When I did my article when the fixture list was published about how Ibrox had the reverse side of our diabolical schedule from last season, I got an amused email from someone almost at once asking me how hard I’d actually looked at the start to the campaign.
“Aberdeen, Hearts and that lot at home in the first six games, with away games at Ross County, Kilmarnock and Dundee Utd.” Not exactly a simple task. Three of the bigger teams at home and three tricky away fixtures. He was right,
There’s nothing easy about any of it. Ibrox’s run is – I’d argue – somewhat harder, but for the third week in succession they have a game they are pretty much expected to win; St Johnstone at home. They have a further home game against Ross County on 27 August, with a much simpler cup tie than we have, also at home against Queen of the South.
Their away fixtures are a bit more daunting. They have to go to Easter Road – the match they are trying to have postponed to “help them in Europe”, then Celtic Park and then Aberdeen in quick succession. Tough ones all. Then it’s Dundee Utd and home and Hearts away … which could be constructed around Europa League Thursday nights.
It’s fun to speculate on this stuff, and it’ll be even funnier if it comes off.
But for now, let’s focus on us. We’re at Kilmarnock and then Tannadice in the next few weeks. We’ve started the league with two away matches out of the first three games. I’m not crying fix our foul, just saying that we will need to be sharp with this in mind.
It is pleasing to have two wins out of two, and three out of three would send the right message to the rest of the league. But, and this is another point, for the second time in three weeks we’re kicking off after they do and thus will be “chasing” for a day, provided they don’t lose to St Johnstone which I have to say seems unlikely.
This puts pressure on us, but we’re built for that and I expect that by mid-afternoon Sunday we’ll be back on top of the league again. As tough as this start is going to be – as tough as any start they could have given us would have been – we’re not going to be stopped easily if at all.
We will be entitled to proper credit if we get through these first six games on better form that we opened last season. But we won’t get it of course.