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SPL fans’ views on how their club fared this season

St Mirren fans were pleased with the League Cup winning campaign. Picture: Getty

St Mirren fans were pleased with the League Cup winning campaign. Picture: Getty

As the 2012-13 season draws to a close, fans of each SPL club voice their joys, concerns, and criticisms for their team, and look towards the future.

ABERDEEN

Season highlight

It’s been a long time since we had a striker who could score more than 20 goals, so the performance of Niall McGinn and his contract extension lit up an otherwise poor season.

Season lowlight

Negativity, most obviously in our cup exits. Whilst we lost to the eventual winners of one cup (St Mirren, League Cup) and the finalists of the other (Hibernian, Scottish Cup), in both games we were too defensive and under performed.

Manager’s report card

The capture of McGinn was the highlight of Craig Brown’s season, whilst too many “safe” 0-0 results and the subsequent “bottom six is not a failure” comment meant that the season was a failure. It may sound harsh, but it’s true. 3/10

Player of the season

It has to be McGinn. He scored almost half of our league goals this year and wins this easily.

Expectations for next season

New manager Derek McInnes is making all the right noises, so next year has to be a comfortable top-six place, with many thinking European qualification through either league place or cup as a realistic prospect Anything else would have to be considered a failure again.

What needs to be on the club’s summer shopping list?

A strike partner for McGinn, a keeper capable of challenging for the No 1 spot, a right and left back and a couple of attack-minded midfielders. I suppose that’s not much to ask for really...

What will your overriding memory of the campaign be?

For us, instantly forgettable 0-0 draws, whilst for the league as a whole the shambolic summer months followed by teams like Ross County and Inverness seizing their opportunities and out performing the “bigger teams”.

What would you have said if you’d been present at the reconstruction meetings?

Can I get the keys to the brewery back as it has become clear that you are all incapable of organising the party there. Oh, and St Mirren, the door is over there.

Steve Wilson

www.afc-chat.co.uk

CELTIC

Season highlight

The European campaign; from going behind against HJK Helsinki at home in the qualifiers to our first away win in years against Spartak Moscow to beating Barcelona at a packed Celtic Park – every game was edge-of-the-seat stuff.

Season lowlight

The all too frequent lackadaisical performances in the league. There were too many defeats.

Manager’s report card

Neil Lennon got performances out of the players which were well above expectations in Europe, not only in beating Barcelona, but emerging from a group containing eventual finalists of the Europa League. However, he seemed to struggle to get the team motivated in the bread-and-butter games in the league, but still secured the double when under a lot of pressure. 8/10

Player of the season

Georgios Samaras scored vital goals in Europe, our goalkeeper Fraser Forster was outstanding in the first half of the season and Scott Brown is starting to emerge as an accomplished midfielder, but I think it has to be Sami who takes it, just for overall consistency.

Expectations for next season

To build on the last two seasons. Progress is the key word for us.

What needs to be on the club’s summer shopping list?

A decent centre half. Efe Ambrose has proved too flaky when under pressure and we lack someone at the back who can clear a ball to one of our own players.

What will your overriding memory of the campaign be?

The display from the stands in the Barcelona game and being only one minute from a draw in the Camp Nou. Those achievements cannot be overestimated.

What would you have said if you’d been present at the reconstruction meetings?

In the words of Orange Juice: Rip it up and start again. Lack of innovation and the push to re-create previous formats is stifling the game. We are being overwhelmed by the vast resources of the EPL. I think we should look

at moving to a summer league. The death knell for Scottish football will be: “Aye, it works abroad, but it won’t work here.”

Dave Devine

ST JOHNSTONE

Season highlight

There can only be one – the final day against Motherwell. A superb performance combined with a perfect result at Dingwall in the Highland derby propelled us into Europe. We’ve flown under the radar all year, but did the business when it mattered most.

Season lowlight

Failing to make an impact in the cup competitions. This is something we’ve managed over the last few seasons, but I can live with that given our league finish.

Manager’s report card

I have to admit, I was sceptical about Steve Lomas. Especially when we had an atrocious start to the year. But we picked up big time, and went from relegation candidates to finishing in a European slot, and you really can’t ask for more than that. 8/10

Player of the season

This is a hard one – we’re not a team with a stand-out individual who has carried us, rather a solid unit who are (often more than) the sum of our parts. I’ve gone for Murray Davidson a player who has improved vastly over the last two years and is destined for bigger and better things.

Expectations for next season

If we can finish top six again I’ll be delighted, but I’d love to see us go on a decent cup run again.

What needs to be on the club’s summer shopping list?

A central midfielder to help replace the hole left by Murray Davidson, and an attacking midfielder/winger to replace Mehdi Abeid. And someone to play on the left given Liam Craig’s departure for Hibs.

