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David

2022/23 ins & outs discussion

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A lengthy post, but i have time to kill this morning...

So, with the season end almost upon us, I believe below is the situation regarding players out of contract:

  • PJ Morrison
  • Ricki Lamie (pre-contract signed with Dundee)
  • Victor Nirennold
  • Liam Grimshaw
  • Mark O'Hara (pre-contract signed with St Mirren)
  • Liam Donnelly
  • Liam Shaw (end of loan)
  • Jordan Roberts
  • Justin Amaluzor
  • Darragh O’Connor

At this stage, I'd absolutely look to retain Lamie if he's willing to stay, possibly Morrison as a backup keeper, and O'Connor purely to see if he has anything to offer. The rest could go as far as I'm concerned.

Contract-wise, the rest of the squad looks something like this:

  • Liam Kelly - May 2024
  • Scott Fox - May 2023
  • Stephen O'Donnell - May 2023
  • Jake Carroll - May 2023
  • Max Johnston - May 2023
  • Bevis Mugabe - May 2024
  • Juhani Ojala - May 2023
  • Nathan McGinley - May 2024
  • Sondre Solholm Johansen - May 2024
  • Barry Maguire - May 2024
  • Callum Slattery - May 2024
  • Dean Cornelius - May 2023
  • Ross Tierney - May 2025
  • Sean Goss - May 2023
  • Kaiyne Woolery - May 2024
  • Kevin van Veen - May 2023
  • Joe Efford - May 2023
  • Connor Shields - May 2024
  • Robbie Mahon - June 2023

I think we can all agree that the squad is pretty bloated at the moment, although that was intentional due to potential Covid suspensions and us needing cover for that. The same applied to other clubs in the league. With that said, I'd look at things this way:

Goalkeeper

It's pretty obvious that Kelly is going to be our number one, so that's not in doubt. I did notice that the past few games we've had young Matthew Connelly warming the bench for us, which is a good sign, but I think if we're going to renew PJ Morrison's contract there has to be some sort of progress made there. He's been at Alloa this season, and has bounced around on loan at various clubs. But he's 24 now, so he's not a kid. If we're not going to offer him a concrete position as the club number 2 behind Kelly, then let him go. 

For me we either go with Kelly, Morrison as a solid number 2 and Connelly being brought into the fold with a possible loan in January while Fox is there to see out his contract and assist with coaching, or we go with Kelly as number one, Morrison moving on and a combination of Connelly and Fox backing us up on the bench.

Verdict - I don't think we need a new body in for this position. If Morrison moves on we can cover with Connelly and Fox for this season. 

Right Back

A position of much contention this season. With Liam Grimshaw's contract ending we lose an option for that position, but with Max Johnston returning we gain an option as well, if the management team see him as being good enough.

If we don't bring someone else in during the window we will start with O'Donnell, Johnston, and also Mugabi as options for this position. Personally, I'd go with O'Donnell if he's fit, and try to phase Johnston in occasionally and at least see what he can do in the last year of his current deal. If he isn't up to the job then we can let him move on next May. In an ideal world we'd be phasing Max in as a replacement for O'Donnell over the next few years. If O'Donnell performs this season I could see him getting another year or two extension, which would hopefully be enough to allow Johnston to come in as his eventual replacement. If he's good enough, of course. 

Verdict - O'Donnell, Mugabi and a returning Max Johnston should be enough to cover this position.

Left Back

Although not everyone's cup of tea, I think we're going with Nathan McGinley as our first choice left back next season. He signed a new deal until 2024, he's 25 years old, I think the manager likes him. 

Jake Carroll has another year left on his current deal, and I think he'll be the one challenging for that starting place with McGinley. I don't see much changing in this position.

Verdict - I don't see any changes in this position

Central Defence

We go into next season with Bevis Mugabe, Juhani Ojala, and Sondre Solholm Johansen on the books at the moment. We could potentially retain the services of Darragh O’Connor and Ricki Lamie as well depending on how things go over the summer.

My preferred defensive pairing would be Lamie and Mugabi. I'd keep O'Connor at the club for another year if he was open to it, as I quite liked what I saw of him. Ojala isn't working out in my opinion, and if he was agreeable I'd look to move him on. Johansen is a weird one, as he's looked okay at times but dodgy at others. He's only 26 and has another year to run, so I guess we'll see how he does this season coming.

I'd go with Lamie, Mugabi, and O'Connor as my three centre-backs of choice, with Johansen in fourth and looking to prove himself, while Ojala would be a distant fifth choice if we couldn't shift him.

If we can't retain Lamie then we need someone else in I think. The idea of Mugabi and any combination of Ojala and Johansen gives me the fear. We've seen that combination enough this season. If Lamie knocks us back I'd get O'Connor tied up for another year and see how he does early season alongside Mugabi, with a new signing coming in also.

Verdict - If we can keep Lamie and possibly O'Connor I think we'll stick with what we have here. If Lamie goes then I think we'll need a new signing. I doubt we can shift either Ojala or Johansen before their contracts expire, but if we can that would obviously free up wages for a new player.

