Thursday, May 19, 2016

2015-16 report card - Ross County

Their best ever season
Ross County F.C. logo.png

LEAGUE: 6th, 48pts (2014-15 - 9th, 44pts)
SCOTTISH CUP: Quarter-final
MOST USED FIRST XI: Scott Fox, Marcus Fraser, Chris Robertson, Andrew Davies, Ricky Foster, Michael Gardyne, Jackson Irvine, Martin Woods, Jonathan Franks, Alex Schalk, Liam Boyce

OVERVIEW: 2015-16 was unquestionably the best season in Ross County's history, if only because of their terrific and deserved League Cup triumph.  In addition they managed to force their way into the top six; in fact, they only spent two weeks of the whole campaign in the bottom half (one of which was the week before the split!).  Their campaign did tail off a bit after their Hampden triumph, but I don't think anyone would begrudge them that.  It's hard to believe that 18 months ago they looked dead certs for relegation to the Championship.

HIGH POINTS: Beating Hibs in the cup final of course - and what a way to do it, with a last minute winner from Alex Schalk.  The Dutchman also inspired a stunning upset victory in the semi-final; even if Celtic played most of it with 10 men., it was a terrific team performance.

LOW POINTS: What is the deal with league Highland Derbies?  Inverness won all three this year with an aggregate score of 7-1.  County haven't won one since January 2014, though they did knock their rivals out of the League Cup at the quarter-final stage

STAR MAN: Jackson Irvine was generally outstanding in midfield, and his workrate often put some former teammates at Celtic to shame.  I've no idea why the Australian isn't playing at a higher level; he may need to if he is to force his way back into the international setup.

ONE FOR THE FUTURE: Young full-back Chris McLaughlin looked very capable when given his chance at left-back and will feature more often next year.

WASTE OF SPACE: David Goodwillie managed just a solitary goal after arriving on loan from Aberdeen.  In a few years he's gone from being a Scotland international to Ross County's fourth choice striker (fifth choice if Craig Curran hadn't been injured).

THE BOSS: Jim McIntyre has support from his chairman (both financial and personal) that most managers dream of, but he has earned it.  County aren't necessarily purveyors of pretty football, but that doesn't mean they can't be good to watch with their high tempo and onus on two strikers.  It's very much his team - only two squad members were signed by predecessor Derek Adams - so he deserves the plaudits for some clever acquisitions and for getting the best out of guys like Ricky Foster and Liam Boyce.  County fans just wish they could see what he sees in Martin Woods.

PROSPECTS FOR NEXT SEASON: The current squad are pretty much all signed up, so there's no reason to believe they can't pick up where they left off.  It wouldn't be a surprise if Roy McGregor found the funds for another signing or two, and a talented wide player and a solid centre-back wouldn't go amends.  But with their current stability, another top six finish looks like a solid bet.

FIRST TEAMERS DEFINITELY LEAVING: Raffaele De Vita, David Goodwillie (end of loan), Chris Konopka, Jamie Reckord, Gary Woods (end of loan)

Lawrie Spence (LS) has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007.  He has a life outside this blog.  Honestly.

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