Saturday, December 24, 2011

SPL Advent: St Mirren

We're so close now you can almost smell the reindeer dung. We reach the final window in the SPL Advent calendar. Fling open the curtains and have a nosy at St Mirren.

One thing you can say about St Mirren is that Danny Lennon will do what's best for St Mirren Football Club and what's best for Danny Lennon. Because what's best for Danny Lennon is also what's best for St Mirren Football Club. That's how Danny Lennon operates.

Ah, Danny. I'm happy to adopt a Bruce Forsyth style theatrically conspiring whisper and admit: "Danny, you are my favourite."

The severe sincerity of his post-match utterances amuse me. But I also admire the way he got on with the job when many felt St Mirren had erred with his appointment.

And I want him to thrive because the idea of managers and players making a progression through the leagues is one that would seem essential to the game's survival in Scotland.

So good on you Danny.

This season he's added experience in the dugout with the arrival of the much travelled Tommy Craig. And he worked to reshape the squad in the summer.

Last year Lennon did what was required, performed the basic function of his job, by keeping St Mirren up.

But his approach in the summer seemed an acknowledgement that not everything he tried, not everything he transferred from Cowdenbeath, had worked.

One does wonder if that idea of a manager being given time to make the odd mistake and the opportunity to put it right will ever catch on.

Has it worked?

19 games in, half the season gone, and 22 points won. Five victories, seven draws and seven defeats.

That's already two thirds of the way to last season's points total but it'a another warm welcome to inconsistency, the theme that's run through this SPL Advent like cloves through mulled wine.

Draw at Ibrox one week, lose to Hibs in Paisley the next. Beat Kilmarnock at home one week, lose in Inverness the next. Hard to build a head of steam with those kinds of results.

Taking only eleven points from 24 against teams below them in the league points both to the tightness of the league and the struggle St Mirren face to establish themselves in the top six this season.

26 goals conceded is a fair SPL record but only nine goals scored at home and nine on the road are not enough. Nobody above St Mirren in the league has scored less.

That helps explain why they find themselves in the bottom half of the table and why Lennon will scour the January sales in search of a striker.

The team looks more experienced than last year with more solidity and a greater ability to win games.

That should be enough for safety. Danny Lennon's hope will be that it's enough for slightly more than that.

King forever, ceasing never. Over us all to reign

Danny Lennon wants everyone, players and Danny Lennon himself, to keep learning.

He probably also wants Santa to bring him a goalscorer and more points from "winnable" games.

If he gets that St Mirren could still be bothering the top six come the SPL split.

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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