League Preview: St Mirren
After what seemed like a long summer, this weekend witnesses the start of the 2018-19 Scottish football season.
We may have had the World Cup to quench our thirst for watching a game of football over the past few months but nothing compares to watching your own team in action.
We travel to the Premiership new boys St Mirren who comfortably won the Championship to book their spot back with the big boys following a three-year absence. We caught up with Black & White Army to ask them a few questions following an eventful summer for the Paisley team.
It’s been some journey for St Mirren in the last few years to reach the Premiership. From staring relegation to League One in the face in 2016/17 to winning the Championship quite comfortably last season. Fairy tale stuff wasn’t it?
It was an amazing journey with Jack Ross and James Fowler. From January 2017 to May 2018 was one of the most enjoyable periods I’ve had supporting the club. We played some terrific football along the way, scoring a load of goals and winning with style. Jack not only rebuilt the club on the park, he reconnected the team with the supporters and created a bond that was sadly lacking during the disastrous reigns of Tommy Craig, Ian Murray and Alex Rae.
The man who turned around the club’s fortunes has unfortunately left your club for a crack at the English leagues with Sunderland. With Jack Ross’s stock at a high, was it inevitable you would lose him after the end of the season?
Having already fended off approaches from Dundee and Barnsley it was always likely that Scotland’s PFA Manager of the Year was going to attract more interest this summer. We hoped that having secured promotion that Jack would stick around to have a crack at the Premiership but as soon as Ipswich came in for him we feared the worst. It looked like it was a 50/50 with him and Paul Hurst for that job but just when it started to look like they were stalling along came Sunderland to grab him. It was a real blow but difficult to blame him for taking a gig at what is, when all said and done, a huge club with massive potential.
Alan Stubbs is the new man at the helm. Is the support happy with this appointment?
I’d say the jury is out on that one to be fair! Jack left a huge void and was extremely popular amongst pretty much all the support so his replacement was always going to find it difficult to fill his shoes.
Stubbs did well at Hibernian, but obviously it didn’t work out for him at Rotherham so that created a mixed response. He was pretty quick to dismiss a couple of popular members of the title winning squad in Gary MacKenzie and Adam Eckersley which didn’t go down particularly well but as with all managers he’ll ultimately be judged by results on the pitch.
How do you feel the club have done in the transfer market this summer? What new signings excite you the most and who are you disappointed to see leave?
Difficult to say at the moment. Hayden Coulson (on loan from Middlesbrough) looks a real gem at left back and Matty Willock from Man Utd looked decent on his debut last weekend. Of the others, we haven’t really seen enough to judge properly yet.
You made it through to the last 16 of the Betfred League Cup undefeated but you drew with Queens Park and Spartans along the way. Does this worry you or like a few supporters of other teams I’ve spoken to, did these games have a bit of a pre-season feel about them?
It was a strange campaign for us. Had you said before we started that we’d get 9 points, finish unbeaten and with a goal difference of +6 I think we’d all have been very happy but the way it ended up was pretty much typical St.Mirren. The opening draw and win on pens at Rugby Park should have guaranteed us a group win and an 11 point total that would have had us seeded in the 2nd round, but as it is we dropped valuable points against Spartans and Queens Park and it nearly cost us very dearly. The emphatic win over Dumbarton was very welcome but they looked really poor to be fair.
What’s your expectations for St Mirren this term in the league and cup?
First and foremost, we want to preserve our Premiership place. It was a real hard battle to get back up and one look at the Championship this season shows how difficult it is to get out of. Dundee Utd are obviously really struggling down there which I know will please you lads! It demonstrates how tricky it is.
10th would be the obvious target, along with any sort of cup run. I think we need to be realistic and acknowledge that we will probably have the 10th highest budget probably ahead of Hamilton and Livingston. Football isn’t all about money but it does help!
Finally, what’s your prediction for the opening league game of the season?
We’ve been very good at home for the past 18 months, and the place should be bouncing on our return. I’ve a sneaky feeling we will get a 2-1 win but it will be very difficult. Hoping Glen Kamara doesn’t make it for this one as he looks a class act.
Wee Gowser will be sure of a great reception from the West Bank on his return to Paisley.
DUNDEE will be hoping to hit the ground running in the hope of improving on last years ninth place finish.
Neil McCann has been busy revamping the squad with a considerable amount of players moving onto new clubs. Despite the season only being a few days away, McCann looks like he will still be actively looking to adding to his squad, more than likely in the defensive and attacking areas. So far our business has seen the arrival of Jack Hamilton, Karl Madianga, Elton N'Gwatala, Nathan Ralph, Jean Alassane Mendy and most recently, Adil Nabi.
In the Betfred League Cup, The Dee managed to proceed to the last 16 of the competition to face Ayr United following wins against Stirling, Peterhead and Brechin. Our only defeat came against Dunfermline at Dens Park and given the performance that day, has fans worried that we will struggle this season.
We still look lightweight upfront, a problem that has followed the team since the summer of 2016 and in all seriousness, I thought we would have seen our frontline being reinforced months ago but alas, we still seem to be scrambling about trying to rectify this problem.
On a positive, we do look much stronger in midfield. N'Gwatala and Madianga have impressed me in the few games I've seen them play. Madianga looks like he will be a fantastic signing with both not shy for taking a shot or two either. Add Glenn Kamara into that team and the middle of the park looks like an area that we will solid for us.
ST MIRREN went through a managerial change this summer following the departure of Jack Ross to Sunderland. Alan Stubbs was the man appointed to continue to the impressive job that Ross had done at the Paisley club but he will understandably be looking to implement his own style of play.
Ex Dee Paul McGinn signed this summer as will feature along side new boys such as Matty Willock (Man Utd), Hayden Coulson (Middlesbourgh) and Danny Rodgers (Aberdeen) who have all signed on loan. There is no doubting that Gavin Reilly and Lewis Morgan will be big losses.
The Buddies finished in second place In their League Cup group but just like us, got their name in the hat for the last 16 draw which they were paired with Aberdeen up North. Despite winning just the once against Dumbarton, St Mirren picked up the bonus points against Kilmarnock, Spartans and Queens Park. Though not ideal results, it was enough to see them through.
Head to Head All-Time Record
P222 W96 D44 L82
P112 W64 D19 L29
P110 W32 D25 L53
Head to Head: League
P100 W56 D18 L26
P103 W29 D24 L50
Dundee Top 5 Goal scorers vs St Mirren in The League
Tommy McDermott: 8
Alan Cousin: 8
Johnny Bell: 7
Alan Gilzean: 7
Ray Stephen: 7
Trivia: Last Dundee To Score A Hat-Trick vs St Mirren
George Shaw: 4-0, December 31st 1994
Over 65s, students, Under 18s and Unemployed – proof required for all concession sales: £12
Children aged 12 and under are £6
With ticket sales around the 1000 sold mark, fans are urged not to travel to Paisley without on and to purchase their from the Dens Park ticket office.