SPFL Fans’ Preview: St Mirren looking to a much improved season

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With the new season fast approaching here is the latest of our Ladbrokes SPFL Fans’ Previews. In the build-up to the new campaign we’re asking a cross-section of passionate supporters how they think their side will get on and who’ll shine this season. 

Drew Lyall is our resident Buddies expertHe follows St Mirren all over the country, and is one of the main men at the Black and White Army site and forum.

Here’s how he’s calling it…

The Club:

If you could sign one star from the past…

I immediately thought of Gudmundur ‘Gunni’ Torfason. The Icelandic striker was St Mirren’s rock star!

Thinking of our current squad, however, we are crying out for a Hugh Murray type of player in midfield.

Shuggie was a no frills, no compromise midfielder who would run himself into the ground, and we need someone in that mould to balance our current squad.

I’m most excited about this season because…

We have a greater number of options up front than we’ve had in recent seasons. Young strikers with real promise in Shankland and Hardie, complemented by the more experienced Sutton and Clarkson.

Support on the flanks from Morgan, Gallagher and Walsh, and Stevie Mallan pitching in with a dozen or so from central midfield, should see us racking up more opportunities and goals than we’ve witnessed in recent seasons.

I’m least excited about this season because… 

Another season when Paisley Panda isn’t allowed to throw soap to the Morton supporters and wipe his backside with a Falkirk top.

Two songs that define your side?

Secret Smile by Semisonic – an obvious choice, but this song will always be associated with our First Division winning team in 2000. That was the best football I’ve seen a St Mirren team play (having missed out on Fergie’s Furies).

It didn’t matter who we were up against, it seemed we always had the belief that we would win the match. Ah yes, halcyon days….

Stuck in the Middle With You by Stealers Wheel – written and performed by a couple of Paisley boys (Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan), of course, and could become an all too apt anthem reflecting where we could reside in this tricky league for a few years to come.

Actor that would play your gaffer in a film and why?

Ben Kingsley – its not just the bald heid that does it, though. I’m hoping Rae will prove to be as versatile a coach as Kingsley is an actor, with the ability to occasionally flip into Don Logan from Sexy Beast mode at half-time when the need arises to, well….shake things up in the dressing room.

Rangers v St Mirren - Scottish Championship

Key Player?

Lewis Morgan. The pacy winger was just a wee boy last season, but has clearly been lifting some weights and has bulked up a good bit without, it seems, losing any of his pace.

I love his direct approach, and he’ll terrorise defences this season if he gets the run in the team his early showings warrant. He needs to work on his decision making, but he’s a young lad with huge potential.

Weak links?

Ach, I don’t like this bit. A bit early in proceedings to identify a weak link, but I can give you my prediction for the principal boo-boy target: Kyle Hutton.

I’ve no reason to believe that he won’t do a thoroughly decent job for us, but I get a sense that some in our support are just waiting for an opportunity to get on the player’s back.

We sometimes do that….you might have heard.

Headline Generator?

Well, we no longer have Paul McGowan or Jim Goodwin so I’ll go for Gary MacKenzie.

The defender joined us on a one year deal during the close season, and comes with something of a reputation for being a bit tasty. I believe he stuck the bunnet on an opponent during a match, so MacKenzie will perhaps be worth looking out for.

Young player to watch this season?

Lewis Morgan, once again.

League Predictions:

Your position?

Fourth place. I think this is a realistic prediction. On a player by player basis, I’d argue that we have one of the best squads in the league at present, but do we have the team spirit to go all the way?

I’m not as confident as I’d like to be about that. Far too early to call, of course, and anything below fourth or fifth would be very disappointing.

However, I believe we are still a couple of seasons away from a sustained promotion push.

Title Winner?

Dundee United.

Not sure why. But something tells me they will get off to a flyer and will have enough about them to keep it going.

2nd Place?

Hibs (almost always the bridesmaids)

Bottom?

Dumbarton

Top Goalscorer pick?

Lawrence Shankland. I think he’ll net 18 for us, with Ryan Hardie not far behind if his loan is extended beyond January.

I can see Shankland being among the top scorers in the division.

Surprise team of the season?

Dunfermline.

They’ve been hyped up a bit but I think they’ll struggle. I can see them flirting with the relegation play-off spot. That prediction might surprise a few people, but I’m sticking with it.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Paul Fulton

Paul is a sporting all-rounder with a particular penchant for tennis, football and golf. He has contributed to a number of publications, including the Edinburgh Evening News. Is most at home with a scotch pie and bovril in hand watching his beloved Hibs.