Review of last season – Survival was the primary goal last season and Partick Thistle managed to achieve this. Of course with the cushion that Hearts provided it was always going to be a case of avoiding the playoffs and with an important run of points in their final few games Thistle finished 10th. The Partick team went through a raft of changes last term and did struggle to adjust to the Premiership before Christmas. A disastrous run of form between October and January was finally halted and the team grew in stature in the remaining months. Scoring goals was an issue in the early part of last season but again this improved after January with the arrival of Lyle Taylor giving the Partick frontline another dimension. Thistle fans should be happy with what Alan Archibald achieved in their first season in the Premiership. The season did actually end on a sour note as the board announced suddenly that the North Stand at Firhill, home to the Thistle singing section was to be given to away fans for next season. Thankfully the directors took into account the anger and frustration of the supporters and now that decision has been overturned.
Players in – Ryan Stevenson (Midfielder, Hearts)
Players out – Aaron Taylor-Sinclair (Wigan Athletic), Darren Brownlie (Cowdenbeath), Lee Mair (Dumbarton), Caolan McAleer (East Fife), Jamie Hamilton (Free), Anthony McGuigan (Free), Ross Meechan (Free), Isaac Osbourne (Free), Prince Buaben (End of Loan), Chris Erskine (End of Loan), George Moncur (End of Loan), Lyle Taylor (End of Loan), Ryan Scully (Loan, Dunfermline Athletic)
What they still need – With the departures from last season there are gaps that need filled in the Thistle squad. Losing one of Scotland’s best left-backs in Aaron Taylor-Sinclair means there is a need for a left-sided fullback and quickly. A reliable and experienced central defender would be a good addition to their defence and an ‘enforcer’ type midfielder wouldn’t go a miss either. It is also important that Thistle try to sign a proven striker to provide competition for places. One thing that was missing in parts of Partick’s play last season was a focal point to their attacks. So a target-man style striker would be a good signing for the club.
Expectations this season – Fans will want Alan Archibald to be a bit more assured with his signings. He was guilty of making too many panic buys at the start of last season and the large turnover of players last year did not help the team. He needs to make sure that this second season in the league is one that can provide a settled squad the opportunity to develop and progress. The supporters will look to the Thistle players to try and get off to a better start this season and try to concede far fewer goals.
Key player – One of Partick’s best signings last season has to be Kallum Higginbotham. There is no doubt that he is the type of player that can frustrate and delight in equal measures but when he is on form he is one of the best attacking players in the league. As a goal scorer and provider he has the ability to win games almost single-handedly. Higginbotham can produce moments of brilliance on the wing and his contributions going forward will be vital to Thistle this season.
Young player to look out for – There are a number of younger players in the Thistle squad that made their Premiership debut last season and a year of experience will be really beneficial to the likes of Stephen O’Donnell, Aaron Muirhead, Conrad Balatoni and Gary Fraser. One player that stands out amongst the young players at Thistle is Stuart Bannigan. Even though he is only 21 he is actually one of the more experienced players at the club and he has been part of the first team longer than most in the squad. Bannigan is a pretty complete midfielder. He is strong, committed and has good technique. Having also made the step into the international scene with the Scotland U21s this coming season will be an important year for a player with a really big future.
Opinion on Partick Thistle – Despite losing a number of players the Thistle fans must actually be reasonably content with how things are building towards the new campaign. Alan Archibald seems to want to take his time with his signings this season which is a big departure from this time last year. He has had a number of different trialists in and is looking to strengthen in the right areas. Despite this the worry must be that picking up really good quality fullbacks, defenders, midfielders and indeed strikers will be difficult with a tight budget and the season approaching. The second season in a league is sometimes more difficult but Thistle will be fine again this year. It does however remain to be seen how much progress they can make compared to last term.
Prediction for this season – 10th