Lawrie Spence looks back at the best and worst of a hamstrung start to the season for Inverness CT.
Injuries have made it impossible to establish a settled forward line. Aaron Doran was lost to a broken kneecap almost as soon as the season began, and summer signing Jordan Roberts hasn’t played due to groin problems. With big striker Dani Lopez proving to be slightly less mobile than a wheelie bin, and also slightly less effective, Ryan Christie was pretty much the only attacking threat through the first half-a-dozen games.
Then the quicksilver Miles Storey pitched up; his speed has forced defences to sit much deeper and created space for Christie and others to flourish. The Swindon loanee has chipped in with five goals as well, and keeping him beyond January is a massive priority. That said, breaking down organized opponents at home remains a challenge - ICT have scored only five times in Inverness in the league so far.
Did I mention injuries? For this writer, the strongest back four is Raven-Warren-Meekings-Williams. Well, we haven’t seen that combination yet this season. Warren is just returning from a broken ankle, while Meekings missed a month with an injury and Danny Williams has had to cover absences in midfield. Caley Thistle have had to rely too often on Danny Devine, who has all the tools but simply can’t concentrate for a whole 90 minutes, and the mediocre left-back Carl Tremarco.
As for the midfield, there is a strong belief in the Polworth Rule - if Liam Polworth is playing, it means we have loads of players out. Polworth has played a lot this season. It’s no surprise that Inverness are better when Ross Draper is in the middle of the park, but he spent several games as an uncomfortable auxiliary centre-back, and then - you’ve guessed it - he got injured.
At least Welsh international (as of last week) Owain Fon Williams has looked the part in goal. And he’s stayed fit. So far.
Christie by miles. Instead of resting on his laurels following his move to Celtic (and subsequent loan back), he’s played even better. His performance in the first half of the win over Aberdeen was one of the best anyone’s ever seen by an ICT player. This kid is going to play for Scotland. And if Celtic take him back to Glasgow in January, Inverness had better have plenty points on the board already.
There’s no doubt that Yogi is a great coach, but his weakness at Hibs was always recruitment, and he’s struggled to replace the likes of Graeme Shinnie and Marley Watkins. His contacts came up with Lopez and Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo; it was the chairman who suggested signing Storey to the manager. The uncertainty over his future can’t be helping matters either. That said, his exploits last season entitle him to the benefit of the doubt.
Must Do Better
Iain Vigurs scored a screamer against Motherwell, but contributed next to nothing else in that game or in any other so far. Inverness could do with more magic from that exquisite left foot of his, and yet he’s still been more useful than Lopez or Mbuyi-Mutombo; the latter is all style and no substance, and his late hatchet red card against Dundee was an embarrassment. It’s quite possible that he’ll be gone by January.
Read more from Lawrie at the excellent site Narey’s toepoker.