Midfield

As of now we head into the summer with Barry Maguire, Sean Goss, Callum Slattery, and Dean Cornelius on the books.

I'm not as anti-Donnelly as many are here, but I wouldn't mind seeing him move on. I have a sneaky suspicion that unless St Mirren come calling he'll get offered another year with us though.

O'Hara is offski, much to the delight of some. Again, I'm not all that fussed at losing him. 

If we go into this thinking that Donnelly is for the off, then we effectively have four midfielders in the squad. If we lose O'Hara and Donnelly we could maybe use some of the funds freed up there to bring in someone else. If Alexander is serious about utilising a smaller squad then this is a good place to implement that. 

Barry Maguire, Sean Goss, Callum Slattery, Dean Cornelius and a new signing would work for me. 

Verdict - A new midfielder coming in would be needed I think.

Up Front

As of now we go into the summer with Kaiyne Woolery, Kevin van Veen, Joe Efford,  and Connor Shields as recognised forwards of varying positions. We also have young Robbie Mahon, who seemingly plays up top and on the right, and also Ross Tierney who's played up front for us of late, but can also drop back into an attacking midfield role as well unless i'm mistaken.

Van Veen and Shields seem like the two out & out strikers on the books, while Woolery can play down the right and left, while Efford plays down the left and also through the centre.

I'd let Jordan Roberts and Justin Amaluzor move on at the end of their current deals. That would free up the wages needed to sign one relatively proven striker if available.

I think if we can head into the new season with Van Veen, a new striker, and Shields as options through the middle, supported by a combination of Woolery, Efford, Tierney and Mahon we'd be in decent shape.

Verdict - A new striker should hopefully be on the cards to add to what we have.

Overall

In my opinion we'd be looking to shift at least seven, and maybe even eight players from our current first team squad (PJ Morrison, Victor Nirennold, Liam Grimshaw, Mark O'Hara, Liam Donnelly, Liam Shaw, Jordan Roberts, Justin Amaluzor), with one returning from loan (Johnston) and two potentially being re-signed (O'Connor & Lamie).

I'd look to sign a new midfielder and a new striker if O'Connor and Lamie sign again, with either of them needing replaced if they leave. 

So that would see maybe as many as eight out, two in from loan, and two new signings (three if Lamie isn't coming back), meaning a three-man deficit from this season, which seems about right. 

Of course, what we'll actually do is release the seven mentioned, lose Lamie and end up signing eight new players no doubt :lol:

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In addition to David’s assessment of the squad ins and outs, there’s the additional dimension of other clubs coming in for some of our players who are still in contract. Kelly and Slattery seem to me to be the most obvious candidates…. With perhaps outside possibilities for Mugabi, KVV and O’Donnell (although the latter probably hasn’t had his best season ever).

The only other thing I’d add is that I think Ojala is a good player… but he just looks miles off being fully fit since he came back from injury. The decision on him I think rests on the prospect of him getting back to full speed. 

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I think that's a pretty fair assessment.

I could see someone being open to taking a punt on Ojala so he may be allowed to move on to free up wages for players that will be available more. If we could bring back Lamie and have O'Connor on another deal I think we're well served enough there.

I think Donnelly is a decent player but he's too injury prone so I wouldn't be offering him a new deal.

Roberts and Amulozor shouldn't be back, I think we're in not bad shape up front but need another quality option that can hold the ball up a bit.

I think Tierney will kick on next year and become a big player for us. I hope Maguire can come back from his injury and kick on, there's been steady improvement from him and I think he can become a solid option for us but he's had this op at a bad time. Fingers crossed for him.

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Good, thought provoking post, David. Some additional thoughts.

Goalkeeping: As Scott Fox has re-signed for a year its decison time for PJ Morrison.

Defence: Does need sorted out. Right back seems ok. Maybe some isues of which we're unaware. Ojala's injury?  Sondre Solholm Johansen - long overdue a rest before we can properly assess him? Given Lamie's comments this morning in the media, I suspect he's got other irons in the fire, apart from Dundee - assuming for the moment he'll move on.   O'Connor is still an unknown quantity. Left back position needs sorted irrespective of who is under contract.

Midfield: O'Hara is supposedly moving on  - fine. Donnelly - maybe best if he seeks pastures new. Still not convinced of Maguire. Tierney looks promising. Another all rounder or holding player required. Looking for Deano to kick on. 

Strikers: Shields, Van Veen and Woolery are fine, with Mahon still to come in. We need another out and out main striker and possibly a winger to improve that department. Jury is still out on Efford.

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Pretty fair assessment. 

I think in normal times a club our size should be trying to run with a squad of around 22 first team players and supplement from the youths when required. It allows for the best use of funds to attract as high a quality of player as possible.

I think 3 new quality targetted signings would improve us more than the previous strategy of throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks.

I think defensively if Lamie stays and with O'Connor and Johnston coming back, we have enough cover there so Id be looking to improve the midfield and up front. We could do with another player of Slatterys quality to supplement him in midfield and also cover for his inevitible suspensions. Whether thats possible remains to he seen.

