Ayr United fan and Scotzine contributor Donald Stewart takes a look at his side’s fortunes this season and casts a critical eye on the Somerset Park side.
With the season now at an end, did your club achieve or underachieve? And why?
There is some debate over whether the target this season was to avoid relegation or make it to the playoffs. No matter who is right, Mark Roberts achieved the target. Being cast out at the semi final stage is a massive blow for the club financially though there are few supporters who would have put their house on Ayr United managing to survive in the Championship next season. League One with Greenock Morton in it looks more competitive and likely to bring some dividend to the glory hunters.
How do you rate your manager after this season’s campaign? What did he do or fail to do?
There are many who think that Marko should go; the message boards are filled with them. He ahs just signed a new contract because the targets he was given were met. Which employer can sack an employee for doing what they were asked to do?
Marko’s problem arrived in the January transfer window in the shape of Kevin Kyle – Both defence and midfield started to target Kyle and not play to the wings, getting crosses in for Kyle or play to Kyle on the deck. It wasn’t because Marko omitted to tell his team what to do in his team talks.
What has been marvellous is the conveyer belt of young players – Shankland, Crawford, Forrest and Holland – who have made first team appearances and in the case of young Alan Forrest they have made a first team place very much their own. Under Brian Reid this simply never happened and was destined never to do so.
Who were the standout players for the club this term and why?
The stand outs were David Hutton in nets, Brian Gilmour, Michael Donald, Scott McLaughlin as captain, Alan Forrest and Michael Moffat up front. Hutton was solid throughout the season whilst McLaughlin fought hard for the team and played wherever he was asked. Gilmour was majestic when on his game and it was normally more often than not whilst Donald added deft touches and some great work when he played. Wee Forrest exploded onto the scene and just kept getting better whilst Moffat was a goal machine.
Who failed to impressive, why?
There were a few… Michael McGowan just didn’t shake off his injury, Martyn Campbell likewise, Gordon Pope, Adam Hunter and Anthony Marenghi just didn’t take the chances that came their way. Kevin Kyle’s appearance in an Ayr shirt was not the magic elixir we hoped for but that, as I said above was not entirely his fault.
What would you change at the club over the summer?
The club will have to live within its means as the CIC has stalled, there are no big games on the horizon and the threat to Youth Football that is Regional Academies is on the horizon. I am happy Marko will be in charge as he is adept at working with the young players and I hope that the fans stop barracking the young players and let them grow as this could be an excellent young team.
Expectations for next season?
Having reached the playoffs this year I would hope for promotion through winning the Championship or being in the playoffs – don’t mind which. This is achievable however the state of the club and football in general makes me think we might have to wait for promotion to be a reality for a wee while.