What will your overriding memory of the campaign be?

I think the one stand-out moment will be Liam Craig’s goal in the last game to give us the lead.

What would you have said if you’d been present at the reconstruction meetings?

The best outcome is to keep the 12-10-10-10 system, to introduce play-offs, to merge into a single league structure, to redistribute the cash in a sensible manner. Why is that so difficult?

Jamie Beatson

www.weareperth.com

ST MIRREN

Season highlight

No contest. Winning the League Cup at Hampden after a fantastic final against Hearts, following a terrific semi-final win over Celtic.

Season lowlight

Aside from some fairly heavy home defeats it would be our loss to Hearts after the split, which no doubt had John Brown thinking his mind games had worked. They hadn’t, we were just rubbish.

Manager’s report card

Danny Lennon has struggled in the core subjects this term and has gone back on the progress made last year. However, he excelled in metalwork to the extent he produced a piece of silverware the likes of which hasn’t been seen here before. 7/10

Player of the season

Steven Thompson, Top scorer, great all-round striker, fantastic club ambassador and gave us all a cathartic moment at Hampden.

Expectations for next season

Another cup run is probably too much to ask! The top six would be excellent, but with the squad changes and possible introduction of play-offs, staying up is the minimum once again.

What needs to be on the club’s summer shopping list?

Probably easier to say what doesn’t. Some new goalies, a midfield playmaker, a no-nonsense centre half, a left back, a couple of midfielders and some more strikers is the least we need.

What will your overriding memory of the campaign be?

Winning the League Cup will be the overriding memory of the decade, let alone the season.

What would you have said if you’d been present at the reconstruction meetings?

Very little. I’d have locked all the clubs and league bodies in a room and told them they weren’t getting out until they came up with a sensible, proposal.

Stuart Gillespie

www.saintmirren-mad.co.uk

DUNDEE

Season highlight

Being promoted at Rangers’ expense. Then the season began...

Season lowlight

Almost every game, until John Brown was appointed. There were just too may abject performances to choose from.

Manager’s report card

Barry Smith seemed to flounder in the SPL and overstayed his welcome. It probably sounds harsh, but being a club legend doesn’t excuse you from the sack. See Jocky Scott. 4/10 John Brown was appointed amid much hilarity from some media people, but he fired up the squad and turned us into a decent SPL team who would have had a great chance of escaping the drop if he’d been appointed a couple of months earlier. 8/10

Player of the season

Our long-serving goalkeeper Rab Douglas, who saved us from bigger hidings earlier in the season before he succumbed to injury, then Bomber’s axe.

Expectations for next season

‘Championship’ winners. We were on a roll as the season ended (well, until we were relegated). My only nagging fear would be that we rely on journeymen too much, whereas other SFL1 clubs might have good young players coming through who would run rings round us when they were in the mood.

What needs to be on the club’s summer shopping list?

Keeper, left back, striker – assuming certain players want to stay at Dens. If they go, we’ll need a whole lot more.

What will your overriding memory of the campaign be?

Thrashing Morton 5-1 at Dens in the Scottish Cup. After a season-long drought, suddenly it was raining

goals.

What would you have said if you’d been present at the reconstruction meetings?

Play-offs must be introduced, from the SFL1 to the SPL. We must work towards a league set-up where teams play each other just twice a season. And can we get prices down to a more reasonable level, where the neutral fan can be tempted along to a game?

The Club 12th Man

DUNDEE UNITED

Season highlight

In a relatively non-eventful season on the pitch, the highlight has to be the emergence of youngsters Ryan Gauld and John Souttar. Beating Dundee three times was

nice too!

Season lowlight

Generally the whole season. With no Rangers in the league, on paper, we really should have been challenging for second place. Instead we managed to scrape into the top six and no more. A little disappointing.

Manager’s report card

Peter Houston started the season well, but performances dropped and, when it was announced he was leaving the club, neither party seemed

too upset. 5/10. In came Jackie McNamara, who got off to a flying start, but an injury-ravaged squad led to him overly relying on youngsters. Next season is when it really counts for Jackie. 6/10

Player of the season

Willo Flood. In his second spell at the club, Willo eventually found the form that made him a fans’ favourite first time round. It’s just a shame his return to form was a season-and-half too late and by the looks of things, it will be another club benefitting from this next season.

Expectations for next season

Jackie needs to steady the ship and rebuild. Hopefully he is given the time by the fans and the board for this and a top-six finish would be an achievement.

What needs to be on the club’s summer shopping list?

It has to be a whole new squad with some SPL experience to compliment the lower league players already signed.

What will your overriding memory of the campaign be?

The embarrassing league reconstruction saga. What a shambles it has been from start to finish!