We definitely need another out and out striker. Probably more for cover for KVV as we dont really have anyone else with the physical presence he has to win headers and hold the ball up.

The 3rd signing for me will depend on what happens with Lamie and how well we do with signings 1 & 2. Hopefully we can get our business done early and get the players in for our European adventure.

Going to be an interesting close season.

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We may have enough bodies for defence and yes as has been mentioned we have had more disruption and injuries in this area than any other.

All that said we have conceded the 3rd most goals in the league this season. 55 in total which will no doubt be a few more come FT tomorrow. As poor as Hibs and Aberdeen have been this season they have conceded almost double figures less and in the case of Hibs only 42.

I am not happy with LB situation. I think both options are not top flight standard. Clearly the Manager thinks otherwise. We need to try and get a settled back 4 as it would surely help. 

I never thought I would say this but I would be much happier if Lamie stayed on. He is probably ahead of Sol and Ojala in terms of reliability. And certainly goal scoring threat.

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4 minutes ago, Welldaft Mk1 said:

I am not happy with LB situation. I think both options are not top flight standard. Clearly the Manager thinks otherwise. We need to try and get a settled back 4 as it would surely help. 

I never thought I would say this but I would be much happier if Lamie stayed on. He is probably ahead of Sol and Ojala in terms of reliability. And certainly goal scoring threat.

You're not the only one. I think both Carroll and McGinley are decent back-ups, but not what I'd call first-choice. I don't see anyone else coming through the youth setup who will be challenging them either, so I think it's one of two for next season unless we sign someone.

All things considered, if we can get a decent run with a defence consisting of McGinley, Lamie, Mugabi, and O'Donnell I think we should be okay. There's absolutely room for improvement though, and I hope we see the likes of young Johnston and O'Connor pushing our regular starters all the way.

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I agree about the left back situation, but when we've lined up with a conventional back 3 and O'Donnell and Carroll as wingbacks, we've actually been pretty solid. Well apart from when Ojala has been moving at walking-pace.

We definitely need a back up for van Veen. Our other strikers have different styles and when KVV isn't playing we really miss his hold-up play.

Every season I also say we need another creative midfielder, and this season is no different. A fit Goss has been an improvement, but again, we need more than one choice to be available. Wouldn't mind Reece McAlear making a return to Fir Park.

 

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Keep Kelly, Lamie, SOD, Beavis,  Slattery,  Cornelius, Woolery, Van Veen.

Get rid of the rest. IMO

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6 minutes ago, Big Stall said:

Keep Kelly, Lamie, SOD, Beavis,  Slattery,  Cornelius, Woolery, Van Veen.

Get rid of the rest. IMO

Tierney?

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6 minutes ago, Kmcalpin said:

Tierney?

Yea actually, I would keep him. 

Solholm as a squad man as well.

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30 minutes ago, Big Stall said:

Keep Kelly, Lamie, SOD, Beavis,  Slattery,  Cornelius, Woolery, Van Veen.

Get rid of the rest. IMO

Unfortunately, if they're under contract we can't get rid unless they agree to leave or another club wants to take them. 

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30 minutes ago, Kmcalpin said:

Tierney?

And Maguire, I hope. And presumably Mahon.

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A great post from David with lots of great assessments.  Not much I can add apart from fact we need a left back. Just my opinion but Carroll and McGinley are not good enough and been at fault for a lot of goals this season. Fact McGinley got new 2yr deal is bewildering. Maybe next season they will improve but I doubt it.   Johansen is another I would move on if we were offered decent money. Looked a good signing but has gradually went downhill..COYW

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If we are any danger in going deep into Europe we may need an additional couple of bodies for cover.  We would know that by the end of the window.  Unlikely I suspect.

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Grimmy  goes with my best wishes. Lots of effort but technically very limited sadly.

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The two major areas for concern are defence and midfield.

Defence

We need to become much harder to score against to give ourselves a solid platform to play from. In that respect I think we need 2 centre-backs and a left-back.

Midfield

I think we need a passer/playmaker who can bring our strikers more into play instead of firing long balls up to them.  Also somebody who can play the ‘mopper-up’ role between the defence and half-way line.

Forwards

I don’t think we are too bad here. Connor Shields has come on a fair bit now that he is starting regularly and could be a big player for us next season.

Other than that good to go. COYW.

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31 minutes ago, SteelmaninOZ said:

Would Tom Rogic Celtic’s wizard of Oz be good for us?  

I wouldnt imagine he would be interested in the wages we could offer......

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42 minutes ago, SteelmaninOZ said:

Would Tom Rogic Celtic’s wizard of Oz be good for us?  

What a ridiculous question, 'Hey Tom, we're prepared to let you leave ever though you still have a year on yir contract', Oh can I sign for Motherwell', have you ever considered a career as a comedian. Seriously if you are going to to post something, post something credible :huh:

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2 minutes ago, Thunderlips said:

With Dundee going down would you take anyone from them?

 Would take Ricky Lamie, he's good

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