Scottish Premiership: Things to watch out for on opening weekend

By Martin WattBBC Scotland
Prem things

Fans are back in grounds across the country and have been treated to plenty of drama already in the opening weekend of the new Scottish Premiership season.

Here's what to look out for in Sunday's two games...

New boss Courts has it all to prove

It's fair to say Tam Courts wasn't the guy most Dundee United supporters had in mind to fill the managerial vacancy when manager Micky Mellon returned south after one season.

Mellon steered United to safety in their first year after promotion, but it was turgid stuff at times and the Tannadice men were the top flight's lowest scorers with just 32 goals in 38 games.

Courts, promoted from head of tactical performance to head coach, faces a steep learning curve. Having only previously managed in the Lowland League with Kelty Hearts, he is now thrust into the Premiership deep end.

The 39-year-old could do worse than instilling a more adventurous style, which would better utilise Scotland striker Lawrence Shankland, who was starved of service under Mellon.

Will new manager Tam Courts reinvigorate Dundee United's star striker Lawrence Shankland?
Will new manager Tam Courts reinvigorate Dundee United's star striker Lawrence Shankland?

A New Firm derby at Pittodrie is a difficult start, but provides the opportunity to lay down a marker.

And if Courts needs inspiration, he can cast a glance at the opposite dugout. Stephen Glass has now had four months at the helm of Aberdeen and his imprint is becoming clear.

European progress against BK Hacken on Thursday was more fraught than expected, but last week's scintillating 5-1 first-leg win showcased Glass' new-look team at its attacking best.

Can they reproduce that form in a fixture that numbed the senses last season with just one goal in three league meetings?

All change at Fir Park

Graham Alexander achieved what he was brought to do last season - keep Motherwell in the Premiership - but an even tougher challenge starts now after another summer of change at Fir Park.

Most notable among the departures were Scotland defender Declan Gallagher, key midfielder Allan Campbell and top scorer Devante Cole.

An influx of signings - the majority with no experience of Scottish football - have been added and Alexander needs them to the hit the ground running if another survival sweat is to be avoided.

Hibs have proved at adept at that, winning their opening game in all four seasons since promotion.

A tad surprisingly, Hibs head to Fir Park with their prize assets still at the club. Josh Doig, Ryan Porteous, Kevin Nisbet and Martin Boyle have all been subject of interest but no deals have yet been struck.

Last season's third-place finish was Hibs' highest in 16 years, helping to earn head coach Jack Ross a new contract. Resting on his laurels isn't an option amid renewed competition.

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