Dundee boss Neil McCann believes a feelgood factor is sweeping through Scottish football as the curtain comes up on the new league season.
With Celtic, Rangers and Hibs all progressing in Europe this week and Aberdeen putting on an excellent performance in their extra-time defeat to English Premier League side Burnley, the game north of the border suddenly has a smile on its face.
McCann, who takes his Dark Blues to Paisley to face newly-promoted St Mirren in their opener this afternoon, believes we should all be relishing the campaign that lies ahead.
He said: “I just think the whole feeling around Scottish football is one of optimism.
“Already we have seen Steven Gerrard go into Rangers and do great things there, Hibs also progressed in Europe, while I thought Aberdeen were outstanding over the two legs against Burnley and were really unlucky not get through after flying the flag for us down in England against a very good EPL side.
“All in all, the outlook for our game is very good.
“It is always exciting at the start of the season, with all our new signings etc, but this does seem even more upbeat than usual.
“I think the Premiership will be really tough this time around.
“I feel Livingston and St Mirren will enhance our league even though we have also lost two very good, competitive sides in Partick Thistle and Ross County.
“You have Kenny Miller in his first (managerial) job looking to make an impact at Livi, while Alan Stubbs will be looking forward to being a Premiership manager again with Saints.
“Everyone seems full of positivity.
“As a manager, you just can’t wait until the season gets off and running.
Our aim is the top six.
“Obviously, you want to stay in the division as your last resort but you should also be ambitious.
“We are quite a bit behind the sides competing in Europe in terms of budget – we know that – but when the teams are on the pitch no one really talks about the wages people are earning or price tags.
“It comes down to 11 guys against 11 guys and I am really optimistic about my team’s chances of having a really successful season.”
Meanwhile, McCann was asked about the link with Ayr United striker Lawrence Shankland.
He didn’t deny there is interest, saying: “There are loads of good players out there and it would be remiss of me to just cast my eye to European and English markets and ignore what we have here in Scotland.
“There are lots of good strikers going about in Scotland but generally they are hard to get away from their clubs. We are all fishing in the same pond.
“There is a bit of time yet. The English market closes early but the loan market extends through.
“Up here, we still have a bit of time so there are no rush jobs. We need to take our time over things and I think we have done that with the signings we have already made.”