SPFL Fans’ Preview: Morton to continue progress under Jim Duffy

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TOP BET

Morton to win the Ladbrokes Championship

Welcome to the next in our series of Ladbrokes SPFL Fans’ Previews. Which teams will win their respective leagues and which players will shine and what is there to get excited about?

We’ve gathered together a selection of passionate fans to tell you how they think their team will fare ahead of the 2016-17 football season.

Russell Gordon and his Morton heroes are in the spotlight in this editionHe follows his team religiously home and away, as well as being one of the top dogs over at the Greenock Morton fans’ forum.

The Club:

If you could sign one star from the past…

We could probably really do with Denny Johnstone’s goals from last season, given how short we appear to be upfront but failing that, Brian Wake. He’ll be a bit past it now, but I’d settle for him just coming out to give the Cowshed a wave before every home game, such is his cult hero status.

I’m most excited about this season because… 

You just don’t know what you’re going to get from Duffy. In his first season, we didn’t have a chance of delivering the title and in his second we were relegated before a ball was kicked.

Once again he’s being written off, so hopefully another season of shutting up his critics. A play-off place or a trip to Hampden would be the logical next step.

I’m least excited about this season because…

The derbies. There are three certainties in life – death, taxes and Morton losing to St. Mirren. Feel free to take this into consideration when compiling odds for when I put my bet on in case we finally get a win, though.

Two songs that define your side? 

Given our current transfer activity, Holding Out For A Hero by Bonnie Tyler, or It’s Oh So Quiet by Bjork might be quite apt.

Actor that would play your gaffer in a film and why? 

Richard O’Brien of Rocky Horror Show and Crystal Maze fame. Not only is he, like Duffy, follically challenged, the whole point of the Crystal Maze was to find the most difficult way possible to complete a task. Very much like Duffy’s time at Cappielow.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 06: Morton manager Jim Duffy looks on during the William Hill Scottish Cup Quarter Final match between Celtic and Greenock Morton at Celtic Park Stadium on March 6, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)

The Players:

Key Player?

Michael Tidser. Since returning from Rotherham, he’s been cursed with dreadful luck with ineligibility then injuries. But he’s now showing signs of returning to the form that got him his move there in the first place. Double figures for goals and assists from midfield, please, Michael!

Weak links? 

At the moment, there’s very little upfront, having lost Johnstone, McManus, Samuel and McCluskey. I’d expect Duffy to pull a rabbit out of the hat on loan, as he’s got form for doing, but until then, there are real grounds for concern.

Headline Generator? 

Jai Quitongo’s already claimed that one after ragdolling Kilmarnock in the League Cup, so long may that continue. Starting with St. Mirren on the first day, hopefully.

Young player to watch this season? 

Whilst Quitongo’s already grabbed some early headlines, and Mark Russell’s progress has been great over the last couple of seasons, Scott Tiffoney has been the one who’s stood out in pre-season, forming an excellent relationship with Tidser and contributing a couple of goals along the way.  For the first time in years, Morton are producing quality young players again.

KILMARNOCK, SCOTLAND - JULY 23: Andrew McNeil of Greenock Morton during the Betfred Cup First Round between Kilmarnock Football Club and Morton at Rugby Park on July 23, 2016 in Kilmarnock, Scotland. (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

League Predictions:

Your position?

Somewhere in the middle of the league. There are too many clubs with greater resources for us to make a sustained title challenge. But if I’m being optimistic the play offs could be a target.

I’m not expecting a relegation battle, but we can’t be too complacent. The season that followed our last respectable finish in this division didn’t go well so hopefully history won’t repeat itself.

Title winner?

Surely it has to be Hibs this time. They’re in a unique position for a club of their size in this division of having a feelgood factor about the place. If anyone can turn optimism into utter devastation, it’s our friends from Leith, though.

2nd Place?

Dundee United. They’ll take time to adapt to their surroundings which will ultimately cost them, but I like what I’ve seen of Simon Murray upfront, and don’t like what I’ve seen of Ray McKinnon’s record against us with Brechin and Raith over the last couple of seasons.

I can’t see Falkirk going the season losing so few games as last season but they should finish third.

Fourth place should be one of the Fife or Renfrewshire teams, hopefully Morton of course.

Bottom?

Dumbarton. League Cup results aren’t boding well for them, and after so long in the division for a club of their size, relegation will be inevitable at some point. I’d expect Ayr to be in the play off position, but wouldn’t rule out Queen of the South toiling this year with an unproven manager in Gavin Skelton.

Top Goalscorer pick?

Duffy’s going to bring in someone to bag 30 goals to lead us to the Premiership, of course. Failing that, the aforementioned Simon Murray.

Surprise team of the season?

Queen of the South to be surprise strugglers. I don’t see too many surprises at the top end unless Hibs decide to be Hibs.

Keep checking back for more Ladbrokes SPFL Fans’ Previews!.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Paul Fulton

Paul is a sporting all-rounder with a particular penchant for tennis, football and golf. He has contributed to a number of publications, including the Edinburgh Evening News. Is most at home with a scotch pie and bovril in hand watching his beloved Hibs.