Well the fat lady has sung and we have been pipped to the title by 1 measly point!! It appears that my fears have been realised with the points we spilled over the month of December effectively costing us this title. To draw with ICT and Dundee Utd in the manner in which we did was criminal and how these 4 points lost have come back to haunt us. Yes, the shock defeat away to ICT this month and possibly Samaras’s missed penalty at Castle Greyskull has contributed also to this conclusion being reached but December is the month which cost us most.
The flip side of the coin (and once the disappointment has subsided) is that there is something exciting building at Paradise both on and off the field. I happened to be watching clips of our early season matches and the change in the team over the course of the season has been for the better. Comparing our starting line-ups from our first league game against ICT and our last league game against Motherwell does not actually tell you the whole story:
Zaluska, Cha, Loovens, Hooiveld, Mulgrew, Fortune, Brown, Ledley, McCourt, Samaras and Maloney (Forrest and Juarez came on as subs)
Forster, Wilson, Majstorovic, Loovens, Izaguirre, Forrest, Brown, Ki, Mulgrew, Hooper and Samaras (Maloney, McCourt and Juarez came on as subs)
Over the season we have seen the emergence of Mulgrew as an able centre-half, the development of Rogne continue, the technical ability of Izaguirre, the drive and passion of Kayal, the goals of Commons and the partnership of Hooper and Stokes. This is the foundation of our team and it can only be expected that we will add to this over the summer whilst hopefully holding on to this nucleus. I wrote in an earlier blog that Lennon has built a young team who should be allowed to grow and win together. The average age of the squad is around 25 and this years experience, whilst still raw, is an experience which can be used to ensure future success. Lets hope that none of our “assets” require to be sold in order to balance the books.
Upon his appointment Lennon infamously said that he wanted to bring back the thunder. With some help from the much publicised off the field matters and the shockingly biased reporting of these matters, there is a definite sense of unity between the club and the fans which was demonstrated clearly in the 50th minute of the last league game. Although the league was gone the support from the stands was nothing short of sensational with a stadium wide huddle (involving the suits as well) taking hold and those watching on from the media were left open mouthed as two fingers were firmly stuck up to them. Yes we are disappointed that this title has gone but no we do not lack belief in our manager or his team. Lennon has brought a style of play to the club which is exciting and free flowing, something which has been missing over recent seasons. His position still remains uncertain but i would bet my house on him remaining and leading us into next season which on the balance of things will be just as important and pressurised as the one which has just gone.
As Lennon has stated though “This isn’t the end, this is just the beginning!”