What would you have said if you’d been present at the reconstruction meetings?

A 16-team league, split after 30 games with an additional seven games. Not really that complicated, is it?

Jamie Kidd

www.dundeeunited-mad.com

HEARTS

Season highlight

The performance at Anfield in the Europa league. It was a fantastic day in Liverpool, the atmosphere was incredible, especially when we took the lead, and had we held on for a few more minutes could have forced extra time.

Season lowlight

The Scottish Cup defeat at Easter Road, where we didn’t really turn up and our defence of the trophy ended before Christmas was pretty awful, but the season lowlight has to be the defeat in the League Cup final. We dominated the start of the game and could have been three up, but then threw it away.

Manager’s report card

John McGlynn started pretty slowly and things went rapidly downhill after he criticised the fans who were demanding he play two strikers. He deserves some credit for getting us to the League Cup final. 3/10 Gary Locke took over at a difficult time and managed to steady the ship. The football has been more exciting, but we have struggled defensively. 6/10

Player of the season

Even though he got injured half way through the season, I would have to say Marius Zaliukas. He will be difficult to replace.

Expectations for next season

This is the great unknown for Hearts fans. Hopefully a takeover can be delivered over the summer to avoid any administration and then we can look to the future. As we stand today, expectations would be low, perhaps with the target of just avoiding relegation and winning some derbies.

What needs to be on the club’s summer shopping list?

Two strikers would be required, along with an experienced central midfielder and central defender.

What will your overriding memory of the campaign be?

David Templeton’s goal at Anfield.

What would you have said if you’d been present at the reconstruction meetings?

Give us a 16-team league, please.

Broxburn Jambo

HIBS

Season highlight

The run to another Scottish Cup final was great. Had an easy start against Hearts, but the games got tougher and Hampden will do well to witness a game like the Falkirk semi-final. There was also a nice end of season highlight courtesy of Griffiths and Caldwell...

Season lowlight

The dip in form after a very promising start to the season, missing out on the top six, and being denied a third derby win of the season by the most ludicrous decision Scottish football will ever see.

Manager’s report card

No top six for Pat Fenlon, which should be the minimum we expect to achieve. He is slowly putting together the makings of a decent team though, but there are still some questions over his tactics and the team’s inconsistency. A work in progress. 7/10

Player of the season

It simply has to be Leigh Griffiths, pictured. His goals have carried us a long way this season and he plays for the jersey with a passion only a real fan can have. Honourable mentions go to Jorge Claros and Alex Harris

Expectations for next season

Top six, and given the correct signings, we should really be aiming for Europe. Dominance over Hearts and some points against the Highland teams would be good too.

What needs to be on the club’s summer shopping list?

There is no doubt that Rod Petrie needs to pull out all the stops to sign Griffiths. An attacking option from the midfield and possibly a couple of full backs as well.

What will your overriding memory of the campaign be?

I don’t think many Hibs fans will forget the epic semi-final against Falkirk. It was an incredible comeback to win 4-3.

What would you have said if you’d been present at the reconstruction meetings?

Listen to the fans. We are your customers and if Scottish football is to prosper and move forward, listening to your customer base is a good place to start.

Dave Farmer

www.hibs.net

INVERNESS CT

Season highlight

There have been many, but can finishing fourth in the SPL be considered a highlight? Yes it can, as for our small club, this was a fantastic achievement.

Season lowlight

Losing the League Cup

semi-final to Hearts on penalties at Easter Road and possibly missing out on a European spot.

Manager’s report card

Some of Terry Butcher’s selections, tactical decisions and very late substitutions have us frustrated, but to take this club to where it is now has to be a remarkable achievement. 8/10

Player of the season

Billy McKay, pictured. The striker has been a revelation this season and has come of age after a mediocre start to his ICT career. His 27 goals is something to be proud of for a club of our standing.

Expectations for next season

Can we go one step further and win silverware and/or qualify for Europe? This season will be a tough act to follow, but anything is possible. However, as any ICT fan will tell you, we’d probably be happy just to finish above Ross County!

What needs to be on the club’s summer shopping list?

As always, we will have a

very limited budget. I’m pretty sure that will dictate who comes in to replace those that are leaving

the club, such as Andy Shinnie, Chris Hogg and Antonio Reguero. A replacement for Shinnie in the attacking third with a good goalscoring pedigree would be very welcome.

What will your overriding memory of the campaign be?

Actually taking three points off Motherwell, beating Celtic in the league on their own turf for the first time and making it to a cup semi-final. As there have been so many highs this season, it is difficult to choose just one.

What would you have said if you’d been present at the reconstruction meetings?

Difficult to really comment, but suffice to say change is needed but it needs to be right first time. The guys running the SPL need to listen to the fans who pay their way and not ignore them, which has sadly been the case all too often this season.

