Credit featured image to James at @FMPressure, he’s an excellent lad in the community. Original image via @WillieVass on twitter.
I was happy with our results from the first half of the season even if performances at time were not exactly dominant but I felt we were beginning to impose ourselves more and more on games, I had went the first half of the season unbeaten in the league, won the League cup and had finished 3rd in our Champions League group so would play Rapid Vienna.
We didn’t make many moves in the January window however Jamie Walker moved for £1.5 million to Hibs which could be seen as a shock but he wasn’t involved in our first team, it was a good fee and would keep the league competitive.
Our u20 keeper John Connolly would also go out on loan to Ayr United and then we sealed moves for Sergi Samper which I was so delighted with and brought in Fabricio Segura from Costa Rica for £850k as a good prospect at centre back as I prepared myself for the inevitable loss of Tin Jedvaj.
The signing of Samper meant Lucas Silva was starved of first team opportunities and with Silva on £34k p/w and Samper on £50k p/w, I knew I would have to sell Silva so that’s something I am looking to do this summer.
We were fortunate to draw Rapid Vienna as I felt they were a team we should be beating and we duly won both home and away coming away with a 3-1 win on aggregate, next up would be a far tougher test and PSV would be welcomed to Ibrox where we put on a masterclass in a big 3-1 win with Luka Jovic scoring first before Patrick Roberts hit a brace before a very close 1-0 loss in the return leg saw us through to the quarter final.
We were then lucky to miss out on the likes of Man City, Chelsea and Tottenham in the quarters to draw Udinese, a team 9th in Serie A and we imposed ourselves on the away leg before Emmanuel Badu was sent off in the first half before we ran riot and finished 3-0 winners.
3 big away goals from Reece Oxford and a double from James Tavernier with Tavernier assisting Oxford too, incredible display. We would draw the home leg 1-1 to see us into the semi finals.
The potential opponents were Tottenham, Lyon and Anderlecht and I rated them in three categories – Tottenham would prove very difficult to progress past, Lyon would be a very close battle and Anderlecht despite somehow beating Chelsea in the quarters would be a team I’d expect to beat. We were drawn with Tottenham..
I was more conservative in the away leg in a 4-4-1-1 formation but Erik Lamela would score from a free kick early in the second half and we couldn’t get the away goal but it would finish at 1-0, I’d take that before kick off.
In the home leg we would push for the goal to get back in the tie and Connor Hourihane would score from a cut back from Patrick Roberts to get the tie level, as an aside Zac Clough was inured in mid March until the end of the season and Benfica recalled Jovic after an injury in the game just before the second leg.
So we had no recognised striker in such a big game. Luan would break our hearts in the 103rd minute with a strike in to the bottom corner from 20 yards. Bastards.
The unbeaten record was shattered by one single loss over 38 games, the game in itself is a game I can’t get my head around. They battered us with 25 shots to our 8 and were 4-0 up prior to a Luka Jovic 90th minute goal, so annoyed with that one league performance robbing us of the unbeaten season we deserved.
In terms of the league apart from against Celtic, no other team had beaten us in 89 games stretching back over 2 years and 4 months.
54 league goals scored in 19 games in this second half of the season was incredible, there were some big wins in this period such as 4-1 win over Aberdeen in the split, 5-2 over Dundee United and the Old firm games would prove to be full of goals.
We would score 96 goals, a record under my management, secure 97 points which was another record but I conceded far too many goals this season – 42 to be precise and the worst in my three years.
That’s something I want to work on but we were by far the most entertaining side scoring 35 goals more than Aberdeen who were the 2nd biggest scorers with just 61.
A straightforward domestic season was complete when we went up to lift the Scottish Cup and complete our second treble in 3 seasons and the 8th trophy in 3 seasons in charge. Delighted.
A simple campaign where we secured wins over Dunfermline and Motherwell before a surprisingly tight 1-1 draw at Ibrox with Inverness, before we hit them for 4 in the replay away from home with Barry Barr, Luka Jovic and a double from the ever impressive Conor Hourihane.
We would then face Annan in the semi finals, yes you heard that right. Quite an achievement for them but we tore them apart 4-0 with a hatrick from Jovic before Dundee faced us in the final. Our players were out on their feet as at that point for example Robby McCrorie had played 66 games at that stage.
