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Diamonds are Forever

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Everything posted by Diamonds are Forever

  1. Our away performances have got steadily worse this season. Dunfermline away was a decent performance and we could have taken something, Dundee Utd away we were okay but didn't look like ever taking anything, and Arbroath away the scoreline says it all. Really important we start to turn that around. I'm confident we'll pick up points at home this season as we've already shown, but there's still a question mark over whether we can go away to venues like Cappielow and get a result playing how we play. What sounds like a weakened Morton team probably presents our best opportunity yet, but it will be a very tough game. I think Muirhead will be a real threat as we aren't the strongest in the air. Will be an interesting game.
  2. Is anyone saying that? It's not even been a discussion from what I can see because we don't play with 2 strikers. In any event, his goals and assists last year in that same position hardly give evidence that he's 'wasted' there. The defensive cover he provides out wide shouldn't be overlooked either. I think if Saturday's goal shows us anything it's that the actual formation on paper in the forward areas doesn't matter too much given how fluid it is and how much movement there is. I think we need Gal central (with or without a partner) for obvious reasons and McMaster sitting centrally as he pins it all together. Where the rest go or end up when we have the ball will vary from move to move.
  3. Looking at the next 4 fixtures, I think they will really show us where we'll be this season - as in just trying to avoid relegation or pushing for the play-off. There are no easy games obviously and we could conceivably lose the next 4, however as a run of winnable games go in this league it's as good as you're going to get, based on early season form anyway. It's against all the teams beneath us who all look in poor form (Ayr's win against QP being the exception). I'd say 8+ points from the 4 games would be a good indicator that we'll have nothing to worry about this season. Less than that and we can still do well, but would probably be a sign that we should be looking downwards more than upwards. The away game to Morton is also big because, although it's a bit cliche, I'm still a bit worried that we'll struggle away at the more 'traditional' grounds like Gayfield, Cappielow and Somerset, especially as the pitches get heavier. I think we'll win plenty of home games but I think our season will be defined by how many points we can get away from home.
  4. Interesting reading this from the outside. It's scary how quickly after getting relegated that some fans have already accepted you are a 'play-off hopeful' type team rather than a geniune promotion contender. I can say from plenty experience (10 years to be precise) that that mindset becomes very hard to shift once it sets in. We never really did shift it and it was a bit of play-off fortune that got us up. I know Falkirk seem to finally have got their act together, and Hamilton have spent a bit of money. But to be 10 points behind already is pretty poor, and the attitude that points at home to them are a 'bonus' seems very accepting of mediocrity. I don't believe Bartley would have taken the job if he thought the limit of their capabilities was going to be finishing 3rd and hoping to win the play-off lottery. Would still fully expect Queens to reach the play-offs and then who knows, but a bit surprised to see fans already lower their expectations so much.
  5. Interesting reading the comments on 'Murrayball', and I generally agree with you. The only exception would be if the game is totally gone and playing a more conventional way just isn't going to get you enough goals. Our play-off against Montrose 2 years ago was the perfect example, 4-1 down with 20 minutes to go and save your season, the only way back was try something wild and hope it spooks them. I think we ended up with 5 or 6 strikers on the pitch. But in games like today where you're 1 goal behind with 20 minutes to play, and with good options to pick from on the bench, just sticking a bunch of guys forward is lazy management. You'd like to think that is where a manager will find a small weakness to exploit or have a pattern of play they've worked on. Having said all that, in the 5 league games before today you'd scored 5 goals in the last 10 minutes. Not seen any of the games so no idea what Murray did, but I'm sure he'd argue it worked.
  6. Credit to McCabe, he rightly got a bit of stick last week (for his playing performance more than anything managerial) but got the big calls spot on this week. Sorted out the defence and took himself out the midfield. As Mr November says we are getting much better at bouncing back from terrible results with solid performances and that is down to the management team. We're obviously going to lose a lot more this season so that will be crucial to doing well this season.
