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Mr November

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    Airdrie

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  1. I don't think it will be that extreme but losing that stability we had is potentially a big blow. Other than Peterhead, Clyde and Edinburgh City, we're going into a league where the other seven teams will fancy themselves to at least finish in the top four. Falkirk, Dunfermline, Queen of the South (to an extent) and possibly Kelty will all be going into the season with new managers so having the stability from Murray's spell would have been a big bonus. Montrose are a good example, as everyone else around them makes a load of changes they manage to keep the same core team and manager and have always been in the top four since they were promoted. I think this summer would have been tricky anyway even if Murray stayed, as some key players would have left anyway, but potentially starting from scratch in a very tough league is a real concern. I have faith in the board to pick the right man, I feel like they learned a lot from the Findlay disaster and it's clear how much improved we are without Stuart Millar's input, but it's far from ideal.
  2. Murray has undoubtedly improved us and while he’s had his doubters, he’s done a very good job overall. It’s a shame it’s ended like this, as I think all fans would agree this has been the most enjoyable season for a long time. As @AJ77 says though, no hard feelings and he put a lot of time and effort into turning Airdrie around, it’s a shame we just lacked that bit of quality in key moments to win promotion. Objectively it probably feels like the right time to move on from Murray’s point of view and it makes the play-off final seem like even more of a missed opportunity. The board got Murray’s appointment right and hopefully they can get this one right too. I’d like to think they’ll have some names in mind, it’s been clear for a while that Murray might go if we didn’t promotion and I’ve been saying for months that if we didn’t go up Raith seemed the likely option. Hopefully it doesn’t take too long to find a new manager either, we don’t want to go into June without a manager or most of the squad signed up. Murray was who I wanted last time but there aren’t any names who jump out this time around unfortunately.
  3. That’s interesting, as that’s where Murray struggled with us. When he first came in the team were in terrible form, the players seemed to lose something after that 4-3 game and we were a shambles defensively. Murray made us very organised and hard to beat but the football was dreadful. It was very much five at the back and we lost a ridiculous number of home games 1-0. Things improved in the following two seasons but again, our director of football was clearly signing players Murray didn’t trust which led to him changing the team a lot and shoehorning the guys he did trust in out of position. Last season was really poor for the first half, I think we were sitting 7th at one point after losing out first three games after the restart but bringing in Kyle Turner revitalised the team and Murray really turned things around after that. This season was the first time he’s fully built his own team and it shows. He clearly trusts the players and allows them to have a lot of freedom in how we play. Admittedly, Raith’s players will be a lot better than the jobbers he was lumbered with when he joined Airdrie and it would probably be less of an issue but it’s definitely something to be aware of.
  4. Still a long way to go but I see Lesser has what looks it’s first layer of grass now. It’s starting to look like a football stadium again, fingers crossed it’s sorted for August.
  5. Murray’s taken Airdrie to 5th, 3rd, 2nd and 2nd (with a much improved points per game). That’s not just stability, that’s steadily improving a team year on year while dealing with a director of football signings guys he clearly didn’t want and rebuilding a team every season. If he managed similar finished with Raith I reckon your fans would be pretty happy. He was a disaster at St. Mirren but he’s been the best Airdrie manager for almost two decades (that perhaps says more about how bad we’ve been!) and the best Dumbarton manager for possibly even longer, there’s not many managers available with that track record. I don’t really know why I’m arguing his case here, I want him to stay at Airdrie, but he’s not just a safe pair of hands to keep things ticking over. Is he going to come in and win the league straight away? Probably not, but he’s proven in two jobs that he can have his teams punching above their weight.
  6. We blew the play-offs but we finished 13 points clear of 3rd and 21 points clear of 4th, going the last 20 league games unbeaten. Cove were slightly better and had the edge in the games between us which made the difference but given Cove, Falkirk and Queen’s Park all presumably had bigger budgets than us, I’d say that’s very much punching above our weight in a 36 game season. I posted something similar on our thread but for the last three seasons our head to head record against Raith, Thistle and Cove has been the difference between the teams. We haven’t beaten any of them and have finished 2-7 points behind them. Given that Murray was working with a team he didn’t build entirely on his own and he was clearly working with some players he didn’t trust for the first two of those seasons, I’d say that’s pretty good going. It took him a while to get fully going with Airdrie but he’s steadily improved us each season and I’d say that’s more impressive than winning a league with Kelty. He’s calmed down slightly this season. The big difference from the 19-20 season was that Murray clearly didn’t fully trust our midfield, which led to us playing counter-attacking football which was often a bit stodgy or rushed. That 1-0 game at Starks where we must have taken about 50 long throws summer up our lack of creativity. This season he’s been allowed to build a team of his own and it’s pretty telling that he signed Easton, Frizzell, Agnew and McCabe (albeit he ended up at centre back), four ball-playing midfielders who Murray has given a lot of freedom to which has led to us playing very open (sometimes too open), expansive attacking football. Murray still has his moments, if we’re losing he just keeps chucking strikers on and the second leg against Montrose was very much no obvious positions or tactics, just get it forward and cause chaos but to be fair it worked. He’s done that a few other times this season too where we’ve ended up playing a 2-2-6 with no natural defenders as he’s chucked Fordyce up to win headers, it generally has mixed success but it’s a good laugh to watch.
