Too Little Too Late

Last updated : 09 April 2006 By Firparkcorner

Not that it would have mattered anyway – Aberdeen's win at home to Hibs guaranteed them the final spot and when you consider the matches between us and the Dons it is galling to have lost out to them. However, there is more to the season than the matches between the teams in sixth and seventh and we only have ourselves to blame for being on the wrong side of the dividing line. The catastrophic loss of points to the likes of Dundee United and Aberdeen and the suicidal nature of our late defending in so many games is the reason we're finishing the season against United rather than Celtic. At least, if we are to take any short term consolation then at least we look a lot more solid at the back now while we are still creating chances and scoring some goals.

On a long term basis though we do have reasons to be pleased and some cause for concern. If anyone had suggested we'd be disappointed at the thought of ‘only' finishing seventh a few years ago they would have been laughed out of court. It is a testament to how far we've progressed that we have a team capable of fighting it out for the upper mid-table slots rather than mingling with the bottom feeders. However, we have some serious rebuilding to do for next season and it would not be a surprise if we are to endure a rather painful ‘transition year'. Both full backs, Corrigan and Hammell, could be offski and they will be hard to replace. While it is likely Brian McLean will sign it is not certain and we could be looking at changing three out of the regular back four from this season. Paul Quinn can probably cope with the elevation if needed but question marks still exist over Kinniburgh and it is doubtful we have any other youngsters who could make such a step up at short notice.

The midfield though is the major worry. Will Leitch and O'Donnell be considered worthy for contract extensions and even if they are, how much of the workload can they carry? There is a good player somewhere inside Brian Kerr but we don't see nearly enough of him, Alan McCormack has his heart set on cracking the Preston first team and Kevin McBride seems to have gone missing completely. Jim Paterson is fit just now but that rarely seems to last and the latest golden hope, Marc Fitzpatrick could be thrust back into contention having hardly played at all this season.

The bright spots are obviously up front and in goal although the picky amongst us might like another quality striker signed as back up to McDonald and Hamilton. Clarkson is still showing little of his initial promise and McGarry seems to be a good player to have around but not to the extent of being a number one striker.

So, the close season begins here, in a sense. We should now know our budgets for the next campaign and we have to start preparing for August in terms of offering terms to our existing players, giving a run out to some kids and starting to think about filling some gaps in the squad. And fingers crossed we're the team to relegate Livi come May!