  7. I agree regarding the balance of the squad, and I think we need more strength at the back, however I'd disagree that thinking Ballantyne is better at left back is 'mad'. I know it's only been one season so a relatively small sample size compared to his whole career, but I don't think anyone who watched us last season could disagree that he was much better at left back than right back. I remember posting around Christmas time that I was really underwhelmed by him. He had 3 red cards from that position and it culminated in the 2nd match down at Palmerston where we lost a goal from him sleeping at the back post, McCabe changed it after that and he was like a man possessed the rest of the season on the left. The team in general improved after that from a few changes so that may have been a factor in his improvement, but I've no real desire to see him switched back across. The last time Callum Smith played against Ballantyne as a right back he scored a hat-trick, so I think I'd rather he was kept well away on Saturday! Most teams play with wide attackers who cut inside these days, so in some ways being on your 'wrong side' as a full-back helps as they are cutting onto your stronger side. And going forward we're not really a side who needs full-backs to swing crosses in, Ballantyne driving forward and cutting inside and linking up has been a strength for us and even got himself a goal from it against ICT. Sounds like the boy from Hibs will be more of a right back which gives us Watson/Megwa on the right and Ballantyne/Hancock on the left, which seems fine to me. I still think we're short of one dominant centre back, when we're at home and have a lot of the ball I think Fordyce and ATS will be fine, but Saturday highlighted what we probably knew which is that when we're put under pressure physically I don't think we're strong enough. If things don't go as hoped this year I think that's where we'll look back and say we didn't strengthen enough.
  8. That seems to the fit the players we have but with a lack of width I think we're going to hit even more of a brick wall than we've hit in the Dundee Utd and Arbroath games. Teams will just sit in and watch us pass the ball about at the back and midfield and we'll have no way through or round it. With Ballantyne an 'inverted full-back' Watson would be our only source of width, he can put a defent ball in (Gal's goal versus Partick) but it's not going to be a regular threat or route to goal, even with 2 up front. I don't have any better solutions mind you! Last season we had McGill on fire and Smith in the wider areas, Smith wasn't at his best for much of last year but he's still a level above McGregor and O'Connor even when off form. And McGill is playing like a shadow of the player at the moment. The key for us is getting the first goal, that's true to some extent for every team but more so for us because teams will happily sat and watch us pass it about and defend a lead and then pick us off. We were very unlucky in that sense on Saturday as Gal's goal would have changed the game, although that still doesn't excuse what came after. I was critical of a couple of aspects at the weekend but I'm still not hugely concerned, I've seen enough to know we'll be competitive in most games. What was always going to be the case though was that teams worked us out quite quickly so just like last season it will be a test of McCabe's ability and willingness to adapt our style but still keep it in line with how he wants to play.
  9. It's extremely frustrating knowing that Everton will stink the place out this season yet again, but in all probability will manage to avoid relegation due to having 3 awful teams below them. Luton have no chance, Sheffield Utd seem like certainties too. The only hope is Burnley have a bit about them. They've only played the top 2 plus Villa so far so hopefully against some poorer teams they are able to compete.
  10. And good goalies, which Rae certainly is, would expect to prevent a fair chunk of them. I don't know what average success rate is for 1 on 1s but I'd guess close to 50%. I'm not criticising him for conceding a 1 on 1 in isolation, I'm just saying that I think he makes it too easy by how he commits himself, and adds a huge level of risk of getting sent-off. I wasn't trying to make some major point, there are far bigger issues and I really like him as a keeper, but it's something I've noticed quite a bit and I get nervous any time a striker goes through on goal because of the way he deals with them.
  11. I quite clearly said there were numerous other issues that led to the goals yesterday that are of more concern. And was also very clear that it's something I've noticed he has done for a while (hence being sent-off for it twice in half a season). But it's possible to look at goals and see numerous factors that led to it. You picked out about 4 players who were to blame, there's no reason why a goalie should be exempt. Again, he's by no means the primary cause, but I think the 2nd goal he makes it too easy by commiting himself, and arguably the 4th too. Regardless of the shambolic nature of the defending that led to him being exposed, I think having a striker surround him 3 times in one match to tap into an empty net suggests that whatever he is doing in those situations is maybe not very effective. That doesn’t excuse the team for putting him in that position, but he has to deal with what he's presented with.