  7. Yeah this is the big thing for me. That’s now three seasons in a row where we’ve finished just short of Raith, Partick Thistle and Cove without beating any of them. Ultimately we just weren’t as good as those teams, particularly in the first two seasons, and lacked a bit of quality in tough games against them. Up until the last game when we rested players we actually had a better record against the rest of the league than Cove. Repeating that will be hard and it’s always tricky to overcome teams with much bigger budgets like Falkirk and Dunfermline but that has to be the aim because as we’ve seen, the play-offs just aren’t for us!
  8. I'm sure there was talk that we were interested in McLean last summer. I like him, I'm not sure how good he actually is but he's always a handful for our defence and certainly brings something different to our current strikers. I feel like he's been around for a while now but he only turns 24 next month. I don't think we'd be able to bring in a player as good as Megginson but Gallagher, Smith, Salim, McLean and a quick backup like Jordan Allan would be strong for this level.
  9. Simon Murray was excellent in the play-offs but he only scored five league goals this season and while he's a much better striker, Megginson only scored one more non-penalty goal than Calum Gallagher. Interestingly Megginson and McAllister scored 24 non-penalty league goals between them while Gallagher and Smith managed 27 for us. Obviously penalties count but our strikers don't get the chance to boost their numbers that way. Gallagher has his faults but he's a reliable League One goalscorer and unfortunately players like Murray and Megginson are just out of our budget. Who knows if we'll keep them but Fordyce, a physical centre back and McCabe in midfield would be an excellent base to build from. We saw in the play-offs what a difference someone like Charlie Fox made at the back for Queen's Park.
  10. I think we usually get a list of players who haven’t been offered a new deal shortly after the season finishes, last year we got it on 26th May after the play-off final on the 21st May. We then usually hear about players who’ve re-signed or left over the next few weeks as well as the new signings. This year might take a bit longer if Murray has interest from elsewhere though.
  11. After seeing a picture of Dom Thomas in the Celtic end at Tannadice a few days after Dunfermline were relegated, my first thought was that I was quite pleased our games were before the Europa League final! I was hoping we’d hear something tomorrow night, perhaps we still will, but it may well be next week now. I expect we’ll be waiting a bit on certain players anyway who’ll no doubt have plenty of offers.
  12. Talking of the cups, it's quite funny looking back at the team that beat Motherwell last year. The ill-fated 3-5-2, Wardrop and Quitongo at wing back, a midfield three of McCabe, Agnew and man of the match Matty McDonald and Salim up top. Even Dean Ritchie got a (very short) run out!
  13. In terms of next season, obviously a lot depends on keeping key players but I'm hopeful the part-time contingent will stay along with some of the better full-time players. Currie has his issues in goal, we've seen that in the play-offs, but he's proven himself to be a good League One keeper and given some of the jobbers we've had in goals before, I'm happy to stick with what we have rather than risk a new keeper. Cantley has been fine when he's played so while an experienced backup would be nice, I'm pretty happy with both keepers. Watson's had a very good season overall and while he needs competition (the rumoured Scott Taggart would be an upgrade), he's a good right-back at this level. I thought this would be a big season for Kerr but he's struggled with injuries, though I'd be inclined to keep him for another year. Fordyce is an obvious must keep. Walker and Lyons can leave, Walker tries hard but ultimately isn't at the level we need just now and Lyons just hasn't worked out. Paterson and MacDonald's loans are up but I'd be keen to keep Paterson permanently since he's leaving Celtic, he struggled in the play-offs but is a good player with potential to develop. We need to improve at centre-back even if we keep Kerr and Fordyce, playing McCabe there worked well but we can't rely on someone else filling in there all season again. Midfield is probably the biggest concern. Easton, Frizzell and McCabe have had excellent seasons and will no doubt have a lot of interest elsewhere but obviously we'll do all we can to keep all three. Agnew struggled in the play-offs, possibly coming back from injury for important games too quickly, but he did pretty well before then. I'd rather he was a sub next season but a good option to have on the bench or to cover for injuries. Devenny and McGill's loans are up and Ritchie and McDonald have barely played. I'd happily keep McDonald as a squad filler, we need guys to pad out the squad and he's generally done well in his limited playing time. We need a couple of natural wide players this summer though. There's been plenty of times this season, the final included, where I think we lacked some pace and directness out wide from the bench. Salim and Smith are already under contract for next season which is good news. Hopefully Salim can have a full pre-season this summer, if he's fit then as the old cliché goes he'll be like a new signing. He has his doubters but Gallagher is a very good striker at this level and an obvious keep. I'd assume that Pyott will finally be away and while I wouldn't be surprised if he left Celtic, Afolabi's loan is up and I'd rather stick to the memories of his performance against Montrose than see another season of him. Allan and McGill are two I'm uncertain on. I'd probably keep Allan, he's not quite up to it as a main striker in a game like yesterday but he's a good option as a 4th/5th choice to bring on from the bench and he's generally done well against the weaker teams in the league. Gabby McGill was pretty rubbish in the play-offs and has been unlucky with injuries but he's probably done enough over the season to show he has decent potential. I'm still not sure how good he actually is but he brings some chaos which is always fun. Salim, Smith, Gallagher, McGill and Allan would probably be our strikers sorted for the season. Is that enough for a title challenge? Possibly, if Salim can score a few. Will we find a better striker outwith getting lucky with a young guy on loan? Probably not.
  14. I agree. Frizzell and Easton are brilliant but McInroy offered something slightly different to them that we weren’t able to replicate after he left. I think most fans would agree we had a strong 10/11, with the right wing position being the main area of concern with no obvious player for there. Gabby McGill had his moments out there but clearly isn’t a wide player and no one else seemed suited to playing there. The midfield diamond we had when McInroy was there was probably the most balanced team we had this season.
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