaten run and at one point were pushing the Old Firm. Their form might have dipped after the turn of the year but the Europa League is something to look forward to.
Motherwell enjoyed an ultimately successful season and will join Hibs and Dundee United in the Europa League. New boss Jim Gannon’s youthful side started well but lost their way and ex-Scotland manager Craig Brown was recruited to steady the ship. He did more than that, leading the Steelmen on a remarkable 12-game unbeaten sequence to claim fifth spot.
The Fir Park outfit were also involved in the highest-scoring match in SPL history, an astonishing
6-6 draw against Hibs beating by one goal the record set when Aberdeen eclipsed Motherwell 6-5 in 1999. It seems Lanarkshire is the place to be for goal-littered epics.
Hearts made the top six and were another team to change manager mid-season, Jim Jefferies succeeding Csaba Laszlo. They reached the semi-finals of the League Cup but a European place proved just beyond them – a lack of goals proving too big a handicap.
Billy Reid deserves huge credit for leading Hamilton to seventh place in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League – their highest finish since the 1930s. Accies were in relegation danger for a time but hauled themselves clear thanks to a terrific sequence of only one loss in the last 13 games.
Newly-promoted St Johnstone also prospered under Derek McInnes. In their first top-flight season since 2001/02, Saints scored more goals than anyone other than the Old Firm and Hibs and inflicted a 4-1 defeat on Rangers at McDiarmid Park.
For the first time since 2003/04, Aberdeen failed to reach the top six. Ninth place was the outcome for Mark McGhee and his players. There were bright moments – a 1-0 defeat of Rangers and a 4-4 draw with Celtic – but overall it was a season to forget.
St Mirren are preparing for a fifth consecutive Clydesdale Bank Premier League campaign but will do so without long-serving boss Gus MacPherson, who led the Paisley outfit to the League Cup final for only the second time in their history but parted company with the club earlier this month.
Jimmy Calderwood steered Kilmarnock to safety but it was a close-run thing. For the second season in a row Falkirk found themselves needing a win on the final day to avoid the drop but this time they couldn’t manage it and Killie survived after a fraught 0-0 draw at Rugby Park.
The Bairns - who had Eddie May then Steven Pressley as manager - will be replaced by Inverness CT, who became only the second club to bounce back immediately following relegation.
Clydesdale Bank Premier League champions: Rangers
Scottish Cup winners: Dundee United
League Cup winners: Rangers
Clydesdale Bank Premier League Manager of the Year: Walter Smith
Clydesdale Bank Premier League Player of the Year: David Weir
Clydesdale Bank Premier League Young Player of the Year: David Goodwillie
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