Two excellent articles at the weekend from JIMBO67 and JOBO gave us a break from the World Cup,and respectively a review of a brutal time in our history as well as a detailed rundown of how our players performed individually in Europe. Thanks,lads-we needed that!
Today,I’ll continue with the domestic theme,this time focusing on the way ahead as,it seems,Ange sees it. He has already advised us that he sees our way forward as an evolutionary process rather than a revolutionary one,with new players being added and current ones being allowed to leave as and when it suits.
Now,there is little doubt that the way forward for him and the club was a revolutionary one last season,but necessity is the mother of invention. There was a massive rebuild required fifteen to eighteen months ago which,along with the January additions,wasn’t just a revolution. It was damn near to a miracle! Last season’s success,for me,was as unexpected as the one in The Centenary Season. You may remember that we had lost Brian McClair,Judas,Alan MacInally and Murdo McLeod to the usual board ineptitude. We had also lost Danny McGrain when he retired. Our chances against the big-spending huns of Souness and co seemed minimal.
OH,YE OF LITTLE FAITH!!!
What a year that was,and what a delight to share it. Martin’s first season wasn’t actually such a surprise for me,even if it was a much more comprehensive doing that he handed out. In the process,handing his hat to Advocaat,a much unexpected bonus. Martin.of course,had a similar rebuild required,even if I thought much of it was unnecessary as he had clearly underestimated the incumbent talents of Petrov,Mjallby,Lubo,and MacNamara,as well as possibly Lambo and Henrik. He,however had little intention of building a team only to dismantle it as he went along. And since none of the players appeared willing to leave a happy and successful side,that was fine by all of us.
It was only perhaps a couple of years later that the necessity to balance signings and departures seemed to become the order of the day. And that is a game plan that Ange has picked up on-with the clear intention of refining and improving it! We saw two years ago how the performances of good players can fall off a cliff when they would rather be elsewhere. Edouard and Christie,in particular,spring to mind. In this one,I’m willing to give Ajer a pass as his performances were well up to standard,even in a failing team. But AP is clearly hell-bent on avoiding that trap in the future!
In the summer,he strengthened us on the wing with Haksabanovic,who has IMO been excellent for us so far. Capable of playing on either wing or even in midfield,and chipping in with a healthy number of goals and assists. The midfield saw the addition of Mooy and Abildgaard,and at the back we brought in a young Argentinian left back as well as competition/back-up in goal with Siegrist. Additionally,we took Jenz on loan with an option to buy,and Matt O’Riley’s old pal hasn’t let us down either
Indeed,of the summer signings,I would only hesitate to question the performances of Abildgaard. The others have been well up to the task,and continued Ange’s Midas touch. And yet,he hasn’t finished! He speaks of buying players to improve the team,then when the time is right,buy more players-but at an even higher level than before!-and move on those he had previously signed to make way for them. And at a huge profit,given their improvement during their time with us.
On the face of it,this isn’t much different from the Lawwell Moneyball experiment-except that Lawwel was only interested in kissing frogs and hoping that one of his managers could perform a miracle. Which didn’t happen often enough to balance out the dross that he signed. Already we have tied up the deal for the lesser-spotted left-sided centre back,in Yuki Kobayashi. He will join us on freedom of contract on Thursday to get to know his team mates and our pattern of play. 6’2” and 22yo,all we need is for him to match up to Ange’s current record and we will have a new favourite at the back. Alastair Johnston has all but signed up for us,and he is currently playing right back for Canada at the world cup. Add in Bernabei and Jenz,and that is a deliberate policy of refreshing each position along the backline,and at a combined cost of between £4-5 million.
Peanuts,in the great scheme of things,and I doubt if Ange’s combined spend since his arrival has yet matched the money we received for Ajer,Christie and Edouard. Which is some going! Yet he intends,it seems,to finance future squad refreshments by moving on any players who are showing dissatisfaction in Glasgow,maybe won’t listen enough to what he is saying,or who he simply thinks are surplus to requirements. While this will become more common as time moves on under him,I think he has earmarked Juranovic as one who is surplus to requirements,and he is probably correct.
Now,for the avoidance of doubt,I really like the player. He has it all. Pace,tackle,dribble,cross. He takes a mean penalty too,with a much higher success rate than others in the squad. But what he seems to lack is defensive awareness,too often caught out of position or on the back foot. Ralston can do what Jura can,but just not quite with as much quality-but he is caught out of position etc,less often. And Alistair Johnston is likely to be a step up as well. All good so far,if all goes to plan!
I’m not sure that we need any additions in midfield at the moment,we are well off in that area. Though we have seen how that can change with just a couple of injuries. On which,I expect CalMac to be back in full training either this week or next,with the intention of returning against Aberdeen on 17/12. We are equally well off on the flanks,but there is little doubt that our central strikers are struggling to match their achievements from last season. Maeda and Kyogo have both discussed it,in fact. And G-Mak seems to be bloody cursed at the minute! They are still doing everything right,just as last season,but it hasn’t quite clicked yet,bar on occasion.
Am I concerned? No.not really. Form is temporary while class is permanent. Once they get back into gear,I expect them to batter at last season’s goals tallies. And when the support players know that the strikers are back on form,that just makes everyone’s job so much easier!
And don’t forget-we are still nine points clear after only fifteen games of the season gone. Despite that,we haven’t actually been performing quite up to standard,not like we did earlier in the year anyway. The huns have hit the panic button and hired a new manager again-I need to take my shoes and socks off to figure out how many they have had in their existence!-but with no money to spend in the first place as well as these new FSR rules to negotiate or subvert. And damned little in the way of talent to raise any,either.
So the players are back in training and looking forward to the rest of the season. The manager is scheming away at fiendish plans to consolidate our supremacy. The board,it seems,are 100% supportive. The fans certainly are,and I think it’s safe to say that the squad as a whole is too. Hard to believe that this time two years ago we were preparing for a League Cup tie against Ross County at home. Where we would be humiliated.
Above article by BMCUWP