This article might have been headlined ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ had the star of that show’s reputation not been somewhat tarnished these days, so The Clash will instead provide the soundtrack for this doffing of the cap in Jim McIntyre’s direction.
Up to the dizzy heights of the play-off spot after a run of four games unbeaten, the last of which was a gutsy draw against the second-best team in the country despite being a man down for 70 minutes. Eight goals scored and only four conceded in that time. Who saw that coming when Livingston put four past us without reply? Or even when Hibs went 2-0 after half an hour? By some Darwin-challenging miracle, a seemingly invertebrate squad have suddenly developed a backbone. And started scoring goals.
Our worries are far from over and away games at Rugby Park, Pittodrie and Parkhead add up to a challenging run, to say the least. St Mirren could lose both their next two games and find themselves off bottom spot. Given the ongoing precariousness of our league position and the dearth of points from our first dozen games, we might still face heartbreak in May. McIntyre may still live up to the warnings issued by Ross Country fans. But still … what a fucking difference.
Rock the Casbah Derry
Last week Dundee did something that proved beyond us throughout Neil McCann’s entire reign and scored four games in a top-flight game. Four! That’s half the amount we had scored the whole season up to then. We were also organised and hard-working. We defended solidly and attacked with purpose. And width! We played with width rather than making a few dozen passes that go nowhere ahead of the inevitable hoof up the park by ‘agricultural’ centre-halves clearly uncomfortable with building from the back. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, watching Dundee is, for the moment at least, an experience unlikely to leave blood spouting from your eyes.
As the old cliche goes, you can only beat what’s in front of you. Yes, Hamilton managed to drum up a performance as bad as anything we have produced this season but it is results against them and St Mirren that will largely dictate where we finish come the end of the season. If you look up six-pointer in the dictionary you’ll see a picture of Kenny Miller arms aloft as he takes the acclaim of the Derry after completing his hat-trick.
(Maybe we wont go) Straight to Hell
Having seen both Hamilton and St Mirren in action recently I’m feeling bold enough to state that we can finish the season in 10th place while still being far from brave enough to claim unequivocally that we will. Getting enough points on the board to give ourselves a chance of staying up post-transfer window was always the short-term aim, however, and that is suddenly looking like a possibility, not least because we’ve suddenly got a goal machine on our hands
If I’m being honest, Kenny Miller has probably looked after himself a bit better than I have over the years. Maybe he doesn’t even wince when getting out of bed for a nocturnal pish (It happens at our age – how’s your prostate, Kenny?) but signing someone only a few months younger than I am couldn’t help but set off alarm bells and these fears were hardly eased by his first five or six games for Dundee. But then King Kenny wasn’t exactly helped by being deployed on the wing, and the key to our recent improved form is rooted in two managerial masterstrokes:
- Playing players in their proper positions
- Playing as few of Neil McCann’s summer signings as is humanly possible
A left-back at left-back. Forwards up front. A physical presence in the middle. Pace on the flanks. 4-4-2 or as close to it as possible. Get the ball wide quickly and get crosses into the box. There’s nothing radical that Jim McIntyre has done other than strip the game back to its basics. The Livingston, Hearts and Celtic games could scarcely have gone worse but the circumstances surrounding them offered clear mitigation. There was definite improvement at Motherwell even if we lacked a goal threat and, while Martin Woods is clearly no Zidane, he is on a different level to those who had been flitting in and out the team prior to his arrival. We should have beaten St Mirren and the Hibs comeback was brilliant. And then we won a game (A FUCKING HOME GAME!!!) before grinding out a draw against Rangers that was almost as satisfying as Mark O’Hara’s hunskelping antics of the past couple of seasons.
Baby steps in the grand scheme of things, but big, bloody giant steps in the context of season 2018/19.