Dundee were perhaps the better side in periods but great sides win trophies and games despite not always playing as well as they can, Samper won the ball high up and Ravel Morrison played a nice ball down the right wing for 18 year old Barry Barr to get to the byline and cut a cross back for number 10 Conor Hourihane who volleyed in his 23rd of the season to finish an impressive campaign.
Barrie Mckay continues to prove how vital he is to our side, he has 1 Scottish cap which is just sickening. He is such an effective attacker, 32 goals this season is a record for him and makes him the highest scorer in a single season for any player under my regime. 22 assists show how creative he can be too and a lot of his goals came in europe. He had a few niggling injuries which stopped him breaking 35 goals or even 40.
Patrick Roberts continued his strong form from his loan last season and he needed to with him being an expensive buy, 18 goals and 23 assists is a solid return combining that with a 7.41 average rating and could be relied upon in big games such as the PSV win.
Conour Hourihane had a very good season this campaign, I was wanting more from my number 10 and he delivered with 23 goals and 17 assists and it was the magnitude of some of these moments such as a Scottish cup final winner and the Europa semi final goal against Spurs, he’s getting to peak age but probably one we may look to move on in another year or two to get value as I have my eye on an incredible young number 10 this summer.
Last of all I have to say how good James Tavernier has been, I forgot to take a screenshot of him so sorry but 9 goals, majority free kicks and 19 assists is great going for a right back and 7.55 average rating was the best of the team, great season for him.
I’d like to split the youth into two different categories, the trio that made the breakthrough and then a couple of exciting talents who could make it longer term. Owen Miller made the left back position his own and started 55 games last season with a 7.28 average rating and being very dependable for such a young age. Rewarded with a long term and improved terms on a new contract.
Barry Barr was more slowly introduced but due to his performances and some injuries he started 27 games and came off of the bench a further 14 times scoring 12 times and assisting on 10 occasions – some effort from the 18 year old. I rejected advances from Liverpool for him in January and he was given a new contract as a reward of his performances.
Last of the trio is Jack Thomson who was probably the weakest of the trio but still had a decent breakthrough season, a 6.96 average rating, starting 25 games saw him develop a lot and he’s an able rotational player who I can see going from strength to strength in future seasons.
Our two most exciting young players going forward are Ben Kane, a 17 year old centre back who already has a full season of first team football under his belt at Inverness in the division below and Barry Cunningham, a 15 year old we secured in our youth intake.
Kane looks a potential future first choice centre back and I’ve promoted him in to the first team and rejected loan bids from likes of 3rd place Aberdeen for him, Cunningham is a very raw left back but at 15 his physicals are impressive. Owen Miller is so strong that I’m not sure how this will work in a few years but he looks to have some potential.
I was asked at the end of a great campaign if Conor Hourihane deserves a call up to the ROI national side, he had scored the winner in our Scottish cup final, in the Europa semi final and 23 goals overall so I said yes he should, Martin O’Neil seemed to take offence to this.
It was then announced that I entered the hall of fame of managers who have managed in Scotland and I entered in 9th place jumping above who else but Martin O’Neil which I thought was class but expected.
In other news..
We made a profit of £5.6 million helped by player sales but we invested a lot in to player acquisitions and youth facility upgrades.
The previously announced upgrade to our youth facilities were completed, we are very much focused on bringing through and giving young talents a chance and this will help produce better quality youngsters who could follow in the footsteps of Owen Miller, Barry Barr and Jack Thomson who went on to feature quite heavily this season.
After a second successful European campaign we jumped 28 places to 38th in the European club rankings for next season and jumped just above Celtic in the process.
Given this works on a 5 year cycle and only 2 seasons have counted we are on the right track and over time we will be able to be better seeded in the Champions League so should be easier to progress.
It’s also important to show the progress being made with Scotland as a football nation and we moved up 3 places to 8th position in the European nation co-efficient rankings, also Scotland will for the first time for many years have 2 teams in the Champions League from season 2019/2020 and then for 2020/2021 also.
I think that’s everything covered for season 3, another treble but how did you find this? What is required to get us to the knockout rounds of the Champions League? Like how we’ve introduced the young talents?
Thank you for reading, it is really appreciated. If you also want to discuss anything you can ask me anything on my twitter which is below, join and speak on my slack channel “johnmcintosh-19” or in the comments section here, I’d love some interaction on this series and please RT the promoted tweet, it really helps.
Twitter – @JohnMcIntosh19