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  1. If we're not signing any more players and it doesn't seem like we are I actually think our best eleven is easy to pick. And this follows almost regardless of the opposition. It's Parry behind Elsden, Balatoni and Rumsby in a three. It's Deveney and Munro as the wing-backs. It's Nicoll, Cuddihy and Gomis in the centre. And it's Goodwillie and Cunningham up front. It has to be a back three because any two will be too slow to cover the relatively large space that it'd have to cover. Same goes in midfield. We need to compensate for being slow by leveraging our experience and physicality to make it difficult for teams to play through us. We can't have hugely inexperienced players like Kennedy and particularly Splaine in that line. And never ever both of them in there at the same time. Our interests in staying in the league outweigh any interest we have in developing either player, whatever their potential. Deveney and Munro, however inexperienced, are the best options we have for either side. Deveney is athletic. I think he gives us a decent route up the park as well as being aggressive enough to offer us something in defence. Munro mightn't be as good a player but he's stalky and plays with enough aggression to do a job. Sure, he'll get beat here and there, but the three behind are a better insurance policy than just Rumsby or Elsden being stood between him and Parry. And we can't do without Cuddihy in the centre of the park. His legs, his ability to keep the ball and his experience are just too important to have him tucked in at right wing-back. Cunningham's pace gives you something very tangible to rely on. He does deliver albeit inconsistently, such is his inexperience and such is the fact of him having been moved all of the shop. Tade and Jones just can't be banked on in the same way, albeit they can come on and change things in the best case scenario. And Goodie picks himself obviously. At a push... we could suffer to have Cuddihy as the right wing-back and Kennedy in the centre. Or Deveney on his bad side with Love as the left wing back. Maybe Jones up with Goodie depending on the opponent. That's about the limit of our flexibility week on week in my opinion. One up top. Four at the back. Flat five in midfield out of possession? Forget it. The jury is in. 3-0 Dumbarton. 3-0 Falkirk. 5-0 Montrose. And you can add the 3 shipped against Peterhead because the 3-5-2 minus Elsden is as bad as any alternative. But we still got two back then. We concede too many with a four. And we don't score enough with one up. It seems very clear to me.
  2. Very raw. Beautiful game etc. An overdue drubbing by Montrose. It won't be the first we'll suffer this season either. Particularly as we come into winter. While it mightn't seem like the biggest factor the fact that we've played mostly on sticky plastic parks until now has done us a favour. For example against Cove and Queen's Park. It has stopped teams playing with the kind of tempo that easily undoes a largely arthiritic midfield and defence like ours. Combine the fast conditions today with our incomprehensible team selection and approach to the game and it could only be that the points were on a plate for Montrose. They could've taken us for eight in the way they did some eleven years ago. And we could've had no complaints. What else can you say? Rumbsy at right back. Livingstone at left back. Abysmal performances. And the decision to revert to a back four against Montrose of all sides was a terrible one. The only way we beat a team like that is by crowding the park out to hell. Not playing with big spaces between defenders. The midfield was an utter rabble as well. A formless mass at times. We're changing the side in shape and staff terms every week. There's only one way that ends. In doings like today. God help us up at Cove if it's a slick pitch and Hartley send them out with a rocket up their backside after today. It could easily be another doing.
  3. Did it? Maybe that's right. All I know is we were looking at bringing in more loans than just the boy from Kilmarnock. If that's closed off as an option now then... Aye. That's a bit of a worry.
  4. Very raw. I think we got a few things wrong today. Not least having both Kennedy and Splaine in midfield again. Those are two extremely inexperienced players. Neither with any outstanding physical attribute that'd let him impose himself on a game. I see plenty of potential in Kennedy. Not as a throw-in taker mind you. But we'll never develop it in the way that we've been able to develop the potential in Barry Cuddihy who was a relatively inexperienced player when he first signed with us. That is, if we're not partnering Kennedy with experienced midfielders who can get us a foothold in games. Worryingly, I'm not sure we have any of those. I include Gomis in that estimation. But he starts ahead of Splaine every week in my book as a matter of balance. Airdrie obviously made a point of a high-tempo start and undermined the fragile organisation we've had in our changeably staffed 3-5-2. If that was calculated then it was a smart move. Our shift to a 4-4-2 only improved us insofar as it simplified the roles and the discipline for the players. I'm not sure we'd have fared any better if we'd started in that shape. There's a lot more you could say but nothing that hasn't been said a hundred times already. We need another fit forward, centre midfielder and centre back if we want to have a side that can hold up in a set system each week. We've improved mind you. We're every so slightly better at the back than we were at the start of the season. And Goodwillie's fitness seems restored so we're much more threatening. And we've took the edge off the full-back problem a bit too. But there's still a way to go. I understand we are still looking at loans. Hopefully those deals get made.
