St. Mirren have won just a measly two league games this season, a run which has seen the Paisley side slip seven points adrift of safety at the bottom of the Ladbrokes Championship table. Although performances have improved under the new management team of Jack Ross and James Fowler, who replaced Alex Rae and David Farrell, it is now accumulating points that is of paramount importance.
The Buddies will be looking to get three points against Queen of the South at the Paisley 2021 stadium today, the opponent against whom Saints recorded their first league victory of the campaign when they visited Palmerston on 6 December.
Despite this wretched run of form, there are some key factors that could see a swing in the club’s fortunes and save them from the pain of another relegation. back4.net takes a look…
Firstly, Jack Ross has to try and tighten up the defence, a goal difference of -16, will be particularly worrying for the former defender. He will accept that no matter how good you are at the other end of the pitch if you are conceding goals at such an alarming rate, you are not going to pick up as many points as you should and that’s been the problem on so many occasions for the Saints this campaign. There have been two occasions recently where this inability to keep a clean sheet has proved costly for Ross’ men. Two home league games against Ayr United and Morton; in both fixtures, the visiting side were reduced to 10 men yet frustratingly the Buddies only managed to claim a point from each outing – missing a penalty against Ayr before a 93rd-minute equaliser from Ricki Lamie secured a draw for Jim Duffy’s Morton last time out.
What transfer business Saints can do in this month’s window could also be crucial. The first deal has been finalised, with Craig Storie joining on loan from Aberdeen, although he will not be available for today’s game. He will join the squad on Monday and will be in contention for next weekend’s trip to Dunfermline. Ross was hoping to add a defender early on but that is yet to materialise and the hard work continues behind the scenes to bring other targets to Paisley.
The Buddies will have to be on the lookout for another striker following the departure of Rangers loanee Ryan Hardie. I’m sure it would be a surprise to most Saints fans if he wasn’t replaced by someone who can run in behind and stretch the opposing defence and pop up with goals when the team needs them most.
But one of the biggest things for the former Alloa manager to do is keep the majority of the squad together the best he can. There has been a lot of speculation recently linking players with moves away from Paisley but if Ross wants to avoid relegation then keeping outgoings to a minimum is a must. The club is still trying to agree on a new three-year contract with young midfielder Kyle Magennis while winger Lewis Morgan extended his stay at the Paisley 2021 Stadium earlier in the season.
So, Mr Ross, if you’re reading this…tighten up your defence, be shrewd in the transfer market but make sure a new striker is found and keep the current squad together to the best of your ability. Do all that and avoiding relegation is definitely within St Mirren’s reach.