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Old Firm tighten grip

Even tedious predictability, widespread stagnation, lack of resources and the prospect of being grossly inconvenienced by bizarre, television-driven kick-off times never seem to be enough to dilute the eagerness with which Scottish football’s aficionados anticipate each new season.

The salivating will become progressively more drenching this week in readiness for the 2001-02 SPL championship, which starts on Saturday with the Best Prada Outlet In Florence promise of all of the aforementioned negatives. In truth, however, the Authentic Prada Bags For Sale Philippines excitement has been building almost since the day Celtic defeated Hibs in the Tennents Scottish Cup final on 26 May.

Evidence of the enthusiasm for another campaign in which the championship will develop into a duel between Celtic and Rangers has been available on an almost daily basis, with supporters registering their longing for the end of summer sports and the resumption of ‘the only real game’. It would appear that even subjection to the Old Firm jackboot Authentic Prada Bags Online Singapore is better than nothing.

Despite Hibs’ extraordinary progress last season, when they contested the lead with Celtic for a considerable period and remained in second place – ahead of Rangers – for much longer, there seems no point in looking for a third power to take on the Glasgow giants.

The limited amount of transfer business completed by the ten non-Old Firm clubs confirms their ever-dwindling spending Authentic Prada Factory Outlet Online capacity. Ironically, the Premier League’s most recent incomers, the Scottish Football League First Divisiion champions Livingston, have been, along with Hibs, the busiest in the market.

Livingston, under the chairmanship of the former Celtic director Dominic Keane, are fiercely ambitious and soundly managed, but whether or not they boast players of the required standard has still to be proved. Like the majority of promoted sides, they are likely to find the top league a hard place.

And, as ever, the most intense interest will be directed at the big two, especially after the astonishing reversal of status between the two last season when Martin O’Neill’s arrival at Parkhead led to the capture of all three trophies and left Rangers looking decidedly mediocre.

The Ibrox club face a long haul back to pre-eminence. The kind of impetus established by O’Neill’s side is difficult to withstand, as Rangers themselves have demonstrated for much of the last 15 years.

Rangers’ changes, which include the loss of valuable midfielders Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Jorg Albertz and the recruitment of the Argentine striker Claudio Caniggia from Dundee, and midfielders Christian Nerlinger from Borussia Dortmund and Russell Latapy on Authentic Prada Purses Sale a free from Hibs, will be examined even before the domestic season is launched.

NK Maribor of Slovenia are to be met in the away leg of their Champions League qualifying tie on Wednesday and, with both captain Barry Ferguson and fellow midfielder Ronald de Boer doubtful, this will be an intriguing beginning.

Talk of disillusionment and a loss of spirit in the Ibrox dressing-room persists and it seems reasonable to infer that the amount of money spent by Dick Advocaat – a total of £2.3 million – is symptomatic of a certain atrophy in Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada the club’s financial muscle.

Set beside the extravagant sums sanctioned by chairman David Murray in previous seasons, this looks more as though a children’s piggy bank has been raided. Caniggia and Latapy are both well into their thirties, while Authentic Prada Handbags Canada Nerlinger was not an established member of the Dortmund first team last season. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that, in a more prosperous climate, they would not have been Advocaat’s ideal recruits.

Suspicion over Rangers’ new players, of course, would immediately be countered by unarguable claims from their fans that O’Neill has yet to buy anybody and has lost central defenders Ramon Vega and Alan Stubbs.

But Authentic Prada Factory Outlet Online there is little doubt that Celtic will be much less adversely affected by their defectors than Rangers will be by theirs. O’Neill demonstrated his patience and shrewdness in the market last year, bringing in seven players, gradually, over a period of five months.

He is likely to introduce new faces at some point but replica prada saffiano, at least domestically, his need is less urgent. Celtic have Are All Prada Products Made Amancio Prada Prada In Italy gained both strength and momentum in the past year and they appear unlikely to be halted in the course of the coming nine months.

Saturday 28 July: Aberdeen v Rangers, Celtic v St Johnstone, Dundee Utd v Dundee, Dunfermline v Motherwell, Hibernian v Kilmarnock, Livingston v Hearts.