THE best and worst of St Mirren’s Scottish Premiership campaign thus far.
Given St Mirren’s current predicament, there are understandably few candidates. Isaac Osbourne appears to be Tommy Craig’s best signing so far. The former Aberdeen defensive midfielder bossed the midfield in the small clutch of games in which he has featured before suffering his inevitable injury. In terms of regulars, left back has been a position in which Saints have struggled for years, however Sean Kelly and Jeroen Tesselaar have been consistent and talented performers. They have added an attacking threat as well as providing a defensive solidity while both have exchanged places at left back and left midfield in recent weeks.
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Are you sitting comfortably? There are plenty of contenders, of that there is no doubt. James Marwood has flattered to deceive, Callum Ball’s goal return has been negligible and Marc McAusland’s inconsistency continues to dog him. However the most regressed player since last season has been Marian Kello. The odd error last season was masked by the staple diet of heroic stops and commanding performances. Goal-inducing mistakes have been something of the norm for the Slovakian this term and there have been calls for Mark Ridgers to get his chance between the sticks.
St Mirren ending the first round of games with two teams sitting below them. Seriously, in another season Saints would be cut adrift at the mercy of more competent opponents. Alternatively, the 2-2 draw secured at Aberdeen in September was something of a shock. The Buddies looked desolate after falling two goals behind, somehow avoiding a cricket score as the hosts flunked an embarrassment of chances. It was a result borne out of hard graft and ridden luck at a historically fruitless venue.
Many fans have been unable to move past the apathy, disappointment and in some cases anger stemming from Tommy Craig’s appointment. Deemed uninspired when chosen to succeed Danny Lennon, many felt the board’s decision to appoint his number two was thrifty short-termism - particularly when Craig’s appointment was announced 24 hours after Lennon was informed his contract would not be renewed. A stringent selection process it was not.
In addition, the injury crisis has seen fans’ favourite Steven Thompson remain on the sidelines until December with a groin injury. As we enter November, the Paisley faithful are yet to see the starting eleven at their strongest.
John McGinn and Kenny McLean have regressed from standout starlets to regular grafters, but their quality is still there for all to see. However Sean Kelly continues to quietly grow in confidence and improve game on game. He is arguably a better player now than when he was called up for the Scotland Under 21 squad in March, playing in the 2-2 draw with Hungary alongside McGinn and McLean.
The meagre return of two wins and one draw has limited the potential for this section somewhat. The first win of the season away at Firhill was dramatic as it was desperately needed. On a Friday night under the lights, Saints fell behind in the first half; Callum Ball’s first goal for the club levelled the score, before Kenny McLean’s 94th minute penalty pinched the points with the final kick of the game. The best performance came at Motherwell on the opening day where the 1-0 defeat belied a bedazzling display from the Buddies.
Losing 2-0 to Hamilton in the second match of the season. Rarely has a St Mirren side ever been so toothless in the tackle while seemingly unable to pass the ball. Accies’ subsequent dominance has softened the impact of the defeat however it contributed to a horrid run of five straight defeats at the beginning of the season.
Best individual player performance:
Marian Kello’s heroics restricted Aberdeen to just the two goals at Pittodrie, allowing his colleagues in front of him to hilariously rob the Dons of two deserved points. Individual performances have been hard to come by quite frankly. Any flitting success has been the sum of a collective work ethic.
Most worrying contract:
That of the manager. Something just isn’t clicking and the controversy of Craig’s appointment may have doomed his tenure before it had started. The St Mirren board’s downright refusal to sack managers, combined with his two year deal makes for a potentially ugly remainder of his contract should results to continue as they are.
“Must do better” is an understatement. Any manager is judged on results, and seven points from eleven games is questionable – particularly when only one of those has been secured at home. In his defence he has had to contend with an ever-growing injury list containing a number of first team regulars. He is a fan of the 4-2-3-1 formation, with the immobile Callum Ball as the lone striker. Craig lambasts Saints’ attack on a near-weekly basis but neglects the glaring problems in defensive midfield and central defence. He seems able to motivate his embryonic squad at least, even if the product on the park leaves a lot to be desired.
• Written by Fraser Anderson for The Terrace Scottish Football Podcast website
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