  12. It's not just the perception though (which is still hugely important as the manager), there was a fair chance the keeper saves it and there's a rebound, or the ball comes off the post like with Gabby's chance earlier, and we'd have no-one there to clear up. It's also the fitness issue, I assume he chucked it because he had nothing left in the tank, in which case he shouldn't still be on the pitch, and arguably shouldn't he starting. It's not like it was extra-time or in a silly amount of stoppage time, it was the 88th minute. I'm also not at all convinced at Rae with one-on-ones. He is always lunging out at players with a split-step. This technique has already got him sent-off twice last season (with a few near misses too), and makes it so easy for players to go round him (or get him sent-off). It happened 3 times yesterday. The 2nd goal in particular is one where if he just stands up and makes the guy beat him I think it's unlikely that he scores, and the 4th too. He's a big guy with great reactions, surely you stand your ground and make the guy beat you? Which also removes the risk of being red carded. There were clearly numerous other issues before it got to that point so I'm not blaming him solely for the goals, but I think he makes it far too easy for attackers in those scenarios, they know if they just knock the ball by him they are getting a goal or they are getting him sent-off.
  13. 10 red cards is across McCabe's time as manager, 3 of which are this season. It was 'only' 7 last season. Still rubbish clearly. As you say if the laws were applied like they are now the 90s team would end up with 8 players on the pitch every game. As mentioned our red cards now are mainly just for being stupid, whereas the 90s was more for physical violence!
  14. Who is making him a scapegoat? We didn't lose because of that 3rd goal, and the chances are he'd have got nowhere near him anyway. But to immediately give up as soon as the guy was away from him is pathetic and sets a dreadful example to his team. How can he have a go at players if he feels they aren't putting enough effort in in future games when players have now seen that? He also brought himself back into the team at the expense of a young guy who has done pretty well, yet it's clear from that he wasn't fit enough to last the game.
  15. I think it's 10. 4 straight red (2 x Rae and 1 x Ballantyne, 1 x Smith) and the rest all 2nd yellows. It's the 2nd yellows that frustrate me so much. Straight reds can often be a fraction of a second out, or a split second decision so are sometimes more forgivable. But the second yellows just show a naivety, if you're on a yellow you know what happens when you go near someone, they'll be hitting the deck and shouting for a red like Connor Smith in the play-offs, like against Frizzell the other week and then today. We have to be smarter than that, but every time it happens our players seem surprised. It's hard to know how much of that McCabe takes responsibility for because it's individual players doing daft things, but the more it happens to more players the manager has to start taking the brunt of it.
  16. Fair comment, mid-table was the wrong phrase. Given where Newcastle finished last season, for them to maintain that or improve that I don't think Barnes is the level of player they need. For me he's a level below that and won't really add much that they didn't already have, albeit he'll be a perfectly reasonable squad option to have.
  17. Just seen the goals back, McCabe at the 3rd goal is an embarassment, it's either a lack of effort, which from the manager is shameful. Or he's not fit enough, which isn't much better. Fordyce looks like an old man running but at least put the effort in to try and get back, or seems to, he ends up out of camera shot pretty quick!
  18. Player for player that Newcastle side is miles off where their expectations will be this season. Gordon and Barnes are mid-table quality at best. I probably wouldn't even have Gordon that high to be honest, one of those players where you just don't see it - running fast in a straight line seems to be his one attribute. Defence and goalie are pretty average too, and Callum Wilson will get you some goals but he's hardly going to push you to the next level. They overachieved last season by knowing their limitations and playing a style of football to get results. It was also a perfect storm of Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool all being dreadful and freeing up the top 4. I think they'll probably finish 7th or 8th at best this year, and I can't see their owners accepting that.
