THE best and worst of Inverness CT’s season thus far following the first round of Premiership fixtures.
A few candidates here, but I’m going to plump for Ross Draper. Six foot five and apparently constructed out of bricks, there isn’t a player in the country who can outmuscle Drapes in midfield. On top of that, he’s clearly improved with the ball at his feet and in his positioning when we’re defending. And against Kilmarnock he even filled in at centre-half. He was deservedly the Player of the Month for August and I reckon he’s been the best of a good bunch so far.
I’m delighted to say that this is hugely difficult to pick, because ICT have had a settled side and are playing well. I don’t fancy some of our reserves though, and our success over the whole season is likely to be inversely proportional to how often we use Carl Tremarco at left-back. He’s trying, in more than one sense of the word. There’s no question that he gives everything, it’s just that he tends to end up giving everything to the shins of the opposing winger rather than to the ball. Thankfully, we probably only have to pay him in raw meat.
Last season, Marley Watkins was a wide player who had a bit of pace and a bit of height but not much else. He certainly wasn’t a goalscoring threat. But he’s come on leaps and bounds this season, either when taking on full-backs or when playing in a more central role beside Billy Mckay. A Wales cap isn’t completely out of the question if he keeps playing like this.
The attendances. We’re second in the league, we’re playing well, but fans still won’t turn up. There’s a multitude of reasons for this, and most of them are relevant to the other clubs in the league. But these players deserve more than 3,000 folk turning up to watch them.
Best team performance
A 1-0 win over Dundee United maybe doesn’t sound that impressive, but bar the opening five minutes we were in complete control and should have won this at a canter. Not only did we pass the ball around beautifully, but there was a willingness to mix things up with some more direct play to keep United on their toes. The visitors might not have been at full strength, but this was still a good team that were absolutely dominated.
The first half against Ross County was absolutely bloody awful... but the second half was tremendous and we deserved a draw in the end. The poorest I’ve seen us play over 90 minutes was in the first home game of the season against Dundee, who frustrated us easily and probably should have won.
Most worrying contract
Several important players are out of contract at the end of the season - Graeme Shinnie, Josh Meekings, Billy Mckay and Watkins for a start. It’s not inconceivable that all of them will look to move to a bigger club, and understandably so. Shinnie in particular is ready for a step up.
John Hughes has forced me to eat a lot of humble pie this season. Yogi’s tactics often demand patience from the players and the fans, as the first hour or so is dedicated to keeping possession and tiring the opposition out, so that we can carve them open in the last half hour. But we’re getting the results and playing some good stuff, so he clearly knows what he’s doing. And we’ve had seven clean sheets in eleven games so far, which is a heck of a record. Most reassuringly, he has proven in recent weeks that he has a Plan B for when the Tiki-Taka isn’t working, which involves moving Watkins up front and throwing in some long balls. He’s still not won over all the supporters, but he’s pretty much won over me. If only he would stop using cliches in the post-match interviews...