Barcelona may lead the Spanish La Liga after conceding no goals in their first eight games while Bayern Munich and Chelsea are unbeaten at the head of affairs in the Bundesliga and Premier League respectively, but in the top tier of Scottish football, it is the rank outsiders of the pack assuming the early lead after 10 matches. Since forming in 1874, Hamilton Academical have won no major honours at domestic level but an emphatic 3-0 win against Aberdeen on Friday evening ensured that they retained a one point lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League by the end of the weekend.
The Accies had never played top flight football until 2008 and after experiencing relegation in 2011, they were then promoted back to the Premiership last season when beating Hibernian after a penalty shoot-out in the relegation/promotion playoffs. Hamilton lost 2-0 in the first leg at New Douglas Park but travelled to Easter Road in Edinburgh to reverse the first leg scoreline to secure their place in the top division.
Yet prospects did not appear promising when losing 2-0 at home in their first match of the season against Inverness CT but they have remained unbeaten since with results improving, especially in recent weeks. Besides the 3-0 defeat of Aberdeen, Hamilton claimed a 1-0 win at current champions Celtic in their previous match which followed a 4-0 victory at Motherwell. There have been four successive clean sheets for a manager who can hardly be described in the same breath as Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho.
Alex Neil has been Hamilton player-manager since 2013 after a enjoying a spell as a combative midfielder at the club stretching back to 2005. He had previously played for Airdrie, Barnsley and Mansfield, teams which cannot be described as the glamour names of European football.
Aged just 33, he is a popular figure among supporters but unlike club chairman Les Gray, who is dreaming of final top six placing, Neil is focussed on survival in the league despite the dream start. Forever the pessimist, he has claimed that if the Accies lose their next nine games, they will be contenders for relegation.
40 points is considered as safety in the Scottish Premiership and Hamilton have amassed 23 to date. Frenchmen Anthony Andreu and Mickael Antoine-Curier have both netted five goals apiece this campaign and have been given an opportunity to prove their ability in the top flight after decent contributions in attack during last season in the second tier.
Hamilton Academical are unlikely to win the Scottish Premiership in May and they have earned some good fortune this season especially when surviving a Celtic onslaught when winning at Parkhead. However, nobody will deny them their current moment of glory and they may cause further shocks as the campaign progresses.
Their start to the season has certainly added some interest to Scottish football at a time when Celtic have completely dominated proceedings for several seasons.
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