Scottish Premiership: Kilmarnock Continue to Impress

Scottish Premiership: Kilmarnock Continue to Impress
Shay C
Shay C
November 17, 2018

After years of consistently winning the Scottish Premiership with complete dominance, Celtic have often hogged the spotlight in domestic competitions.

While Brendan Rodgers’ side has regained the top spot for the first time this season, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to hold their ground for the remainder of the league campaign, with teams such as Hearts and Rangers challenging for the title- but why not Kilmarnock?

Killie under Clarke

Steve Clarke has worked absolute wonders with this Kilmarnock side ever since he took over in October last year. Killie found themselves at the bottom of the Scottish Premiership table under Lee McCulloch after an initial defeat on the opening day  that paved the way for a terrible start to the league.

The ex-Rangers player struggled so much that he only managed to pick up a mere three points in the first eight games during the 2017/2018 season, failing to win a single game in the process.

This prompted his sacking, and Clarke was brought in following a brief period under interim manager Paul McDonald. The new boss secured crucial points against Rangers, Celtic, Hibs and Hearts- and these results propelled Killie further up the table as the weeks went by. A then 33-year-old Kris Boyd was scoring left, right & centre, and he helped his side all the way to 6th place going into the new year.

Their first game after in 2018 was a loss to Aberdeen, but that would give way for an incredible unbeaten run that started with a 1-0 win over reigning champions Celtic and would last until mid-April. Kilmarnock were in 5th place and they remained there for the last games of the season. Clarke would also go on to win end of season awards for his work at the Ayrshire club.

Kilmarnock so far this season

Killie failed to lose a single game in pre-season, also winning their League Cup group and progressing through to the next rounds after topping it undefeated. They would later face Rangers at Rugby Park, but Clarke’s side was no match for Steven Gerrard’s team.

Read all of our Scottish Premiership match previews, betting tips and predictions here

However, their league campaign has been a good one thus far. Kilmarnock are doing better than ever, and it’s already looking to be one of their most successful seasons in recent memory, so long as they keep putting in consistent performances.

Consistency is precisely what Killie have lacked in recent weeks, having picked up five points in their last four games. This hasn’t overshadowed their incredible 4-game winning streak that ultimately put them in 4th position, which started with a dramatic 2-1 win over Celtic at the end of September thanks to a last-minute goal from Findlay to win the game.

Prior to the international break, Clarke defeated the then league leaders Hearts, in a win that ultimately handed Celtic the top spot once again. A previous defeat to Aberdeen and a disappointing loss to Hamilton has done nothing to dampen Killie supporters’ spirits, as being in the top four is as good as it could possibly get.

Conclusions

It’s very easy to see how much of a positive effect Steve Clarke has had on Kilmarnock. His prior experience as assistant manager includes time with Jose Mourinho, lifting 2 Premier League titles, two FA Cups and 2 League Cups with the Portuguese. Clarke would then go on to lead West Brom to their first ever 8th place finish in the league-their best in 32 years- and leave them before dabbling in and amongst other English clubs before moving back up to his native country.

His prior experience in England and his current achievements at Killie won’t go unnoticed, and it probably won’t be long before the Scotsman is on the move should a bigger club come knocking. Clarke has already been linked to the Celtic job when Brendan Rodgers wouldn’t clarify on his future, and even the rumour of him taking the Scotland job has floated around too, as Alex MacLeish fails to impress anyone in Scotland.

Time will tell where he will end up, but Clarke seems to be fully focused on his time at Kilmarnock, as he guides his side toward a better future- which he is already doing- but it’s unlikely that Killie will be able to challenge Celtic for the league title any time soon.

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