  5. I think we saw the best and worst of both teams this afternoon. It strikes me that Queen's Park will have always have trouble against teams that congest the back third of the park like we did today. Their midfielders don't play to punch through the centre and their forwards tend to drift wide or deep to receive the ball. They have loads of quality in midfield and attack of course: Brown, Gillespie, Longridge, Murray, Longstaff, Connell, Smith. On a faster surface and against a team who're not as stuffily set up they can set a mean tempo and open teams up very effectively I'm sure. Even today where our shape and the slow conditions made it tougher, they could've had four or five. That is, if only they had a forward in their line whose game was playing on the shoulder of defenders and being a threat to the heart of the opposing team's defence. In metaphorical terms, Queen's Park's are a Christmas tree without a star at the top of it. They're middle-heavy with decorations. And I think their supporters are right to focus on McHugh's role. Swapping him out with a forward who can play a bit better with his back to goal and trouble centre backs a bit more would do the team a lot of favours I think. Even just making to sure have players like Connell and Longstaff on the pitch instead would probably be more conducive to winning games and to killing teams off. I don't think McHugh's a great fit. On Clyde. I'm just glad we didn't lose in the end because we played well for the most part. I thought David Goodwillie was easily the man of the match. What an uptick we've seen in his work-rate and mobility over the past few weeks. That's hugely encouraging. The back three looks a lot better with Elsden but still suffers from having the lethargic Rumsby in it. I think we're just one reasonably athletic centre back away from having a fairly strong pool of central defenders now. That is, irrespective of whether we play a tight three or a two in the centre. The midfield three were makeshift of course. Splaine, being the deepest of the three for a change, and enjoying relatively little pressure when in posession was able to show his quality. We saw some fantastic composure and passing from both him and Kennedy at times. Then there was Cunningham who played the fulcrum's role well enough. With Jones being useful and frustrating in equal measure ahead of him. I will say about Jones that I thought he was an important part of how we played today. We had a lot of players behind him who can be very accurate with their passes to him and there was enough of that to keep Queen's Park from hemming us in, knowing they'd only be a flick on away from a leg race with Goodwillie or Cunningham. I thought first and second debutants Deveney and Tade done well. The former looks solid enough technically and he got up and down the pitch well. I thought he defended aggressively and showed that he's capable of adding to attacks. Tade still looks like an injured player but you saw in his movement and instincts, which were enough to win us a penalty, shades of the player we know that his fitness is masking. Good solid shift from Barry Cuddihy on the right I'd just add finally. Quick into the feet of Murray at times. Came inside and caused problems. Not that you'd expect less from such a good and experienced player. I think we lost the first because we lost our discipline. Queen's Park's equaliser was no different to Alloa's a few weeks back. We were sucked into the play on one side of the park. Our midfield and defensive lines basically blended into one and acres of space was then available to anyone who fancied a shot from outside the box. I think Parry, like Mitchell before him, could've done better in the end. And then there was the penalty. I'd like to see it again but to be honest Rumsby's never been good at defending in situations where some agility is required. He passes muster when he's got to win headers on halfway or when he's got a few yards to anticipate the ball coming into a forward's feet. But in a tight three against teams like Cove and Queen's Park who'll always make chances and who're nipping it about in front of you, you can see him doing things like that time and time again. In the same way that Nicoll, for everything else he offers, will always be a red card risk and be liable to get drawn into play that he shouldn't bother with, Rumsby's liable to foul players in the box if there's a fives game going on in there. Anyway. I'm quite encouraged despite the draw. I'd like to see us carry on with that shape and system. At its best it lets us play very directly while still bringing out the neater stuff we're capable of in the midfield and final third. If we can find just one more centre back and maybe a centre midfielder with discipline enough to stay in front of the defence then I think we could start to get in amongst it. I cringe to admit it but Ray Grant at Stirling is a readymade player for the midfield job I have in mind. Whether it's Kennedy, Splaine, Nicoll or Gomis, by reason of their inexperience or, ahem, surplus of experience, they'll try our patience a bit more than he would in that sitting role.
