With no fewer than 18 players released from their squad, Stephen Pressley was a man who certainly had an air of authority at the end of last season. He had looked like a dead man walking as everyone had predicted his demise from the hot seat at Falkirk. The future of Ian McCall, after he left Partick Thistle fuelled the speculation. Like a cloud without a silver lining his departure from Firhill lead to heavy speculation that Pressley was on his way out of the door. As soon as the Board at Falkirk made their intentions clear regarding Pressley, there was an end to speculation and a start on the clear out.
Pressley himself, spoke of how hard this was and he had a second season where giving out such awful news fell in his lap and he was responsible for telling people they were out of a job due to the new budget restrictions on their way. Honestly it gets more and more like the public sector each week!
Pressley released no fewer than three goalkeepers in Michael Andrews, Jamie Barclay and Robert Olejnik. At present the website has absolutely no goalkeepers listed and you have to hope they know what they are doing … right?
In defence, out went a full Northern Ireland international in Brian Mclean, youngster Chris Mitchell, Mehdi Khalis, James Bloom, Euen Grant and Keiran Stallard. There are three Academy graduates on the books as cover so far – Thomas Scobbie, Marc Twaddle and Kieron Duffie. There are more than a smattering of Under 21, 19 and 17s caps amongst them as with the rest of the squad who are signed, so Falkirk are going with youth from their own community.
One of the graduates who went off to Liverpool and was due back on a season long loan in midfield was Ryan Flynn. Unfortunately for Falkirk fans the current rumour is that Flynn has signed for Hearts for a five-figure sum. He certainly has been waiting for an offer so there could be fire and smoke involved. Other midfielders who were deemed to be surplus to requirements included Craig McLeish and the club captain from last season, Burton O’Brien. It leaves Jack Compton – ex West Brom – and Mark Millar – ex Celtic youth on the books alongside Academy graduates Dale Fulton and Blair Alston.
Up front Kallum Higginbotham, another graduate of the Falkirk youth set up has been asked to step up as Falkirk released Pedro Moutinho, Tam McManus and Carl Finnigan. There are absolutely no rumours or indications so far that Pressley is out pressing the flesh looking for replacements.
Falkirk were widely believed, once they had found their feet after falling from the SPL, to be genuine promotion contenders last season. As to stands it seems that they are awaiting the lay of the land before committing to bringing new names to Falkirk stadium. Falkirk’s fans are unsure of the path being trod by either the management team or the Board of Directors. A personable and highly likeable character, Steven Pressley will need to show his managerial credentials early doors to confound the doubters. July sees them take on Inverurie Locos, Peterhead and Hibernian in friendlies whilst they will face Brechin City away and Albion Rovers away in the two cup competitions. Only the Hibs game sis at home so the doubters may have to postpone their verdicts until the league starts. That is, of course, if Falkirk can get past their second division opponents in the two cups. As they say… watch this space…