Derek McInnes is as divisive now as when he was appointed five years ago. …
The big question, some may say the only question, ahead of the start of the 2018 tongue twisting Scottish Building Society Scottish Women’s Premier League is simply “Is this the year Hibernian topple Glasgow City?”
As far as the destination of the title goes, it will be a major shock if it is anything other than a two-horse race.
Glasgow City won the league for the 11th time in a row last year without losing a game. They went a large chunk of that without even conceding a goal. They are relentless, however the league is crying out for more teams to bloody their nose and make it more exciting.
Unfortunately, the gap is likely to widen this season. Both City and Hibs have signed well. Third-placed Celtic will do very well to hold onto that position this season after losing two of their best players to the two sides they were trying to catch.
Kirsty Howat and Jamie-Lee Napier are big losses, two young players with great potential. Howat was one of the stars of the SWPL last season and is a huge coup for City. Napier, still at school age, has joined Hibs.
Relegated Aberdeen are another who have been scavenged for their best players. Hannah Stewart and Donna Paterson move to City, while Shannon McGregor joins the youthful Hibees.
⏪ | The last time we faced Spartans in the @SWPL was the final game of the 2017 season. A @RachSmall23 double and one from @lia_tweeds led the Hibees to all three points. Watch the goals back here.. pic.twitter.com/w5vKmS3IMP
— Hibernian Ladies FC (@HibsLadies) February 8, 2018
Stirling University were battling Celtic for third last season, but the lure of moving to Parkhead is still too strong for many and one of their stars Rachel Donaldson has joined the Hoops.
Keeva Keenan, Nicole Pullar, Claire Adams and Claire Crosbie are also fine additions to Celtic, but they’re still a long way off being considered title challengers.
Rangers have changed their name. They are no longer Rangers Ladies and will now be know as Rangers Women’s Football Club.
Head coach Amy McDonald explained the decision on the club’s website: “Rangers continue to make improvements to the girl’s and women’s program. In making the change from Ladies to Women it conforms with the rest of the game and sends the right message.”
They begin away to Celtic on Sunday. They haven’t been as busy in the transfer market but McDonald has done a fine job since taking over during last season and it’ll be an intriguing fight for third between the two Glasgow rivals.
3️⃣days to go🤙🏻| As if the excitement of our new @ExselGroup deal this week wasn’t enough – we are now only 3 days away from our @SWPL opener
🍀 Celtic v Rangers
⚽️ 2.00pm Kick Off
📍 @KPark_EKCT , G75 0QZ
💷 Pay at the Gate: Adults £5, Concessions £3 #SBSSWPL (EG) pic.twitter.com/7U2AwTvy0h
— CelticFCWomen (@CelticFCWomen) February 8, 2018
Newly promoted Forfar will have their work cut out staying up, but they are a strong, athletic team, and impressed any time I saw them last season. They are stronger than the Aberdeen side they have replaced in the top flight which spells bad news for Hamilton, and it’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top between the pair on Sunday.
But it is all about who will win the league. Do City make it 12 in a row? Or is this the year Hibs step up?
The Hibees have City’s number in the cups. They have won the last four knock-out competitions, beating City each time, three of those in finals. The most recent Scottish Cup success in November was a 3-0 thumping.
But that result came just weeks after City had rolled over Hibs by the same scoreline in the league to clinch the title, and Hibs have not tasted a league win over City since before many of these girls had played their first game of football.
The squads are closely matched, though don’t be surprised if Scotland captain Rachel Corsie, who has just left Seattle Reign, makes a third return to Glasgow City. If she does that will be hugely significant and would swing the pendulum their way.