Jim Duffy’s transformation of Greenock Morton is well and truly underway, with the addition of six new players during the off-season. However, his seventh signing could prove to the most impressive, and most influential, of the lot.
Andrew Barrowman, former striker of Birmingham City, Kilmarnock and Inverness Caledonia Thistle, to name but a few, signed on the dotted line last week, pledging his future to the Greenock side for the upcoming season. The signing has been well received by the Greenock faithful.
“It feels good” says Andy, after securing the move. “The close season can be an unsettling time for a player so to have my immediate future sorted out is pleasing and it allows me to focus on the season ahead and enjoy my football.”
Before the deal was exclusively revealed by the striker on his Twitter account, rumours had been circulating that the striker had been at the Morton training ground, with a potential deal in his sight.
“Yes, the manager invited me in for a few days to get some training under my belt.” explained Andy. “It was good to meet the boys and I felt very comfortable from the beginning.
“The manager made contact with my agent, Blair Morgan, a few weeks back and then, when both the manager and I had returned from holiday, we also spoke on the phone and it just went from there, really.”
After training with the club for a number of weeks, Andrew already has a fairly strong idea of how the squad is shaping up for the 2014/15 season. And the ex-Dunfermline hitman is impressed with what he has seen.
“There is a lot of talented players at this club, and most of them are still very young so if these players can gain some valuable first team experience this season, then it can only stand themselves and the club in good stead for the future.
“Most of the players are still at the beginning of their careers and relatively inexperienced, though, so it’s important not to put too much pressure on them. The squad is practically completely different from last years, too, so it’s important we work hard on the training ground in pre-season to try and create a team as quickly as possible.”
What Andy made very clear, however, was that it wasn’t just the players on the field that he had been impressed with during his short time at the club. Jim Duffy has been a stand out also.
Barrowman added: “I’ve been very impressed so far. He is very professional in everything that he does. I believe he is a bit of a perfectionist so hopefully these high standards can transmit to the players. The manager made me feel very wanted which is important for any player.
“I also felt we shared a lot of similar views on football in general, so taking both these factors into consideration it just felt like the right move for me. Sometimes you have to go with your instinct on decisions like this.”
The 29-year-old has had an illustrious career to date, to say the least. Having made over two hundred appearances for sides north and south of the border, Barrowman is most certainly bringing experience to this young, creative Morton side.
“I’m obviously going to be one of the most experienced players in the squad this season,” expressed Barrowman. “So it’s my role in the team to help the younger guys around me learn and, hopefully, if I can pass on any advice or guidance then that can improve them as players. It’s not a role that intimidates me it’s a task that I feel comfortable with.”
After the club’s disastrous campaign last season, the Greenock side now find themselves in League One, the first time the club have been in the third tier of Scottish football since 2007. Fans and players alike are all in agreement that their stay in this division cannot be a long one.
When I asked Andrew about the ambitions for the season ahead, however, he wasn’t being tempted into saying the league title is the number one priority.
“First and foremost, as I’ve stated earlier, we have to become a team before we can start to make any assumptions, that will take a lot of hard work but rest assured this is well underway. If we can become disciplined and hard to beat, then with the talent we have in the squad, results will take care of themselves.”
Andrew went on to say: “Yes, we have our targets, both as individuals and as a group of players, but I’m sure as the week’s progress and the squad settles down a bit, we will sit down and define our targets.”
Supporters of the club have made it clear on social media and message boards that promotion this season is a must. And Andrew believes one of the only ways promotion can be achieved is by making Cappielow a fortress and an arena were teams fear coming too, he explained: “It’s always been renowned as being a tough place to come and play and this is a trait we have to take advantage of.
“We have to turn our place into a bit of fortress again and ensure that any team coming here know they are going to be in for a tough game. The fans can play a big part in that also and it’s up to us as players to ensure we are giving them something to shout about on a weekly basis.
“There’s one thing for sure that the fans will witness this season; the demands that the manager and the players place on themselves to work as hard as we can, not only in every game, but also every day on the training ground to ensure that this club is successful this season and the seasons to come.
“If the fans can buy into what the manager and players are trying to achieve, and back us vocally, then we can all enjoy a successful season. With a squad as young and inexperienced as we are, then there will be days when it doesn’t quite go our way. However, as long as we are all pulling in the same direction then we can all enjoy a brighter, more successful future.”
With Barrowman now a Morton player, the squad is most certainly taking shape for the upcoming season. Morton are, for the second year running, stepping into the unknown, but for now, all that the Morton supporters can do is hope that Jim Duffy has formed a squad capable of gaining promotion back to the Championship.