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Season’S Preview #4

Here is the last in our Season’s Preview series, and this time it’s our turn. Bob McPherson, Cameron Macdonald, Alan Henderson and Graham Forrest give their views on Clyde and their competitors…

Queen of the South: These days there are few ‘sleeping giants’ in Scottish football but Queen of the South are certainly coming out of a long period of under-achievement and most observers believe Queen’s should always be, at the very least, a respectable First Division club. Years of disappointment and frustration never really dented their excellent hard core of fans and improved attendances last season showed that manager John Connelly’s hard work is being appreciated by a growing number of Queen’s fans. Some of the summer signings, from higher league clubs, have consolidated this confidence. Twenty-three year old former Hibs, Partick and Clydebank midfielder Eric Paton, striker Derek Lyle from Partick and former Celtic and Wigan Athletic winger Brian McLaughlin have all joined Queen’s and if you want to add experience to your squad and attract a few extra column inches of publicity at the same time you can’t go far wrong with Andy Goram. On the field Queen’s have recorded four shut-outs in their five pre-season friendlies as John Connelly and his team go into the campaign with considerable confidence. We will see on Saturday whether it’s all justified. – Bob

St.Mirren: Over-confidence may have been the problem for the Saints players at the beginning of last season. Newly relegated, they started as most people’s favourites to go straight back to the Premier but it quickly became apparent that there was a distinct lack of togetherness in the Paisley camp and it showed in their results and in the body-language of some of the players as the season dipped alarmingly. In terms of population in their immediate catchment area, the St. Mirren Park set-up and the club’s infrastructure, Saints should always be a Premier League team but that belief merely adds to the pressure on everyone at Love Street. Striker Martin Cameron, ex-Alloa, has been signed on a free from Bristol Rovers and could be an asset whilst experienced midfielder Andy Dow, who played in the SPL last season for Motherwell should make his mark in the First Division. Other notable captures are former Falkirk defender and captain Greig Denham and the always industrious Jamie McGowan who had such an unlucky time at Tannadice. Saints will again have some of the best players in the Division but the overall impression remains of a team whose combined efforts will again fall short of their individual parts. – Bob

Falkirk: At Brockville, new manager Ian McCall has been busy building a squad to challenge for honours, and they must be the favourites to take the title. McCall has built a reputation managing struggling clubs, but at Falkirk he seems to have been given the backing to improve on a very poor season last term. Ex-Bairns John Hughes and John Henry as well as Steve Tosh from Livingston have joined James, Coyle, Ferguson and McPherson. As they look to build their new stadium, Falkirk hope that it will see them playing top division football there, but how many Clyde fans will relish two trips to Ochilview where Falkirk will be playing their home games next season. If McCall can motivate his side I see Falkirk as the side Clyde will have to overcome if they want to top the league come May. – Cameron

Alloa: Terry Christie brings an Alloa side, which all Clyde fans know will be hard to beat. He has again added wisely to his squad bringing in some old heads in the shape of Derek Ferguson and Scott Crabbe and allied with the players already at the club they will be determined not to be seen as the proverbial yo-yo club. Clyde fans must wonder how long Keith Knox can carry on for but at 38 this must surely be his last season as a player. No doubt Knoxy will receive a special welcome from the fans he served so well as a player. I feel, however, that Alloa don’t have the strength or depth in their squad and will again face relegation at the end of the season. – Cameron

Ross County – Ross County found a rich vein of form towards the end of last season. Defensively they’ve lost Maxwell and the old heads of Irvine and Perry are even older. Up front Hislop is out for months so goals may be a problem. Overall a solid enough team but not promotion material they’re being punted as. – Alan

Inverness – Inverness Caledonian Thistle seem in a bit of turmoil off-field and a poor start could spell trouble. They’ve always been a good attacking team to watch but also prone to being generous at the back. Manager, Steve Patterson, will need to call upon all his motivational skills to have a decent season. – Alan

Ayr United – Considering the outlay on players, Ayr United’s League form last season was poor. Much of that squad has now departed but Eddie Annand remains and you wouldn’t bet against him being the League’s top scorer. It’s a big ask for Dalziel’s recast team to mount a serious challenge. – Alan

Arbroath – Gayfield is a formidable asset for John Brownlie – if his team can pick up enough points there they could survive the drop again. Murray McDowell, who was on trial at Clyde last season, has another chance to prove himself at 1st Division level. Talented Craig Feroz has also joined but he tends to underachieve Brownlie may live to regret losing Stevie Mallan. Having predicted Arbroath to stay up last season, I’m now going to predict they won’t avoid the drop this time round. – Graham.

St.Johnstone – Should be favourites having just come down from the Premier League, and having confirmed they are charging £17 a game this season, they seem to think they are still in it. Low crowds won’t help their cause, but they could still make a challenge. Billy Stark is an experienced manager and has made some shrewd signings in the summer. Mark Reilly could be their key man if he can get the best out of him. A fully fit Keigan Parker would also shine in Division 1. – Graham

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Bob on Clyde: Clyde will improve on the last two seasons’ performance of finishing fifth and that confident prediction is based on one man – Alan Kernaghan. It’s always difficult to predict who will prosper in football management and fortunes, as Tom Hendrie has found at Love Street, can change very quickly but all the early indications suggest that in Alan Kernaghan Clyde have discovered a significant managerial talent. We have a team playing a passing game which drew the highest compliments from fellow-managers Nigel Worthington and Paul Sturrock after two of the pre-season friendlies and there is a points-gathering approach based on the simplest philosophy – you don’t lose games when you don’t concede goals.

Cameron on Clyde: As the new season approaches the sense of optimism amongst Clyde fans, has hit heights not seen for several years. The manager has reshaped the squad he inherited and added experience in vital areas. And with the promise of another new face or two coupled with other teams releasing high earners, this season does hold promise that Clyde could go on to make a major impression on the league.

Alan on Clyde: Being completely dispassionate, Clyde don’t appear to have the flair or firepower to take them up. Unless Alan Kernaghan has some amazing motivational and tactical powers then it’s hard to see how Clyde can top the League. On the other hand Clyde have a solid and experienced squad that should be able to attain a strong top half finish. At the back we’re starting to look solid again with several options for cover as well. In midfield we have plenty of experience but seem to lack flair with the departure of Mitchell. Either Hagen or Dunn have to take up the role. Up front it’s been pleasing to see the pre-season form of Andy Kane. Keogh should improve with full time training and if Hinds can score throughout the campaign then we’re sorted. Clyde shouldn’t fear anybody in this campaign and hopefully they can mount a more sustained challenge than before.

Graham on Clyde: In Alan Kernaghan Clyde would appear to have found a very capable young manager. His confidence in the squad seems to be spreading throughout the club and there is a real belief among the support that a genuine challenge could be made. Man for man Clyde have the best defence in the league, and the choice up front is excellent. Many fans feel that goalscoring will be a problem as we don’t have anyone to put the ball in the net. For me, the problem is creating chances. If we can create enough through the midfield I’m sure Leigh, Pat, Willie, Andy, David or Stevie will score goals for us. Anything above 5th is a good season for Clyde.