  6. QP have played with a great tempo in a lot of their matches this season. However toothless they are, the movement and quality they've got in midfield could have us chasing the game quite a bit. A hot day and a sticky pitch like the Cove game would do us nicely. I would go back to the 3-5-2 with Elsden available. Same team as against Cove. Maybe with Cuddihy in for Nicoll.
  7. Auditioning for the role of Chewbacca.
  8. It was encouraging to hear from Lennon in his post-match that we worked on the new shape during the week. I don't know if we did the same prior to the drubbings we got off of Raith and Airdrie in the same shape but it certainly didn't show up as if we did back then. Today was different of course. Outside of the first few minutes we looked quite disciplined in the shape. Assuming we don't do too much more recruitment I think the happy thing about the 3-5-2 might be that it can be quite versatile around the players we have and the different approaches we'll need to have to playing better and worse teams. On its face the two up means Goodie won't be hopelessly isolated. The tight three in the middle means that we won't have to choose just two central midfielders. That's good because any combination from our squad just looks a bit slow, small or inexperienced on paper in my opinion. And then with the wing-backs and tight three you might be more able stop big spaces appearing and to stop defenders getting engaged in races to the ball that they won't win. If we keep drilling it and we sign a few more, I think it might end up being our best choice. But we'll see. Few trialists in today. I'm quite sure we'll sign some more. Be interesting to see where they fit it.
  9. That was a very pleasing performance from our point of view. We kept to the principles of the Falkirk approach in prioritising defence over attack and in being set-up to counterattack. However, we made some changes to the system and to the shape used at Falkirk. Some enforced. Some by choice. And while Cove just about managed to jam a square peg into a round hole in the end, you'd have to say that our change to a back three was vindicated. Particularly insofar as it allowed us to frustrate the very good interplaying forwards and midfielders that Cove have. It was horses for courses in that sense. Also, while it lasted, having someone playing closer to Goodie certainly made us more menacing on the counter. Although Cove's sluggish and easily flustered defence played a part in that too. As did the conditions. I could add that the use of wing-backs and the configuration of the midfield three were improvements insofar as they got us up the park quite well at times. They also gave good protection to the backline. Nicoll was particularly useful in that respect. Although he was managed into position a fair few times and tired as things went on. Kennedy done a lot better in the middle where he belongs and steadily grew into the game. He used the ball very well and showed some aggression in his play which has been hirtherto unseen. That bodes well. And Gomis done a decent enough job as the most advanced of the three. Having him further up loses you a player who'll reliably win back possession but also gets rid of the risk that he'll overplay in a bad area and thereby undo the good defending that the team has done. I know some will pile onto Rumsby for giving away another penalty. However, any defence set-up as ours was and which has to defend for the prolonged periods which ours did operates at an unusually high risk of conceding penalties. For that reason I wouldn't be too critical of him. He was at the limits of his ability in dealing with the players Cove have. And frankly I could see Balatoni or Elsden doing exactly the same thing. Indeed, Elsden was lucky not to concede a penalty by hugging a Cove player to the ground in the first half. Of course he became the hero of the afternoon didn't he? It's an ominous thing to lose a central defender at the time we did. Particularly when the next action could be a quickly taken dead-ball. For some eighty-odd minutes you've got three guys coordinating with one another quite well. Then all of a sudden they've another man to induct into the set-up. It was a perfect storm scenario. And Elsden weathered it perfectly. We'll go to Peterhead a much weaker side without him. And his absence will make a performance in the style of today's hard to replicate. Although that would be true in any case. Everyone must've noticed how we fell out of the game in the last twenty-five minutes or so. Goodwillie tired badly. As did Nicoll. And Cunningham sunk into midfield, ending up just as unable to link with Goodwillie as he was at Falkirk. Elsden would be my MOTM today for some superb defending. Nicoll just as good. And a decent performance from the goalie too albeit not without a nervy moment or two. And David Goodwillie's contribution shouldn't be forgotten. While you might say that he only exploited some very poor errors, he was still the single minded and clinical player we saw against Alloa. That was what we needed for three points today. Thinking about the season as a whole, we won't be able to soak up the pressure we did against Cove in the latter parts of today's game or the pressure that we did against Falkirk without conceding goals. In other words, we can't set out to play like we did today every single week. There's still a big question hung over how we beat the teams we're closer to in quality terms: Peterhead, East Fife, Dumbarton, Airdrie. We don't have it in us to menace teams for ninety minutes. We're suited to counterattack because of Goodie's condition. And we're setting-up around our weaknesses. I think we still need another two or three players. One of which must be a centre back in Elsden's mould. But ideally he'd be a little more sprightly. We probably need another (fit!) forward and midfielder as well. As for Cove, I think they will be a different proposition when their injured players return. They need to do something about their defence. There are some good individuals in there for sure. But they're as bad as our lads at knocking it around. Difference is, they're being asked to play high up the park and in a four without a lot of midfield protection. You're asking for it a bit there I think. But then again, you've got as good a selection of creative midfielders and forwards as anyone in the league so if you're going to score a load each week then perhaps it's a moot point.
