SPL preview: St Mirren
Fears of financial fallout haven’t dimmed manager Danny Lennon’s positive outlook, writes Alan Gallacher
WITH even their own chairman predicting the end was all but nigh, Saints could be forgiven for going into the new season downhearted, but listening to Danny Lennon recently would suggest he is as full of optimism and positivity as ever. Sure, they would have liked to have made a few more signings but every club has had their financial wings clipped so, providing Sky don’t do a late runner, the fall-out from the Rangers meltdown on a club so few miles away from Ibrox that you can count them on your fingers looks like being rather neglible.
Saints’ general performance under Lennon last season was a revelation as not only did they stay consistently a country mile clear of the relegation issue, but they also did it with a brand of football that was easy on the eye. If there was a criticism to be levelled then maybe they could have scored more goals, and, without question, have had a bit more variation in their play when the pitches got heavy and the opposition became savvy to their enterprising style.
If one player epitomised the failing of the club last season it was Nigel Hasselbaink who, for all that he packed an electric turn of pace, at times couldn’t have hit the proverbial barn door. This being the case, the Dutchman’s departure shouldn’t be too great a loss and, although his replacement, Sam Parkin, looks a touch cumbersome he will at least take some weight off the excellent Steven Thompson, not to mention give the Buddies an aerial “out” ball should their passing run aground. Possibly a far more significant loss could be Jereon Tesselaar, if not so much for his at-times-questionable defending as for his ability to get on the ball and raid down the left flank from his full-back berth.
As yet he has not been replaced, leaving a gaping chasm in desperate need of filling, which will be a worry considering the signing of former Rangers goalkeeper Grant Adam emptied the coffers.
So far the marquee signing, in SPL terms, has been the capture of the highly rated Jon Robertson who has, like many before him, joined up from Lennon’s old club, Cowdenbeath. Ask anyone who frequented Central Park regularly last season and they will rave about the attributes of the aggressive young attacking midfielder who scored goals aplenty and was voted into the Second Division Team of the Year.
Fit-again Darren McGregor will be crucial along with veterans Jim Goodwin and Thompson, who showed in last weekend’s Renfrewshire Derby just how crucial their experience, calming influence and guile is to a team full of precocious younger talent such as Paul McGowan, Kenny McLean and Graham Carey.
McGregor could be like a new signing, such was his influence in his first campaign, and he is a defender who has everything to go as far as he wants.
Saints will look firstly to survive, but could thrive and at least match last season’s finish, which was their best in over two decades.
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