Glf 71: Geoff examines how we have moved on since last year.
A recent run of pretty poor form was changed by the return of Clarkson and Craigan to the starting line up.I know, hard to believe isn't it?But can one or two players make a significant difference to a team?
My intention in writing this piece was to see what difference the sad loss of Phil O'Donnell had made to the team. Has his departure affected us in terms of points gained on the park? When we defeated Dundee United 5-3 on that fateful day we were comfortably in third place in the table, six points clear of Dundee United and seven points away from seventh place so our Top Six place looked secure.As the season wore on and pressure increased we, and the chasing pack, began to drop points all over the place.We were only 8 points behind Celtic at the turn of 2008 yet ended the campaign 29 behind them!The key to this is that ALL the teams chasing a Top Six place dropped points as they invited pressure on themselves.One good clear run for any of the teams could have seen them in Nancy instead of Motherwell.
But was our second half of the season as bad as that would make it seem?
In December 2007 our results read;
Pld 20 W 11 D 2 L 7 F 30 A 25 Pts 35
Compare that with our form till the end of the season;
Pld 18 W 7 D 4 L 7 F 20 A 21 Pts 25
That shows a definite dip in form, whether it was the Phil O'Donnell factor or not there was definitely cause for concern.Into this season and our form before we hit 2009 was pretty poor at times. We struggled to achieve any manner of consistency and results reflected this.
At the end of December 2008 we stood thus;
Pld 19 W 6 D 2 L 11 F 20 A 31 Pts 20
Giving us a total in the league for 2008 of;
Pld 37 W 13 D 6 L 18 F 40 A 52 Pts 45
Assessing all the teams' form during 2008 gives us a league table not a million miles away from the current one.Hearts would have climbed into third place while we would be languishing in eighth place.
Certainly a distinct fall from the position we were in on December 29th 2007.
More worrying is the fact that while we continued to ship goals at a steady rate our goals scored column had dried up.40 goals for the year will not have us scanning Ryanair's timetables next summer.We need to improve our goal tally and that means from all areas of the park.We cannot continue to stumble on with the same handful of players finding the net.
So, Phil O'Donnell missed or not?Judging by the figures above we have certainly missed him.Our midfield drive and creativity has not been the same.If anyone thinks that Bob Malcolm can do Phil's job they are sadly mistaken.Yes, he has provided us with some goals from midfield but no more than that.Stephen Hughes has missed someone with Phil's movement but has shown signs recently of a slight return to form. Hopefully more to do with Maros Klimpl coming into midfield and nowt to do with the transfer window being opened.
Our form will have to pick up if we are to reach Mark McGhee's hoped for goal of European football.They say the league table doesn't lie and if that is so then I think we are going to have to settle for the boredom of bottom six games this year, even if that would give us the possibility of relegating Accies.
Visit the GLF archive. Hundreds of articles.