ALAN Archibald has told his Partick Thistle youngsters to follow Ross County’s lead and take their first steps in the Scottish Premiership with a swagger.
The Jags return to the top flight for the first time in nine years, with tonight’s opening match of the newly formed Scottish Professional Football League against Dundee United at Firhill.
The First Division winners have added eight new faces to the fresh-faced squad that clinched promotion with an 11-point winning margin over runners-up Morton, but Archibald admits he does not have the same reserves of experience enjoyed by their rivals and believes it will take a show of youthful bravado for them to retain their place in the re-branded Scottish Premier League.
Ross County did just that as their promotion squad of 2011/12 stormed the SPL last year and eventually landed a top-six slot. Rookie boss Archibald, who only replaced former manager Jackie McNamara in February, said: “Signing up these younger players was the first thing we did this summer. I spoke to the board about signing one or two new players, just to help them along the way, because we lost a few lads. But the main aim was always to get the rest of them signed up because I know how well they did last year.
“Now this is a platform for them to go and show how good they are. It’s just about getting the confidence to go and pass the ball and play. They need to believe in themselves.
“Ross County did that last year and kept the core of their squad together. Look how well they did. They got off to a good start and we have looked at that – we know it is possible for us too. Inverness did the same a couple of years before as well. We’re basing our aims on that.”
The Jags’ survival hopes have been aided significantly with the 15-point penalty handed to Hearts as punishment for their administration crisis
While Archibald hopes to copy County’s confident approach, he has no grand expectations that the Maryhill men will be able to match the Staggies’ top-six finish. “First and foremost our ambition is survival,” he said. “I don’t think we can aim any higher than that. Anything like the top six hasn’t come into my thinking.”
McNamara and his United side can expect a hostile reception following the bitter fall out that erupted following his switch to Tannadice. Thistle threatened legal action over compensation for the loss of their manager, while McNamara also consulted his lawyers over the issue of bonus payments for his initial work in steering Partick towards the First Division title.
The matter has now been resolved, however, and Archibald is now looking forward to a his side’s big night. He said: “Being back in the top flight means a hell of a lot to everyone around the club. It’s been a long time but hopefully the boys can grasp the opportunity and enjoy it.
“There has been an excitement about the place this past week and it’s all coming together now. The finishing touches have been made to the stadium, and the same has been done with what we will be doing on the pitch. Everything has been geared towards tomorrow night. I can’t wait.”