It is always difficult trying to re-adjust after a relegation (as Dundee United found out last season) and for Inverness the same pressure was in place during the summer as they knew that they would be playing in the Scottish Championship. I don’t think it is unfair to say that for a long time now Inverness have been punching above their weight. That is not say that they are not a Premiership sized club but their budgets are much smaller than many of their counterparts (including now in the Championship). It is a big challenge to plan and attract new players when you don’t have the lure of top-flight football or the ability to pay big wages. Having sacked Richie Foran after a disastrous spell in charge (plus for his terrible beard) the board moved to bring back John Robertson as head coach in the summer. Many, myself included, thought that his appointment would end in disaster. Bizarrely he didn’t even apply for the job but was offered it due to connections on the board. I don’t particularly like clubs that re-visit previous regimes but Inverness seem to do it more than most. It also doesn’t help that the boardroom situation at the club is in a bit of a mess. People seem to be coming and going on the board which does not help with stability, especially in a difficult period such as this. It has also been suggested in recent weeks that the future of the club could be in jeopardy due to the current stadium deal (link).
As for the team on the park well Robertson, who last managed the club nearly 15 years ago, got off to a pretty disastrous start after winning only one of his first seven games. However, as if by magic, on the 30th of September a 0-0 draw at home to Queen of the South seemed to kick some life back into their season. Since that game Robertson’s men have only lost twice in twelve and have managed to shore up their defence (breaking a club record for consecutive clean sheets in the process). They are still way short of a finished article but they seem to have a decent momentum behind them. Games against St.Mirren, Falkirk and Dunfermline in quick succession in January will go a long way to show how far Robertson has improved this team since the start of the season.
January Wishlist – Just like a few teams in this division Caley are crying out for some firepower. They have secured the services of Nathan Austin who was released by Falkirk but they will need another one striker at the very least. Furthermore, with the departure of long-serving David Raven they will definitely need another reliable right-back to take his place.
Player of the Season (so far) – I have noticed a few Caley fans singing the praises of Mark Ridgers this season and it seems as though he has definitely improved as a goalkeeper. However for player of the season so far I can almost feel my fingers hurting as I type this. To be honest any Dundee United fan reading this report will have this down as one of the greatest pieces of fiction ever written, but my pick for the best player for Inverness so far is……..Coll Donaldson. Yes, Coll Donaldson. The world is a weird and wonderful place.
The central defender has found a new lease of life at Inverness and has put in some terrific performances during his spell at the club. He has recently signed a contract extension and will undoubtedly be keen to continue to prove the haters wrong (mainly United fans).
Predicted Finish – 4th. I’m taking a gamble here but I have faith in Inverness finishing in the last playoff spot. I’m not sure what it is but I think they have reason to galvanise as a squad and they seem to have found a bit of purpose recently. Much will depend on two or three quality additions in January but for me I think Robertson’s side have more about them compared to others who will be fighting it out for 4th spot. I’ve probably jinxed it now but I do think that they will have just about enough.
Manager Grade – B. John Robertson. Even thinking about him as a football manager again still makes me feel a bit odd. He was out of coaching for five years and got the job despite not applying for it but yet he has managed to do something good in recent months otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about a possible 4th place finish. Are Inverness where they are because of Robertson or in spite of Robertson?
Overall Grade – C. I’m not really sure what to make of Inverness, and I am sure that some of their fans probably think the same. If you are a diehard Caley fan then this season has been really difficult. Beyond the relegation itself behind the scenes things are not healthy and you wonder if another season in the Championship may make things even worse. Who knows what the future may hold for this club but at the moment there does not seem to be much good will towards the board and the prospect of what may happen in the coming months. On the pitch things are a bit more stable after a shaky start and it may be the case that in a few months time the fans will have at least the playoffs to look forward to. In many ways, more than most in this division, the next few months will be huge for this club.