A wee look at the Teams involved in the dogfight
I look at the dogfight now and it is still exciting as well as bloody nerve raking . Over the last few weeks we have been on form and picking points along with Dundee United. However at one point we were six points behind and everyone was writing us off. The credit for our revival must go to the players and Richard & Archie for turning it around within two games. We are now on form with only two defeats recorded in our last nine matches.
Dundee looked safe a few weeks ago, although nothing can be taken for granted in this turbulent game. They have a smashing manager in Jim Duffy and they have some good players in Steve Lovell, Derek Soutar and Tam McManus.
Dundee United probably have the best squad in the bottom six. Many people, myself included, thought they would be much higher in the table at this late point in the season. They sacked their manager Ian McCall and have been on better form under Gordon Chisholm, which includes wins against Rangers and Hearts.
Dunfermline, the last team of the bottom four, have struggled for goals this season which makes them the lowest scores with 28 goals in 34 league Games. They weren’t helped out by the fact that their Striking partnership of Craig Brewster and Steve Crawford left prematurely. Recently they sacked manager Davie Hay and have appointed Former Livingston manager Jim Leishman.
A look at the season so far
For a Neutral spectator this must be really exciting because the battle has been so close all season. However, for the fans it has been nothing short of their worst nightmares and very Frustrating. Every week the bottom spot would change. At times it has been one point separating four teams. At the Start of the season everyone was predicting Inverness would go straight back down. On the first showing against Livingston, when they got beat 3-0, everyone was just saying “see it’s happening”. Fortunately For Inverness they have found form under the leadership of John Robertson and then Craig Brewster.
There have been a lot of “six pointers,” this season and there will still be more to come. After the first round games Dundee United were bottom of the league. They came up against Livingston at Tannadice in a “six pointer.” Dundee United had eight points and Livingston had nine. The big game turned out to be a disappointment for Livingston as they lost 1-0 and went to the bottom of the league. Pressure was mounting on Livingston Manager Allan Preston and when they lost 2-0 at home to Aberdeen Allan and his assistant were sacked. At this point Livingston had lost seven in a row and were bottom of the league. They went away to Kilmarnock and won 3-1. Pearse Flynn then appointed Richard Gough and Archie Knox as the management team. The new Livingston Manager then lifted his team off the bottom of the table with a 1-0 win over Dundee. The result left the Dark blues at the bottom of the table. The bottom of the table was tight, with only three points separating three teams.
Inverness started to push away from the bottom of the table leaving the four teams of Livingston, Dundee, Dundee United and Dunfermline to battle it out. One of the biggest “six pointers,” of the season came to Almondvale where Livingston took on Dundee United. At this point the home team were bottom of the SPL, by two points, with Dundee United in front of Livi. Unfortunately for Livingston they lost 2-0 in what was a very poor performance. The result left Livingston five points adrift of second bottom Dundee United and it would get worse. When Livingston lost 2-0 to Aberdeen and Dundee United drew 1-1 with Caley Thistle, who were Six points behind second bottom, most of the Livingston fans were chanting “taxi for Gough.” Every media pundit was saying Livingston were finished. Fortunately a turning point came in the second half at Tynecastle, when the players showed they had just a bit more fight left in them. There were two Fantastic results in the space of a week and the points brought Livingston back level with Dundee United. As a consequence, other teams dropped into the relegation zone.
Dundee United went bottom after Livingston drew 1-1 with Motherwell and Dundee United lost 3-0 to Kilmarnock. Following the massive turn around Dundee United Manager Ian McCall was sacked. Dundee United’s luck came back in their 2-1 win over Hibs in the semi-final of the Scottish cup. Dundee United were injected with confidence and it showed in their next game when they went to Ibrox and won 1-0. This result sent Livingston back to the bottom of the table by one point. Dunfermline were hovering just above Livingston, United and Dundee who were just above Dunfermline. The weekend’s results made the relegation battle so much closer with Livingston and Dunfermline locked on 27 points, Dundee United on 28 and Dundee on 31.
The split was now upon us with what only could be described as five Cup Finals coming up. The first Round of games came up and the only effect was to bring Dunfermline, Livingston and United a point closer to Dundee.
The Next round involved all four teams playing each other in crucial games. Livingston took on Dunfermline at home and Dundee took on Dundee United at their home. Livingston moved off the bottom with a well deserved 2-0 win over Dunfermline. Dundee United earned a 2-1 win over city rivals Dundee. The table now shows Dunfermline bottom on 28 points, Dundee were next on 31 points, Livingston were also on 31 points and Dundee United had 32 points. Dunfermline sacked their management of Davie Hay, Billy Kirkwood and Paul Hegarty. They have now appointed Dunfermline and Livingston legend Jim Leishman for the last three games.
