Tuesday, December 20, 2011

SPL Advent: Kilmarnock

We tend to be quick to condemn the managerial merry-go-round as propelled by the Largs mafia.

But we're also too often suspicious of incomers who come into the SPL with their odd ways and their funny accents.

We should embrace them. Especially if they're such a delightful puzzle as Kenny Shiels.

There are times when I don't really know what he's talking about. But he speaks with such intensity and enthusiasm that I can't help but warm to him.

Whether it's a "support your local team" war-cry or a "my players were tired because they hadn't played" oxymoron, King Kenny of Killie can usually be relied on to say something that most other managers wouldn't.

Why not? Even if some of it is bollocks it all adds to the gaiety of a game that spends to long wallowing in the doldrums. And until he announces that "fitba' men understand" his methods I'm happy to listen to him over yet another stereotypical Scottish mediocrity.

Last week Shiels was addressing the issue of his transfer window plans. He hinted at activity ahead because the wholesale changes in the summer had resulted in a few players arriving that turned out to be not quite fit for purpose.

So it's a warm welcome for those recurring SPL Advent themes: consistency and transition.

Shiels had to recruit en-masse to reshape a squad that had taken a few heavy blows since Mixu Paatelainen's side had shone some much needed light on the SPL last season.

Kilmarnock required the obligatory period of transition and that's delivered an accompanying period of inconsistency.

Thus Killie have become the team that can ship six goals to Inverness at home, draw away at Hibs a week later and then enjoy a first home win over Rangers in 17 years. Don't call us unpredictable, call us football coupon busters.

It can't do much good for an excitable manager's equilibrium.

Won five, lost five, drawn eight. There's a symmetry to that sequence that points to a season more steady than it's been spectacular.

Comedy nine-goal thriller defeats to Inverness aside, home form has been a cause for cheer.

16 points from 24 and 18 goals scored. Only Celtic have scored more at home. Mind you, only Dunfermline have conceded more on their own patch.

Only one win away from home though. And just six goals scored in eight games, a claim-to-shame bettered only by Hearts.

Ups. And downs.

An odd season. I've been assured since the season kicked off that Shiels felt he'd built a top six side.

I wouldn't be willing to be against him.

Santa Claus won't make me happy with a toy on Christmas Day

There was opprobrium piled on Kenny Shiels after that defeat to Inverness.

Fair enough. It would be a hard one to take as a Kilmarnock fan despite the smiles it brought to the faces of neutrals.

Eight points since twelve since then though.

It's a reaction that shouldn't be sniffed at.

More of the same would be the ideal gift. It could get them through a derby semi-final at Hampden and pretty much wrap a top six place by the middle of February.

The Scottish Football Blog blogathon took place in November in aid of Alzheimer Scotland and the Homeless World Cup. You can still donate to help two great causes.


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