Season So Far

Last updated : 02 November 2004 By Firparkcorner

In short, the answer is probably yes. We are capable of playing good football and winning games but we do suffer from a chronic lack of squad depth and we are still inconsistent. More worryingly, a couple of the players we were relying on as ‘safe’ have not hit form they we would have hoped.

Out of our handful of losses this season, three have been to the Old Firm and as such can just about be written off. The performance against Rangers was reasonable, if lacking a cutting edge, and the last Celtic game could have produced at least a point. Those games are not worthy of our concern though, and nor is the last minute defeat at Aberdeen. Instead, the real worry is that from our four home games against non-Old Firm opposition, we have still managed to lose to Killie and Hibs – decent sides true, but points should have been taken.

Good times!

In contrast, the efforts we turned in against Hearts and Dundee United were excellent. We outfought our opponents and also played with a considerable level of skill – so all in all, our home record probably takes pass marks although there is room for improvement.

Away we have been solid although conceding last minute goals twice at Pittodrie has robbed us of three valuable points. We have had good wins at Dens and Livi and a decent point on the plastic in Dunfermline. Eight points from our six away games is a fine tally.

The League Cup has, to many people’s surprise, gone very well for a change. Victories were secured at Cappielow and Inverness and although both were had their edgy moments, they were deserved. Out of a potentially tough quarter final draw, we were given the best possible opponents in Livingston although typically the tie is away from home. So, mid-table in the league and still in the cup – what is there to complain about?

Well, the form of certain players is worrying. Gordon Marshall had his critics last season and whilst he still seems to be our obvious number one, more errors seem to be slipping into his game. Stevie Craigan was a rock last year at centre half but this year something does not seem right. Whether that is down to the defence changing on occasion or Martyn Corrigan moving from centre half beside him, there is a problem to be sorted. Stevie Hammell does seem to be playing better but his defensive abilities still let him down too often and make a mockery of any claim he has to a place in the Scotland squad. Three out of the last four goals we have lost have resulted in the finger being pointed at Stevie. At the other end of the park, David Clarkson has only found the net twice this season but he is contributing in other ways.
He does seem to be out of sorts though and if it was not for our injury situation, he surely would be in line for a rest soon.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. Scott McDonald has stepped up to become a very dangerous player and is now adding goals to his general nuisance value. The calls for Scotland to tempt him away from Australia are premature but he does seem like a player who can go a long way in the game. Kevin McBride and Phil O’Donnell are both performing above expectation in midfield and if we can avoid many more injuries and get some players off the treatment table, the midfield does seem like one area of the team where we are well covered.

Should we be happy with our situation or does the fact we have only taken one point from the last fifteen override our good start? It is cause for concern but after a tough game on Saturday we do have a slightly easier run coming up. There is no reason to lose faith and the players and management deserve a big hand for the general start to the season.