Ross County supporter and Scotzine blogger Steven Kellow looks back at the Dingwall side’s season as they escaped the drop zone just in the nick of time.
Did your club overachieve, meet expectations or underachieve? and why?
For myself, and I’m sure the vast majority of other Staggies fans, survival in the Premiership was the aim for us this year – and although once again we left it late in doing so, we managed to secure yet another year at the top table. While our season was characterised by two very opposing runs of form, with a seven game losing run at the start of the season being offset by a ten game unbeaten streak at the end, we actually ended up with more points than we did last year – even if we finished 2 places further down the league. So this was about what you would expect from County!
How do you rate your manager? What did he do or fail to do?
Jim McIntyre took charge of the club when it was undergoing a horrendous spiral in form and inheriting from a manager who had built the club in his own image over the last few years, so the task he faced as a newcomer was massive. His results to begin with weren’t encouraging, but when he was able to bring in some players of his own in the January transfer window we began to pick up some fantastic results. He’s still not quite found the perfect formula for the players he has at his disposal but the signs are that he is more comfortable now in the role than he was before.
Who were your standout players of the season? and why?
Our players of the year were once again those that arrived in January to save us from what could have been disaster. Club legend Michael Gardyne returned on loan from Dundee United to provide the spark of creativity and attacking instinct that the side sorely missed, and with him as playmaker we began to create and convert chances much better. Raffaele De Vita was also an inspiration, netting several goals at the start of his spell and providing an impressive amount of assists as he dazzled defenders on the left wing. While he faded slightly towards the last few games, the fact that our results did too shows the sort of impact he has had on the side since his arrival.
Who failed to impress? and why?
The start of the season was characterised by the failure of those who signed last January to produce the same form that kept us safe. Slovakian international Filip Kiss wasn’t quite the strong presence in the side that he was last year, and didn’t seem to have the same drive or enthusiasm after his summer away and we lacked the midfield vision he showed before. Similarly, striker Yoann Arquin couldn’t find the striking talent that he had before the summer – looking disinterested before his move to St Mirren in January, ironically because he believed they had a better chance of Premiership survival.
What would you change or focus on within the club over summer?
The changes that County need to make, and I believe that owner Roy McGregor and manager McIntyre are looking to make as well, is to begin to plan ahead for the long term rather than focussing on immediate gains. The club is set to play in their fourth consecutive season in the Premiership, above and beyond any dreams or expectations that even our fans would have had, but the last two seasons have seen us prepare as though we were battling for our lives and setting up in fear of the drop. Signing players on one-year contracts or on loan has seen us struggle to maintain talent and consistency in the side, which has seen has start poorly every year. With players on longer-term contracts knowing that they have a future here hopefully McIntyre can find a formula that will gel and produce better results across the campaign.
What are your expectations for next season?
Once again, I think County will be a side that will be towards the lower end of the league and perhaps flirting with the relegation spots – as with the sides being promoted to the league being so strong and the top six teams being more capable than County at the moment, it’s hard to see us breaking through. However I believe that if we can find a formula that works early on and we stick with it through the season we can perhaps push on slightly and be more certain of our safety going into the final games of the year