  10. While the lead has been gifted to us, you can see the virtue in a second forward and a third central defender. Cove are the only team I've seen so far whose forwards play quite close together and show a really good understanding and intelligence. Their midfield link well with them at times too. The third body back with them has definitely stopped them at a couple of important moments. And Nicoll in front, micromanaged though he has been, has been a good shield so far. On the flipside, players like Neill while they're excellent at the basics, have errors in them on sticky pitches and with space round about them. That's been put up in lights today. All that said, Cove are still good enough to pull it back, so we should be just as cautious in the second half. Keep it tight for twenty.
  11. Looks like we've gone 3-5-2. You can understand two up given how much pressure we'd have to soak up otherwise. And the extra man at the back too, while keeping three in the middle arguably papers over the cracks that'd show with a two in either line. Cove have lethargic back line and they're missing a few of course. What we'll have to worry about is keeping the marking right within the shape and all of that. Some nervous moments early on in that regard. That said, a good, if easy, counter attacking opener is in line with how you'd want us to pick off Cove. Bit worried about holding onto it but let's see.
  12. Opening up to Cove means being beaten. Radical changes to the shape and system every week mean being beaten. Mainly for those two reasons I think we should keep to the approach taken at Falkirk despite its failure. Consider also that Cove are travelling down. They're not a fully full-time team like Falkirk. And they'll be playing on a bone-dry plastic pitch in hot weather. Those things bode much better for the Falkirk approach. Lastly, without Cuddihy and Splaine we'll be an even more diminished side in attacking terms than we were against Falkirk, hard as that may be to imagine. Smash and grab should be the objective here a la Montrose and Alloa. And we'll need Goodie and Cunningham to play out of their skin. Maybe throw on Jones late on to see if we can nick it.
  13. I rate him more highly than that. And I expect Hibs could source a keeper whose ability would place him in the lower half of the championship without having to pay a transfer fee if they wanted to. I don't see Mitch as having a lot of limitations outside of his height. He's not short of course. But he doesn't have the sheer size of frame and athleticism that goalkeepers often need in order to get to the highest levels of the SPL or down south. A bit like Soutar at Hearts, he's a player whose development was stunted by injury and now that he's been able to get a couple of seasons behind him he's grown in quality just as he might've but for those injuries. He's shown himself to be an athletic, decisive and commanding goalkeeper and a great shotstopper too. Memorably, two or three opposition managers have used the expression 'world-class' - albeit a bit cheaply! - to describe saves he has made these past couple of years. He's only played poorly in the last couple of games in my opinion. And we might as well put that down to a move being on his mind. In almost every game inbetween he's been superb.
  14. I follow you. Other Falkirk supporters have told me the same. Albeit that aside from the Ayr game you mention 'shite' seems a bit strong. In the round there's no doubt he's been better for Clyde than for Falkirk of course. I accept that. If Clyde let a player go and he then becomes an excellent player at the same level or better I tend to reflect on that as our failure. There are some exceptions to that rule of course. However, a newly injury-free goalkeeper like Mitch who has always had a good attitude would be one I looked back on and cringed about were I a Falkirk supporter. Not that Falkirk have had too much bother with goalies since mind you.
  15. This is probably as agreeable an end to Mitch's time at Clyde as there could be. We're getting a good replacement and a fee. Potentially a player or two on loan as well. Falkirk were silly to let him away when they did. He's an excellent goalkeeper. There are only a few you'd swap him for in the whole country.
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