Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Stick or Twist?

Various Kremlinologists will have seen the signals a long while ago, a section of the Buddies have been after it for a while, so why has St Mirren’s decision not to offer Danny Lennon a new contract seem like some sort of anti-climax?

Danny Lennon talks to his assistant, and successor as St Mirren manager, Tommy Craig
The first point to be made is that there is a case for the removal of Lennon as St Mirren manager.   The team at his disposal have not covered themselves in glory this season, despite the results picking up at the end of the season.  The best part of the season for St Mirren was the period from the end of September (when we should have beaten Aberdeen, but settled for a draw) to the Scottish Cup replay with Queen of The South when 4 of our wins 10 came.  Of that 8 game period we picked up 15 points out of 24 and only lost to Dundee United (4-0, when they were beginning to fly too…).  The rest of the season though has been a struggle, where we have tried to compensate for being thin at the back. Those area’s have been problem areas for some time, even going back to when we signed Hasslebank, Thompson & co we needed strengthening at the back.  Instead this season we released one of our defenders, Lee Mair, to Partick Thistle.

That spurt though was down to Lennon changing tactics, playing a tight 4-4-1-1 with tucked in midfielders.  As a result, we’ve looked too much like we’ve been on the back foot – which doesn’t suit us, and sacrificed our expansive players, which when we’ve gone for it we’ve looked rather impressive.

That’s the thing though, where there is a case for removing Lennon there was also a case for keeping him.  St Mirren’s first silverware since 1987, this season our highest finish since that period.  When we’ve played well, we’ve looked threatening.  It’s just that we haven’t played well enough in enough games. 

I can understand if the St Mirren board were split about whether to offer a new contract or not.  I’m not sure myself what I would have done but would have marginally come down to nor renewing solely on Lennon’s recruitment policy & his reticence to deal with his defence.  That indecisiveness has carried forward to the appointment of Lennon’s successor as the highly experienced Tommy Craig.

He has been a fixture on the British coaching scene for several decades, but as far as I can remember I think this is his first opportunity as a manager in his own right.  His most famous moment though was when he was the first team coach to Billy McNeil’s Manager at Celtic during their centenary season.  A season that memorably saw them win a league and cup double.  My reservations are totally down to the fact that we are appointing from within and appointing Lennon’s Assistant.  If change was needed, surely a fresh new coaching team was required rather than just sacrificing the head honcho.  If Lennon was such a failure, why isn’t Craig seen as one?

I do wonder if the St Mirren board fell into the trap of believing that “something must be done” without knowing exactly what needed to be done.  I think that they did the right thing, but didn’t handle things in the best manner.  Appointing Craig is also a bit of a departure for St Mirren as most of our appointments from Jimmy Bone onwards have been bright young turks. I do remain convinced that this particular change is a change that will work.

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