Dave Wilson

www.caleythistleonline.com

KILMARNOCK

Season highlight

Beating Hearts at Tynecastle twice convincingly was a pleasant experience, but undoubtedly the highlight of the season has to be winning at Celtic Park for the first time since 1955 and grabbing a couple of goals.

Season lowlight

The League Cup exit, as holders, to Stenhousemuir so early on was a downer, but losing the quarter-final to Hibs in the Scottish was effectively our season ended, and it was entirely our own fault.

Manager’s report card

I’m giving Kenny Shiels, pictured, a relatively decent mark this year. It was always going to be difficult to emulate last year’s success and we did well up to a point, but we lost the plot towards the season’s end and there were too many sound bites about other teams in the press and not enough about Killie. 7/10

Player of the season

Difficult to choose given so many of our best players were moved on. It would have gone to Liam Kelly, but Cammy Bell takes the plaudits in his stead.

Expectations for next season

I’m half expecting us to go out of business next season unless we get rid of the chairman Michael Johnston… otherwise top six and a cup run please.

What needs to be on the club’s summer shopping list?

A centre half who can organise and coach the youngsters in the side.

What will your overriding memory of the campaign be?

In a league without Rangers, there was some good football and lots of teams doing well. Celtic didn’t get it as easy as everyone had anticipated at the start of the campaign. The organising bodies let us down badly again... they are embarrassing when it comes to reconstruction.

What would you have said if you’d been present at the reconstruction meetings?

All change is warranted, but we still need a bigger top division. More teams, more venues and variety, more relegation, play offs at top and bottom and cap the entry fee at £20… that’s what will bring fans back.

Barry Richmond

www.killiefc.com

MOTHERWELL

Season highlight

There were so many it’s hard to pick just one, but seeing James McFadden return to Fir Park and score brilliant goals was thrilling. Hardened fans all over town love that man!

Season lowlight

Our performance in the cups was appalling. Losing in Europe was understandable, but surrendering to Aberdeen and Rangers domestically was a real blow. We had been knocked out of four tournaments before Christmas!

Manager’s report card

I really can’t argue with the league campaign under Stuart McCall, but we went out of both cups in dismal fashion once more and the performance at Ibrox was one of the worst ever. His signings have generally been good, but the rebuilding job needing done now is substantial, and that will be a true test of his credentials. 8/10

Player of the season

Darren Randolph didn’t keep many clean sheets, but still won us several points this campaign and steadied the entire team. However, when a Motherwell player tops the scoring chart and is voted player of the year, it’s hard not to give the nod to Michael Higdon, our award-winning striker.

Expectations for next season

Being mid-table would be fine so long as we can finally do something in one of the cups. Our turn is long overdue! It is impossible to judge until we know what players remain and who we bring in.

What needs to be on the club’s summer shopping list?

A goalkeeper tops the priority list to replace Randoplh, but with our contract situation, we sadly need players in virtually every position.

What will your overriding memory of the campaign be?

The excitement of being part of the Champions League draw back in summer will never be repeated. That was such a novelty for a club like ours.

What would you have said if you’d been present at the reconstruction meetings?

My advice would be: Think

of how we’d organise things if we started Scottish football from scratch tomorrow.

Derek Wilson

www.firparkcorner.com

ROSS COUNTY

Season highlight

Just being part of the SPL and surviving for a second season was the real highlight, but in terms of games it would be the 3-0 win at home to Motherwell – we totally outplayed the visitors.

Season lowlight

Our worst performance of the season was the 3-0 defeat away to Kilmarnock. Just never turned up that day!

Manager’s report card

Derek Adams has done exceptionally well this season. Apart from tactically being spot on for most games, he has also proved to be very good at mind games with other managers. But, as he would say himself, there is always room for improvement! 9/10

Player of the season

Richard Brittain has been my player of the year. It is a difficult decision this year as we’ve had so many candidates for this award, but he takes the captain’s role very seriously and leads by example.

Expectations for next season

The second season is quite often the hardest, and while County have exceeded all expectations this season, the main target next season again will be for survival – anything else is a bonus! Although reaching the second round in at least one of the cups would be good.

What needs to be on the club’s summer shopping list?

Adams has recruited wisely this season and I’d keep faith in him doing the same over the summer months.

What will your overriding memory of the campaign be?

Away to Aberdeen on the second week of the season – I think that was the point I finally realised County had made it to the SPL!

What would you have said if you’d been present at the reconstruction meetings?

Scottish football will get nowhere as long as the people in charge of the leagues are financially involved with the member clubs! I’d propose an independent committee to take charge of a single league body.

Alan Ross

www.thejailender.com

 

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