  19. It's been discussed before but if you look across his time with us he's never been particularly impressive in midfield, in my opinion anyway. He was great filling in at centre back 2 seasons ago, however before he moved back there he didn't show very much in midfield and we started that season terribly. And then last season our best form was when he wasn't playing and McMaster was. In total fairness I didn't think he should have started in the play-offs, but he did and was really good. But this season again he's not looked great in the games I've seen him, his last league performance he went off at 1 nil down to Partick, Aiken and McMaster come on, run the midfield and we play great and win 2-1. I've always thought his career trajectory before he came to us looked weird aswell, was only in his mid/late twenties but was quickly dropping down the levels, resulting in joining us (a mid-table League 1 side at the time). He's always had the technical ability and seems a good character, so why did he drop down so quickly? I just think physically he's not really effective in midfield. He's slow, can't really get about the pitch and players run off him too easily. On the ball I think he takes too long, and although he can pick a pass, it's usually from 20 yards inside his own half with the whole opposition in front of him, so it's ineffective. So far this season the only league minutes he's played were 37 against Partick and 64 against Dunfermline, he's then been injured for the last month with his only game being a game against Stirling Uni. Aiken and McMaster have probably been the stand-out players so far this season, for him to come straight back in today given his lack of fitness/sharpness ahead of Aiken given all that I thought was a bit off. Just as he did in the play-offs last year I really hope he proves me wrong, but I think he's going to have to start looking honestly at whether he is worth his place in the team.
  20. My biggest annoyance in the last year is that we seem to have the footballing IQ of a doughnut. Through McCabe's time we average 1 red every 5 games, almost all of them are players making utterly brain dead decisions. The worst bit is the players and fans (and increasingly the club Twitter feed) makes out we are hard done to. That said, the chances of us getting back into that with 11 men were almost nil anyway. I await Rhys telling us that passing it around aimlessly was the right thing to do because Arbroath wanted us to go direct.
  21. I'm not sure how much the first half was Ayr playing quite well, and how much was just Logan Chalmers having Thistle's dreadful left back on toast. Anything they created came from him in that area, there wasn't really much else in the way of good play. I don't know enough about Ayr's squad, but when you have strikers as bad as Ayr why are they playing a system that starts 2 of them?
  22. I went on to watch his comment and I thought it was silly. As you say, it's not as simple a comparison as he makes out. I do agree with him that a lot of the abuse shouted at players and managers is ridiculous. And even if you only cared about the team winning, it's rarely going to be something that will make players play better. However it's just stupid to deny that the whole environment around football is different than any other. He's right that people in Jewson's don't get shouted at by customers, but they also don't get cheered and supported by customers, or treated like a hero when they play well or score a few goals. The emotions that cause fans to go too far at times are the same emotions that will give players the best moments of their careers when they score a late winner or win promotion and are mobbed by fans and get a huge adrenaline rush. And as you say, most of the players (and probably manager) who get abuse from fans will be shouting at their own team mates in a way that would get them sacked in any other workplace. If Mathie thinks fans should be held to the same standards as other customers then fine, but he should be holding his employees to the same standards as other companies would, which means he'd probably have to sack half the team (like every club would) for abusive behaviour towards colleagues after every game.
  23. I meant terrible in relative terms, I'm not saying they were San Marino, but by the standard of what you'd expect from Spain it was a terrible performance. That was obviously down to how we played too, it wasn't a criticism, it was a part of a wider point that it wouldn't take some big collapse for us to actually be in bother. We could play well away to Spain and lose (probably the most likely scenario), and then just fail to beat Georgia, neither of which require terrible performances to happen. That alone means that Norway have it in their hands to catch us. Obviously it requires a huge effort from Norway to win all those games and it's unlikely that they will, so I'm not too worried. But if they were to win their games up until the game at Hampden it wouldn't take a massive drop off for us to drop enough points to make that into a qualification decider.
  24. I don't think anyone is saying we are, but we aren't world beaters either. We pulled a late win out the hat against Norway but were a few minutes away from losing the game, and beat a terrible Spain side. Other than that we've been fine. It therefore wouldn't take a massive turn of events for us to not beat Georgia and lose to Spain, which then means it's up to Norway whether they can get a result off Spain and take us to the last game. Given where we are now, Norway having a chance in the last game would be a huge psychological advantage to them and I really wouldn't fancy us. Norway are a pretty poor team overall but a side with Haaland and Odegaard could pull a result from somewhere. I think we'll be fine just because there are a few chances both involving us and other team's results that it seems we must surely qualify, but I'm not as confident as most seem to be.
  25. In fairness we had David Hutton in nets that day and he was shambolic. I think his only start last season and the game which meant for the rest of the season McCabe played half the available goalies in Scotland rather than start him. Wasn't much between the teams otherwise, as you suggested. Really interested to see how we cope, would anticipate a close game.
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