Good enough for top six?

Last updated : 09 August 2008 By Paul Evans
How are we looking as we go into the final season at Ninian Park?

I am going to try and be fairly neutral here in assessing what our prospects are for the next nine months.

For a start, credit should be given to Peter Ridsdale especially for the fact that all but one of the out of contract players who we wanted to keep have signed new deals. It's a real shame that Glenn Loovens couldn't have given the club a 100% record in this department, but, he is apparently going to look at the situation again when the transfer window closes and it might be that he will think differently come September.

Speaking as someone who has bemoaned the lack of spending this summer, I have to admit that Dave Jones is right when he talks about Ross McCormack's value. Let's not forget that Premiership clubs were supposed to be making bids in the £1.5 to £2 million region for this player back in January. Therefore, it's fair to ask what would those of us who aren't happy with our lack of spending be saying if we had paid Motherwell McCormack's true value (which I would say is about £1.75 million)?

In this particular instance, you have to admit that was excellent business for us to get McCormack for £120k, but, because of this, it should mean we have more money available to spend elsewhere.

Mention of McCormack, takes me to what I see as our main drawback as a squad and that is that we seem to be going into the new season without a proven finisher at the club. There has been some debate as to whether Paul Parry is a striker or not, but, as a goalscorer, he can point to having done something that our other three specialist strikers (McCormack, Bothroyd and Thompson) haven't - people talk about 20 goal a season strikers, but it is a fact that none of those three have ever scored twenty league goals for one club they have played for let alone twenty goals in one season!

To be fair, I haven't seen enough of McCormack to say that he definitely won't be a quality finisher for us, but, when you consider that he only scored nine times in the league last year for a team that did so well to finish third in the SPL then it strongly suggests he will not be.

I see Dave Jones is now saying we may have to wait until the end of the month before getting the player (who I presume is a striker) he wants in, but, for me, that isn't good enough. More than three months have passed since we last kicked a ball in league action and that should have been plenty of time for us to bring in the players we wanted.

It's been interesting reading the pundits views as to where we will finish this year - I have seen one who said we would finish in the top three, two talk of a possible top six place and there has been the occasional one that mentions a top ten finish. However, the vast majority tip us to end up in the 12/16 region of lower/mid table mediocrity.

The thing is though that many of those who see us as a mid table outfit say that the situation would change if the right type of signing could be added. That is exactly how I feel - at present, I reckon we have a mid table squad, but add a goalscorer to it and I'd then say we were definite top six contenders.

So far, the Ridsdale years have been marked by a tendency to talk a good game on the transfer front without actually delivering (e.g. the January transfer windows in 2007 and 2008). Maybe there wasn't the money available previously, but, I happen to think it is there this summer and, if Peter Ridsdale and his paymasters are serious about the club wanting to get into the Premiership this season, then they need to release it sooner rather than later (even if it is only on a good quality striker on loan) - if they do that, then I think we would have our best chance of promotion since we arrived back in this division in 2003.