Despite spending the last few months battling against that relegation playoff sot, Ross County eventually secured their Premiership status and topped the bottom six split league all the while manager Derek Adams was under huge pressure from the fans. Ross County fan blogger Aiden Wylie critiques Ross County’s season.
With the season now at an end, did your club achieve or underachieve? And why?
In terms of expectation, we chronically underperfomed. But that could be said for everyone in the bottom six. In the end we’ve survived relegation more comfortably than it feels, and I’m really not sure how to grade our performance. I think we made heavy weather of beating teams we probably should have had the measure of, and generally speaking I would put this season down as a bit of a let-down. Let’s not pretend last season was anything other than an overachievement of historic proportions. We just regressed to the mean. A healthy dose of realism is no bad thing, and we got this in industrial-sized portions. Mathematics and statistical probability told us this would happen. That didn’t make this past season any more fun though.
How do you rate your manager after this season’s campaign? What did he do or fail to do?
He kept us up. He took focus away from the failings of the players and he managed, rightly or wrongly, to raise the ire of opposition support who tend to take him a little too literally. He managed to get a team full of loanees to develop a remarkable team-spirit (a small but strange hiatus from Yohan Arquin notwithstanding) and the scenes at the end of the Hibs game tell their own story. That said, there were times that he seemed unable to redress the continued team slump, and his use of the Dutch guys (or lack thereof) seems incredibly harsh. I think he’s learned that County were perhaps drifting, and he needs to be more adaptable when things aren’t working. I still rate him as one of the best managers in the division, and the fact that perhaps his star has dimmed somewhat is a good thing for Ross County.
Who were the standout players for the club this term and why?
Melvin De Leeuw is a fabulous, fabulous talent. He’s been playing with an injury for several months, and can only last an hour of games, but he’s our most creative, most skillful and most gifted player. I’ve really enjoyed watching him play. A whole year of him excites me no end. Yann Songo’o and Scott Boyd turned our central defensive woes around late in the season, and Evangelos Oikonomou is a class act who transformed the left back position for us. Really though, asides from those four, I’m not sure too many players stood out for their competence this year. Doesn’t make them bad players, just not perhaps as good as we thought.
Who failed to impressive, why?
It might be harsh to say this, and it doesn’t feel terribly good to say, but the other Dutch guys, for whatever reason, haven’t featured. Whether they were always viewed as long term projects or not, they’ve certainly not had any noticeable impact on the season. For Marc Klok, the season amounted to a handful of games, in which he looked good, and a series of injuries. For Darren Maatsen, a debut stunner at Celtic was the start and end of things. Kevin Luckassen was sold, remarkably, for £100,000 after 19 games and zero goals. I don’t know if it was a case of overhype, underper-formance or simply not being good enough, but other than Melvin De Leeuw, our Dutch contingent may not have even been here. Next season will be a severe test of their abilities.
What would you change at the club over the summer?
There will be many calls to change the manager. This is utterly insane. Derek Adams, despite what opposition fans may suggest, is one of the best things going for the club. We’d have gone down with a lesser manager and Adams won’t get the credit. The fickle County support seem to think that last season was what we should come to expect. Personally, I think the midfield needs a fairly radical overhaul. Whether that be from Klok, who was impressive every time I saw him play, or another signing, I don’t know. Our loanees will need replaced, and that will take some doing. Yann Songo’o is an outstanding defender, capable of playing at a far higher level than the Premiership. I tend to agree with Adams when he says that loan players aren’t necessarily the best way to garner a successful team, so a few more long term signings might mean a bit more consistency.
Expectations for next season?
Less of the play-off nonsense, if you please. If we can finish in a respectable seventh or eight, and several points away from the roller-coaster ride we suffered, I’ll be happy. No alarms and no surprises, thanks very much. If we can keep the likes of Cikos and Oikonomou, and a miracle happens and Songo’o returns, I can see our defence being substantially more secure. I’m a little concerned about the functionality of our midfield. An eighth placed finish would do me just fine. And a cup run would be nice.
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