A detailed look at the teams fighting Relegation
Because of all the Administration problems last year and this season it appears to have taken its toll on the team and Club. Livingston, under Allan Preston, signed nine new players in a short space of time. Everyone knew it would probably be a tough season for us. It has turned out to be true. Twice this season we have went seven games without a result, which explains why we are near the bottom. After two wins in fifteen SPL games under Allan Preston, Pearse Flynn decided to sack Allan and his assistant Alan Keranghan. Richard Gough and Archie Knox were appointed by Pearse Flynn. At one point they were close to being sacked after we again lost seven in a row. The turning point came at Tynecastle when the players really fought back in the second half with the fans 100% behind them. The gap was six points and this result turned us around in one week. At this stage of the season Livingston are three points clear of Dunfermline, with three games to go. Richard’s team definitely have the quality to stay up. Some of the players like Burton O’Brien, David McNamee, Roddy McKenzie and Hassan Kachloul are of a real quality that should keep us up.
Dundee United probably have the best squad out of the four teams. Many people predicted a top six finish for them. The season has been very hard for the United fans, full of frustration, which eventually led them to sacking manager Ian McCall. Their recent form was what most people expected of them during this season. Dundee United have players like Paul Ritchie, Barry Robson, Stevie Crawford and Jim McIntyre. This is a great quality of team for a group so far down the table. The turning point came when they went to Hampden to play Hibs in the semi-final of the Scottish cup. They came back from 1-0 behind to win 2-1 and place themselves in Europe. Since then Dundee United have managed to produce a terrific performance against Rangers at Ibrox and to win 1-0. Then they scored in the last minute of the game to beat Hearts 2-1 at Tannadice. Gordon Chisholm has done a excellent job since taking over from Ian McCall and they look all but safe.
Dunfermline again weren’t expected to be near the bottom. After the highs of last season and finishing fourth they reached the Scottish Cup Final. This season they expected a top six finish, but it has been a massive disappointment, mainly because they lost there striking force of Stevie Crawford and Craig Brewster. Dunfermline have also been hit by many injures throughout the season. Quite a few youngsters have been given the chance to show what they can do. The main trouble for Dunfermline has been the lack of goals. They are the SPL lowest scorers, which is why they are sat at the bottom. Davie Hay recruited Gjorgi Hristov to try and score some goals. The Macedonian internationalist is struggling to get his game and has yet to score. Dunfermline still have some really good players like Barry Nicholson, although he is out for the rest of the season, and other players like Derek Stillie, Darren and Derek Young. Now Davie Hay has been sacked and yet another former Livi manager has been put in place. The Pars are bottom of the league by three points and only nine available.
Dundee were also in Administration last year. The same as Livi it has taken its toll on the team and club. Dark blues manager Jim Duffy had a hard task of bringing in players on a limited budget. Jim has done a great job up there and so far has kept the club above bottom spot. However that could change as Dundee are still right in the mix and could easily be relegated. Not so long ago after Dundee had won two games in a row everyone was saying that they were safe. It just shows how football is a funny sport as Dundee are now second bottom. Although they do have some good players which I have already mentioned it will be a hard task for Jim to keep them up. Last season they had a star in Nacho Novo. The Spaniard (who now plays for Rangers) scored 25 goals last season and kept Dundee away from the relegation battle if I could call it that as there wasn’t much of a relegation battle last season.
My prediction on who will be relegated
It is tough to call who will go down. It chops and changes every week with different teams being predicted for the drop. There were points when Livingston were by far favorites to go down especially when we were six points behind second bottom. However everything has changed in west Lothian. Now only two defeats in nine games and with Livingston playing some really good football it is fair to say I don’t think we will be relegated. Dundee United have been playing some really good football and they have went five games without defeat. Everyone would agree when I say that they have the best squad of players in the bottom six. So with that said I feel Dundee United will stay up. Dundee looked to be safe but now they are right in trouble. They have probably if not their biggest game of the season coming up against Dunfermline. The out come of that match could show who will get relegated. I can see Dundee just staying up. So that means I think Dunfermline will go down. They lack a goal threat and I can see Dundee beating them on Saturday.
Prediction of the bottom six
9. Dundee United
12. Dunfermline Relegated